Are you just starting your music career and don’t know how to come up with an artist name? Before you start growing your fanbase, it’s important to come up with a unique artist name or stage name that stands out from the crowd. After all, it’s the very first thing that people will see and hear when they come across your music. Coming up with an artist name is like coming up with a business name: your branding needs to stand-out. There are a few key steps to consider when brainstorming your artist name, from looking at personal connections and keeping your audience in mind. In this article, we explore helpful tips and tricks on how to come up with an artist name that is perfect for you.
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1. How do I pick my artist name: the basics
When picking an artist name, take your time and consider the implications of the name. It should be something that reflects your style and personality, so that it can help to define you as an artist. A good name is also usually a simple name; you want to pick something that is easy to pronounce and spell. Think about what language your artist name should be in: where is your audience mainly located? Are you looking to be recognized internationally? Pick an artist name that can be easily understood across languages and cultures.
This may seem obvious, but make sure that the name is not already being used by another artist. If it is, and you are set on that name, maybe you can adjust it slightly to avoid confusion. Ever wonder why The Weeknd is missing the extra e in his name? At the time he started making music, there was already a Canadian band named The Weekend. By simply removing the e he was able to keep the name he wanted after all. When it comes time to do your music promotion, you also need to find a name that can be easily marketed. This means avoiding any words in your artist name that are copyrighted or trademarked.
2. Come up with an artist name: can my artist name be anything?
Technically, your artist name can be anything you want, just like your music can be anything you want. That’s the beauty of creative freedom! However, in reality, you should follow a simple set of guidelines when choosing your artist name. Your stage name should be something that is memorable, recognizable and that represents you as an artist. It should be appropriate for the type of music you are creating and reflect the image that you are trying to put forth. Think about the tone you want to have for your identity as an artist. Do you want to have a name that is serious or silly? What kind of vibe do you want to convey? Dreamy, badass, or mysterious? Deciding on a name may take days or weeks, but its important to find your niche and really imagine yourself as a new brand.
3. How to come up with an artist name: origin stories
Lots of band and artist names have unique stories behind them, and they often can be quite random in their origins. What’s important in these origin stories is that the name always had a special meaning to the person who invented it. A lot of artist names came from inside jokes or childhood memories. The lead singer of Weezer, Rivers Cuomo, had asthma as a kid and so his friends gave him this nickname. Turns out it was a good fit for the band name. Lynyrd Skynyrd took their name from their old gym teacher Leonard Skinner, who used to get upset about all their long hair. Do a deep dive into your old journals, conversations, or texts to find material for a unique artist name.
Many good names can also be traced back to references to literature or historical events. The Airborne Toxic Event was taken from Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel White Noise. The guitarist from System Of A Down had written a poem called “Victims Of A Down” that was later transformed into the bands name. Singer Dan Smith of the band Bastille was born on July 14th, hence the band name that references the national French holiday on the same day. The Foo Fighters took their name from what the allied flying aces called UFOs in World War II. Make a list of references to literature, films, or historical events that are important to you and see if anything sounds good.
4. How do you name an artist: idea brainstorming checklist
Brainstorming ideas to come up with a good artist name is key in finding your identity as a musician, band, or singer. Naming strategy is all about getting all the ideas out on the table to then narrow down the best names. Here is a checklist to start brainstorming artist name ideas:
- Start with your actual name: do you have any unique nicknames? What about your middle name or surname? Your maiden-name or that of someone in your family? Can you shorten it, combine it with a second word, or add an initial?
- Could you add a prefix or a suffix to one of these names?
- Look up websites with baby names to come up with a pseudonym or alias.
- Come up with a descriptive name that reflects your music: brainstorm feelings, images, or ideas that you want to convey. Write down these words.
- Combine two of these words to create a name that stands out. Lots of artists use the format adjective + noun in their names.
- Make a list of your favorite adjectives.
- Think about places that are important to you and your musical universe. Write these places down.
- Find names of fictitious characters that inspire you and that aren’t blocked by a trademark. Your artist moniker could very well be a fantasy name.
- Test out combinations of two words that use The (noun) every time.
- Play around with different combinations of letters, initials, acronyms, and numbers. Some cool names may be super simple!
- Open up a book, dictionary, or thesaurus and write down any words that catch your eye.
- Use alliteration, combining words that start with the same letter or sound.
- Look up Latin phrases or Greek words and use those as part of your name.
- Think about puns or wordplay. Catchy names sometimes have that extra cleverness to them.
- Use a domain name generator, business name generator, or product naming site to come up with new ideas.
- Nonword artist names: if you hit a wall with real words, make up your own! Some artists have completely made up names that are successful because they are one of a kind. I don’t think there is any competitor going up against the band CHVRCHES.
5. What are some creative names: narrow down your list
So, now you have a list of potential ideas, random word combinations, and maybe some fabricated nonsense to find a catchy artist name. It’s time to narrow down your list and decide on a name. Only keep the ideas that follow these rules:
- Two words maximum
- Easy to spell
- Easy to pronounce
- The name is not already taken by another artist
- The Instagram handle and/or domain name is available (if it is not, check to see if adding music or another similar word to the end will do)
Its essential nowadays for artists to have an online presence, so the naming process for an artist can be very dependent on the available domains. If you come up with an artist name that you really love but is the same as the name of a company or a brand name product, figure out if you are willing to compete with them in search engines. Change your name idea if you see that it’s going to be too complicated for your brand or impossible to register a domain name. After all, launching a professional music career is like starting a business.
6. What are some good artists names?
If we think about some legendary artists names, they all have three things in common: they are simple, short, and leave an impression. They are often only one or two words! Think about your target audience, especially in today’s music industry. Unfortunately, music lovers and consumers have shorter and shorter attention spans. It’s important to come up with a catchy name that doesn’t require much effort for the reader or listener to understand, but that is also appealing. If you want to make a name for yourself, you must pick a name that is singular. Let’s take a look at some good artists names over the years:
- The Beatles
- Lady Gaga
- Daft Punk
- Spice Girls
- Vampire Weekend
- Silk Sonic
- Benny Sings
- La Femme
- The Weeknd
- The Cars
- 50 Cent
- Arcade Fire
Come up with an artist name: final thoughts
With a little creativity and research, you can come up with an artist name that is both memorable and meaningful to you. Continue researching other artist names and how they came to be to help inspire you in choosing a name. Don’t be afraid to play around with name generators to spark your imagination. Reach out to family and friends close to you to get name suggestions. Once you’ve found the perfect name, promote your music by getting in touch with professionals in the music industry through Groover!
| Read also: How to build a universe around your music