The EDM bubble has been rumored to be on the verge of popping, but DJs that mix EDM continue to climb the ranks of celebrity and financial standing. Forbes recently made a list of some of the highest paid DJs in 2016. The highest paid among them are Avicii ($14.5 million), Afrojack ($15 million), Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike ($15.5 million), Martin Garrix ($16 million), Kaskade ($19 million), Skrillex ($20 million), Diplo ($23 million), Steve Aoki ($23.5 million), Zedd ($24.5 million), and Calvin Harris ($63 million).
The top acts command hundreds of thousands of dollars due in part to the bar set by payment from Las Vegas residencies. A quick glance at a list of DJ residencies in Las Vegas for 2017 will reveal many of Forbes’s highest ranking DJs. Listen to Steve Aoki explain the role of Las Vegas in dj payouts below.
These days a DJ who makes an appearance at a large venue or on the main stage of a festival doesn’t come alone. In addition to the sound crew, there may be visual artists and other professionals who will work together to create a sensational, audio-visual experience around the DJ. The expense of travel and movement of all that equipment has to also be taken into account. A couch is not considered adequate accommodations so add in the expense of lodging. Let’s not forget stylists, artist managers, and other essential staff. When considering what goes into not only booking but bringing a DJ to an event, it is easy to see how costs add up.
The entry-level DJ will quickly realize after starting out that before a steady income comes dues that must be paid. If a DJ is not established, he or she may be asked to play for free, in exchange for exposure and maybe a drink ticket or two. After some time spent working crowds and building a presence, what then would a DJ expect to be paid?
There are several factors that go into how much DJs are paid: the type of party, the type of venue, the size of the venue, the duration of the time slot, and how far the DJ has to travel. A DJ who has asked to remain anonymous has said that he charges $150 an hour, but knows local DJs who are charging up to $250. He went on to say that a DJ of Tiesto’s caliber could command up to $300,000 for two hours. With this revelation, it’s hard to imagine the EDM bubble bursting anytime soon.