The 5 Highest Paid DJs in the World

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Every generation, one musical genre or another tends to lead the pack. In the 1960s it was rock ‘n’ roll, followed by disco, heavy metal, grunge, and hip hop. Now, electronic dance music, popularly known as EDM, is the reigning prom queen, which means the highest paid DJs in the world are playing her tune—night after night.

5 Steve Aoki

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Not content to sit around on his laurels, Benihana heir Steve Aoki has carved out a nice living rockin’ electro-house from the DJ booth. Earning $12 million per year, Aoki earns less money per show than the other DJs on our list; however, he makes up for it with more live performances, averaging 250 per year. In addition to mixing tracks, Aoki is also a producer with his own label, Dim Mak Records. He has worked with a variety of artists, including will.i.am, Lil’ Jon, Kid Cudi, Travis Barker, Wynter Gordon, and more.

4 David Guetta

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Perhaps the DJ with the most crossover appeal from our list is none other than David Guetta. Pulling in a reported $13.5 million per year, the French-born EDM producer and DJ has ad campaigns with Renault and HP. Guetta was tapped for such product endorsements after the crossover pop success of his album “Nothing But the Beat.” The album featured such artists as Lil’ Wayne, Chris Brown, Usher, Flo Rida and Akon. In addition to raking in the big advertisement bucks, much of Guetta’s earnings comes from performing at music festivals worldwide, including Coachella. Guetta has been nominated for several Grammys over the years, winning Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical in 2011 for his remix of Madonna’s “Revolver” single.

3 Swedish House Mafia

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The third highest-grossing DJ on our list is actually a trio. The Swedish House Mafia consists of Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. The electronic dance trio grossed $14 million per year; however, they’ve recently decided to split in order to pursue new and different ventures. In addition to earning insane amounts of money, Swedish House Mafia had other notable achievements, including being the first EDM DJs to play Madison Square Garden and headlining Coachella. The trio has also started their own independent label SIZE Records.

2 Skrillex

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Still only in his 20s, California-native Skrillex, born Sonny Moore, has already won three Grammys. Credited with putting “dubstep” on the map, a unique brand of EDM, Skrillex earns a reported $15 million per year. He pulls in this fortune by performing in more than 150 live shows per year in multiple countries. Like the other DJs on our list, Skrillex produces his own music. However, he typically gives it away for free since he makes the bulk of his money on the road. Skrillex released his first album “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” in 2010, which sold 1 million copies and landed at 49 on the Billboard charts. With that release, Skrillex’s name recognition grew. Soon he was commanding thousands per show. Fast forward a few years later and his pay has increased tenfold, especially after Grammy wins in 2012 for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical; Best Dance/Electronica Album; and Best Dance Recording.

1 Tiësto

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Born Tijs Michiel Verwest in the Netherlands, Tiësto is the highest grossing DJ in the world. Rated No. 1 DJ by “Rolling Stone” magazine, Tiësto’s net worth currently stands at $75 million, which is not a shocker once you consider his nightly pay averages $250,000. In addition to working his DJ magic, Tiësto also produces EDM. He owns his own record label, Black Hole Recordings, and has released several studio albums to critical acclaim. His third album, “Elements of Life,” was nominated for a Grammy in 2008 and reached number one on both Billboard’s Top Electronic Albums chart and Dutch music charts. In 2010, Tiësto kicked off his Kaleidoscope World Tour, which led to being nominated for two Billboard Touring Awards. Tiësto’s appeal is so far-reaching that he was even tapped to perform live at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, becoming the first DJ ever to do so.

Stephanie M. Watts is editor and publisher of the progressive blog The Sauda Voice. When not writing or pursing her business interests, she routinely works as a policy analyst and legal consultant. She holds an M.S. from Carnegie Mellon University and J.D. from Loyola Law School.

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