Whereas once it was just an underground, electronic dance music has exploded in popularity in the United States and is now incorporated into many of the biggest music events in the world. Today, being a DJ can do a lot more than just pay the rent – many are earning staggering amounts annually! So, who are the highest earning DJs in the world?
24. Paris Hilton – $1 million per gig
The socialite-turned-business-mogul hasn’t actually appeared on any lists of highest earning DJs yet, but that’s only because she’s never admitted to how much she makes from being a DJ in year. In a 2018 SiriusXM interview however, Paris Hilton admitted that her DJ appearances will cost the host anywhere “from a couple hundred grand to up to a million.”
When asked about the cost behind having Hilton spinning tables at your party, the well-known artist explained that not only does she DJ, but she also promotes the venue she is being paid to work at along with interacting face-to-face with the guests. According to British radio station Capital FM, between the cost of a performance and the number of performances that Hilton does, she should definitely be on the list of the world’s highest earning DJs.
23. Hardwell – $3.95 million
DJ Hardwell, whose real name is Robert van de Corput, began his career behind the turntable at age 14, where he quickly made a name for himself in his hometown of Breda, North Brabant in the Netherlands. In 2009 he gained mass recognition for his song “Show Me Love vs. Be,” and a year later founded the record label Revealed Recordings.
From his origins in the hip-hop underground scene to major music festivals and concerts, Hardwell became a well-known name in the electronic music industry. DJ Mag even voted the Dutch DJ the number one DJ in both 2013 and 2014, and he became popular for sets at Sunburn and Tomorrowland. According to the online database, celebworth.net, Hardwell’s most recent earnings put him at a cool $3.95 million in the course of a year.
22. Timmy Trumpet – $4 million
Ever wondered why Australian DJ Timothy Jude Smith goes by the name Timmy Trumpet? It might be because this high earning DJ likes to play an actual trumpet, live, during his sets. Additionally, he is one of the only DJs to make use of elements of jazz in the world of global dance music.
Timmy Trumpet’s breakthrough song, “Freaks,” was released in 2014 in partnership with New Zealand rapper, Savage. The song would go on to be certified platinum six times by the Australian Record Industry Association and Timmy Trumpet would see quite a paycheck coming from it. According to alphalife.me, the DJ’s most recent earnings show that he made $4 million a year. Not only that, but the jazzy DJ made history by being the first DJ to perform in Zero Gravity in partnership with the European Space Agency.
21. Sasha – $6.47 million
Before becoming one of the highest earning DJs in the world, Welsh DJ Sasha was mixing records within the rebellious acid music house scene in the United Kingdom. Since then, the artist has remixed tracks for some very popular names in the music industry including Madonna, The Chemical Brothers, and Hot Chip.
Sasha earns most of his yearly income both through his success as a producer and artist, but much of it comes through being a technological pioneer. His use of live audio equipment in his shows influenced other DJs who, until then, had still been relying on more old-fashioned records and turntables. Sasha’s hard work and innovation seems to have paid off and, according to celebworth.net, his most recent earnings come in at $6.47 million.
20. Daft Punk – $10 million
The helmeted and gloved electronic music duo, Daft Punk, first met and formed in Paris in 1993. After their first album Homework, which included hits like “Around the World” and “Da Funk,” was released to positive reviews in 1997, the duo became a well-recognized name in the French house movement.
Since their first album, Daft Punk have toured worldwide and their second album, Alive 2007, won a Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album. Their fourth album, Random Access Memories, won five Grammys in 2014. One of their most recent hits was the 2016 Billboard collaborative hit song “Starboy” recorded with the The Weekend. According to celebworth.net, their most recent yearly income was $10 million.
NEXT: Should you quit your job and become a DJ? After seeing how much these next ones make you may want to!
19. Kygo – $11.5 million
Born in 1991, Norwegian DJ Kyrre Govell-Dahll, better known by his stage name Kygo, has had multiple singles, “Stole the Show,” “Here for You,” and a remix of the Whitney Houston song “Higher Love,” all appear on numerous international music charts.
Kygo first started performing in 2009 as a student, when he was halfway through his business and finance degree in Edinburgh, Scotland. Towards the end of 2015, the Norwegian DJ had become the fastest artist to reach one billion streams on Spotify and by 2016, Kygo made history by becoming the first house music producer to perform at an Olympics closing ceremony. By Forbes’ estimates, Kygo’s most recent yearly earnings have brought him a staggering $11.5 million.
18. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike – $11.5 million
Beligian DJ duo, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, have consistently been ranked either first or second on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list during the past five years. Their style of Dutch and progressive electronic dance music has been embraced internationally, including by other top performing artists like Martin Garrix, Diplo, and Ne-Yo who have been featured on their albums.
The songs and albums recorded by the two brothers, born Dimitri Thivaios and Michael Thivaios, have made them the recipients of an MTV and International Dance Music Award for Best Group and Best European DJ. Most recently, the two were featured on Forbes’ list of highest earning DJs, with yearly earnings of about $11.5 million.
17. DJ Pauly D – $11.5 million
Before spinning tables at parties and clubs, Paul D. DelVecchio Jr. was a housemate on the popular MTV show, Jersey Shore. In August 2011 the former reality star came forward with an announcement that he had just signed on with a three-album deal with 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records and G-Note Records.
Since becoming a DJ, Pauly D has toured throughout the United States and internationally and, in 2019, signed on to a two year deal with Las Vegas’ Drai’s Beachclub often performing at what the DJ himself calls, “the ultimate Las Vegas pool party!” Drai’s seems to appreciate their new entertainer since, according to Forbes, DJ Pauly D made 11.5 million last year.
16. DJ Snake – $11.5 million
Appearing in the international scene blasting hits like “Bird Machine” and “Turn Down For What,” Dj Snake’s 2013 debut has since transformed the artist into one of the most popular global performers. Ranking number nine on Billboard’s Dance 100 list, DJ Snake has, according to Forbes, become one of the highest earning DJs still in the business.
DJ Snake’s most recent album, Carte Blanche, was released on July 26, 2019 and includes features artists like 21 Savage, Cardi B, Selena Gomesz, and Gucci Mane. Cardi B and Selena Gomez (along with Ozuna) had also appeared on DJ Snake’s prior single “Taki Taki,” which debuted number one on Hot Latin Songs in the United States.
15. Axwell & Ingrosso – $12 million
Axwell and Ingrosso (stylized Axwell /\ Ingrosso) consists of former house music supergroup Swedish House Mafia members Axel Christofer Hedfors and Sebastian Carmine Ingrosso. After Swedish House Mafia finished their final tour, called “One Last Tour,” in 2013, Axwell and Ingrosso made their duo debut at the 2014 Governors Ball in New York City.
During their time collaborating professionally, the two have headlined the popular music festival, Tomorrowland, four consecutive years. Even though they recently announced that they were planning on rejoining Swedish House Mafia, the two did well on their own, earning $12 million over the course of a year according to Forbes magazine.
14. Afrojack – $12 million
Afrojack is not only one of DJ Mag’s ten best artists in their Top 100, he is also a successful businessman and CEO of the European branch of the massive Japanese-owned entertainment company, LDH. Before releasing his debut album in 2014, Forget the World, Afrojack worked on several hit singles including Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” and Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).”
Since becoming a celebrated hit artist, Afrojack has collaborated with popular DJ David Guetta on singles like “Hey Mama” and “Another Life.” He appeared on Forbes’ Highest Earning DJs of 2019 list after earning $12 million in one year of his career.
NEXT: It’s hard to imagine how much this next DJ is making behind the turntable!
13. Alesso – $12.5 million
“Alesso” is actually just a shortened version of the Swedish DJ’s actual name, Alessandro Renato Rodolfo Lindbald, and from the beginning of this DJ’s career in 2012 he was considered by MTV to be one of the “EDM Rookies to Watch.” Looks like they were right, since Alesso has appeared numerous times in DJ Magazine’s top 100 list.
Alesso’s debut album, Forever, was released in 2015 by Def Jam Records, and his 2018 remix of “Something Like This” earned the artist an International Dance Music Award. Alesso is also a proud member of the highest earning DJs list presented by Forbes, after making $12.5 million in 2019.
12. Skrillex – $13 million
Another proud member of the list of highest earning DJs in the world, and also one of the longest continuously performing, Sonny John Moore, aka Skrillex, began his music career as the lead singer in the post-hardcore band From First to Last in 2004. By 2007, Moore decided to form his own solo band, and by 2009 was recording under the name, Skrillex.
After the success of his three EPs My Name is Skrillex, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, and More Monsters and Sprites, Skrillex became a well known name on the electronic scene. In 2011, he became the recipients of five Grammy Award nominations, winning three. Even in 2019 Skrillex is still performing and making music, with Forbes estimating his earnings at an impressive $13 million.
11. Kaskade – $14 million
Before becoming known as Kaskade, Chicago, IL native Ryan Gary Raddon was a monthly Monday night DJ at a basement venue called Club Manhattan. He used the money he earned from working there to buy his first studio equipment and by 2001, he was releasing singles and recording albums regularly.
Some of Kaskade’s most popular hits were born from the fruition of his 2006 collaboration with fellow DJ Deadmau5, and include titles like “I Remember” and “Move For Me.” Kaskade seems to enjoy working with other successful DJs, and has collaborated with artists like Skrillex, Haley, Neon Trees, and Skylar Grey to name a few. His willingness to work with others has made him one of the highest earning DJs in the world.
10. Armin van Buuren – $15 million
Armin van Buuren originated in South Holland, where his personal mix of progressive house and vocal trance styles of music earned him early success and recognition. Around that time, in 2001, he began hosting a weekly radio show, A State of Trance, which van Buuren never left even after finding international commercial success.
Some of his most noteworthy accomplishments include being the fourth trance artist in history to earn a Grammy Award nomination for Best Dance Recording for his single “This Is What It Feels Like.” His yearly earnings caught the attention of Forbes, which put him at number 10 on their list of Highest Earning DJs with $15 million.
9. Zedd – $17 million
Originating from Kaiserslautern, Germany, the stage name Zedd was taken from the first letter of his last name, Anton Zaslavski. In 2011 his remixes of popular artists like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Skrillex caught the attention of Interscope Records, which signed him in 2012. That same year Zedd released his first studio album, Clarity, which hit the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Since then, Zedd has continuously released singles which have often found themselves peaking in the Billboard charts. Some of the most popular were “Break Free” featuring Ariana Grande, and “Stay” with Alessia Cara. Fans seem like they’re willing to pay quite a bit to get a piece of their favorite DJ, as according to Forbes, his 2015 earnings consisted of an impressive $17 million.
NEXT: Can you guess how many DJs on this list were originally born in the Netherlands?
8. David Guetta – $18 million
Called the “grandfather of EDM” by Gazette Review, David Guetta’s successful career includes numerous Billboard hits and the artist can boast nine million albums and thirty million singles sold worldwide. Forbes has ranked Guetta as one of the highest earning DJs in the world, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering how many hit singles the EDM “grandfather” has released.
Some of Guetta’s most popular singles include “When Love Takes Over” featuring Kelly Rowland, “Where Them Girls At” featuring Nicki Minaj and Flo rida, and “Titanium” featuring Sia. The popularity of the artist and the successes of his songs has earned Guetta a music award nomination every year that he has performed since 2011.
7. Martin Garrix – $19 million
Dutch DJ Martin Garrix was discovered by none other than successful DJ Tiesto, who was impressed not only with Garrix’s music, but with him as a person, praising him for being “inspirational, humble, and legendary.” That year, in 2012, Garrix was signed by dance label Spinnin’ Records, and began producing studio records and singles like “Animals,” “In the Name of Love,” and “Scared to be Lonely” were born.
After leaving Spinnin’ Records, Garrix founded his own label, Stmpd Rcrds in 2016 which have no doubt contributed to his $19 million earning in 2019 (according to Forbes). His popularity has also earned him the headliner spot at some of the biggest named festivals in the world, like Tomorrowland and Coachella.
6. Tiesto – $24 million
If David Guetta is known as the “Grandfather of EDM,” Dutch DJ and producer Tiesto is considered by numerous publications to be its godfather, both for his talent and for his generosity to both fans and fellow DJs. He has been constantly rated as one of the best DJs in the world by both Mix Magazine and DJ Mag.
Tiesto’s career was launched in 2001 with the release of his first solo album, In My Memory. His third album, 2007’s Elements of Life, reached number one on Billboard’s list of top electronic albums and also resulted in a nomination for a Grammy Award. Tiesto’s success has earned him some big bucks and Forbes placed him as the sixth highest earning DJ in the world in 2019.
5. Diplo – $25 million
The DJ, songwriter, and producer Diplo is currently based out of Los Angeles, California, but was actually born in Tupelo, Mississippi. Not only has Diplo found success as a solo artist with hits like “Where Are U Now” and “Express Yourself,” but he has been involved in some of the most successful EDM groups including Major Lazor, LSD and Jack U.
Diplo’s popularity and his willingness to collaborate with other artists have made him one of the highest earning DJs in the world. Some of the artists he collaborated with include big names like Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and even Snoop Dogg. According to Forbes, his earnings in 2019 have reached $25 million.
4. Steve Aoki – $30 million
The artist behind such hits like “Pursuit of Happiness,” “ILYSM,” “Beat Down,” and “I’m in the House,” is none other than Miami, FL native Steve Aoki. Aoki has consistancy been one of the most financially successful DJs starting in 2012 when Pollstar designated him the highest grossing dance artist in North America. Since then, Aoki has appeared on Forbes’ top earning DJs list almost every year.
But Aoki doesn’t just keep all the money for himself, he is also the founder of the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund, which raises money for global humanitarian relief organizations. He hasn’t just succeeded financially though – Aoki’s songs have risen to the top of numerous Billboard charts and he himself has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronica Album.
3. Calvin Harris – $38.5 million
Scottish superstar Calvin Harris’ real name is actually Adam Richard Wiles. Before becoming one of the highest earning DJs in the world, started out as a teenager recording demos in his bedroom. Today he is known for his popular singles like “We Found Love,” “This Is What You Came For,” “Summer,” “Feel So Close,” and “Feels.”
Not only is Calvin Harris one of the highest earning DJs on this list, but he has appeared on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid DJs consecutively from 2012 to 2019. His numerous Billboard listings throughout the world have made him incredibly popular, and in 2017 he was even included on professional coaching company Debrett’s list of the most influential people in the United Kingdom.
2. Marshmello – $40 million
Marshmello’s helmet was so symbolic of the high earning DJ that, for the first two years after his career began, his actual identity was not publicly known. By 2017 the team at Forbes realized that the artist responsible for multi-platinum hits like “Silence,” “Wolves,” “Friends,” and “Happier,” was none other than Philadelphia native Christopher Comstock.
Marshmello has had some undeniably impressive successes. He has appeared on Forbes’ list of highest-earning DJs in the world for more than half of his career since he started performing. Most recently, in 2019, the business magazine placed the helmet-wearing DJ at number two in their list of the highest paid DJs in one year.
1. The Chainsmokers – $46 million
The EDM duo The Chainsmokers, consisting of Alexander Pall and Andrew Taggart, are number one on Forbes’ list of highest paid DJs in 2019, dethroning hitmaker Calvin Harris. Their breakthrough success began in 2014 with their song “#Selfie” which became an international top twenty single.
The Chainsmokers’ numerous accolades include a Grammy, two American Music Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, and an impressive nine iHeartRadio Music Awards. Since beginning their career in 2012, the pair have released two studio albums: Memories…Do Not Open in April 2017, and Sick Boy in December 2018. There have been confirmations of a third album, World War Joy, which is due to be released in 2019.
Honorable Mention – Shaquille O’Neal aka DJ DIESEL
Considered by CBS and ESPN to be one of the greatest players in NBA history, Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most recognizable centers from 1992-2011. Many people may be surprised to hear that after basketball, O’Neil decided to pursue music. In fact, his music career actually began in 1993 as a rapper, where he was friendly with big names like The Notorious B.I.G. Today, O’Neal has moved to EDM, and he currently goes by the name DJ DIESEL.
According to investopia.com O’Neal makes an annual income of $30 million. But, according to thegroovecartel.com, none of it comes from being a DJ. You read that right, in spite of touring worldwide and performing at venues like Tomorrowland, O’Neal does charge a dime and reportedly enjoys doing it just for the sake of enjoying watching people having a good time.
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