How to choose a DJ name – introduction
In this post, we’ll run through our 10 tips on how to choose a DJ name, followed by what to do next once you’ve chosen.
Whilst choosing a DJ name definitely ISN’T a perfect science (and admittedly, it’s a bit of a gimmicky topic), it’s still something that most DJs will need to think about.
I’ve boiled this down as best I can, so stick with me!
It’s not just for ‘’EDM’’ DJs
When I started DJ’ing back in 2000, one of the biggest mistakes I made was not taking the time to properly choose a DJ name…
And predictably, by default, I was called ‘’DJ insert first name’’ (that’d be ‘DJ Dale’).
Whilst I didn’t really care at the time (I was just happy to be playing out and getting paid for it), I can now see the missed branding opportunity that was staring me right in the face!
Truth is, in today’s digital world, it’s much more difficult for DJs (and DJ producers) to stand out, and so it’s crucial you take time to properly choose a good DJ name. And more broadly to work on your personal brand.
This post doesn’t just apply to DJs that aspire to ‘go professional’; it’s actually for ANY DJ that takes their online presence seriously – which of course can include amateurs and hobbyist DJs as well – regardless of style or genre focus.
So yes, it’s not just for EDM DJs.
An important note before we jump in
Choosing a DJ name isn’t something you want to mess up, so I’d strongly suggest reading all the sections in this post for full context.
A quick disclaimer: Unless this is a ”just for fun” project, the taking action part of this post isn’t really intended for brand-new DJs. That is to say: if you’re still learning how to put a tight mix together, then I’d suggest there are way more fundamental things you should be focused on.
Lastly, after you’ve read this, be sure to check out our guide on how to brand yourself as a DJ. It goes hand-in-hand with this one!
You have 3 options when choosing a DJ name
We’ll cover off all of these in this post, but you basically have 3 options when you’re trying to come up with a DJ name:
Option 1: Just use your real name
Option 2: Create a ‘shortening’ or variation of your real name
Option 3: Create a completely new alias/stage name
Note: By default, everything in this post refers to creating a DJ name as part of your personal brand. It DOESN’T refer to business names, or anything else.
Table of Contents
What are the benefits of using a DJ alias/stage name?
Whilst some people love the idea of having their real name up in lights (or at least have no issues with it), others prefer to keep things separate by using an alias.
And although it’s not that difficult for someone to find out your real name these days, it still has some key benefits.
Firstly, you can pretty much choose whatever name you want — hopefully choosing something that’s as ‘marketable’ and ‘Google search friendly’ as possible in the process.
Also, if you do become popular, or even famous, having an alias will create a divide between your personal life and you as a DJ/artist.
This gives you a ‘’get out clause’’ (of sorts) in case you decide to completely change direction at some point, which does happen. And whilst it’s definitely something you’ll want to prevent, you can always create another alias.
What about using your real name?
You can, of course, just stick with your real name. Just think of Seth Troxler, Eric Prydz, or even Carl Cox!
You can still build a perfectly good personal brand using your own name. Carl Cox being the perfect example. At the same time, if your name is difficult to spell or hard to pronounce, you might want to consider changing something or creating an alias/stage name.
Obviously Carl Cox didn’t have that problem.
Remember, you also have the option of tweaking your real name to make it more marketable, which we’ll come to in a minute.
Important considerations when brainstorming DJ name ideas
Here’s a quick checklist of considerations (and some other important points) before you start brainstorming. I’d recommend just skimming over it for now then referring back to it when you think of a possible DJ name.
Whilst you shouldn’t get too obsessed with every single point here, these are certainly things you’ll want to think about:
- Is my DJ name easy to remember?
- Is it easy to pronounce?
- Is it easy to spell?
- Will it work in my niche or local scene?
- Is there a particular emotion that the name evokes? If so, is that emotion in line with my personality?
Don’t pigeonhole yourself
If the alias you’re creating is attached to a serious career (or you’re serious about doing this for a living), then beware of tying it directly to a particular genre. For example, something like ‘’Techno Charlie’’, or ‘’Hip Hop Addict’’ might not be the way to go.
Terrible, made-up examples there, but you get the point.
Whether to include ‘DJ’ in your name
You know — as in ‘DJ Carl Cox’ or just ‘Carl Cox’?!
There’s no hard & fast rule here. Most pro DJs on the circuit (most of which also produce their own music and so wouldn’t want to pigeonhole themselves) don’t include it as part of their logo/brand – although many new DJs and hobbyists like to use it.
Hopefully you have a good idea of what your intentions are.
Will it stand the test of time?
When you think of a possible DJ name, try to imagine you had a complete U-turn in style or genre focus, and then ask yourself ‘’would this name still work?’’.
Think of it a bit like getting a tattoo, and if you can, try to imagine where you might be 5-10 years from now.
Ask your mates for their opinion
However you decide to do it, ask a few people you trust for their opinion.
What does the name make them think of when they hear it?… if anything. And, if there is an associated emotion or word attached to it, is it authentically you?
I take a deeper dive into the importance of authenticity in how to brand yourself for DJs.
10 Tips On How To Choose A DJ Name
As I mentioned at the start, whilst creating a DJ name isn’t a perfect science, these 10 tips should (at the very least) kick start the brainstorming process.
You’ll want to choose something unique. Not just in the DJ/music world, but also more broadly on the internet itself.
It’s important to keep an open mind during this stage and try not to be a perfectionist. Start a list of possible DJ name ideas and write notes as you go rather than waiting for the perfect name to slap you in the face.
Trust me, once you have a developing list, every time you come back to it — whether it’s the next day or the next week — the names can look (and feel) completely different.
The trick is to actually have a list – and to move forward intentionally.
Let’s jump in…
Tip #1: Make up a word
One of the potential benefits of making up a word (that doesn’t exist), is that when people search for it online, you should hopefully be at the top of the results.
A great example of this is EDM DJ/producer Skrillex (real name Sonny Moore). When asked how he thought of the name he said: ‘’It was a stupid old online AOL screen name. There really isn’t a meaning behind it.’’
Joel Zimmerman is another example. Joel reportedly found a dead mouse in his computer graphics card and later tweaked it to make his stage name, Deadmau5.
Tip #2: Create a ‘pseudonym’ (a fake name)
A pseudonym is simply a made-up, fictitious name. It can be just about anything you want it to be (obviously, it’s a made-up name). Calvin Harris (real name Adam Richard Wiles) is the perfect example.
To get some inspiration and ideas you can check out this A-Z list of stage names on Wikipedia. Also this stage name generator is another tool you can mess around with, or even this fake name generator.
Tip #3: Create a shortening or fusion of your names
There are literally hundreds of examples of this in the Wikipedia list I’ve just linked to in number 2. In one example, a guy called ‘Edward Joseph Bertolatus’ shortened his name to “Eddie Bert’’…
You get the idea.
Tip #4: Put two nouns together randomly
Australian electronic music duo Knife Party are one example of this. The name derived from one of the track names from the Deftones album White Pony back in 2000 (so technically it wasn’t a completely randomly generated idea).
Whilst you can use ‘noun generator’ websites like this one, just be careful, as you could get lost for hours. Still, it doesn’t do any harm to brainstorm.
Tip #5: Get creative, even humorous or stupid
After using his real name for a number of years, popular house & techno DJ/producer Eats Everything (real name Dan Pearce) proclaims that his career took off shortly after creating his stage name. Dan has been quoted as saying: ‘’I eat a lot and I play everything. It’s a stupid name.’’
Consider reverse-engineering this idea with your personal situation. Ask yourself, what do I like to do in my spare time, and is there any way I can create a DJ name from it?
Maybe just don’t choose eating.
Tip #6: Keep it simple
My final real-world example is American DJ/producer DIPLO, real name Thomas Pentz. The name apparently derives from his childhood fascination with dinosaurs, short for Diplodocus.
Ask yourself is there something you can draw on from your childhood in a similar way?
Tip #7: Try a DJ name generator
Here are some DJ name generator websites that I came across when doing this research. The better ones seem to be ‘Cue up name generator’, ‘Rum & Monkey’ and ‘Random Techno Festival Name Generator’. I’ll let you be the judge.
Tip #8: Scan existing artist/DJ names for inspiration & ideas
To get those brain juices flowing in the same way, also check on Mixcloud and/or SoundCloud, perhaps searching by genre to get started. On SoundCloud you can search for ‘DJ Producers’; then click on ‘people’; then filter it by location.
Tip #9: Use a database of real names
Babynames.com is another handy resource to help you brainstorm. As well as having a database of just about every conceivable modern-day name (which could perhaps help with creating a fake name?), you can also check the meaning of a names’ history and origin.
Bonus tip: For a slightly deeper dive into the meaning of your own first or second name, also try familysearch.org.
Tip #10: Try using an online dictionary
Lastly, you could also try an online dictionary such as Dictionary.com. On the search bar at the top, you can either search for ‘synonyms’ (generating different words that mean the same thing based on what you type in) and also ‘definitions’ which you can play around with.
What to do next?
Once you’ve thought of a DJ name (or boiled it down to a couple), you’ll want to start searching to see if the name already exists – ANYWHERE on the internet!
It’s important not to take shortcuts with this research, and it should only take 15-30 minutes to do a proper check once you’ve come up with a name… maybe less.
Follow these steps:
1: The Google test
First, your DJ name will need to pass ‘’the Google test’’ for that exact search term.
Not only will you want to check that nobody is using that exact name you’ll also need to assess exactly WHO or WHAT pops up in the search.
If you’re using a ‘’real name’’ (whether made-up or not), you’ll want to make sure there isn’t someone you weren’t aware of that dominates that search.
In addition to potential DJs, producers, or other music artists, are there any companies or entities (of any kind) with a similar name that may cause an issue?
Also, make sure there are no notorious serial killers that pop up or any other unwanted search results that might cause a problem (or confusion) when you search the name.
Whilst that sounds like a joke, it’s actually a real example I encountered with my name!
2: The website/domain test
Once you’ve done the Google test, you’ll want to check if the ‘’.com’’ address is available. So if it was ‘carlcox.com’, for example.
You’ll need to stick in the exact website address/URL to make absolutely sure the domain isn’t taken. If a website did exist, it wouldn’t necessarily come up in a search by simply searching the name.
3: Check social media platforms
Next, check all the major social media platforms (and YouTube) to see if any person or entity is using that name. If you spot any potential conflict (or, if you spot a regular person with that name), check what handle / ‘@’ address they’re using for that account.
Somebody might already have the ‘@’ address for your name but not necessarily the same profile name. In which case, you would need to think about which ‘@’ address you would potentially use instead on that particular platform.
For example, on Twitter, techno DJ Adam Beyer uses the handle @realAdamBeyer, which is probably because @AdamBeyer was already taken by another user (that being a normal person rather than a brand or business entity, thus it’s not a larger concern).
Whilst it’s not essential, you’ll ideally want all your handles (@ addresses) to be the same across as many platforms as possible. This is handy for when you’re promoting them on radio shows, business cards and other marketing collateral.
4: Check relevant DJ/producer platforms
As you’ve done on the social networks, simply repeat the process across the popular platforms for DJs & DJ/producers – the ones relevant to you. At the very least, this should include Mixcloud and SoundCloud, although you might also want to check Twitch, or whatever.
You get the idea.
5: Reserve your preferred website domain address
Now that everything has been checked and you’re happy with your chosen DJ name (and you’ve asked your mates for their opinion?), it’s time to lock everything in!
Note: Regardless of which company you choose to build a website with you can still purchase your domain from somewhere else and easily (if you want to) move it over. If you’re serious about getting a website at some point, it’s a no-brainer.
6: Reserve ALL the different accounts
You’ll now want to go back and create accounts on ALL the platforms you want to be on, locking in all of the handles / @ addresses.
Remember, even if you’re not planning to use it straight away, you should still reserve ANY potential platform you may use or expand onto at some point.
In the case of Facebook, you’ll need to create an artist page (or business page) associated with your personal account.
That’s about it …
For a deeper dive on developing your personal brand as a DJ, definitely read our post on how to brand yourself next!
Here we cover whether or not you should trademark your DJ name, how to create a typography logo, and much more.
Best of luck!
Images courtesy of Rukes.com and Carl Cox on Facebook.
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