A few weeks ago, a list of the world’s richest DJs started making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook. We were skeptical to say the least, given the lack of supporting information or any kind of reputable source. Now, however, Forbes has weighed in with their very own list of the World’s Highest Paid DJs, and we finally feel comfortable sharing this information with you.
Unsurprisingly, the one and only Tiesto, tops the list, and Forbes says that he has earnings of $22 million, “buoyed by an average nightly gross of $250,000.” Considering the insane number of partnerships and non-DJ ventures he has, this one was obvious. Skrillex takes number #2 with $15 million in earnings, followed by Swedish House Mafia at $14 million and David Guetta with $13.5 million. Surprisingly enough, the last member of the top five is Steve Aoki, who reportedly earned around $12 million (but also played over 200 shows in the last year).
Forbes discusses the lack of any real production costs for most DJs out there today, and they believe that DJs can often take home more than $100,000 on a given night. Tiesto largely credits social media for the advance of EDM: “It exposed things to a whole new world. Before that you could only hear [electronic dance music] on the radio at night.”
On the business side of things, executives recognize the advantages of adding a DJ to a lineup and opening up events to new demographics. “The Coachella music festival served as a microcosm in the evolution of electronic dance music from a niche into a mainstream format,” said Randy Phillips, chief of AEG Live (whose subsidiary GoldenVoice produces the Indio-based event). In that vein, he was also quick to slam arena tours, saying that they have “proven to yield uneven results outside of a handful of major markets.”
The analysis is fascinating, especially as the dance music industry continues to see more and more consolidation. LiveNation recently acquired HARD Events and purchased Cream Holdings out of Europe. Robert Sillerman, the former chief of SFX Entertainment (the company which has now become LiveNation), is now out to recreate what he did the first time around by spending $1 billion to scoop up smaller promoters around the globe. Just today it was announced that he bought Dayglow, his second major acquisition after purchasing Disco Donnie Presents. Many more are expected.
While we’re unsure of the immediate and longer-term effects of these developments, we can tell you that it means even more attention and commentary on a scene that not long ago was largely still considered to be “underground.”
One thing is for sure: dance music has gone mainstream, but its growth needs to be carefully planned and executed if it’s going to last.