Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mysterious Names - How Audio Companies Got Their Names

The Name of a Music Instrument Design Company... How Powerful and Meaningful is it?

A new music instrument company's name has been a pursuit of mine.

Popular music companies on Wikipedia were the starting point.

Major categories they fit into:

1. Blends

The most interesting category because they create distinctive names.  Benefits of distinctive names are stronger trademark protection and  more likely available domain names!

Blend examples:

Alesis - A Loose acronym for Algorithmic Electronic Systems adjusted to make spelling and pronunciation easier.

JoMoX -  Jürgen Michaelis X-Tended. Die Sternchen zwischen den Buchstaben sahen aus wie "o"s, und fortan hieß es JoMoX.  My translation: It started with the name Juergen Michaelis X-Tended.  "The little stars between the characters looked like letter 'o's, and that led to it getting named JoMoX."

2. Technical

Names like "Metasonix," "Quasimidi," "Sequential Circuits," etc.   This is the second largest category of names of music instrument companies

3. Places

Examples: PAiA, Waldorf, Teisco. This is actually a small category.

4. Bland

These are names that seem to be arbitrary, dry permutations of words like "music," "electronics," etc.  Some examples are: Electronic Music Laboratories, Electronic Music Studios, Generalmusic.  These names are so generic, they can hardly even get trademarked!

5. Designer Names 

This is the largest category of digital music instrument company names.  You know them: Moog, Kurzweil, Dave Smith, Buchla, etc.

* * Conclusion * *

The name of a music instrument company is important, especially in light of trademark law and all of the other requirements for brand names....  They should be easy to spell, have an available internet domain name, and not mean something embarrassing in a foreign language!  (Chevy Nova is a famous example!)


While researching, I discovered this interesting link, which gives the stories of a large number of music company names:

1 comment:

  1. Did you read the one for Line 6? It's a great bit of folklore:

    "LINE 6 The pioneering company of guitar amplifier digital modeling started out as an engineering consulting company called Fast Forward Designs, cofounded in 1985 by Marcus Ryle and Michel Doidic (who previously worked together at Oberheim Electronics). Fast Forward had developed products for several other companies, such as Alesis and Digidesign. In 1994 they began doing research into digital modeling of tube amplifiers, in hopes that this could lead to the start of their own line of products. In order to measure the properties of classic tube amps, it was necessary to turn them up loud enough to get them to distort. Since this was research for products they might develop themselves they wanted to keep it under wraps until it was completed, but the noise could make it a challenge to “keep quiet.” If a client was to visit their office, hearing blasting guitars would seem quite odd (especially since at the time they were working on keyboards, effects, and digital recorders). A “code phrase” was needed so that the amps could be turned off if one of the client companies was to come by the office. Fast Forward Designs had five phone lines at the time, so the receptionist would page through the office that someone had a “call on line 6” when a visitor would come by, and that meant that it was time to keep things quiet for a bit. When the research finally turned into the first product in 1996, it was time to come up with a brand name for it. “Line 6” seemed to fit the bill, and the rest is history."