The Rules Of Binary Rock

The digital age is overdue for rock ’n’ roll consistency.

Bill Wilson, VP of digital strategy and business development at NARM /, recently spearheaded the Music Metadata Style Guide. The downloadable style guide standardizes grammar so that artists can be represented consistently across several platforms.

It uses mostly common sense rules – an ampersand would divide the bandleader from the band (e.g., Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band) – but the word “and” would be used in collaborative efforts (Dr. Dre and Eminem).

Photo: Jason Moore
"Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival," Empire Polo Club, Indio, Calif.

It also cautions against adding artist names to songs unless those artists made a significant contribution and, if they do, to use “feat” rather than the lengthier “featuring.” Unusual capitalization and lower-case names are also eschewed.

Issues with artist names are nothing new – note when two bands named The Beat came on the scene at the same time (one an English beat and the other a Paul Collins beat).  However, the situation has become significant, and it’s something Pollstar has experienced first hand.

The two flag-bearers are +44 and !!!. Two-thirds of Blink-182 formed +44, the country code for the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the + is not searchable in our database and to this day the band is listed as Plus 44. The other act, !!!, also has unsearchable parameters and we can only find it by typing in “Chk chk chk.”

Photo: AP Photo
iTunes Festival, Roundhouse, London, UK

Plus, there are issues with – of all things – the less creative names. When U.K. rapper Plan B came on the scene, his name had to be reconciled with a band in Puerto Rico that is now listed as Plan B (Puerto Rico), plus bands called Plan B from Washington, Illinois, Nevada, and Massachusetts.

Other search issues have been relieved by Run DMC and Jay Z, who no longer use hyphens.

And don’t get us started on heritage acts like The Coasters and all of their offshoots, tributes and court rulings.