A concept which began in the late 90s, the era of the superstar DJ was presumed to have been dead and buried up until the EDM scene started to take over America almost a decade later. Now, according to a new rich list published by Forbes magazine last week, the world’s biggest knob-twiddlers are raking in the kind of cash that most rock acts could only dream about.
Indeed, the extortionate sums DJs used to earn during the heyday of superclubs Cream and Gatecrasher would now be considered little more than pocket money by a new generation of jocks who are arguably far more commercial minded than their predecessors.
Top of the survey, perhaps surprisingly, is Dutchman Tiesto, who despite failing to produce even one genuine crossover single in his career, has earned an incredible $22 million over the past 12 months, largely due to his mammoth 174-date Kaleidoscope tour. Man of the moment, Skrillex, whose turbo-charged take on the dubstep sound earned him three Grammy Awards back in February, is quite some way behind, although $15m isn’t exactly a figure to be sniffed at.
Swedish House Mafia may have announced they were disbanding last month, but having amassed a $14m fortune during the past year, they’re unlikely to be strapped for cash. But considering you can’t turn on the radio these days without hearing one of his productions, it’s something of a surprise that ubiquitous Frenchman David Guetta only comes in at fourth with $13.5m. However, it’s not the only shock on the list.
Outspoken Canadian Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, who has recently mouthed off at almost everyone in the entire dance genre, will surely have something to say about the fact he only netted half a million dollars more than DJ Pauly D, best-known for being one of the perma-tanned housemates on Jersey Shore. Meanwhile, Avicii, a virtual unknown less than two years ago, has accrued a tidy $7m sum to place at No.10, ahead of more established names such as Armin Van Buuren, Paul Van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold.
It’s perhaps understandable how the Top 10’s combined worth from the last year comes in at over $125 million, especially considering their ability to tour extensively with little more than a laptop. And with the EDM revolution showing little sign of slowing down, it seems as though the second wave of superstar DJs will continue to earn superstar fortunes for quite some time to come.