The Ultimate Guide: How to Choose a DJ Name That Stands Out
How to Choose a DJ Name That Stands Out
Your DJ name will help you establish your unique identity so take your time in selecting the best possible name. You need to create something that is special, attention-grabbing and true to your brand. A name really can make or break your DJ career so spend some time researching the options.
This blog will help you brainstorm some ideas and narrow down the list to the best options. There are some important things to consider when choosing a DJ name but we'll talk you through the process and give you some inspiration along the way. Whether you're just starting out or looking to rebrand, these tips will help you find the ideal DJ name.
Step One - Research DJ Names
The first thing you should do is research what other DJs are using and consider why. One of the best ways to research DJ names and branding is to buy a few DJ magazines like DJ Mag or Mixmag and read them cover-to-cover. You'll learn a lot about how DJ market themselves in terms of their DJ name, press photos and overall DJ branding.
Interviews are particularly educational to read. One of the easiest wins would be to check out the DJ Mag top 100 DJs and look through the names and then dig a little deeper into their social media profiles.
You should also spend some time identifying the top 20 DJs in your scene. This means the top DJs who play your style of music. DJ names are often genre-specific and appeal to the demographic that follows a particular style of music.
Once you've researched the top 100 DJs and the DJs specific to your community you'll have a broad understanding of what kind of names people are already using. Now ask yourself why, try and find the answers by reading and watching interviews. You might even try and direct message them to get some inside information!
Top Tip - What about your real name?
Sometimes the best DJ name is just your real name. It's quite normal to use a real name rather than a stage name and many DJs so. However, if you'd rather separate your stage persona from your personal life you should consider creating a unique DJ name.
Step Two - Brainstorming DJ Names
Get a dictionary, thesaurus, pen and paper. I recommend that you use a pen or pencil and real paper rather than a digital note pad. This allows you to sketch logo ideas and designs while brainstorming names.
Start by just listing words that are associated with your life including nicknames, abbreviations of your name(s), your hobbies, physical traits, favourite things etc.
Now list words associated with your style of music or style of DJing like punch, drop, low, high, cut, scratch, bass, jack, rhythm, melody etc. Many DJs also integrate words and phrases from music production like ADSR, LFO etc.
Finally list some words that you find interesting, unique or inspirational. These words can also be just totally random so if you're not sure just open any dictionary, book or magazine and randomly point at a word as a starting point. Repeat until something catches your attention.
When brainstorming your potential DJ names consider your future self. What if your choice in music changes over the years? What if this joke you like now isn't as funny in ten years? You should make your name flexible enough to adapt with the time and be adaptable for the different stages of your career.
Top Tip - Use fewer syllables
Notice that DJ names tend to be fairly short. This is because you want something that is memorable and rolls of the tongue easily for an international audience. It's common for DJ names to have just two or three syllables and have a rhythmical flow.
For example; Diplo (dip-lo) it's actually a shortened version of his favourite dinosaur, the diplodocus! This name is memorable, punchy sounding and also works well on flyers. Shorter DJ names mean that the font can be created larger on a DJ flyer or poster.
Your logo name will influence what a graphic designer can achieve with your logo so be aware that longer names are often harder for designers to use effectively. Shorter DJ names also make better hashtags.
Top Tip - Avoid using mixed capitalisation and symbols
Graphic designers who make DJ flyers, posters and assets for promotional purposes don't want to be curtailed by your choice of mixed capitalisation. Avoid using DJ names where there are some upper and lowercase letters. It's far better to choose a name that can be written in upper AND lowercase, or just uppercase like KSHMR. This way the designer can easily work with your DJ name and others on their graphics. It's also important to avoid symbols or emojis because not every font has these characters. Fans will also struggle to type your DJ name correctly if you use these.
Top Tip - Avoid using the word 'DJ'
Using the word 'DJ' in your DJ name has become a cliche. If you use 'DJ' in your DJ name people will often categorise you as being an amateur because a pro would know how cliche it is!
Step Three - Narrowing Down The Names
You should now have many dozens of potential words to be used in the creation of your DJ name. However, chances are many of these words have already been used by other DJs. The best solution is to combine or edit these words to create new potential DJ names. It's common for DJ names to remove some letters. For example, FTRE could be a shortened version of the word Future. Integrating numbers is also common, FTRE1; for example.
Narrow down your potential DJ names into a shorter list but don't decide on the winning name just yet. First, you will need to check to see if any established DJs are already using this name or not. Search for this DJ name on Soundcloud, Resident Advisor, Google, Instagram and Facebook. If the name is already used by an established DJ or musician you should cross it off the list.
If you find some names that do appear to be available you might want to also check if there are suitable profile names available on the key social media channels like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc.
Top Tip - Think Of Your Audience
A DJ name is the cornerstone of a brand. If you think of yourself as a business entity you'll want to connect with your demographic. Who are your fans and what kind of scene do you want to establish yourself within? Thinking of yourself as a brand is suitable for some DJs but not everyone. Artists should have creative freedom to do whatever they want but sometimes thinking about your audience is a wise commercial pursuit.
Step Four - Ask Your Peers
Once you have a shortlist of potential DJ names that are both creative and available to use you should now get some feedback. Ask a select group of friends or peers what they think of the names. Prepare yourself for some criticism but remember the final choice is yours to make. Try and ask people who actually appreciate your style of music and the scene you want to establish your DJ career within.
It's crunch time! Make a final decision based on your feedback and your own thoughts. As soon as you've done so make sure you register the name on all the websites profiles a DJ might need. This is the first step in protecting your new brand.
Top Tip - Trademarking
If you're very happy with your DJ name and you want to protect it from being used by anyone else you may wish to register it as a trademark. To do this within the UK is very simple, just check no one else is using it and then register it. The fee to do so is around £200. Once your application is approved your DJ name will be protected and no one else within the UK will be able to use it for DJing. If you want to go one step further you can register an EU wide or global trademark but the cost is much higher.
Selecting the right DJ name is one of the most significant steps a DJ makes in establishing their career. Your whole DJ identity and brand hinges on your choice of DJ name, so don't rush it! Take the time to research and brainstorm, take advice from your peers and be diligent with your checks. Find the perfect name that reflects your artistic vision and helps your stand out in the music industry.