(Note: See our huge How To Find The Best DJ Name: 25 Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts article for a newer version of this.) So you’re ready to start DJing out in bars and clubs, and of course will need a name. This is your one chance to get it right, and whatever you choose now will stick with you for your whole DJing life. So how do you do it? What are the mistakes to avoid? And how do you know when you’ve found a good one?
Over a long DJing career, I’ve heard great DJ’s and bad DJ’s – and I’ve heard great and bad DJ names too. And I reckon I can give you some pointers. So here’s my advice on how to choose your DJ name:
1. Try your own name
You may have a really cool name, or at least an OK one. I have an OK one (“Phil Morse”) and I stuck with it, but you may be really lucky and have a great “real” name. (An old DJ partner of mine, Herbie Saccani, had such a name.)
Drawbacks? If you’re DJing for “cash-no-invoice” (damn you!) and the taxman hits you in 10 years with a load of flyers and the question: “Where did all the money go?” you may have some swift answering to do. (I know someone who was arrested at an airport on the way to a gig abroad for this very reason.) Also, if you are a merchant banker by day, do you really want your DJing alter ego showing up all over the web when your boss Googles you? Think it through now while you can.
There are doubtless also other people with your name, maybe even some who are DJs. That makes your real name less ideal for you. If so…
2. Try a variation on your name
Keep it personal, but alter something. Change your surname or first name. Use your middle name and last name instead of first and last. Add something in quotes between your first and last names (Harry “Choo Choo” Romero did that). Pick something foreign for your surname (try Italian, Spanish, Russian dictionaries. Just makes sure you don’t use the word for “foot rot” or something by mistake).
You get instant “ownership” over such a name, as it is similar to your real name, but you have the luxury of changing it to make it more cool/unique/memorable.
3. Use your nickname
The hard work’s been done here. Your school friends have tried and tested names for you, and one stuck. I was “Flipper” (Philip? Flipper? I guess that’s how the transition was made. Actually, DJ Flippa sounds kinda good…). Or use your nickname as the bit in quotes, between your first and last names (“Phil ‘Flippa’ Morse”? Mmmm, maybe not so good now.) Obviously if you were called “spekky twat” or worse at school this won’t work as well.
So – you’ve got a name But before you go and buy the URL and register your Facebook page, there are a few pitfalls to avoid. Consider the following:
4. Make sure it’s “radio friendly”.
If someone can’t write down your name easily having been told it in person, over the phone, or on the radio, it’s not too good. You’ll get misspellings of it or just complete miscomprehension, when people see it written down and don’t connect with what they’ve heard verbally.
Not a DJ, but here’s a good example: There’s a Scottish politician called “Alex Salmond”. When I hear that on the radio, it sounds like “Alec Samond” Or “Alex Hammond” – definitely not “Alex Salmond”. So pick something people will write down correctly every time. You’ll be thankful for this when you’re famous.
5. Consider having two DJ names if you play two styles
Say you play extreme hardcore techno, and deep house. You may love “DJ Destroyer” for your face-chewing sets, but would that really work for your loungy, beach house afternoons? More people have wider tastes than they’re given credit for, but still, there are limits. I have friends who’ve play in bands, DJed and work in serious day jobs. Using your real name and TWO musical alter-egos in such a case can be a good idea.
6. Be sure your name is not taken
UK DJ/production duo the Chemical Brothers were originally called The Dust Brothers (I’ve still got the early 12″s, value racking up nicely now, thank you very much). But when US band The Dust Brothers caught wind, legal flurrying led to “The Chemicals” (as they’re often called) changing their name. No need if they’d only have done a bit of research first. So do yours.
One good resource is the website www.ud.com, where you can check if websites, Facebook/Twitter names and lots of other potential places you may want to use your DJ name still have it available for you to grab.
7. Ask your best friends, not your groupies, if your name is any good
Fans will tell you anything. Ask your girlfriend, oldest mates or brother/sister what they think. They’re more likely to tell you the truth.
Good luck choosing your name if you haven’t got one, and if you have, we’d love to know how you chose yours…
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