Loads of DJs have sh*t names. What seems like it should be one of the easiest parts of becoming a DJ and artist, is often annoyingly difficult. So how do you go about choosing a DJ Name? One that you will be proud of and not end up regretting…
There are many different ways to choose a DJ name. From using your initials, nickname or relying on name generators, no method is wrong. Yet it can be an easy thing to get wrong and is not something that should be rushed. Your DJ name is also your brand so it needs to be something representative of you that you can also be proud of.
It’s funny when you think about DJs, or even band names. I often wonder how many of them actually regret their choice years into their career, when the name has stuck and they can no longer change it.
So here’s a guide to help you avoid choosing a name you may regret.
The most obvious way is to just look at your own name, perhaps you have a slightly unusual name and you’re able to just go with that.
This has worked well for people like Richie Hawtin, Nina Kravitz or Roni Size. None of these have needed specific DJ names as they have slightly unusual surnames, at least in english-speaking countries.
However, most people have fairly common names for either their first or second name. So if you were to use it as your DJ name then it may be difficult to find you on Google.
Another technique you could try is if you have a multi-barrelled, or middle name, then try using the initials.
Although it doesn’t have to be based on your name, it could just be anything that rolls nicely off the tongue. This is what three-time UK DMC champion JFB did (real name Jean-Marc Preisler).
Recycle Your Nickname (It’s How I Got My DJ Name)
Think back whether you have ever had a nickname that you could potentially use. Whether it’s from school, a variation on your name or even one you came up with yourself nicknames can often be a great way to start when choosing your DJ name.
And this is actually how mine came about for example. “Maison” was actually a nickname given to me while at university, due to the fact that I was born in France and there were a lot of other Chris’ in my block so we needed to differentiate.
It was a name that I was used to being called and therefore an easy choice to use as my DJ name.
The only downside is that “Maison” in French means “house”, so people may assume that I played House music, which I don’t. I am into much heavier genres like drum & bass.
So just be mindful when choosing a DJ name, if you have do use your nickname, then make sure it doesn’t have alternative meanings that could confuse people.
One good example of a DJ who uses their nickname is DJ Woody, a world champion and personal favorite of mine. Woody is just a shortening of his surname (Woodvine) and presumably what he was called at school or college.
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Don’t over Complicate
Another thing to consider when choosing your name make sure it’s not overly complex. People should understand it, and know-how to spell it, as soon as they hear it.
If you have to spell it out every single time then it’s not going to be memorable and it may be more difficult for people to find you online. An example of this could be using digits in your name like DJ 3track for example. You have to explain every time that it is a number “3” and not “three-track”.
So you want something memorable yet easy to understand and spell.
If you are looking for a name because you want to start a DJ business, be sure to read this guide before you get started.
A Note on Multiple Names
You can, of course, have multiple names (or pseudonyms as they are known in the business) and this is not uncommon for DJs to have multiple names.
Amon Tobin, for example, a much celebrated and established electronica producer and DJ also makes music under the name of Two Fingers and he does this to separate two very distinct musical styles. He uses his own for Electronica and TF for much more bass-heavy, hip-hop inspired instrumental tracks.
Although initially, when you are just starting out, it is a good idea to just have one name, otherwise you are trying to build two brands at the same time and this will be a lot more work.
Make Sure It’s Available
When you do choose a name, the next step is to make sure it is not already taken and that you’re going to be able to register the social media profiles so you can start building your actual brand.
Ideally, you want to get exactly the same name over all of the social media platforms, and when you come to build your own website, it would be ideal to get an exact match domain to.
Thankfully this has made a lot easier by using a tool like Namechk, this scans all social networks at once and tells you what’s available.
Once you have chosen your name, plug it in here and you’ll instantly be able to see if all the social media platforms, and domains, are available.
Handily, this also does the job of telling you if any other DJs are using that name already.
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Get An Honest Opinion
If you are unsure of your ideas when choosing a DJ name, or you think you might be embarrassed by it later on, then simply ask your best friends what they think of it and if they have any suggestions.
Put it this way, if there’s any way to laugh at or take the piss out of your name then who better to find that out from than your friends. Way better than finding out from people online.
A note on Gimmicks and joke names
Gimmick names or puns on existing celebrities’ names, like the rapper Hoodie Allen (punning Woody Allen, the film director) is pretty funny yet in a few years down the line the artist may come to regret their choice.
The joke will start to wear off or perhaps the celebrity that you’re named after becomes less cool or, in the worst-case scenario, does something embarrassing or illegal that makes them hated in the press, which could reflect your way by association.
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Create Your Own Word
One good way to make sure that all social media platforms are available and that people can find you on Google is to make up a word.
There are plenty of examples of this but one good one at the moment would be Skrillex (see his amazing setup here). Not only is it a made-up word but it is also easy to understand, and people could quite easily guess the spelling.
By choosing a name like this it not only fits with his genre bass-heavy EDM but it also ensures that he is not going to be confused with any other DJs. He guaranteed himself a completely name by inventing a unique word.
Choosing a DJ Name That Is Too Generic
Another thing to be wary of is choosing names that are too generic. A great example of this is the drum & bass producer called “Audio”.
This is maybe a good name in terms of describing what he does i.e creates music by manipulating audio. Where it fails is when “Audio” or even “Audio DJ” is put into google, the chances of finding him are slim.
The word ‘Audio’ is such a generic term that it could apply to anything from music right through to spoken word and audiobooks.
So consider choosing two or even three words to help create your own unique name.
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Studies Have Shown
Studies have shown that easy to pronounce, and easy to remember, names create a better impression of people than those that are difficult to pronounce and remember.
The results showed that, in business, people with easy to pronounce names are promoted more regularly than people with difficult to pronounce names.
Although those studies were obviously conducted in a business setting, exactly the same theories can apply to DJ names.
While this may seem ridiculous, it should not be surprising. The human brain likes familiarity and, essentially, not having to think more than it needs to.
Therefore, when choosing a DJ name, try and make your name easy to pronounce and easy for people to remember.
After all, if people can remember your name then they are more likely to share it with their friends. And be able to look you up to follow online and buy your music.
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Be Careful Not to Go Too Narrow When Choosing a DJ Name
Anyone can have “DJ” added, so don’t feel like you need to make “DJ” an essential part of your name.
Likewise, you may want to be wary of putting your favorite genre in your name. Like if you called “Techno King” but then later decided you play pure Electro then it’ll be a harder transition.
You pigeonhole yourself by putting genres in your name so just be aware of that.
Generic names like Tiesto or Skrillex (see his amazing setup here) mean that they can play any genre they like. While some fans may not support a change in genre, some will and you will gain new fans.
But, at least you have not been limited from day one by your name choice.
Choosing a DJ Name That Means Something to You
Another good way to come up with the name is to actually choose something that means something to you personally. This definitely applies with nicknames.
Assuming you like your nickname, then you have a deeper connection to it than a random name you chose.
Perhaps it could be a favorite book or even naming yourself after some lyrics or a song. Radiohead, for example, are named after a Talking Heads song (from the True Stories album).
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Also, have a look at some established DJs and see what has worked for them. Here is the most recent DJ Mag Top 100. You can see there is a good mixture of both real and made-up names.
This should give you insight into how some of the most successful DJs came up with their names.
Choosing a DJ Name with Name Generators
These do have a place when choosing a DJ name. Rapper Childish Gambino reportedly used a name generator to come up with his unique, if perhaps hard to remember name.
While it may not a name you would have chosen, he definitely doesn’t get confused with other artists.
Which brings me on to the next and final point….
Remember That Names Are Subjective
Just like music, where some people love certain tracks/genres and others hate them, names are exactly the same.
Not everyone you ask about your name ideas is going to love them.
So, be aware of that and decide whether to actually listen to that person’s opinions or not. If you are not going to value that person’s response then consider whether they’re worth asking in the first place.
At the end of the day, your DJ name should be something that you like and that makes you happy. Most importantly, choose a name that’s not embarrassing to tell anyone.
Being embarrassed by your DJ name from the outset is a pretty good indicator of whether it’s good or not.
If just one person tells you they don’t like it, consider whether it’s just their own personal bias. If you love it and you are happy with it then screw everyone else.
Ultimately if you are performing good sets, then, to be honest, no-one cares if your DJ name is slightly odd… As long as they remember it.
And whatever you choose, at least it wont be as bad as some of these…
- What are some of the strangest DJ names you’ve ever seen? Drop them in the comments!
- Want to become an EDM DJ? Check out our serious guide to get you on the circuit in no time!
- Name study: People with Easy-to-Pronounce Names are Favored
- Skrillex image by Rob215, licensed under CC 2.0
- Amon Tobin image by Diana Lili, licensed under CC 2.0