Before the digital era, it didn’t matter as much if two songs, companies, books, or people shared a name.
Things are different now.
Before starting a company, or launching a brand or a trademark, businessmen check whether the domain is available—and how the term Googles. Before launching a writing career, an author Googles his name to see if there are any other prominent people, even in other genres or other fields, with the same name.
Getting a little closer to Southern Gospel, before pitching a song—and sometimes even before writing it—professional songwriters seach ASCAP / BMI / SESAC to see if anyone else has written a similar song.
Artists and label execs would be wise to show similar care in picking album titles. Are there other albums in the same genre with the same title?
If you have a decent collection of music in your iTunes / iPod (or non-brand-name equivalent program or player)—or if you have a friend who does—checking a title to see how it does in iTunes is a good start. Of course, iTunes pulls up song titles and other information, too, but that is worth at least being aware of.
So why does this matter?
First, the more distinctive title your album has, the more likely someone remembers it.
Second, the easier it is to pull up in iTunes or another digital media player, the more likely someone with a large collection will pull it up and play it.
The more someone remembers it, and the more they play it, the more likely they’ll like it and return for more by the same group.
Now I’ll admit to completely making up the word iTunesability. Only one reference—in a different context—pops up on Google. And yes, I checked—iTunesability.com / .org / .net is available. (Just practicing what I preach!)
And I’m not saying iTunesability is a proven concept. But it is a hypothesis worth considering. Look at this list, all of albums with high iTunesability ratings:
- Big & Live
- Portrait of Excitement
- Symphony of Praise
- Easy on the Ears, Heavy on the Heart
- Chapter X Live
- The Blackwood Brothers Featuring their Famous Bass J.D. Sumner
- Know So Salvation
- Perfect Candidate
- Lovin’ Life
- Are You Ready?
- Pressed Down, Shaken Together, Running Over
- Pure Vintage
Virtually every Southern Gospel could skim that list and easily name most of the albums. Sure, the songs were good. But it doesn’t hurt that the album title was also easy to remember.
On the other hand, take these cases:
- Live in Atlanta (which one?)
- Sounds of Sunday (was it the Dixie Echoes that did that one? Or was theirs Sounds like Sunday, and Janet Paschal who did Sounds of Sunday)?
- Greatest Hits
- Who Am I (or other albums named after an already-classic song)
- 25th Anniversary
- 10th Anniversary (note how the Bishops avoided that with Chapter X Live)
Name who recorded those albums! Multiple choice—with multiple answers—would be necessary.
I don’t mean to claim that iTunesability should be the most important factor in picking an album title. If you have an amazing song that everyone will remember the album for, even if another album has a similar title, go for it.
But this factor is worth considering. Having a good iTunesability rating won’t hurt anything.