From bagging groceries just a few years ago in Scotland, EDM Artist Calvin Harris is currently the world’s highest-paid DJ. He leads a large group of electronic musicians collecting six-figure nightly paychecks and performing at nightspots in exotic cities like Las Vegas, Ibiza, Paris, Berlin, London & Sydney. Ventures recently reserved only for the rock, rap and pop industry.
Continue reading to see the next top 12 Electronic Dance Music genre artists.
1. Calvin Harris – $46 million
Calvin Harris earned more than Jay-Z and Katy Perry this year, claiming the electronic dance music’s cash crown and also the second richest musician in the UK after Adele, who is 1st.
February 2013 he signed to play more than 70 shows over a two-year period at Las Vegas’s Hakkasan,he also makes side money from songwriting and producing for pop stars like Rihanna.
“The rise of dance music has been astronomical in the last three years,”
he told FORBES.
“I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
2. Tiësto – $32 million
Dutch born DJ Tijs Michiel Verwes, aka Tiësto has been spinning for decades. Tiesto played over 140 shows in 2012—and he’s earning more than ever. Tiësto landed a lucrative dj residency at Las Vegas megaclub Hakkasan this summer, ditching his usual roots in Ibiza.
“I’ve been going there for the last 10 years, it felt there was nothing special,”
he tells FORBES.
“And then I got the offer to play in Las Vegas … They made me a great proposal, not just the money but also what they’re going to do there, the biggest club in the world.”
3. David Guetta – $30 million
Pierre David Guetta navigated his way from the DJ decks of underground Parisian clubs during the 1980s and 1990s, he co-founded Gum Productions and released his first album, Just a Little More Love, in 2002later finding mainstream success with his 2009 album One Love which included the hit singles “When Love Takes Over”, “Gettin’ Over You”, “Sexy Bitch”, all three of which reached #1 in the United Kingdom, and “Memories”.
Guetta has made a name for himself by crossing into pop music and collaborating with the likes of mainstream success, The Black Eyed Peas, and Usher.
4. Swedish House Mafia – $25 million
The three members Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell Christofer Hedfors and Steve Angello make up the group, Swedish House Mafia.
Swedish electronic dance music trio djs and producers placed a number ten on the DJ Magazine Top 100 DJ Poll 2011, & have been called “the faces of mainstream progressive house music.”
The group called an end to their group career in March 2013. But they still made enough in an abbreviated year to crack the top five on our list; all three are now pursuing individual careers
(FORBES only counted performances where all three members performed as a group as Swedish House Mafia for this valuation).
5. Deadmau5 – $21 million
Mouse helmeted deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”) is a Canadian progressive-house music producer and live performer from Toronto, Ontario.
Thanks to nightly fees in excess of $200,000 at Hakkasan and other clubs and festivals around the world. He also cashes in on recorded music, his own label Mau5trap and massive merchandise licensing deals.
6. Avicii – $20 million
In May 2007, at only 17 years old Avicii signed to record label At Dejfitts Plays. Now 23, the Swedish DJ is the youngest artist on the list—and taught himself to produce music using pirated software that he played with from his teenage bedroom.
“You don’t really need anything anymore,”
he told FORBES last year.
“You need your computer.”
He has been nominated twice for a Grammy Award for his work on “Sunshine” with David Guetta in 2012 and for his song “Levels” in 2013. His other hit singles are “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother”.
7. Afrojack – $18 million
Nick “Afrojack” van de Wall seems to be enjoying his newfound purchasing power:
He bought a Ferrari 458 in February, wrecked it less than an hour later and bought a new one the next day.
Only 25, the Dutchman has already crafted tracks for the likes of Pitbull and Chris Brown and owns his own label, Wall Recordings. One of the marquee names in Wynn Las Vegas’ DJ lineup, he says he turned down Hakkasan’s offer for twice his regular fee to remain loyal to his current employer.
Afrojack was listed as number 7 on the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ’s of 2011. His 2010 entry into the poll at number 19 was the highest new entry of that year’s list. He ranked at number 9 on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ’s of 2012 In 2013, he ranked at number 9 again. Afrojack’s song “Take Over Control,” which features Dutch singer Eva Simons, charted in 10 different countries.
8. Armin van Buuren – $17 million
Armin Van Buuren has won a number of accolades, including the #1 spot on DJ Magazine’s Top 100 DJs fan poll a record of 5 times, including an unprecedented four consecutive years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and again in 2012.
European trance king Armin van Buuren has long been recognized as one of the world’s best performers in the electronic music scene. His weekly radio show “A State of Trance,” van Buuren has developed an international following that led to nearly 120 shows in 2012 from Kuala Lumpur to Oakland. He released his fifth studio album, Intense, in May 2013. A friend of the Dutch royal family, he performed at the coronation of Netherlands King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima in May.
9. Skrillex – $16 million (tie)
With his trademark side-mullet and gut-pounding production, Skrillex has been banking six figures a night on live shows all around the world—most notably Wynn’s XS nightclub in Las Vegas, where he has a residency.
Skrillex is an American electronic musician and singer-songwriter. Growing up in Northeast Los Angeles and in Northern California, Sonny Moore joined the American post-hardcore band From First to Last as the lead singer in 2004, and recorded two studio albums with the band (Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count, 2004, and Heroine, 2006) before leaving to pursue a solo career in 2007. He began his first tour as a solo artist in late 2007. After recruiting a new band lineup, Moore joined the Alternative Press Tour to support bands such as All Time Low and The Rocket Summer, and appeared on the cover of Alternative Press’ annual “100 Bands You Need to Know” issue.
After releasing the Gypsyhook EP in 2009, Moore was scheduled to record his debut studio album, Bells, with producer Noah Shain. However, he ceased production of the album and began performing under the name Skrillex, distributing the My Name Is Skrillex EP for free download on his official MySpace page. Subsequently, he released the Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP in late–2010 and More Monsters and Sprites EP in mid–2011, both of which have since become moderate commercial successes. On November 30, 2011, he was nominated for a total of five Grammy Awards at the 54th Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and won three: “Best Dance/Electronica Album”, “Best Dance Recording”, and “Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical”. On December 5, 2011, the BBC announced that he had been nominated for their Sound of 2012 poll. On December 12, 2011, he was also named MTV’s Electronic Dance Music Artist of the Year. Skrillex has won a total of six Grammy Awards.
He also earns big on recorded music after picking up three Grammy awards this year, matching last year’s total. On top of that, he earned an Annie Award for the original music he composed for the animated flick Wreck-It Ralph.
9. Kaskade – $16 million (tie)
At 42, he’s one of the older DJs on our list, but Kaskade parties just as hard as the rest of them.
Kaskade rose to prominence alongside producers deadmau5 and Wolfgang Gartner during the revival of American progressive house in late 2008-early 2009.
Ryan Raddon had always aspired to move to New York, where he previously worked briefly as a Japanese tour guide but Naomi wanted to return to the Bay area, where her family lived. In May 2000, the couple moved to San Francisco. Raddon, got a job working as an A&R assistant to Chris Smith at OM Records, a house and electronic label. To Raddon’s benefit, San Francisco was an emerging site of a new deep-house movement. While at OM record he continued DJing and producing music.
Soon after, Raddon created his alter ego, Kaskade. His wife worried that it would remind people of dish detergent. Concentrating on his DJing skills, Kaskade started to experiment and develop his own sound.
He played more than 130 shows in the last 12 months, largely as part of his Freaks of Nature Tour. One of the first DJs to establish himself in Las Vegas, he signed a deal with Encore Beach Club in 2010 and now performs regularly at Cosmopolitan’s Marquee.
11. Steve Aoki – $14 million
Steven Hiroyuki Aoki is an American electro house musician, Grammy nominated record producer and the founder of Dim Mak Records. He is widely known for his acrobatic crowd surfing stunts, throwing cake at fans, spraying champagne bottles, and riding rafts on the dance floor.
Aoki was born in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Newport Beach, California. He graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1995, where he was a star player on the varsity badminton team. He is the third child of Rocky Aoki and Chizuru Kobayashi. His father was a former Japanese wrestler who also founded the restaurant chain Benihana.
With the ability to pack in two shows a day while on tour, Aoki clocked nearly 270 gigs in the last 12 months. The son of Benihana founder Rocky Aoki, Steve shares his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, boasting several restaurant and nightclub ventures, record label Dim Mak and endorsements with Olmec Tequila, Trident Gum and Scion.
12. DJ Pauly D – $13 million (tie)
Paul DelVecchio aka DJ Pauly D is best known for being a housemate on MTV’s reality show Jersey Shore from 2009-2012 being an American television personality, now he is a dj.
The Jersey Shore star earns half as much per night as some of his DJ brethren, but with 90 performances over the past year and a host of outside business ventures, he makes the Electronic Cash Kings list for 2011 and now 2012.
Though the show that made him famous wrapped up in December 2012, he’s still collecting cash from its tail end; he also boasts his own Dirty Couture line, vodka-based drink REMIX and deals with 50 Cent’s SK Energy and SMS Audio.
12. Diplo – $13 million (tie)
Better known by his stage name Diplo, is a Los Angeles based American DJ, music producer, rapper, and songwriter. He founded and manages record company Mad Decent, as well as co-founding the non-profit organization Heaps Decent. Among other jobs, he has worked as a school teacher in Philadelphia. He is also the co-creator and lead member of the electronic dancehall music project, Major Lazer. His 2013 EP “Revolution” debuted at #68 on the Billboard 200.
The ubiquitous DJ-producer makes his debut largely on the strength of a big year on the road, He’s also crafted tracks for the likes Beyoncé, No Doubt, Justin Bieber, Usher, Snoop Lion, and G-Dragon, and even appeared in a BlackBerry commercial. His alias, short for Diplodocus, derives from his childhood fascination with dinosaurs.
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How Do You Know?
“Forbes estimates include earnings from live shows, endorsements, merchandise sales, recorded music sales, external business ventures and, in the case of DJ Pauly D, television (we included him on this list because, like his fellow Electronic Cash Kings, he makes at least half his cash from DJ gigs). Sources include Songkick, Pollstar, RIAA, promoters, managers, lawyers and some of the artists themselves. Earnings totals were calculated over a 12-month period from June 1, 2012 to June 1, 2013.”