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How To

How To Come Up With A Stage Name For Singers

Photograph of the blog post author, Annika Hope

Annika Hope

8.2.2023

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It can make sense to keep your individual identity and your identity as a singer, different. To do this, you’ll need to work out how to come up with a stage name. You might want to use a singer name generator, or come up with your own stage name ideas.  

Why do so many artists use pseudonyms – and should you call yourself something different as a performer?  Read on for hints and tips on creating your very own unique stage name.  

How to come up with a good stage name 

If you have a very long name or one that’s difficult to pronounce, it might not be the best way to brand yourself as a musician. And for some genres of music, like hip hop, grime and rap, having an alter ego is standard. It can also really help overcome shyness as a singer. Adopting another persona can help bring you out of your shell and be more flamboyant on stage. 

Many famous singers choose different stage names that are very unique. Depending on your music genre, the stage name you pick may be an important part of how people think of you. This is because your name is the first thing your fans will associate you with. 

There are many points singers should consider when picking a music stage name. It will be a crucial part of your image as a singer. Some of the best artists use stage names including: 

  • Katy Perry 
  • Miley Cyrus 
  • Nicki Minaj  
  • Drake 
  • P Diddy 
  • Calvin Harris 
  • Lorde 
  • Bono 
  • Lady Gaga 
  • Elton John 
  • Bruno Mars 

Pick a unique name

Good stage names are can be time-consuming as it’s difficult to find one no one else is using. Emeli Sande chose to call herself Emeli rather than her actual name Adele because Adele was already successful name. Having an individual name means that once someone has heard that they will know exactly who is being spoken about. For example:

  • Lady Gaga was inspired by her favourite song (Radio Gaga- Queen)
  • Katy Perry used her Mother’s maiden name (originally Kathryn Hudson)

Unique stage names 

But there are plenty of other artists like Adele, Mabel, George Ezra, Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift who use their real names.

And with social media, there’s another layer of naming that happens – many artists record and tour under their given names, but have pseudonyms for their accounts on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

Some artists, like Dua Lipa, have names that sound like stage names, but that is in fact, their real birth name.  

Finding a stage name for your career

Your stage name can help your career, so put in some work and don’t rush picking one. It takes time to find something that reflects you as a band or an artist so be patient. Choosing a stage name should help you stand out. You need to be able to sell it to an audience of potential fans, as well as helping your existing fans track you down.

You don’t have to, but if you have a common name or one that is difficult to spell or remember then maybe it’s worth considering. Good stage names are something that needs a lot of thought, simply because that will be your brand once you’ve become successful. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds so here are some ways to help you pick one.

Stage name ideas

If you want a slightly different stage name that keeps a sense of your existing identity, there are two ways you can do it.  

#1 Use a nickname you already have. 

Follow in the footsteps of artists like Birdy. Her real name is quite a mouthful – Jasmine van den Bogaerde – not ideal as a punchy pop title. So instead, she opted for the nickname given to her by her parents (she was called Birdy, as they said she took her food from them like a little bird).

Stormzy (real name Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr) has many nicknames, including Wicked Skengman, a persona he adopted for many of his early YouTube videos.  

#2 Shorten, lengthen or abbreviate your current name.  

If you have an unusual first name, Like Madonna (real name Madonna Louise Ciccone), Paloma Faith (Paloma Faith Blomfield) or Cher (Cherilyn Sarkisian), you could use that on its own, or use your real name with an extra initial – like Jessie J.  

How to make a stage name quickly 

There are lots of things to consider when picking. Your stage name can make a real difference, so it’s better not to rush it if possible. You need to find something that reflects you, your music and your style. But if you are short of time and your real name/nicknames don’t work, there is another method to shortcut the process…  

Stage name generator 

#3 Use a stage name generator

Stage name generators, band name generators or artist name generators can help to get you to get ideas for stage names. Once you’ve found something you like, audience-test it to see how it resonates with people who already love your music.

If you’d rather not come up with your own stage name, then the easiest way to do it is to use a stage name generator. It can also be a really fun game to play with your mates and you might just get some inspiration in the process.  

How to pick a stage name yourself 

Start by having a brainstorming session, either by yourself or with some friends. Spend some time scribbling down your ideas, you can then mull them over for a few days. It’s important not to pick a name you’ll later regret, so try not to be too swayed by your current feelings.  These are some aspects to consider in your brainstorming.  

  • What sort of brand do you want to have as an artist? How can you reflect this with your name? You might want to be edgy, or fun, or a relatable girl/boy next door. 
  • Is it marketable? A confusing, super long or very hard to spell name won’t work as well. Can you picture it on a poster, album cover or flyer? 
  • What should it say about your music?  
  • Who is your audience? Research successful artists you aspire to be like and who’s music is similar to yours. This will give you an idea of the kinds of names that work. 
  • Similarly, will it be easy to find in online searches? If it’s complicated or too simple (like just using a common first name as your stage name), it may be harder to find you.   
  • Don’t pick an offensive name. It may seem cool or funny, but it will get you barred from lots of online platforms, gigs and contests.  
  • Is it memorable? It can help to rhyme or use alliteration. 

Choosing a good stage name 

Even if all of the ideas you come up with seem terrible, that’s all good. Getting the bad options out of the way can be part of the process of choosing a good stage name and move you closer to finding the real thing. Now you know what doesn’t work. 

Once you do find something that seems to fit, there are two steps to take. 

  1. Check Google. If an artist already has this name it’s not going to work.  
  2. Test it out with your friends and fans. While you might be confident that you’ve found the right one, if those people are all telling you that it’s no good, maybe you need to come up with more ideas. Keep an open mind and listen to the majority. 

Make your stage name memorable

Single-word stage names are very popular (Lorde, Rihanna) but this can be tough if you don’t have the massive marketing budget or a major record label behind you to make you stand out.

Finding a single word that creates an impact in your circle might feel easy, but finding a mononym stage name for singers that is isn’t used by someone else on the planet is a much tougher challenge. It’s doable but doesn’t be tempted to make rash decisions.

How to make a stage name work 

Now use this name across all of your platforms and content. You can buy a domain name (if your stage name is still available), so it matches your website. And remember: once you’ve made your decision, stick with it. Otherwise, you will confuse your potential and existing fans.

This will now be the name you use for any gigs, competitions and for any YouTube videos or tracks you post online. It’s the name you should use to introduce yourself too. If this feels weird, it’s worth practising, so you get used to calling yourself something different. 

You won’t need to change your name legally and your friends and family can still call you by your real name. Your stage name is simply something you use for your music. 

Why use a stage name?

As well as creating something distinctive, using a stage name as a singer can help you to adopt a new persona when performing. Immersing yourself in an alternative identity can be liberating and allow you to create an even more engaging stage presence.

For some singers, it can make all the difference; reportedly, David Jones was incredibly shy, but you would never know it watching him perform as David Bowie.

  • What is a stage name? 

It’s an alternative professional name, or pseudonym, used by artists, performers, actors, and entertainers. It helps create a separate identity too. You might find some stage names are simply small variations of a birth name whilst others can be more drastic. 

  • Do all singers need to choose a stage name? 

While many artists and singers to use a stage name, just as many use their given name and/or surname. If you have a distinctive and great sounding one, it might be worth sticking with it rather than inventing a new one for the sake of it. 

Do you have a stage name for singing and performing? How did you choose it and what is it? Let us know in the comments.


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