Stage names are a lot more common than you might think. Perhaps because modern stage names don’t really require a stage. Or, to put it another way, all the internet’s a stage. There are plenty of pseudonyms, nicknames, and aliases out there. We explore where they are most common and why.
This example might seem obvious, because the industry is oversaturated with stage names when it comes to rappers. Sure, other genres of music might feature a few stage names, but it’s odd to hear of any rapper using their birth name in any capacity.
In fact, there’s a long running joke that rappers might be running out of things to match with “Lil”. Lil Pump, Lil Nas X, Lil Dicky, etc. But they’ve also got a lesson in how to avoid that Lil trap and create a nickname. Childish Gambino, or Donald Glover to TV fans, famously shared his anecdote about rolling the dice on a name generator and simply going with what came out. Sometimes simplicity is best.
But rappers and other artists using stage names has been common for decades. The reason that stage names have become a lot more popular is down to the internet. If you browse Twitch or YouTube, Discord or your own gamer friends, you’re unlikely to find a real, two-pronged, full name in there.
This is because signing up for platforms like these requires an entirely unique name, and as much as you might hope there’s no one like you in the world, if your name is semi-common, chances are there is. So, usernames have become the way to identify someone, especially in gaming. Gamers that are good have their gamertags take over their real name most of the time. No one knows who Sean McLoughlin is, but gamer fans know who JackSepticEye is.
But gamers aren’t the only influencers who go by a stage name. It’s less common, but definitely not unheard of for influencers of all genres to take up an identifying stage name, usually inspired by their username, like Jimmy Donaldson, or MrBeast to his fans. Sometimes the stage name comes first and the username is designed to adapt to it. This is because being an influencer is about being a brand, and you’ll be easier to find and market if your stage names and usernames all match.
But there are additional needs for why someone might want to go with a stage name, and that comes down to a level of protection. Modern internet users are nosey and some are dangerous and might use a real birth name to hack their way into your life.
Then again, some professionals simply go with a stage name to have fun. The author industry is rife with them. Stephen King famously released lots of books under different pen names. His official line is that he wanted to “increase his publication” without “saturating the market”.
Then again, it might be due to societal issues. Jane Austen’s work initially simply said “By a Lady”, because to put her own name on it would be detrimental to her life, but she wanted the highly patriarchal system she was in to know that her very popular and well-written novels were written by a woman.