Meet The World’s Highest-Paid DJs
It’s been a year to remember for Calvin Harris. Over the past twelve months, the Scottish DJ earned $66 million, dropped an album that rocketed to the top of the U.S. dance charts and started dating Taylor Swift, in the process dethroning Jay Z and Beyoncé as music’s top-earning couple.
The fact that he’s the world’s top-earning EDM act—tying the record for annual earnings by a DJ, which he set last year—is almost a footnote. Harris HRS -2.74% is once again the top name on our Electronic Cash Kings list, nearly doubling the total of second-ranked David Guetta, who pulled in $37 million. Not bad for a guy who’s roughly a decade removed from being a supermarket stockboy in a remote town in Scotland.
“The rise of dance music has been astronomical … I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he told FORBES.
Harris and Guetta are followed on the list by Tiësto. Though the Dutch DJ is one of the older names on the circuit, he played over 100 dates in our scoring period and out-earned twentysomething whippersnappers from Avicii (No. 6, $19 million) to Zedd (No. 8, $17 million).
Skrillex and Steve Aoki round out the top five, tied at $24 million apiece, the highest figure of any American DJs on the list. The former played more than 95 shows during our scoring period while the latter tallied 216 shows, down from 277 gigs last year. Both are among a surprising number of DJs who run their own record labels—OWSLA for Skrillex, Dim Mak for Aoki.
“At the end of the day,” says Aoki, “I want to have as much flexibility as possible on the economic side … When we think about how to maintain and sustain the culture, we ultimately make more money.”