The hell of branding
Four of my six albums (excluding the Pam & Alan Ross – Master Sessions double CD and S P A C E , with Scott Jarrett and Garrett Randolph) are released under the name “wm Alan Ross.” Earlier there were variations using the full name, William Alan Ross, and earlier still, simply going with the lifelong-used Alan Ross.
But the Internet changed all that. For my books and career-long magazine byline credits, I have used my regular name, and I dare say, quickly gotten lost in the global shuffle of a bazillion other Alan Rosses.
In fact, the current first three pages of listings on Amazon of “books written by Alan Ross” reveals no less than nine other book authors also named Alan Ross, some with spelling variations. On LinkedIn, there are 449 professionals named Alan Ross.
One doppelganger-in-name popping up from time to time is the 1970s’ British rocker. He once had a full-page ad in Billboard, with the headline: “This is Alan Ross.” Over the years, since the mid-’70s, I’ve fielded more than a few email and website inquires asking if I’m the UK guitarist Alan Ross. The name game can virtually erase a lifetime of meaningful achievement, if one’s luminescence is less than the namesake’s. My father’s substantial recognition in art has been almost completely eclipsed by a comic book artist by the same name of Alex Ross. But since he gained fame in the digital age, the comic illustrator’s coverage on the Internet dwarfs the results shown for my dad.
With the books and magazine publishing world having swallowed my everyday name whole, I decided a different positioning tactic with my music was necessary. Contracting the seldom-used first name, William—going with “wm” and lowercasing it to deemphasize it even more—did the trick. Not many wm Alan Rosses on the Internet. The end result? No one who has known me forever as Alan knows how to search for me! Bwahahaha!