It’s well known that high-profile musicians earn quite a mint from touring, with the likes of U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Coldplay raking in hundreds of millions dollars, while the Young brothers of AC/DC are sitting on a fortune for their million-selling music legacy. But those astronomical earnings are usually spread between promoters, multiple band mates, bookers, venues, and plenty of other middle-men.
That process is not quite so for the lucrative business of electronic music, where the world’s top DJs and producers can pocket exorbitant amounts of cash with minimal overheads (Laptop? Check. Plane ticket for one? Check).
Proving the point, business bible Forbes has released their annual list of the World’s Highest Paid DJs for 2013 demonstrating that the world is their proverbial oyster just waiting to be shucked silly. The annual earnings estimates are gathered from income from gigs, record sales, endorsements, merchandise, business and so on using sources such as Pollstar, the RIAA, Songkick, and music industry identities.
Though he topped the 2012 Forbes list, Dutch superstar Tijs Verwest, better known as Tiësto, has earned $32 million over the last 12 months, which puts him in the second place position on the new list, though its still highest earnings of the 44-year-old’s career, at least as long as Forbes has been tracking the results.
Coming in at #1 is forthcoming Stereosonic 2013 headliner Calvin Harris who having played over 100 gigs with an average performance fee of $200,000 a pop, has earned $46 million for the year so far. A figure boosted by #1 hits penned for pop stars Rihanna and LMFAO which he receives significant publishing and royalties fees for.
The $46m bank figure makes the Scottish EDM producer a bigger earner than Jay-Z, Forbes recently proving that the hip hop mogul put his money where his mouth rapped after he called out other rappers for fibbing about their worth. DJs and producers can pocket exorbitant amounts of cash with minimal overheads (Laptop? Check. Plane ticket for one? Check).
Meanwhile, fellow Stereosonic 2013 headliner, 45-year-old Frenchman David Guetta claims the bronze on the highest paid DJs rankings, with a payroll of $30 million, boosted by over 120 live shows and collaborations with Usher and the Black Eyed Peas.
Splitting up may have proven a strong financial move for Swedish House Mafia, coming fourth place with $25 million, despite calling it a day in March this year, which would show that Big Day Out organisers must have paid a pretty penny to get former member Steve Angello to play top billing at the Boiler Room next year.
Also on the Big Day Out 2014 lineup, Major Lazer figurehead Diplo earns $13 million also thanks to his price tags for DJ sets, such as apparently flying to “Dubai for $400,000” to play “for the prince of who gives a shit,” according to the host of what may be the world’s worst interview. Rather depressingly Diplo’s $13m figure is matched by Jersey Shore star Pauly D, the two ranking #12 and #13 on the list respectively.
Other names on the Forbes list include the spelling-adverse Deadmau5 (at #5 with $21 million), as well as dubstep agitator Skrillex (a tie at #9 with Kaskade) who earned $16 million, almost the exact same amount he netted for 2012, and recent Future Festival DJ Steve Aoki (at #11 with $14m)
All in all, the top earning DJs pull in around $268 million in the last 12 months, a figure thats bigger than the combined gross domestic product of island nations Kiribati and Tuvalu,” as Forbes points out, due to superclubs in exotic locations from Las Vegas to Ibiza paying six-figure sums per appearance; figures that are only rising.
“The money you get for DJing at these places has gone to extremes,” admits Avicii, who at 23 years old is the youngest DJ on the list (at #6 with $20m).
“The rise of dance music has been astronomical in the last three years,” agrees Tiësto. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I think Las Vegas is really taking over from Ibiza this year,” he adds. “You can already see … all the DJs having their residence there now. It’s going to be interesting to see how that develops. But it looks really good.”
From their side of their mixing desk – with dollar signs in their eyes, fingers in the air, and a pit of dancing masses before them – no wonder it does.
The Highest Paid DJs Of 2013
According to Forbes
- Calvin Harris – $46 million
- Tiësto – $32 million
- David Guetta – $30 million
- Swedish House Mafia – $25 million
- Deadmau5 – $21 million
- Avicii – $20 million
- Afrojack – $18 million
- Armin van Buuren – $17 million
- Skrillex – $16 million
- Kaskade – $16 million
- Steve Aoki – $14 million
- DJ Pauly D – $13 million
- Diplo – $13 million
- Methodology- Earnings Unknown