TIME Magazine Cover: Radical Chicks - May 29, 2006 - Music - Country Music  - Women

Snoop Dogg, Joji, and The Chicks have all changed artist names and are seemingly fine. Other artists have struggled to return to a level of success once rebranding.

Your artist name is your #1 branding asset.

Your artist name is how audiences experience you on festival lineups, in playlists, in collaborations. The more you release, the more you invest in that name recognition. What happens when you want to change as an artist?

I was lucky enough to work on the rebranding of Chet Faker to Nick Murphy and was deep in the weeds of the challenges artists face when they want to go in a different direction. This post lays out 4 considerations when you want to change your name.

4 critical questions to ponder before changing your name:

  1. Do I have a strong reason?
  2. How can I clearly, loudly, and repeatedly communicate the name change through marketing?
  3. Do the two projects have a distinct enough look and feel to the ears of a lay audience?
  4. Will I retire my old name forever?

If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these then you must work on the marketing and communication plan around the rollout of your name change.

Combat confusion by clearly differentiating the musical ambitions of each project

Confusion will be your biggest hurdle in both the minds of your audience and the industry.

To mitigate confusion it’s so important to have a strong reason why you’re making a change and communicate it early and often through press, songs, content, and art.

Take Joji. The singer-songwriter known for melodic love ballads is almost unrecognizable from Filthy Frank, his YouTube comic name who helped create the Harlem Shake. In 2013 Joji was building a huge audience through crude comedy and then dressed in a pink lycra bodysuit, which helped launch the viral sensation known as The Harlem Shake.

4 years later, he’d grown out of his style and was battling medical issues so rebranded as Joji and began releasing the kind of music he wanted to create: idiosyncratic, complex songs that speak to listeners. With that came an entirely new look – new aesthetic, styling, visuals. No one could mistake Joji for Filthy Frank.

Use visuals to create a clear difference in your new direction

What may seem clear to you in the music, as a trained career artist, won’t to the laymen listener.

Visuals can do a lot of communicating for you. This is why you want to consider the look and feel of the new project like colors, iconography, styling, tone of voice on socials and in media, photography, and video references. Mood boards are super helpful for exploring what this could look like for you.

Really, changing your name can be a smooth process or a difficult one, it largely depends on how hard you’re willing to work to reinvent yourself…It’s definitely not something you want to do regularly. Make your new name great, fall in love with it, be proud of it, and then own it! (and don’t change it again if you can help it).

Watch the whole video on how to change your name looking at The Chicks, Joji and other artists who’ve done it successfully.

📧 If you’re an independent artist and want to set your music up for success through marketing, subscribe to Deep Cuts for weekly music marketing insights.