Your name defines you on a personal level, of course, but when you have a public career in entertainment, sometimes the name on your birth certificate isn't going to cut it. It might need to be changed to fit what it is you're doing. Here are six questions to ask yourself when considering changing your name, and what to think about when it comes to using a stage name versus the one your mother gave you.
1. How cool is your real name?
What's your real name? Mine is Amy Maria Sciarretto. I've never come across anyone else with the same moniker, so I'd probably keep it. Here's what to ask yourself regarding your name: Does someone else have it? Is it unique? Is it "you"? If your real name is basic and doesn't equate to the persona you're trying to project, you may want to alter your name or give it a little boost or pizzazz. Some rockers have real names that just sound cool, but it could be because people recognize them already, like James Hetfield.
2. Does it sound obviously fake?
Something like, say, Justin Champagne isn't going to sound cool or effortless. It's going to sound made up and cheesy. But if you are going for cheese, a name like that might work. So think about what you want to project and portray if the name your mama gave you isn't going get the job done.
3. Do you even need a stage name?
If you have a storyline tied into your image, do you need a name to go along with it? Do you need to craft an alter ego who has a descriptive, proper name fitting the overall theme or concept you're trying to put forth? Don't change your name just to change your name. I always thought the names that the members of Avenged Sevenfold adopted had such a coolness. Plus, so many band dudes end up being referred to by their first name with their band name like a last name, so there's that.
4. What does changing your name do for you or your project?
There are so many factors regarding your real and stage name, from sounding too ethnic, too common, not ethnic enough, not common enough, too similar to another celeb, etc. You have to think about all these elements so that your name stands out and is attached to you.
5. Would a mononym work?
Like Madonna? Rihanna? Or do you need a full name to really get a point across? Is your middle name sexier than your first? Is there a swap that needs to happen?
6. Does it fit your genre?
If you're a singer-songwriter penning your own songs from your heart and your experience, changing your name could poke holes in your credibility. But if you're a rapper, well, having that badass name, which could even be a childhood nickname, elevates you to another level.
There are lots and lots of things to consider when deciding to go with a manufactured stage name or your legal moniker. Make sure it's something you like before you're stuck with it.
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Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.