Forbes releases “World’s Highest Paid DJs 2013” with Calvin Harris, Tiesto & David Guetta topping the list


Forbes kicked off their annual “Electronic Cash Kings” article off by a similar breakdown of the scene to our Dance Party editorial, paralleling electronic music’s current cultural explosion to past music movements such as the 60’s British Invasion, the 70’s disco era, the 80’s glam metal phase, 90’s grunge and boy bands to hip-hopping through the 2000’s. The waves being made by EDM in the MSM prompted Forbes to compile the earnings list for DJ’s this year…and while that the top earners may not be that big of a shock (for the most part), I think the most surprising part of the article was how professionally written and non-negative-leaning that the author was. No down talk, no drug references or “neon bro” jabs. Maybe this legitimized form of MSM coverage of EDM will become the norm…let’s hope so.

Anyway, some interesting nuggets of information are sprinkled throughout the feature: including the figure that over the last year the 12 highest grossing DJ’s raked in $268 Million (which is “more than the combined GDP of island nations Kiribati & Tuvalu”). Additionally, Tiesto claims an average nightly gross of $250,000 per event played and Steve Aoki performed at over 200 shows in the past year. The majority of the cash DJ’s claim come from touring (which comes as no surprise), and in which many DJ’s play upwards of 100 shows a year where they often top $100,000 per show. Funds roll in from other sources as well, including recorded music sales, product endorsements, merchandise sales and other business ventures.

Forbes continued on to discuss the “Dance Dance Revolution” in regards to the phenomena explosion in the past few years, claiming that many producers cite the expansion of social media as a major factor in the scenes growth. ‘”I think what really changed was social media,” says Tiesto. Twitter, Facebook really helped a lot. It exposed things to a whole new world. Before that you only could hear [EDM] on the radio at night. Day-time radio would never play it. [Now] in America, dance music is booming. At the moment….it’s the most exciting genre”’

Also with this new-found market, billionaires like Vegas’ Steve Wynn have been betting the house on house (see what I did there?) and others like Ron Burkle are just waiting for the time to strike in the field. Personal opinions from Afrojack (or his music) aside, his quote wrapping up the article was a fairly insightful one, actually: ‘”Dance music is pretty close to where rock was 50 years ago…And rock never died, So I’m sure the same [goes for] dance music.”’ However, we may have to make room for a new mecca. Move over Ibiza, because Tiesto claims “[he] think[s] Las Vegas is really taking over from Ibiza this year. 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.”

         Forbes’ “Electronic Cash Kings : The World’s Highest-Paid DJs 2013

1.     Calvin Harris @ $46 Million

2.     Tiesto @ $32 Million

3.     David Guetta @ $30 Million

4.     Swedish House Mafia @ $25 Million

5.     Deadmau5 @ $21 Million

6.     Avicii @ $20 Million

7.     Afrojack @ $18 Million

8.     Armin van Buuren @ $17 Million

9.     Skrillex @ $16 Million (tie)

9.  Kaskade @ $16 Million (tie)

11.  Steve Aoki @ $14 Million

12.  Pauly D @ $13 Million (tie)

12.  Diplo @ $13 Million (tie)

*Forbes sources included Songkick, Pollstar, RIAA, promoters, managers, lawyers and some of the artists themselves