How Much Do DJs Get Paid? Forbes Top 10 List

Forbes released a list of the highest earners in the DJ industry (dubbing them the “Electronic Cash Kings”), and we’re getting a little envious over how much cash some of the big names and celebrity DJs are making. The list was compiled using estimates based on Pollstar concert data combined with booking rates for these acts, along with data from music, merch, and sponsorship sales.

Obviously most DJs aren’t pulling in numbers in the millions, but for mega-stars who are headlining festivals nearly every weekend, it’s not uncommon for a night’s work to be in the tens or hundreds of thousands. According to Forbes, list-topper Tiesto earns about 250,000 dollars per performance. Assuming a three hour set (probably less!), that’s $83,000 an hour! Here’s the complete top 10 list of DJ salaries:

  1. Tiësto – $22 million
  2. Skrillex – $15 million
  3. Swedish House Mafia – $14 million
  4. David Guetta – $13.5 million
  5. Steve Aoki – $12 million
  6. Deadmau5 – $11.5 million
  7. DJ Pauly D – $11 million
  8. Kaskade – $10 million
  9. Afrojack – $9 million
  10. Avicii – $7 million

More Info: 

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  • Spiritus

    Skrillex earning more than deadmau5, I call hacks!

  • jerville

    Pauly D? That’s a shame! Who the hell is he

  • Anonymous

    fist pumping… 14 million dollars
    dropping the bass… 15 million dollars
    dating paris hilton… 9 million dollars
    learning how to Dj… priceless

  • Akunatin

    Pauly D is probably the only one djing there while everybody else is just hitting play like Deadmua5.

    • Shane

      Deadmau5 does more than push play he has several feeds of music playing at once to create remixes practically. If he can do that on the fly thats amazing. Now tiesto still mixes from what I’ve heard and I know kaskade is. Now I can’t really defend skrillex other than say atleast he isnt lying about it.

      • Chris

        skrillex plays on cdj’s now.

        • Justin Turner

          but he sucks now. When he used ableton he sounded great (for the most part.. He still needed a crossfader) but now he’s sponsored by beats™ and does basic mixing with shaky beat-matching at best..

      • Shuriken Tenshii

        He uses Ableton….it’s pre set and impossible to mess up. Seriously.

      • Shuriken Tenshii

        And no it’s not at random or created on the fly. Everything is timed to change automatically because the lighting and pyros are on a timed program receiving midi from the Ableton he’s using. If he improvises it will mess up the show.

  • zozei

    lol…..funny comments….is Pauly D bad?…

  • Jay

    Pauly D earning more than Kaskade…. what a disgrace!

    • qtl


    • Truth

      thats because the entire cast of jersey shore gets paid 11 million a year each… lol just like any reality tv star on mtv its not for his talent that hes getting paid 11 million dollars lol

      • djpuertoroc

        But think about it 11 MILLION DOLLARS?! If you where a half ass DJ would you still take the money?

    • Cryptic

      I mean not really Pauly D was “Pauly D” before Jersey Shore, its one of the reasons MTV scooped him up because he was a big name DJ in the area. He also is a pretty good DJ from his live performances i see online.

  • Stevo Schizometric

    I think this article is bogus. There’s no way they are all making that much just from djing alone. It goes to show you how stupid people are, because most of these so-called “dj’s” are complete bullshit artists.

    • David De Garie-Lamanque

      the article, sats that Forbes also considers, endorsements and merch…what is bogus is that millions of people are actually willing to pay for all that garbage.

  • jack

    “This is a world where good men are murdered in their prime and mediocre hacks thrive and proliferate.”
    — Bill Hicks

    • David De Garie-Lamanque

      i would definitely agree with that! now let’s try to change things by having a bunch of truly talented DJs, constrollerists and performing artists for a united front of “good music and real performance”. how about that?

      • LeMe

        before you can sell, you have to sell out, lock stock and soul

  • Anthony Woodruffe

    Now lets really break this down. How many of those are actually DJ’s.
    50% of that list play just their own compositions, which makes them performing artists.
    That makes a big difference between people paying big bucks to see someone play other people’s music or wanting to hear their favorite composer in the highest audio quality possible.
    Before you start; yes I know some of these artists dump their tracks down on to a CD. But others are trying everything to give you the sound they hear in the studio, live.

  • Tom

    not sure what’s worse, the fact they believe they are worth that much or the fact that the market values them as such.

  • Anonymous

    I think it was John Digweed who said “The music is always played for free, I will always love playing great music to friends. You are paying for the inconvenience of travel.”

  • Wrkz

    Pauly D… 11 million… really now. 😐

    • David Clark

      Well nobody said they had to be good DJ’s lol.

    • DJ Dre Motion

      Just threw up my mouth a little…

    • Sam Moore

      <— just lost a little more faith in humanity….