Stage Name Changes
October 10, 2010 7:25 PM   Subscribe

Performer types: does changing your stage name affect your career greatly?

I currently perform and work on productions (as a producer or assistant) under a name I've had for just under 2 years. People do know me by this name (largely due to my blog) and I do have quite a bit of national and international reach.

The name works well for the services/productions side of what I do, but as a stage name it's sorta awkward. I'm also thinking of creating riskier (and risque-r) work, and since my current stage name has part of my real name I was hoping to gain a bit more anonymity.

How much would changing my stage/performance name affect my career as a performance artist? Would I have to rebuild my reputation all over again, since people associate my work with one name? Has anyone successfully pulled off a name change - or perhaps even a different name for a different genre of work?

(I asked people closer to my industry for ideas but not much was forthcoming)
posted by divabat to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not actually a performance artist, but there are plenty of musicians who achieve a level of fame with one name, and then have a side project with a different style of music.
posted by ohisee at 10:53 PM on October 10, 2010

I am a visual artist. I changed my first name about 5 years ago. My original name was quite boring ...a boring name that many females have. I changed it to something interesting (but not too--it is a classy name, not near as popular as my real name). I could not believe the difference in how people treated me with the new name. Much better! Now, it could be that the new name made me act differently, but I honestly think it has more to do with perception.
I don't know how to answer if you can operate with two names. I have heard of a woman who is a clay artist with one name and a painter of velvet paintings with another (tongue in cheek--she goes by "Juanita" for the velvet paintings). She's successful. You might just try the two names and see how you do. People will accept what you want to do for the most part.
I don't make anyone from my long ago life call me the new name. They can call me by my original name and I understand that it is too weird for them to address me with the new name. However, most people I know now know me by the newer name. I can't emphasize enough how the newer name helped me. I hope you have a similar positive experience.
posted by naplesyellow at 12:28 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know quite a few musicians that change their pseudonyms with each band. This a local scene though so faces tend to get familiar even as names change.
posted by saucysault at 6:41 AM on October 11, 2010

"Has anyone successfully pulled off a name change - or perhaps even a different name for a different genre of work?"

Actually, I have an excellent example of the opposite: same name, new genre, great success. Everything But The Girl. They had their biggest success when, 14 years into their career, they shifted from adult contemporary and soft jazz to electronica. All anyone had to do was listen to the opening track of their Walking Wounded CD and they'd know they were in for something completely different.

Walking Wounded and Temperamental, which followed it, are both brilliant. And they're a radical departure from anything that came before (except for a remix of one of their previous songs - Missing).
posted by 2oh1 at 1:43 PM on October 11, 2010

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