Long before MySpace and Napster, there was the Internet Underground Music Archive, or IUMA (pronounced ie-YOO-mah).
Created in 1993 by a trio University of California computer science students, IUMA was the first major music distribution website. Its goal was to help unsigned artists publicize their music and talk directly to fans.
In mid-2000, IUMA launched the “Name Your Baby IUMA” contest.
You love your baby. You love new music. Prove your love and devotion to both by naming your baby IUMA!
Why a baby name contest?
We had a really small advertising budget. And we were looking for a way to let the whole world know about IUMA and IUMA artists. We couldn’t afford TV or radio ads, and we couldn’t afford giant billboards! Then we realized that these ads get far fewer impressions than someone’s name! We decided to throw our advertising dollars into a campaign that will have a lifetime of impact!
The parents of the first ten U.S. babies named “Iuma” between August 1, 2000, and November 1, 2000, would get their choice of either $5,000 or $100-worth of music downloads per month for (the baby’s) life.
So did any parents take the bait?
Yes, a handful of babies were indeed named Iuma in 2000. Enough baby girls got the name, in fact, that the music site’s acronym appeared for the first and only time in the U.S. baby name data that year:
- 2002: unlisted
- 2001: unlisted
- 2000: 8 baby girls named Iuma [debut]
- 1999: unlisted
- 1998: unlisted
And that’s not all. Several baby boys also got the name, as did a handful of international babies (in Brazil, Germany and Russia).
Which of these babies became the 10 verified winners? Here’s the official list:
- Iuma Dylan-Lucas Thornhill, born on August 11, 2000, in Hutchinson, Kansas
- Iuma Ross, born on August 21, 2000, Williamsburg, Pennsylvania
- Iuma Becht born on September 1, 2000, in Augusta, Georgia
- Iuma Carlton, born on September 8, 2000, in St. Petersburg, Florida
- Iuma Farish, born on September 13, 2000, in Dallas, Texas
- Iuma Devi, born on August 31, 2000, in Cambria, California
- Iuma Godfrey, born on September 21, 2000, in Los Angeles, California
- Iuma Daigre, born on October 5, 2000, in Houston, Texas
- Iuma Radnedge, born on October 6, 2000, in Dallas, Texas
- Iuma Hebert, born on October 6, 2000, in Dallas, Texas
The rest of the babies named Iuma (including Iuma Rose Carter of Carvers, Nevada; Iuma Heidi VanRyker of Darmstadt, Germany; and Iuma Dara Lewis of New York City) didn’t make the cut.
Here’s what Travis Thornhill — father of the first-born winner, and bass player whose band used IUMA for promotion — told reporters upon winning (and choosing the $5,000 option):
My wife liked the idea [of participating in the contest] because the child’s grandma said this baby would bring prosperity, and this contest could be what she was talking about.
Plus, the kid will have a cool story when he grows up.
Hopefully the other winners also went with the one-time payment of $5,000, as IUMA went belly-up about a year after the contest. It was offline entirely by 2006.
- “Couple Names Baby After Web Site.” ABC News 16 Aug. 2000.
- “It’s a boy.com!” BBC News 17 Aug. 2000.
- Kaplan, Karen. “What’s In a Name? Well, Free Music.” Los Angeles Times 14 Aug. 2000.
- Malmgren, Jeanne. “Just Call Him eBaby.” St. Petersburg Times 28 Sep. 2000: 1D.
P.S. Though the company is long gone, much of the music itself is still online! Check out the Internet Archive’s IUMA collection.