The World’s Highest Paid DJs (2013)

calvin-harrisForbes has released its ranking of the world’s highest paid DJs for 2013, with Calvin Harris (right) at the top, pulling in $46 million for the year.

At least Harris has some perspective on his success.

“The rise of dance music has been astronomical in the last three years,” says Harris. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

The World’s Highest Paid DJs (2013)

  • Calvin Harris ($46 million)
  • Tiesto ($32 million)
  • David Guetta ($30 million)
  • Swedish House Mafia ($25 million)
  • Deadmau5 ($21 million)
  • Avicii ($20 million)
  • Afrojack ($18 million)
  • Armin van Buuren ($17 million)
  • Skrillex ($16 million)
  • Kaskade ($16 million)

24 thoughts on “The World’s Highest Paid DJs (2013)

  1. Avicii- Making all dat money. Still can’t afford to buy his plugins.

    This message brought to you by The State of Electronic Music.

  2. Great to see none of the originators in that list. None of the Chicago and Detroit guys , (and girls)
    It’s a joke really , Why isn’t Greg Wilson coining it in? and are any of these people giving anything back.

  3. Eh, I think you’ll find at $46 million Calvin is probably giving back around $20 million in tax. $20 million probably goes a long way to keeping many schools open and paying for the running of hospitals, medicines etc.

    Regardless of what they do with the money thats left after tax, in one year they will have contributed more to the economy than 99.9999% of people will do in their entire lives.

    I wish it was me earning $46 million, but I really cant begrudge them.

  4. piracy is really killing these guys then, lets face it most of this money is from music sales just imagine how much money the record companies are hauling in, and worst of it if they cry poverty about piracy.

    these figures are a stark reminder when put next the figure of 1 million unemployed kids in the UK who get jack shit but stigma from the government. no wonder so much music is ripped off

    1. What has unemployment in the Uk got to do with the income of sucessfull DJ’s?

      This isnt down to record sales. Harris hasnt sold enough records to amass 46 million in 12 months, that would require around 40-50 million sales in one year, which no one has ever done. Even thriller has taken 30 years to sell 60 million copies.

      Calcin Harris owns a load of companies including cosmetics, fashion and restauraunts, a football team and a property company. Thats why he made so much money. The music is a vehicle for everything else, its not the source of the the income, its the thing that brings value and noteriety to the brand, but the money is created eleswhere.

      I suspect with so many companies he also employs one or two people, right?

        1. The World’s Highest PAID DJs, PAID work implies you earn your money from working for other people, PAID work. and since DJ implies a kind of job that is work paid for by others (in most respect) the title I guess is misleading.

          but as the article implies if you have production rights to a remix, or right a song for another person, or perhaps flog it to death in adverts across the globe you will make millions.

          as for brands well yes of course he owns the name to a company, but like many a star another the company uses the name, he just takes a cut of the profit, and does the music not employing people. I wonder were the production of all that merchandise is employing people, I bet its not scotland thats for sure.

          1. I’m not suggesting he personally runs the companies, he obviously employs others. But dont think he lent his name to a property company and takes a cut. Thats ridiculous. Who the hell buys property because Calvin Harris owns it? He owns, or part owns the companies because he has the means to fund them. He may not run it, but he’s not the figure head. Dont think because he’s DJ that he’s incapable of being a really clever business man. Its called being an ‘entrepreneur’, where you see opportunities regardless of your experience, and thats the reason why many of these guys are so wealthy. They have business minds and they see beyond the music. Jay Z is a perfect example of this.

            Regarding Margaret Thatcher. A total scumbag. But I’m still failing to see how this relates to the income of a successful DJ. Surely thats just a hatred of anyone who is fortunate enough to make a lot of money? Seems illogical.

        2. I read the article, but I also read other articles to find out how he could have made so much money in one year. Its not from music sales. Do some research.

    2. Not much money is made by artists from music sales – it’s all concerts and live shows, especially with $50-$150 ticket prices. Simple math: 10,000 ppl x $50 = $500,000 ticket sales between a few DJs @ $50-$100k each is a GREAT business, liquor / water / soda sales at $5 to $10/drink X 10,000 ppl X 4 waters each = $200,000 more. Drinks are huge money as well on top of ticket sales. Abg person spends prolly $80 at a show so theres $800k gross. Multiply X 100 shows / yr at $50-100k per show and you’re talking serious earnings from DJ’ing. I DJ’ed original alt / techno / Belgian / house / rave for 25 years, avg club / event was 500-1000 ppl at $10 tops, many much smaller. It’s just BIGGER now. If I were them I’d be charging top dollar as well *because the numbers work* given the demand and current scene conditions. Dance music is king now in the mainstream. Period. These few DJs are no different than we were in the 80’s and 90’s, they just have incredibly lucky timing and a bigger audience and again, demand. Many of us old school DJs feel a bit jaded as we built the foundation for two decades but do not reap these incredible financial rewards. And we had to really work to buy vinyl. It was expensive and lots of travel expenses. Now you sit on your ass in underwear and buy 100 tracks for $100 or less. Music is basically free to the end user at this point, *which is why shows are so expensive*. But it’s really only 100 or so extremely lucky DJs (very few have extraordinary talent, just great management, PR firms, tour managers and exotic names) and one commenter is smart to point out the tax revenue for civic needs – true that. Rave on!

  5. I asbolutely love seeing these jokers praising the wealthy and talking like they are the ‘Captains of Industry ‘themselves.
    Thatcher was great for one thing , fetching the grease to surface . Those who thought that the dog eat dog priciple was great.
    How many unemployed are there? How many homes repossessed? How many scammed out of pensions, by Thatchers great politics.
    Ghandi said ‘Wealth is as Ugly as Poverty’, Politely put!!

  6. The ultimate problem is the audience itself. If they’re paying $50-100 to see a show, why are actual music sales not nearly as supportive? Because music has become FILES more than meaningful artifacts of someone’s work and passion. People seem to want immediate gratification and Easy above all else. With that view, they sure won’t sit for an hour and really digest someone’s work. That’s even easier to do when the music is so Skrillified, there’s not much to interpret BUT the beat. DJs do some great work and I’m certainly behind some partying, but its also a triumph of marketing over ultimately more powerful or thoughtful music. A big fan base doesn’t always equal the best music.

    My advice: don’t let yourself become too locked into a style. Make a point of listening to things totally outside your experience. Learn to WANT to pick apart a new song and figure out what makes it tick. Don’t just go for electronic music. Check out the oddballs and acoustic acts who will make you think in new directions. That can only amplify your fun and make the game more challenging. You wanna hear some jaw-droppers? Go to YouTube and check out The Bobs doing “Helter Skelter” and Leo Kottke doing “Vaseline Machine Gun.” I’m a synth guy and music like that, using zero synths, makes me a better synthesist. I’m mentoring a friend’s synth-newbie son of 16 and we compare music from the entire spectrum. Its great to see it all through his eyes. You have the complete history of music in front of you online. Milk it.

  7. As I tell all young people wanting to get into music:

    If you want to make money playing music, play other people’s music.

    1. Ain’t that the stinkin’ truth and look what a demoralizing battle it can be to manage a life as any kind of artist. Otis Redding is a legend, but while he lived, he was treated shabbily. Who in the hell decided that you either had to be pop-shallow and rich or brilliant and diminished? Its less a matter of foolishly blaming a DJ for tapping the money stream and more a question of “Why do we elevate the simplistic and abandon things that require a little more mental heavy lifting?” Its not like I don’t hear good new music; its how hard I have to dig to find it. I just wish more of it got half the notice of a DJ on this list. Those incomes are unrealistic, just like paying millions to some soulless CEO.

  8. The saddest thing is that these deejays are getting paid more money to press play and mix than the artists who originally made the music that the deejays are playing. It’s making a complete mockery out of the art.

  9. I can’t remember a single song or a hummable melody from Harris, nor any of these guys. Guetta must be the biggest joke of them all…”She Wolf”…what an utter load of tosh.

  10. Soon the bubble will burst and House music will go back home and remain obscure in basements and loft parties where it feels at peace. It is on vacation now in a 5 star hotel but will return to it’s humble village roots

  11. I can’t understand how calvin harris has earned so much money this year and only got 3.7 million fans on facebook, when other djs like deadmau5, skrillex, tiesto are more popular than him (more fans on fb) and they have earned less.

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