Taxonomy of Music and Media Download Service Names

AKA the iTunes space, but here including movie as well as music download services, plus tangential services such as NetFlix and TiVO that offer different combinations of online, offline, broadband, cable or satellite delivery of multimedia content.

As usual, the overwhelming mass of media download services are clustered in the lower left corner of the chart, representing the least engaging functional names, and this sample is probably but a mere fraction of all that is our there. Why do they do it? Perhaps in this case they are spurred on by the success of iTunes and how it has entered the public consciousness. However, what they fail to realize, is that iTunes is propelled by the iPod phenomenon and both are byproducts of the Apple branding juggernaut, not to mention being one of the first to market with a service that gets it right.

Woe to the iTunes followers who believe that names such as emusic, imusic, Musicnet and Netmusic will ever get noticed in this sea of similar services.

  • TiVO
  • Virgin Digital
  • Yahoo! Launch
  • Napster
  • Atom Films
  • MusicGremlin
  • Epitonic
  • Vitiminic
  • XM Satellite Radio
  • Rhapsody
  • Sirius Satellite Radio
  • Audiogalaxy
  • Soundbuzz
  • Connect
  • Glide Magazine
  • Ampcast
  • Disclogic
  • Hear Music
  • iRATE radio
  • LikeTelevision
  • ReplayTV
  • SHOUTcast
  • Smithsonian Global Sound
  • Kazaa
  • BeSonic
  • purevolume
  • zerophase
  • Akimbo
  • AllCoolMusic
  • AOL Music
  • ARTISTdirect
  • iTunes
  • IUMA (Internet Underground Music Archive)
  • MovieAdvanced
  • MSN Music
  • PeopleSound
  • Wal-Mart
  • Lycos Music
  • K-Lite
  • Mindawn
  • Partners In Rhyme
  • 123MovieDownload
  • Cinema Download
  • DivX Movies
  • DownloadShield.-com
  • emusic
  • Free Movie Now
  • IC-Musicmedia
  • imusic
  • iMusicShare
  • Internet Downloads
  • MovieDownload-World
  • Mp3Downloading
  • MP3Must
  • Musicload
  • Musicnet
  • Netlabels
  • NetMusic
  • Shared Movies
  • SoundClick
  • Ultimate Movie Downloads

Levels of Engagement: These eight levels (y-axis levels from minus 2 to plus 5) represent the amount of material (meaning, stories, associations, imagery, multiple layers) in a name the audience has to play with and personalize – and how "engaged" they are by a name. Names in the minus 2 level are the least engaging, and likely to be quickly forgotten; the higher the number the better, with level 5 being the best.

Functional Names: The lowest common denominator of names, usually either named after a person, purely descriptive of what the company or product does, or a pre- or suffixed reference to functionality. (Infoseek, LookSmart)

Invented Names: "Invented" as in a made-up name (Acquient, Agilent, Alliant, Google) or a non-English name that is not widely known.

Experiential Names: A direct connection to something real, a part of direct human experience. Usually literal in nature, but presented with a touch of imagination. (Netscape, Palm Pilot)

Evocative Names: These names are designed to evoke the positioning of a company or product rather than the goods and services or the experience of those goods and services. Removed from direct experience, but relevant – evoking memories, stories, and many levels of association. (Virgin, Apple, Cracker Jack)

We encourage you to print this out and move names around, and see if you think they should be classified differently. It's an exercise that will get you thinking about the names in your own industry. (Here is a blank taxonomy chart you can print out.)

The first thing we do at the beginning of any naming or branding project is to thoroughly analyze the names and messaging of the competition in your business sector, and plot those names on a taxonomy chart like this one. This document is very helpful for everyone involved in the naming project to see the competitive reality and understand what types of names are overused and where we have to go to separate from the pack.

Further reading:

Search Engine, Browser & Web Portal Name Taxonomy