You will need to make many important decisions during the course of your DJ career. Very few of those decisions will be more crucial than choosing your DJ name.
The best time to choose your DJ name is before you have started to play in public. You can change your DJ name as many times as you like while you are playing in your bedroom, but once you are playing in clubs and bars and it starts to get plastered all over social media, it can be difficult to change (trust me, I have changed DJ names twice during my career).
So how do you choose a great DJ name?
Choosing a DJ name can seem like a daunting task
However, if you follow the 11 steps listed below, it will hopefully make things a little easier for you.
(1) Should I use “DJ” in my name?
While in recent years it seems that the top 100 DJs list has degenerated into little more than a glorified popularity contest, it is a good place to look and see what names the famous DJs are using.
A quick look back over the last few editions shows only a handful of the artists gracing the list that are still using the age-old prefix.
I personally know some people who dropped the “DJ” from the start of their name when they ventured into the world of music production, and the general consensus nowadays is that it can sound obvious or “cheesy”.
If you really want to want to prefix your name with “DJ”, then the decision is yours. Personally, I would suggest not to.
(2) Should I use my real name?
Some people are born with what sounds like a great stage name.
Armin Van Buuren is one of those people. Tijs Michiel Verwest aka Tiesto is not one of those people.
If your real name sounds good and you are happy to use it, then you may not need to think too hard about choosing a DJ name.
However, if you are just working as a DJ on weekends, you may want to consider if using your own name may have an impact on your full-time career.
Nowadays, almost all employers will do background checks on potential employees and if you don’t want your potential boss to find out straight away how you spend your spare time, you may want to think twice about it
Moreover, if your name is quite common, you may well find that someone else is already using it and has established it in their chosen field
(3) Should I use an adaptation of my name?
This is a tactic that has been used countless times by DJs.
Belgian duo Dimitri and Michael Thivaios are known professionally as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike whereas Adam Richard Wiles is the Scottish superstar DJ and producer that we know as Calvin Harris.
As above, you can retain some of your own authenticity by keeping either your first name or surname and replacing the other with a real word or buzz word to complement your new stage name. Alternatively, you can simply replace your entire name with another real-sounding name.
The benefits of this option are that you can create a unique name that sounds great and maintain your own privacy at the same time.
(4) Should I use a pseudonym/nickname?
The pseudonym world is very competitive. You will find that most of the “good” names have already been taken.
If you want your DJ name to be “Terminator” or “Hannibal Lecter”, then you are out of luck. (Yes, I have checked both of those names and yes, both of them already exist).
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use a pseudonym.
Nick Van De Wall derived his stage name from the afro hairstyle that he sported during his younger years and the jacking dance moves that he loved to do. Combining those two names
(5) Is the name spelt how it sounds?
This is something that I personally made a mistake with.
My DJ name is “Mister Barclay”, but when I tell people my name the majority of them think of it as the abbreviated version, “Mr Barclay”.
If you search Google for Mister Barclay, then you will easily find me among the top matches. However, if you search Google for Mr Barclay, then you will be matched with Reginald Barclay from Star Trek!
If people come to one of your shows and like your music, the likelihood is that they will search for you online at a later stage. Make sure that there can be no confusion about how they spell your name as you may never get another chance to add that person to your fan base.
(6) Keep it simple
While it may be tempting to do something creative with your name to make the selection process easier, it will probably backfire on you in the not-too-distant future.
The step above suggests that the name should sound how it looks and this remains true here.
While substituting the letter S for the number 5 may have worked for Deadmau5, it probably won’t work for you
If you choose your name with characters from the Latin alphabet then it should be relevant to most people around the world, regardless of whether they are native English speakers or not.
(7) Is it future-proof?
When considering options for DJ names, it is important to think to the future.
Genres of music are changing all the time. Your personal taste in music will also probably change
While it may seem like a good idea now to be known as “Dubstep Pimp”, you will probably regret it in five years time when you are playing minimal techno and being asked multiple times how you came up with your name.
(8) Research, research, research
You should now have a name that sounds good, looks good, is easy to pronounce and isn’t misleading.
Now it is time to conduct some research to make sure you can secure the domain name and associated social media handles.
I have the following URLs:
When selecting your domain name, you should always try and get the “.com” extension. They are the industry standard for domain names and people trust them a lot more than they trust a
You can use tools such as
While it isn’t imperative that your domain name and social media handles match, it certainly is advisable. When you hand out business cards to potential clients, agents and other networking contacts, it looks professional if they are all identical and shows that you take your branding seriously.
(9) Is anyone else using the name or something similar?
If your search shows that someone else is using the name you have chosen or something very similar, you should tread carefully.
If they are in a different industry then it may not be so much of a problem, but if they are in the same industry, then it can lead to confusion.
In the very worst case scenario, it could lead to a lawsuit and you being forced to change your name. Is that really worth it if it could have been easily avoided with some extra due diligence?
(10) Get feedback from friends and family
Once you are happy with the name you have chosen and are certain that the relevant domain name and social media handles are available, it is time to test your chosen moniker with friends and family.
Don’t spend too long stressing over this part, just as long as the majority of the people that you ask think it is good, immediately go and register that domain name and secure those social media accounts.
(11) Can I use the same name if I play different styles?
If you have a passion for two or more different styles of music, I would recommend having a different name for each style.
Willem Van Hanegem and Ward Van Der Harst play and produce both progressive house and trance.
They are active in the progressive house scene under the name W&W and use the guise NWYR for their trance outings.
By keeping their identities separate, they are able to build a fan base within each genre and clearly communicate to their followers which style will be played at any particular event.
As I said at the start of the article, choosing your DJ name is one of the most important decisions that you will make during your career.
Following the steps within this article should prevent you from making some of the same mistakes that I have made and hopefully help you choose a DJ name to be proud of.
Remember, when choosing a brand or product name, the biggest companies in the world spend a lot of time and money to make sure that they get it
I hope that this has helped you in some way? Are there any stages of the name selection process that I have missed off? Please let me know in the comments.