Since 2012, Forbes Magazine has been running an annual list, revealing the highest-paid DJs and electronic acts for each year. Featuring all your favourite EDM acts that have been dominating the industry over the last few years including; David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix, and Steve Aoki. Notably, since the introduction of the list in 2012, Calvin Harris has claimed the top spot for 6 years in a row. But how does he fare with the latest data? Can he retain bragging rights for the 7th year in a row?
According to Forbes, the list is based on the pre-tax earnings of each DJ from June 2018 to June 2019. Taking stats and information from Nielsen, Pollstar, Bandsintown and Songkick to calculate the results.
Over the last decade, the average gross income has been steadily decreasing for DJs and Electronic Acts. However, this year’s list is collectively 12 million higher than the year before. This can be partly attributed to the fact Marshmello nearly doubled his earnings on last year. Overall, the top 15 DJ’s clocked up over $350 million in earnings. While $272 million of that figure comes from inside the top 10! Many of which, have performed regularly or held extensive residencies in vegas over the past year.
Interestingly enough, although there are a number of female DJs climbing the list of Top DJs; a female DJ is yet to burst into the highest-paid list. Although two Australian acts in NERVO and Alison Wonderland have both come close on multiple occasions.
World’s Highest Paid DJs
- 1. The Chainsmokers
- 2. Marshmello
- 3. Calvin Harris
- 4. Steve Aoki
- 5. Diplo
- 6. Tiesto
- 7. Martin Garrix
- 8. David Guetta
- 9. Zedd
- 10. Armin Van Buuren
- 11. Kaskade
- 12. Skrillex
- 13. Alesso
- 14. Afrojack
- 15. DJ Snake
- 15. DJ Pauly D
- 15. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
Top 15 Highest Paid DJs
1. The Chainsmokers – $46 Million
Coming in at number one on the highest-paid DJs list are The Chainsmokers. An American DJ and production duo consisting of Alex Pall and Drew Taggart. Beginning their career releasing remixes of popular indie songs, The Chainsmokers had their major breakthrough thanks to the 2014 single #selfie. Since then, they’ve released several albums and hit singles including “Roses”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, and “Closer ft. Halsey”
Regularly performing as part of a massive residency with popular Las Vegas clubs XS Nightclub and Encore Beach Club; The Chainsmokers also played a number of festivals and headline shows all across the world. Pulling in mid-six-figure sums every single night, it’s no surprise that the duo topped this year’s highest-paid list. Dethroning Calvin Harris after 6 years topping the charts, garnering a whopping $46 million in pre-tax income!
2. Marshmello – $40 Million
Cristopher Comstock, or Marshmello as he’s better known, is an American electronic producer and DJ. Renowned for wearing a full-head-covering custom mask that he performs with on stage to protect his identity. First gaining recognition thanks to his remixes of Jack U & Zedd songs, he is now best known for a multitude of songs including “Silence”, “Wolves”, “Friends”, and “Happier”. All of which have gone on to reach multi-platinum status in a number of countries.
Nearly doubling his income from the year before, Marshmello’s success can be largely attributed to his $60 Million mega-deal with Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Seeing him kick off a residency at the renowned Kaos Dayclub & Nightclub. As well as regularly appearing at major music festivals such as Ultra in Miami. It’s also worth noting, Marshmello made number 5 on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs of 2019.
3. Calvin Harris – $38.5 Million
Adam Wiles, better known as Calvin Harris, is a Scottish DJ and producer best known for his singles “We Found Love”, “Feel So Close”, “Summer”, and “Feels”. Collaborating with Rhianna, We Found Love was Calvin Harris’s first number-one single on the US Billboards Top 100 and became an international success.
After claiming the highest-paid DJ title for over 6 years, Calvin Harris has finally been dethroned. But he hasn’t gone far, coming in at number 3 just behind Marshmello with an estimated gross income of $38.5 million. So far in 2020, Calvin Harris has released two EP’s under his alias “Love Generator”. With the aim of “rediscovering the way he produced music 22 years ago”.
4. Steve Aoki – $30 Million
Steve Aoki is an American musician, DJ, record producer, and executive. Notoriously one of the hardest workers in the industry, Aoki is said to average around 250 shows per year. So thanks to his ridiculous work ethic and 6-figure nightly paychecks, consumption of his music, Diesel and Samsung endorsement deals, and a number of separate business ventures; Steve Aoki tallied an enormous $30 Million to solidify his spot as the 4th highest paid DJ in the electronic music industry. It’s also worth noting Aoki came in at #10 in DJMags renowned Top 100 DJ list for 2019.
5. Diplo – $25 Million
Another hard-working DJ, Diplo has his hands in a number of separate successful ventures. As members of the groups Major Lazer, LSD, Jack U, and Silk City. He also founded and manages the record company Mad Descent. He’s also worked as an English teacher in Japan and a school teacher back in the US. So it’s no surprise that he’s one of the top 5 highest-paid DJs in the world, amassing an estimate of $25 million over the past year.
6. Tiesto – $24 Million
Tiesto is a Dutch DJ & Producer, and one of the most highly regarded of all time. Claiming titles such as “The Greatest DJ of All Time”, “The Best DJ of the last 20 years”, and “The Godfather of EDM” by a number of credible industry sources. Active since 1994, Tiesto continues to release music that is loved by millions worldwide. As well as regularly headlining the biggest EDM festivals in the world including the renowned Tomorrowland festival in Belgium. So again, Tiesto was a sure thing to make this years top 15, taking home a pretty penny in $24 million.
7. Martin Garrix – $19 Million
Another Dutch DJ & Producer, Martin Garrix is a young, 23-year old DJ & Producer. First discovered back in 2012 when he was just 15 years old, Garrix signed to Dutch label “Spinnin’ Records”. Before breaking through and earning much of his fame thanks to his single “Animals” in 2013. Animals became an instant hit in several countries across the globe, earning him the title of the youngest ever producer to hit number 1 on Beatport. He also first made the DJMag Top 100 DJs list at number 40 the same year.
Since then, Martin Garrix has continued to make waves within the EDM scene. Collaborating with a number of big-name artists, founding his own record label, polling at number #1 on the Top 100 DJs list, and appearing in a documentary alongside veteran Carl Cox. He’s also regularly headlining the world’s biggest music festivals including Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland. Sitting at the number 7 highest-paid DJs in the world, Garrix reportedly took home a comfortable $19 million last financial year.
8. David Guetta – $18 Million
David Guetta is a French DJ and Producer who’s sold over 9 million albums, and 30 million singles worldwide. As well as being crowned #1 in the Top 100 DJs list in 2011, and having his single “When Love Takes Over” crowned the number one dance-pop collaboration of all time. Guetta is also known for a number of classic singles including “Gettin’ Over You”, “Sexy Bitch”, and “Memories”.
While Tiesto has been referred to as the “Godfather of EDM”, the 52-year-old is commonly referred to with the title of “Grandfather of EDM”. Continuing to release music and headline the worlds biggest festivals, Guetta came in at number 8 on the list with an income of $18 Million
9. Zedd – $17 Million
Zedd is a Russian-German DJ & Producer primarily known for producing electro-house music. While drawing inspiration from dubstep, progressive house, and classical music. In 2012, Zedd released his breakthrough single “Clarity”, which propelled him into the forefront of the EDM genre. Hitting number 8 on the Top 100 charts as well as earning him a Grammy Award for best dance recording. Since then, Zedd has continued to produce an impressive catalog of music and has toured the globe, performing at several major music festivals including Coachella. As a result, Zedd has earned himself a place inside the Top 10 highest-paid DJs, taking home $17 Million.
10. Armin Van Buuren – $15 Million
For more than 20 years, Armin Van Buuren has repped the title of being one of the world’s most popular DJs and Producers. So there’s no surprise it correlates with him once again sitting inside the Top 10 highest-paid. He’s also got bragging rights for stealing the #1 DJ spot in the critically acclaimed DJMag Top 100 5 times over his career. As well as headlining massive electronic music festivals all over the world such as Tomorrowland, and touring with his renowned show “A State Of Trance”. Not to mention, Armin Van Buuren is the owner of Armada Music; a record label that has grown massively over the years, coming in at #7 on MixMag’s “Label of the Decade”. Another year of touring means Armin saw $15 Million in the last financial year!
11. Kaskade – $14 Million
American DJ and Producer, Kaskade first garnered attention thanks to his debut and critically acclaimed album “Its You It’s Me”. Earning him a nomination for Best New Artist, this album put Kaskade squarely on the dance music map. Since then, Kaskade has continued to perfect his craft of producing, as well as DJing on the mainstages of festivals all around the world and selling out world tours. He’s also landed himself in the Top 10 Americas Best DJs each year over the last decade. It’s estimated that Kaskade earnt himself a nice 14 million last year!
12. Skrillex – $13 Million
Skrillex is an American Producer and DJ who first garnered attention after releasing a Free EP on his MySpace page back in 2010. Before going onto release a number of studio EPs that both saw commercial success; landing him 5 Grammy awards including Best New Artist. Originally renowned for his unique Dubstep sound, Skrillex music has continued to evolve, enveloping everything EDM. He’s also been apart of a number of side projects including Jack U (Skrillex and Diplo) and Dog Blood (Skrillex and Boys Noize). As a result, 2019 saw Skrillex come in at number 12 on the highest-paid DJs list earning 13 Million.
13. Alesso – $12.5 Million
Swedish DJ and Record Producer, Alesso has worked with a number of fellow top DJs on this list. As well as performing at several of the world’s biggest music festivals including Coachella, Electric Daisy Festival, Creamfields and Tomorrowland. An extraordinary feat, despite only learning to DJ during 2011, Alesso made a big enough impact to make the DJMag Top 100 that very year. In 2015, he released his first solo album headlined by his renowned single “Heroes (We Could Be)”. Despite only releasing the one album, Alesso has continued to collaborate with a number of artists, while regularly headlining festivals. As a result, Alesso comes in at the 13th highest paid DJ in the world, taking home $12.5 Million.
14. Afrojack – $12 Million
Afrojack is a Dutch DJ, Producer, and founder of the record label “Wall Recordings”. Beginning his career by DJing at local clubs and pubs when he was just 14; before releasing his debut single “In Your Face” in 2007. From there, he garnered international success with his next single “Take Over Control” that charted in 10 different countries. It’s also still regularly played in clubs all over the world to this date. Since then, Afrojack has worked on a number of releases, as well as collaborations with fellow DJs such as David Guetta. He’s also graced the main stage at massive music festivals including Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland in Belgium.
15. DJ Snake – Tied on $11.5 Million
DJ Snake is a French DJ and Producer who first garnered attention producing Lady Gaga’s album “Born This Way”. Before bursting onto the scene with hit singles Bird Machine & Turn Down For What. As a result, Bird Machine was picked up by Diplo’s record label Mad Decent where he released several acclaimed standalone singles. Since then, DJ Snake has become a part of the “Pardon My French” team of French DJs. As well as establishing his own record label titled “Premiere Classe”. He’s also seen regularly performing at the world’s biggest festivals including Belgium’s Tomorrowland. Leading him to tie with both DJ Pauly D and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, as the 15th highest-paid DJs.
15. DJ Pauly D – Tied on $11.5 Million
DJ Pauly D can attribute almost all of his success thanks to his stint on MTV Reality show “Jersey Shore”. His eccentric personality on the show earned him much of his fame, as well as a spin-off show titled “The Pauly D Project”; focusing on the day to day life of Pauly D as he performed as a touring DJ. Pauly D then signed to G Unit records, before releasing only a small handful of singles over the years. He’s also featured in several other TV appearances that have attributed to his $11.5 Million income.
15. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike – Tied on $11.5 Million
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike are a duo of Belgium DJs and Producers. The brothers started making waves as DJs at a very young age before moving to Ibiza in 2003 and garnering residencies at some of the worlds biggest clubs. Most notably, although the pair comes in at number 15 on the list with a joint income of $11.5 million, they managed to top the charts in the latest issue of DJMags Top 100 DJs as they did in 2015. Between those two #1 appearances, the pair featured second in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018. They’ve also been extremely active releasing a number of singles, remixes, and festival appearances including Tomorrowland.
The Final Say – Highest-Paid DJs
That’s it for the Top 15 highest-paid DJs during the 18-19 financial year. All financial statistics have been sourced directly from the Forbes annual highest-paid DJs list. To read on, check out our list of the Top 20 Australian DJs of all time.