Forbes magazine has put it highest paid DJs in 2014 list, figures it appears it began to track in 2012. As has been pointed out when previous lists have been issued, the top ten are almost entirely white guys playing EDM music. Part of their incomes also comes from producing and song writing and they all travel extensively and work mega-festivals and clubs. Hakkasan, a club located in MGM Grand in Las Vegas was mentioned prominently as a club that has paid huge salaries to draw top DJs for lengthy residencies.
Here is the list:
Calvin Harris: $66M
David Guetta: $30M
Steve Aoki: $23M
Armin Von Bueren: $12M
Steve Angello: $12M
So as much fanfare as there has been about the rise of the female DJs, it appears that a lot is just buzz for now. And while the amounts these guys are receiving feel like a bubble about to burst (and they are all Forbes-generated estimates so it’s hard to judge their accuracy), up and coming DJs with their minds on their money should study the members and their moves. Perhaps EDM is not one’s path, but at the very least a rising DJ should view serious contracts and management, travel and working almost non-step as some methods to increase one’s reputation and compensation. It is commonplace for magazines and websites to seek out female DJs and performers to add cool to their publications but even then there should be some form of compensation, even if it’s a paid car service to and from a shoot. The big lesson is to know one’s worth and ask for it whether personally or through an intermediary who has established negotiation skills.
Given how much money is being made, one would not expect the high-income DJ world to be one in which there is a lot of peace, love and understanding. Given the prestige combined with the income, one would expect something more along the lines of treachery, deceit and basically everything the opposite of what the music stands for. But that is life really, a lot of success just depends on what you can stomach and soldier through. Learn your lessons, make adjustments, leave some people behind, find people you trust and keep soldiering through no matter what.