It’s amazing the amount of money you can make by pressing play. That might be reductive, but that’s the lesson to be learned from Forbes magazine’s latest list of the world’s best paid DJs.

Las Vegas's gamble with dance music
The list, billed as the “Electronic Cash Kings”, shows Calvin Harris topping the list for the third successive year, despite his earnings dropping from $66m (£50.8m) to $63m. The key driver of earnings at the top of the DJing trade, as Forbes notes, is the availability of lucrative residences in Las Vegas, where DJs can earn six-figure sums per set. The magazine says Harris is paid more than $400,000 for each of his Vegas appearances. His earnings are also boosted by his being a hitmaker in his own right.
At No 2 is the Dutch DJ Tiësto, who earned an estimated $38m, with his 7 Up deal contributing to his income. David Guetta, who has a residency deal with the clubs owned by Vegas magnate Steve Wynn, netted $28m to finish in third.
orbes notes that the total earnings of the top 10 DJs have decreased by 1% from last year, for a total of $270.5m, the first year since it compiled the list in 2012 that the total earnings have fallen. The fifth-placed DJ, Steve Aoki, told Forbes: “The bubble has already burst in America. You can see it in Vegas’s DJ landscape.”
Forbes’s figures included not just DJing fees, but earnings from live shows, merchandise, endorsements, recorded music and outside business ventures, and covered the period from June 2015 to June 2016.
The full top 10 is:
1 Calvin Harris – $63m
2 Tiësto – $38m
3 David Guetta – $28m
4 Zedd – $24.5m
5 Steve Aoki – $23.5m
6 Diplo – $23m
7 Skrillex – $20m
8 Kaskade – $19m
9 Martin Garrix – $16m
10 Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike – $15.5m

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