A moderately successful vocalist/producer who had topped the charts in his UK homeland but was still a virtual unknown everywhere else, Scotsman Calvin Harris wouldn’t even have crossed Forbes’ radar when they published their annual DJ Rich List back in 2011.
Step forward two years later and the 29-year-old has not only taken pole position on the business magazine’s new survey, which is based on the money earned from live shows, merchandise, record sales and endorsements over the last twelve months, but has earned a staggering $14 million more than his nearest rival.
It’s a remarkable change in fortune considering the fact that his patchy debut, I Created Disco, barely shipped 100,000 copies on its release in 2007. But having abandoned all traces of his electro-pop quirks in favour of jumping aboard the generic EDM bandwagon, Calvin Harris has become a ubiquitous force on the superclub circuit, raking in over $200,000 per night during his Las Vegas residency. Meanwhile, last year’s star-studded 18 Months LP has since spawned an astonishing nine hit singles, including one of the best-selling of all time, Rihanna collaboration “We Found Love.”
Vegas’ burgeoning dance scene has also boosted the coffers of last year’s number one, now runner-up, Dutchman DJ Tiesto, ($32m), who recently announced he was abandoning Ibiza to concentrate on performing at Sin City, fifth-placed Deadmau5 ($21m), and seventh-placed Afrojack, who remarkably turned down an offer from Hakkasan to double his money in order to stay at the Wynn.
Elsewhere, David Guetta, the man arguably responsible for EDM’s dominance, is at number three on the list, having pocketed $30m from over 120 shows, a weekly residency at Ibiza’s Pacha and a never-ending array of Nothing But The Beat re-releases. The now defunct Swedish House Mafia land at number four, although their tally of $25m would undoubtedly have been much greater had they not called it a day in March. Twenty-three-year-old Swede Avicii, the youngest name on the list, is placed at number six ($20m), despite the fact he has yet to release a studio album.
The EDM scene may be creatively bankrupt, but with its top 10 acts pulling in a combined worth of over $268 million during the last year – more than the gross domestic product of island nations Kiribati and Tuvalu – it’s never been more financially filthy rich.