How to pick the right artist name and why it’s important
One of the first steps an artist should take when turning professional is to pick the right name. Don’t brush away the importance of picking a name that is going to represent your music. Once you choose your moniker, your music will forever be associated with it.
So it is important to choose wisely. Pick a good name that is not only going to be a great tool in promoting and marketing your brand, but one that will also help you to distinguish yourself from other artists, avoid fan confusion, and avoid possible lawsuits.
Famous artists that come into mind are; Lady Gaga, Kaskade, Jay Z, Tiesto, Diplo, Red Hot Chili Peppers etc. These artist names are great because they reflect the artists image concept. Therefore, as we have said, the artist name is easily marketable and distinguishable from the crowd unlike using their real name. Especially if it is a common name.
For example, in the case of Lady Gaga, ‘Gaga’ is a French name that means “Mad” or “Crazy”. So when we hear Lady Gaga’s music we immediately think of creative, expressive and free music.
However, there are many cases when your real name might work better. Honestly, there are many artist who are using their real names and it is working fine for them. After all, what represents you better than the name you have always been know with your whole life?
If you’re a solo artist and your real name is catchy, or you have already established an audience with it, the thought of using anything other than your real name may not occur to you.
But if your name is overly hard to pronounce or too common, then don’t hesitate on adopting a stage name. You won’t be the first one to do it. Robert Zimmerman adopted Bob Dylan, James Osterberg adopted Iiggy Pop, and EDM star Nick van de Wall adopted Afrojack. Many artists have had more successes with stage names than they would ever had with their real names.
Other than the fact that your name may be too difficult to pronounce or too common, there are other reasons that might compel you to ditch your real name and adopt a stage name.
According to Kevin Perry’s article The Psychology of stage names, some artists might pick a new stage name simply because they want to reinvent themselves. It is like becoming a new person. Sometimes you gather debris of negativities in the course of your life, so just by picking a new artist name can be both a therapeutic and a marketing masterstroke. It is for this reason that lead Robert Zimmerman to adopt a new name, Bob Dylan. His decision to reinvent himself was inspired by Dylan Thomas’s poems.
Another compelling reason that may form the case for new stage name is a genre or musical change. This stage name may just be an alias, or it could be permanent. It really all depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you’re completely overhauling your sound and want to distance yourself form your previous work, then make it permanent. But if you just want to show another side of your musical talents, use it as an alias when releasing specific tracks. Similar to what Eric Prydz does with Cirez D and what Datsik does with Ephwurd.
Last but not least, when you decide to pick your name, the internet is going to be your best buddy. If you think you have come up with the most incredible and unique name ever, the first thing you need to do is Google it. You should see whether there are other artists who have already beaten you to it. Picking a name that is already being used by a battalion of other artists is not the smartest thing to do. Also you should check major social media platforms and make sure the name is available. An easy and fast tool to check if your name is available on all major social media sites is http://namechk.com. There is nothing worse than have a great name but can get it on twitter and Facebook.
Try to pick a name that no one else in your genre is using. Go original to avoid creating confusion and being sued because you plucked someone else’s name. Above all, when picking a name, look into the future and visualize how it is going to make you stand out from the crowd.