There are many DJs out there who perform under a “stage name” or an alias. For some their stage name has been a key component to marketing themselves through the roof. For others, well it’s possibly been the main thing that has held them back. So is it worth the risk? It’s ultimately all about your identity and how you want to seen….or remembered.
DJs take on a stage name for many reasons. Entertainers of all kinds have been doing this forever. Some are derived from nick names or DJ style and some have more personal meaning. Many famous entertainers have taken stage names because they are easier to pronounce, are more memorable, or hide their ethnicity. The biggest issues I see with a stage names are relevancy, maturity and timing.
Choose a name that makes sense with what you’re doing. There are some names that just “sound” more like a Hip Hop name than a House name, but this is of course arguable. Find something that fits your genre of music or something that is descriptive of you and your musical style. Even though some names are selected based on nick names and may have nothing to with the music at all. And let’s face it; some names are just plain cool to say. As much as I am not a fan of Trance, “Tiesto” is a cool name to say. That combined with his logo (of his name) make for a great marketing piece.
Many DJs start off in their teens and create names that may sound cool at that time. However, eventually we all start to get older and can easily outgrow a name with the word “kid” in it. Word’s like “young” and “boy” will also sound childish once the DJ hits their mid 20s. Although, the word “girl” does seem to continue to work for female DJs. My biggest pet peeve with female DJ names is the constant use of the word “DJ” followed by their first name. It is the lame formula of “DJ (insert first name here).” Don’t get me wrong. Some of the earlier female DJs who did this have been very successful and have solid marketing behind those names. It’s just getting so old to see new DJs popping up on the scene with the same formula over and over again. Can you imagine if guys did this? Lets’ try it out shall we? DJ David, DJ Ralph, DJ Mark, DJ Craig, DJ George….is this working for you? However, this does work for guys if you have a unique name like DJ Emmanuel.
This is probably this biggest issue I have with DJ names….when they are completely out-dated. Words like “jack,” “hype,” emcee,” and “jumpin” just to name a few, are completely out of date. Slang words come and go so try to use words that won’t go stale in a couple of years. However, some DJs have had these names for a long time. The issue here is not just having a dated name, but it is important to stick with the name you’ve built your DJ career on. Changing it after 10 plus years can be a marketing nightmare. Even wrestling’s “The Rock” is now marketing himself under his real name, Dwayne Johnson, for Hollywood movies.
Using your “real” name
Using your real name can be tricky too. While I’m a big fan of using actual names, not all DJs only DJ for a living. Some of us have regular jobs and careers and may not want our “secret DJ life” to be discovered so easily. Many employers now “Google” their job candidates. If you’re a well known night club DJ who is applying for a job in your other professional world, you’re secret lifestyle may be found out before you’ve even had an interview. This might not look favorable to your potential future employer. Some DJs use their real name and stick a descriptive word in the middle like Steve “Silk” Hurley. While the word “silk” still works for me, it might not for some. But if I mention “Steve Hurley” in a House Music reference, you still know who I’m talking about. So Steve could always drop the “silk” if he wanted to because it probably will not hurt his identity and marketing.
Like a lot of actors, some DJs change their name without using funky descriptive words. They simply use a different name that is easier to say, spell and remember. Personally, I would go this route before picking a snappy one-word name like “DJ McLovin.”
The most important aspect of a stage name is that it should sound natural. Your image, style, and overall vibe should flow with the name that you now have to live up to. Otherwise you’ll look like “B-Rad” from “Malibu’s Most Wanted.” But at the end of the day, it’s all about what works best for you and your abilities as a DJ.
DJs with stage names….I’d love to hear what you think.