We compiled a few quick tips in case any of you are stuck dead in a corner trying to pick a sick DJ name.

Since the invention of music itself, people have worshipped those select few who have the ability to play instruments and captivate throngs of listeners with tasty jams. Over time though, the meaning of what it means to be a rock star has gone through some changes — the most drastic of which have taken shape during the last 10 years or so. Nowadays, DJs and producers — the fist-bumping, button-pressing ambassadors of EDM — have completely reshaped the way we think about musical stardom. What used to be the realm of an elite core of brilliantly talented musicians is now anyone’s game.

With advances in music production software and turntables, creating and playing music is so simplified now even a trained chimpanzee can produce and mix his own sets (seriously though, DJ Banana Hands, check him out). Now, for all of you aspiring producers out there, we aren’t trying to dog on your tunes — we love EDM too — we just want to offer some advice to help set you apart from the rest of the talentless jabronies you’ll be up against.

That said, the single most important detail that will either make or break you as a DJ or producer is an identity — more specifically, your DJ name. From Fatboy Slim to Skrillex, a quality DJ name can mean the difference between playing to a packed stadium or an empty room. Here are our tips to help you pick out the best of the best when it comes to a stage name.

>> Whatever you do, DO NOT choose a name that includes “DJ ________.”

Sure, this may seem counterintuitive, but it’s by far the most important rule to follow when selecting a name. Of course, there are always exceptions — DJ Mustard, DJ Shadow, DJ Jazzy Jeff — but those guys all have talent that speaks for itself. They can do whatever the hell they want.

If you’re not a master turntablist, putting DJ in front of your name immediately marks you as an amateur and screams “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING!” Additionally, adding DJ to your name is completely unnecessary. Think of DJing like any other occupation — you don’t ever see a Banker Mike or a Plumber Frank walking around, do you? Simply put, if you show up to a club gig with gear and there’s still a need to explain what you’re doing there, it’s just time to quit and go after Banker Mike’s job.

>> Removing the vowels from a word is a no-no. It’s lazy and makes you look like DMBSS.

As in rule number 1, there are always exceptions: MSTRKRFT, SBTRKT — they did this shit before it was cool. But the missing vowel thing is a little out of hand. Now we have DVBBS, SNBRN, and KSHMR mocking what used to some fairly neat wordplay. No one should have to guess what your name is and how to pronounce it. Even if it’s pretty obvious, you have to remember that people can be (are) stupid. Do everyone a favor and make your name easy to read, otherwise people are going to start calling you a DCKHD.

>> Remember: Numbers are not letters.

When a letter is replaced with a number it essentially says to your fans, “I can count this many numbers!” R3hab, Shift K3Y, DJ Bl3nd, 3lau (Really, is the letter E all that bad?)—all these guys are guilty of is a cheap, played-out tactic. If you really think that adding a number to a DJ name will give it the extra pizazz needed to get on the Coachella lineup, there are two options: spell it out, or use a number that isn’t “3” — for fuck’s sake! Along these same lines, exclamation points, question marks, or any other punctuation shouldn’t be used to replace letters, either.

>> Keep your name short and sweet.

There are a couple of reasons why a DJ name should be brief. First off, people will most likely scroll past the “My DJ Name Is A Full Sentence remix” of Hardwell’s new song on a Soundcloud feed. Second, if/when you become big and famous, you should be able to write the name on small surfaces like foreheads, ass cheeks, bare breasts, and even a flaccid dick or two (it happens). Your name shouldn’t have to be abbreviated in any way, and it should roll of the tongue with ease if you want everyone to be chanting it in the clubs. 

>> Your DJ name should compliment the kind of music you make/play.

Does Fluffbunny or DJ Snuggles sound like someone who plays hot, nasty dubstep? Does Death Grip or Boner Killer sound like someone who spins pretty, uplifting trance? No, they most certainly do not. It goes without saying that a DJ name should fit with the kind of music he/she plays.

If you play big, exciting electro-house, go for something with capital letters and lots of X’s and Z’s — it worked for Skrillex and Zedd. (Disclaimer: be careful with those X’s; there’s a fine line between a DJ name and a porn name.) If you play beautiful, melodic trance, consider something spacey and pleasant like Above & Beyond or Kaskade. It will be to your benefit to let people know what they are getting into before they see you play.

Still having trouble picking your DJ name? Try these helpful exercises.

  • Your favorite color + the last thing you ate
  • Random Preposition (of, in, over, etc.) + the name of the last place you blacked out
  • Your favorite animal + your favorite curse word
  • The first letter of your name + your favorite sexual term
  • Your initials + the number of seconds you have spent thinking about your DJ name


– by Joe LaFond