Over the years, being a DJ has transformed from pressing play at a wedding reception into the hottest job on the planet. Songwriting, producing, recording music, and live shows have all contributed into skyrocketing the EDM genre and its artists into fame.
DJs have been emerging from the background and becoming stars all on their own complete with radio air play, endorsements, live shows, and even tabloid stories (we’re looking at you, Calvin Harris).
The result? Major household name recognition and big bucks. Check out how much your favorites are making and who exactly is ruling the EDM world.
#10 DIMITRI VEGAS & LIKE MIKE
Despite being more well-known in Europe, brothers Dimitri Thivaios and Michael Thivaios have made a splash in the music festival scene, bringing in six-figures at each gig. Their presence has caught the eye of several big players in the music industry, resulting in hit singles with collaborations featuring Ne-Yo and Steve Aoki.
In addition, the duo went on to sell out 40,000 tickets in under 40 minutes for the 2015 ‘Bringing The Madness 3.0’ concert.
Their hard work has turned into success, bringing in $15.5 million last year, and winning the “Best Global DJ” award for 2016.
#9 MARTIN GARRIX
Martin Garrix may be young, but he isn’t letting that stop him! At only 20, Garrix raked in $16 million last year, as well as an endorsement deal, working as the new face for Tag Heuer watches.
The young DJ shares a manager with Justin Bieber and has collaborated with plenty of well-known artists such as Ed Sheeran and Tiësto. Garrix also branched out on his own this year, leaving his label Spinnin’ Records to start his own, STMPD RCRDS which has 12 artists signed on.
In addition to his music, Garrix has gotten himself involved in several charities, including a tour dedicated to raising money to assist in education for 10,000 children in India.
Don’t let the fact that he is a father of three fool you, Kaskade is one of the hottest DJs in the world. Coming in at number 8, the 45-year-old brought in $19 million last year through his tour, The Automatic Tour, including selling out the 20,000 seats at the LA Convention Center.
In addition to a successful tour, Kaskade has received two Grammy nominations as well as headlining Coachella with Drake in 2015, bringing in the largest crowds in the festival’s history.
His 9th album Automatic was released in September 2015, peaking at #25 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
Justin Bieber’s 2015 hit album Purpose gave the pop star the huge comeback he needed, all thanks to help from Skrillex. The DJ not only produced 5 tracks on the album but also provided music for Bieber, including the hit single “Where Are Ü Now.”
In addition to contributing to a hit album, Skrillex had a successful tour along with a collaboration with Diplo titled “Jack Ü,” which refers to how the music jacks you up.
The duo’s gigs made up a huge chunk of Skrillex’s $20 million income last year, placing him as the 7th highest earning DJ.
It was a big year for Diplo. Not only did the American DJ bring in $23 million, but he also found himself playing his music in new places.
Along with Major Lazer, Diplo crossed into Cuba to play the first ever major EDM show during a free concert in front of the new United States Embassy.
In addition to making history, Diplo produced tracks on Bieber’s Purpose and Beyonce’s Lemonade, scooping up two Grammy wins along the way.
He also saw success with his co-written song “Lean On,” which became the most streamed song ever on Spotify, being streamed over 800 million times.
#5 STEVE AOKI
He may have had a major vocal chord surgery, but don’t expect that to slow down Steve Aoki. Despite going under the knife to repair his vocal chords from screaming at shows, Aoki still managed to play over 198 shows and make $23.5 million.
Aoki has also been featured musically and as characters across the board, including the video game Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, and the theme song for the animated movie Angry Birds.
In addition to making music, Aoki is a huge humanitarian and is an active part of PETA, The Best Buddies program, and his own foundation, Steve Aoki Charitable Fund.
Zedd has come a long way from his Germany debut. The 27-year-old has proven his versatility, performing on a variety of stages throughout all genres.
In 2015 alone, he toured throughout Asia, North America and Europe, played a mash-up with Lady Antebellum at the County Music Awards, played Coachella, and headlined the Spring Awakening Festival.
He also teamed up with Guitar Center to try to find the next big EDM star, giving a lucky DJ the chance to put their skills on display.
Zedd rounded out the year as the 4th highest earning DJ, bringing in $24.5 million.
#3 DAVID GUETTA
Bringing in a hefty $28 million last year is French native, David Guetta. In addition to a lucrative Vegas residency at the Wynn hotel, Guetta has sold over nine million albums all over the world, along with 30 million singles.
He was also named the “music ambassador” for UEFA Euro 2016, providing the official song for the tournament. The song, “This One’s For You,” was featured throughout the tournament, including a live performance at the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournament.
Despite falling to the number 3 spot from last year’s number 2, the DJ is still considered one of the top earners in the industry.
Tiësto has become one of the best known, and highest earning, DJs in the game. Bringing in $38 million last year alone has projected him to fame. His residency at Hakkasan nightclub in the Las Vegas MGM Casino earns him a nightly six-figure salary. Add in his seven-figure 7-Up ad campaign and an endorsement deal with Audiofly, it is no surprise he is the second highest paid DJ in the world.
Over the last year, he played shows all over the world including Vietnam, China, Germany, and Jamaica. A major contributor to the charity world, Tiësto has performed for the World Childhood Foundation and the Global Citizens Festival.
#1 CALVIN HARRIS
Coming in at the number one earning DJ spot is none other than Calvin Harris. After a very public relationship (and messy split) with pop star Taylor Swift, Harris saw a slight drop in his income from last year, but not enough to knock him out of the number 1 spot.
Making a whopping $63 million last year, Harris has set the bar pretty high. His Vegas residency alone brings in $400k per gig. Add in his monster summer hit “This Is What You Came For” with Rhianna and it is not surprising that he has secured his spot at the top.
Harris isn’t ready to slow down, either. Speaking to Forbes, he says his goal is to be the top songwriter and producer in the industry.