In order to obtain rights to a singing name or a performing name, you will need to apply for a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It does not matter whether your performing name is your own name or an assumed fictitious name as both are equally appropriate for a trademark granted they meet certain criteria.
Trademarking Your Own Name
If your singing name is your legal name, you may apply to trademark your legal name as long as you can provide evidence your name has acquired secondary meaning. Secondary meaning refers to the concept that when the general public hears your name they immediately associate it with your singing or performing career. It is very common for high-profile athletes and celebrities to trademark their names in order to protect their personal brand and likeness. If you have not been performing under your legal name as a singing name, it may be impossible to receive trademark protection as your name will not have acquired secondary meaning.
If your singing name is a fictitiously assumed name, such as Prince or Sting, you may have an easier time applying for trademark protection as such names are arbitrary and much more likely to assume secondary meaning. Trademarking legal names is generally disfavored as the monopoly of rights granted by trademark excludes other people with that name from use of their own name in limited circumstances.
Applying for a Trademark
In order to apply for a trademark in your singing name, you will need to perform a background search to make sure that no one else is using your name. You should start by performing a search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office's TESS system, but you will also need to search in state trademark databases and other sources to guarantee you aren't infringing the rights of third parties. Many individuals opt to hire an attorney or a legal service to perform a proper trademark background search as the process is intensive. After your search, you can apply for a trademark online through the Patent Office's TEAS system or request a paper form. You will be required to provide your contact information, your proposed use of the trademark name and other basic information related to your mark.
Once you have applied for a trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office and received notice that your singing name is properly trademarked, you will have the exclusive right to use your singing name for the limited purpose of singing performances and any other services or goods associated with your singing name. Trademarks are not self-enforcing, so you will need to monitor whether or not any third parties are infringing on your rights.