Shihad (The Economics of Name-Changes)

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Above and beyond sport, I also have developed a more recent passion for the economics of cultural and entertainment industries, including movie, television, and especially music. As an example, I am currently building a database of Triple J Hottest 100 songs going back to 1993. More generally, I consider myself a bit of a live music buff.

Anyway, tonight I am seeing Kiwi rockers Shihad at Richmond’s Corner Hotel (World famous in Melbourne). I just love their shtick, and will be up the front near the stage tonight. Economics-wise, they’re worth a mention for an anecdote in which they changed their name…and then later changed back. They were just beginning to try and crack the US-market when the 2001 World Trade Center attack happened. Believing that Shihad’s similar sound to ‘jihad’ would affect their chances of success, they changed their name to ‘Pacifier’ – as lead singer Jonny Toogood once explained why: “…it’s Pacific [Ocean], and it’s fire.” But not even Toogood’s big-time sales pitch convinced their fans – they never quite accepted the name change; and in 2004, the lads reverted back to Shihad, as they have remained since. A cautionary tale of changing the band name, in the spirit of Spinal Tap.

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