Forbes World’s Highest-Paid DJs: 2013 Edition

A whole year has gone by since Forbes released their first analysis of the top ten DJs in terms of monetary wealth. This year’s edition stars many of the same cast of characters at the top – with the exception of Calvin Harris who has rocketed to the top (likely all because of his collaborations with pop artists).

  1. Calvin Harris – $46 million (last year: not listed)
  2. Tiësto – $32 million (last year: #1)
  3. David Guetta – $30 million (last year: #4)
  4. Swedish House Mafia – $25 million (last year: #3)
  5. Deadmau5 – $21 million (last year: #6)
  6. Avicii – $20 million (last year: #10)
  7. Afrojack – $18 million (last year: #9)
  8. Armin van Buuren – $17 million (last year: not listed
  9. Skrillex – $16 million [tie] (last year: #2)
  10. Kaskade – $16 million [tie] (last year: #8)
  11. Steve Aoki – $14 million (last year: #5)
  12. DJ Pauly D – $13 million [tie] (last year: #7)
  13. Diplo – $13 million [tie] (last year: not listed)

It’s remained a pretty solid lockup of producers – with only Pauly D on the list as a DJ who hasn’t had a major electronic hit in the last two years. Forbes does note in the article that in order to be included in the list, each person has to make at least half of their revenue from DJ gigs.

Forbes does admit that these are estimates – but tries to note all of the resources they used to calculate each of the DJ’s revenue.

Our estimates include earnings from live shows, endorsements, merchandise sales, recorded music sales, external business ventures and, in the case of DJ Pauly D, television (we included him on this list because, like his fellow Electronic Cash Kings, he makes at least half his cash from DJ gigs). Sources include Songkick, Pollstar, RIAA, promoters, managers, lawyers and some of the artists themselves.

[via Forbes]
calvin harrisforbeshighest paid djshow much do DJs earnhow much do djs make
Comments (32)
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  • Adrian Dooga Martinez

    Money earned does not equate to quality nor classic status, and because of that I can sleep easy. Notice how Diplo makes the list as his music and label goes EDM pop. :/

  • Robert

    One thing to note here, is not just the rankings have gone up, but that EVERY ONE of these DJs is making significantly more money than last year (correct me if i’m wrong)

  • Lt

    I wanna throw up

  • Abbsess

    Someone I know used to work with Calvin Harris in the Kwik Save shop in Dumfries. He’s certainly done well for himself.

  • 031999

    ughhhh fak em….

  • Mike Stannard

    Who the fuck is Calvin Harris? Seriously, I’ve never heard of him.

    • Troll Killer

      ^I hope to god your trolling.I know YOU know you’ve heard of him

      He’s the one that made “Feel So Close”?


      • Mike Stannard

        Ahhh, Ok I have heard that. Didn’t know who did it.

        • futureglue

          I like dropping “merrymaking at my place” from 2008. Still a killer party tune when everyones had a few brews…

        • Robert

          totally fair, often hear songs and not knowing who did them is VERY common in electronic music, where things like singers or rapper’s voices dont give away who the artist is, unless the style is super unique

    • Dj Kom

      And the Rihanna’s hit: We found love !!!
      Hey man where you come from??? Siberia???

    • Backtothefront

      Not a response as such, but just noticed ‘EddieV’ in ur pic next to your name 😀 😀 😀

      re the list, I’m just ignoring it, it’s a who’s who list of everthing that is wrong in dance music at the moment.

      • Mike Stannard

        Eddie Voyager is the man! Got to do a remix of one of his tracks for Scarcity. 🙂

        • bttf

          Ah nice work Mike. Yeah he is indeed, can have a good bit of banter with him. 😀

    • Mike Stannard

      I listen to mostly breaks and drum and bass, so I don’t usually hear pop house music. I’m sure I’ve heard the name, just can’t put any music or a face to the guy.

  • junkimchi

    Idk I’m not really phased.

    Money =/= Art. It has never been, and probably never will be. If we truly pride ourselves to be “artistic” Dj’s, we should just this list for exactly what it is: A list that compiles success in the entertainment industry.

    • Neetlejuice


  • Philip Dj-Phillyc Charles

    I’m going to be 100% honest, i absolutely fine with DJ Pauly D being on this list bc he is one of the few if any other traditional DJs on this list. This list consists of mainly producers, and unlike any other genre of music, the Producer/Engineer/Beat-maker is the headliner. That in itself is its own talent, but I feel that EDM Producers are misclassed as DJs. For most of us who also produce and remix music, we don’t have the opportunity to Spin an hour long set of our own premixed/remixed tracks for a crowd waiting for the next “Jesus pose.” It comes down to playing the right music for people, that’s what a DJ is.
    In any other Genre that music is produced electronically, the artist is the headliner, until the a track is produced by one of these superstar DJs. At that point it is no longer Rihanna’s We’ve Found Love, it’s “Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris”For instance, we all know who Timbaland is, and are well aware that he produced a very big portion of Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 album, but it’s Justin Timberlake who the fans pay to go see perform those songs, not Timbaland. I highly doubt that Timbaland could sell out an arena, MSG for instance, on the guise that he would be playing every song he had produced in the last few years with nothing else going on but a light show behind him. For some reason, the DJ/Producer is the new Rockstar, with most of it being “Producer” and very little of it being “DJ.”

    • leonffs

      And that’s something that’s been wrong with the music industry for DECADES. We’ve had boy bands and pop artists come and go when the only people getting recognition and the big paychecks are the faces of the music. The “stars” didn’t write the lyrics, they didn’t write nor engineering the music. All they do is show up to recording studios to do the recordings (which gets heavily processed) and then learn some dances for performing.

      It’s better this way. Music producers do most of the artistic input in music and they’re the ones who should be getting the credit.

      • Robert

        I agree that its mostly better this way, but it was true in the past that those writers and producers were making QUITE a significant amount of money from the songs of pop stars. If you ever watched MTVs documentary on how much rappers make, the producers would tend to make a lot of money, and the rappers would have to tour to actually make any money

    • Mike Stannard

      I for one am totally for those who produce ending more prominently on the list. Maybe not these cunts, but I have so much more respect for people who can do both well.

    • Jay

      I totally agree, I use to hate on DJ Pauly D because I thought his he had no skills, but he’s decent same as any other local club DJ and in some cases better. He was just on a popular show and he using his fame from that show to bank some serious money. ANYBODY in here would do the EXACT same thing if they were in his shoes. Don’t hate…if you want his spot get your game up and TAKE IT!!!

  • tetrix

    Sad day when people like pauly d are getting paid more than the likes of carl cox or richie hawtin, above and beyond as well. Big names who focus on the art form all pushed aside.

    I guess it shows in their bank balance though, they aren’t in it for the cash!

  • David De Garie-Lamanque

    ouch….the world of EDM is in serious need of an artistic reform

  • James Liberato

    This list is depressing.

    • doe

      list, and music.

  • Kento

    I’m really sad that Pauly D makes as much money as Diplo with zero production.

    • Mike Stannard

      And little to no dj skill. He’s a fucking reality show wanker still getting rich off our stupidity.

      • djfourmoney

        Our? Speak for yourself….

        • Mike Stannard

          “Our” as in society. I’m sure as hell not putting a dime into that dbag.