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When An Artist Name Change Is Significant

While some entertainers randomly change names and pay little or no attention to the significance of names, others are quite serious about naming themselves, especially if it affects their brands.

In any case, the possibility of losing support in order to gain even more support is risky and even more so if the name one decides to change is already popular. In 2021 Jamaican reggae/dancehall artist Agent Sasco took the decision to change his stage name after 15 years from "Assassin" and received much disapproval from his fans. Some believed he made a grave mistake but in his defense, however, Sasco in an interview said the name had become problematic.

Clearly, the name change was indeed a great move for the artist even after 15 years in the business but some people just could not understand the significance. Speaking on the issue in an interview Agent Sasco went on to explain that changing the name was, "necessary because "Assassin" couldn't grow in my future ambitions." It became obvious and without explanation (even though given) that a name like that came with negative connotations that could affect any branding and endorsement opportunities Sasco could have gotten. Such missed opportunity would easily stifle his growth. He went on to explain that the name was not commensurate with his stable and upright persona, a trait that many of his fans, state entities, and corporate organizations who held him in high regard would have recognized.

As one thinks of reasons an artist should or should not change his/her name or moniker a partly uncommon situation occurred recently. Jamaican recording artist Zzambo decided to change his formerly used government-given name Tafari to his now, other government-given name Zambo joining the list of entertainers with significant reasons for changing their names. In his case, Zzambo in a recent interview on The Bridge FM told host Nikki Z his name "Tafari is the name of H.I.S. Imperial Majesty and I could never obtain copyrights for that name."

Over the years, Zzambo under the name Tafari experienced copyright and trademark issues for using the name. In our chit-chat, Zzambo explained how problematic it has been for him to use a name that was also commonly used by many other artists. Thoughtfully he said, "even if it was the case that I could have gotten clearance to use, it would have appeared malicious of me to authorize a cease and desist order for them to stop using it."

In the business of music, artist names are important, not only to create a sense of purpose but also to align with brand opportunities and so changing a name or moniker especially if it adds value to who you are and the direction in which you intend to steer your career is a necessity. Although Zzambo was able to have his music downloaded and streamed, not being fully authorized to use his own name for marketing purposes inhibits the prospects of building a legacy for himself which is indeed a significant reason for changing his name from Tafari to Zzambo.