When Foreigners and Producers Invade DJ Times’ “America’s Best DJ”

DJ Times announced yesterday the results of their poll to find the ten best DJs in America as determined by popular vote, with Markus Schulz landing the number one spot. But of special interest to us is the number of producers (and two foreigners!) who have made it onto this list – continued signs of the veritable melting pot that DJing is becoming.

Here’s the complete list of the top ten  – along with their Topdeejays.com USA ranking (an interesting baseline for gauging an artist’s online following in certain countries and networks ) in parentheticals.


  1. Markus Schulz (#10)
  2. Steve Aoki (#4)
  3. Skrillex (#1)
  4. BT (#9)
  5. Z-Trip (unlisted)
  6. Porter Robinson (#17)
  7. Wolfgang Gartner (#20)
  8. A-Trak (#4… in Canada)
  9. Diplo (#5)
  10. Bassnectar (#22)


We wanted to take this moment to briefly discuss the basises of these polls once again – as the contest doesn’t seem to be what it’s name would claim. Let’s take a look at each individual part of the name of this contest and ask some important questions that the industry and communities should think when creating contests:

America’s: What defines a performer as being qualified to be the best DJ in a country? It’s worth noting that Markus Schulz wasn’t American-born, but he does have dual citizenship and is based in the US as DJ Times was quick to point out below. But by their same logic, is A-Trak (who doesn’t have American citizenship) not eligible because he doesn’t have dual citizenship – or is it enough to be based out of an American city?


Best: Unlike DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs, which only claims to be a DJ popularity contest, what qualities should voters be directed to vote on when considering the “Best” DJ? (DJ Times does note in their About page that the contest is designed to find the “Most Popular” DJ) And based on current ability, or historical achievements? Maybe each DJ should have to submit a performance or have to compete in a tournament of champions? Perhaps some kind of …Disco Mix Club?

DJ: This is a very common issue in the current electronic music scene – but it seems like the best DJs would be focused and judged primarily on their DJing abilities, not the quality of their original productions. Maybe we should all finally accept that production and DJing are invariably intermingled artforms- but how do you put the mixing prowess of Z-Trip and A-Trak and weigh them fairly against the studio skills that Skrillex and Porter Robinson have had so much success with in the last three years?

Congratulations to all of the winners in this poll – but let’s all work together to find new ways to really have more interesting lists and competitions that actually test the mettle and skills of these incredible performers instead of simply relying on popularity to determine the “best” DJs in America or the world.

How would you determine the best DJs in the world – no limits, American Gladiator-style ideas encouraged – let us know in the comments. 

a-trakamerica's best djbassnectarbtdiplodj timesMarkus SchulzPorter Robinsonskrillexsteve aokiwolfgang gartnerZ-trip
Comments (10)
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  • shinysuitman

    Kaskade???????? Glaring omission.

    • Speezy Speez

      he won last year so he isn’t eligible.

      • the CrowdBoy

        so that means the best DJ can’t be the best DJ just because he already is?
        he should have the right to be eligible again so we can see if people still thinks he is best!

        • Speezy Speez

          i didn’t make the rules that’s just how it works for this particular contest.

      • the CrowdBoy

        so that means the best DJ can’t be the best DJ just because he already is?
        he should have the right to be eligible again so we can see if people still thinks he is best!

  • dillinger23

    Worth noting pretty much every other poll I’ve ever seen here in Europe doesn’t feel the need to make Nationality and Citizenship and issue. A good DJ is a good DJ, whether from the US, the UK, Spain, Germany, Brazil, wherever.

  • Rooshdy

    I believe an incredible DJ can only be judged from the dancefloor. I have seen many, many live performances, only a handful were indredible. Many of them were good set builders, some were indeed very technically gifted but only a few stood out as truely great. The DJ’s that I have witnessed tearing up a dancfloor with jaw dropping effect were: Mixmaster Mike, doing a 10min intro routine at a Beatie Boys gig, 20,000 people left buzzing about him. DJ Sneak, the guy oozes talent, great tunes, also the ability to use turntableism aside house and techno, altogether memorable every time. Dave Clarke, this guy cuts, spins and drops Techno bombs like a B52, intense dancefloor killer. Laurent Garnier, legendary 4-5 hour sets, covering jazz, jungle, house, techno and anything else, truely mesmorizing sets. And of course Ritchie Hawtin, the guy is like a scientist of DJ technology, always paving the way for legions to follow. Soulwax, or 2manyDJs, these guys broke the mould & turned CDJing into somthing interesting…at last. I’ve seen them a couple of times at festivals in huge arenas and they totally kicked the shit out of it. And who can forget Carl Cox, still rockin at 50, but in his 3 deck wizard days…WoW, he never took any prisoners, dancefloors were always packed, nuff said. Jeff Mills, wierd and wonderful, every colour, every shade of rhythm, sometimes a blur of activity but hugly impressive. And finally representing drum & bass the one guy that I believe is one of the best DJ’s on earth is none other than the Tornadfo from San Paulo, DJ Marky, OMG WTF just happened, is exactly how i spent 2 hours watching him, it was like watching a technics championship in fast forward! Additionally he was using CDJ’s, which is really my point. Many many guys out there bitch about new digital equiptment not being as good as Technics (to me personally they aint), but these guys are all out there showing you how its done. Anyway just some thoughts on the subject. Cheers, Rooshdy.

  • mattmangrease

    Glad to see Diplo up there.