More thoughts on my image conundrum.

Yesterday I ranted for a bit about the absurdity of how musicians are using the word brand to talk about how they market themselves, but on further reflection, I get it: artist names can indeed become brands and be slapped on perfume, clothing and other stuff with huge financial benefit to the artist, so why not, especially in an age when no one seems to want to pay for music?

For me, personally, I am not seriously contemplating a line of fragrances or anything else right now, but I am very much pre-occupied with what to call myself. Because a lot rides on a name, I think. And my name vis a vis my music has issues. (Plus, it’s hard to pronounce, because even here in the Bay Area, where one of the main streets is Shattuck Avenue, when people see my name for the first time, they are flummoxed and invariably put the accent on the second syllable when it is in fact on the first).

Let’s say I decide to market myself under Jeff Shattuck. So, someone sees “Jeff Shattuck” and thinks, “Huh, now that is a rockin’ name, wonder what his tunes sound like.” Then he hits play. Maybe the song is Demons & Saints, and he thinks, “Hell yeah, I’m gonna a crack me a Pabst and listen to a few more.” He clicks on Love & Hate. He thinks, “Wait, is this the same dude, I’ve only had three beers, I’m not THAT drunk, what’s going on here?” So now he clicks “Here Comes The Weather.” The response: “What is this wimpy chick song about being all bummed out over a fight? Damn, I think something is wrong with my ‘net connection. Damn Comcast bastards. I want the ROCK. Shit, dropped my beer.”

See the problem? My songs are all sung by different people, so to market them all under one name, which connotes a single singer or at least a strong player (think Santana), sets the listener up to be confused. Less troublesome but still an issue, if you like one because of the voice, who’s to say you’ll like the others?

But what if I went with a faux band-type thing, a la Steely Dan? Honestly, this is what I have been most tempted to do. Possible band names are My Shirt Is Cool, Rocks and Sand, and TTUCK (a clever play my name, don’t you think?). I’ve created various CD covers with all these, they all seem fine, but, but, but… everyone I know says to just go with my name.

Perhaps if I were a true singer songwriter, I would agree that my name is indeed my best vehicle (save for the pronunciation issue). After all, if I were an artist in the vein of Paul Simon or Dylan (hah!), I could market myself under my own name and people would flock in droves to my web site to hear my voice, crashing the servers with their enthusiasm and being blissfully rewarded as they listened to stream after stream of my tuneful tenor. But, as always, reality is a little different from fantasy. And the reality is this: I can’t sing. Maybe even worse, my sense of time is about as good as brick’s (and no, I don’t mean I’m rock steady). As a result, I need others to sing and play my songs. This is not debatable.

So what should I do? Any thoughts? (Please use the player on the right to preview tunes, use the double arrows to jump to the next song, there are four available!)