The Journey of an Attempt Pt. 7: What’s in A Name?
To answer the question of what’s in a name: Confusion. At least in the case of my name and unfortunately it has nothing to do with that awesome Metallica song called “Confusion.” My birth name has been considered a hassle, an obstacle, pain in the ass, or anything similar ever since I started releasing music. Because there are a good number of people named Sam Smith who have music out on iTunes and other digital download stores. It also doesn’t help that one of those people has won Grammys and is rich and famous. This had, as you can imagine, both upsides and downsides.
The upsides it had was incredible album sales for my first album. This is what I was talking about in my last blog post when I mentioned that I was in for a huge surprise after I released my first album. I made back the money it cost me to put that album out within one paycheck with a lot left over. Those sales continued for about a year. The other upside was that I was getting the runoff of the major label promotion that the British Sam Smith was getting which was what led to the great album sales and any other kind of attention my music got.
The downsides were more common, and just as irritating as you’d imagine. When I would introduce myself to someone I just met there would be about a 60% chance they would mention the other Sam Smith. Obviously, this was very irritating and my only bit of fun was handing them a business card with my music’s information on it. That would usually shut them up right quick. But what was more irritating was the fact that I was getting confused with him when it came to my music. I would see reviews or comments saying something along the lines of “I didn’t know he put this stuff out too” or “I thought he’s a pop singer. Why is he writing classical?” That. THAT. Would burn me to the core. I wanted my music to be associated with me and I’ll be good and damned if it was any other way. I understood that this was going to happen but it didn’t lessen the irritation I’d feel from this. I look at my music almost like every song I write is one of my children. Now, I don’t have any children so I know that I have no clue what I’m talking about when I say something like that but that’s how it feels to me. I created something. Something that would most likely not be in existence if it wasn’t for me, and to see someone else get credit for something I worked hard on hurts me. When it came to social media sometimes people would think my social media pages were fan pages for the British singer. I would have to have a disclaimer somewhere on the page telling people that I was not running a fan page for him but instead running a page that promotes my music and even then it seemed like people would ignore that and still think I was running a fan page. I even changed my pages’ names to include the words Heavy Metal so people might notice the difference but that didn’t seem to work either. At least not to the desired effect I meant it to. This name that I felt I had been cursed with had become something that made music not fun anymore. Every time I released music I worried how people would think it was the other guy who wrote it and not me. Would I have to explain it to them and if so, would they even believe what I was telling them? Would they think I was just trying to take credit where they thought it wasn’t mine or would they actually see how different I write compared to him and his writers?
The bad started to outweigh any good that was coming out of this name and I knew I had to do something about it. I should’ve done something about it when I seriously considered quitting music after a Facebook page promotion campaign only attracted people looking for a Pop singer Sam Smith fan page. I know this because, on multiple occasions, there would be a notification that someone liked my page and when I would view the notification the thumbnail for the person’s profile would be a picture of the British Sam Smith and their name in total would be about 10-15 syllables in a language with an alphabet different than mine but have the name Smith in it. Maybe Smith was supposed to be in their name, maybe not, but I’m going out on a limb here and saying that was added to their name because they were such huge fans of his music and just wanted to like another page that glorified him. No, I’m not, as the kids say, “salty” about this, no, not at all… Okay fine I’m a pillar of salt level salty about it. But who wouldn’t be. I felt that I was only meant to be associated/confused with him, and nothing else. Every time I had to explain I was a separate artist from him I wanted to quit music. Sometimes it was a small nagging feeling, but other times, it was this relentless voice sent through a thousand megaphones Bart Simpson style telling me to just quit. I want to do music for a living. I want to leave behind something when I’m gone that will help future generations of my family financially and also leave my name imprinted on this world’s history for at least a few decades if not a few centuries. I know those hopes sound outlandishly impossible but I know it could be done. And the only way I could do that, or even have a hope of making it happen, was to make my music easier to find. To do this I just had to fix the worst thing about my music, the name associated with it.
The cool thing about a name change is if you already have at least one back up name in mind, the process goes a lot smoother because you already have something as a starting point to, at the very least, consider. I considered going by a band name kind of like what Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco does or Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails does. But I figured it would be easier for me and everyone searching for my music if I went by a stage name of sorts, and I already had one in mind in case I ever needed one. The name was Jakob Vladimir.
STORY TIME! Before I was born and my parents were in the process of trying to come up with a name for me my dad suggested a name he always thought was cool, Jacob Vladimir Smith. My mom didn’t like the name so they eventually agreed on the name Sam Smith. My dad told me about the name he had suggested and I thought it was a cool one. So jump forward a few years to when I started thinking about going by a pen name I immediately thought of this one. But changes had to be made to it.
First, I dropped the last name from it so it was just Jacob Vladimir. The name Smith is too common to keep that in the new name. The second change I had to make was the spelling of the name Jacob. A lot of people have that first name but not a lot of people have the European spelling where the c is replaced with a k. I also like the European spelling more and I thought it would also be a good way to honor, or give a nod to, my music influences from across the Atlantic and my appreciation of European culture. By changing the new name from Jacob Vladimir Smith to Jakob Vladimir I felt that my music would be easier to find and no one would confuse me with another musician. To be sure of this, I googled the name and nothing came up with that name specifically. I also searched the name on Facebook and Instagram and I saw nothing but the occasional profile with one name or the other and on Facebook there was only one result that contained the name as is but it was only someone’s personal page and not some kind of a professional one.
I knew that with this new name I would have to work harder to get my name out there. I would have to work harder to get my music to more people. I would have to make up for what this new name lacked like runoff promotion and all. But I’d rather work harder than be confused with someone else. My only hope was that this change would help in some way.
#namechange #rebrandind #music #journeyofanattempt #JakobVladimir