×

Chainsmokers Dethrone Calvin Harris as World’s Highest-Paid DJs

After a six-consecutive-year reign, Calvin Harris has been knocked from the top of Forbes’ Highest-Paid DJs/ Electronic Cash Kings list: The Chainsmokers — Drew Taggart and Alex Pall — are now the world’s top earners in the category, raking in some $46 million in pretax income over the past year. Harris is third on the 2019 list, following the duo and Marshmello.

Forbes singled out several drivers of the group’s income, including a residency with Wynn Nightlife that was recently extended into 2021, six-figure festival and private appearances, endorsements and income from streaming and recorded-music sales. The duo has not released an album since April 2017 but has dropped multiple singles — five so far this year.

The report also deemed Steve Aoki “perhaps the hardest-working name on the list.” He played over 200 shows within the eligibility period, averaging six figures per night, along with streaming, endorsement deals with brands from Diesel to Samsung, and outside business ventures including his Dim Mak record label and clothing brand.

However, this success takes place during a decline from the heyday of EDM: While the big names contine to draw top dollars — the top 15 acts tallied $358 million in pretax earnings over the past 12 months, with $272 million coming from the top 10 — the industry as a whole is falling back.

“The average gross guarantees had already plateaued and have decreased for electronic acts,” Wayne Kamemoto, senior partner at business management firm NKSFB, which handles the finances of artists including Skrillex and Zedd, told Forbes. “But the biggest acts are still commanding high guarantees.”

This trend has worked against female DJs, who have never appeared on the list since it was launched in 2012. It cited two almosts: duo Nervo in 2014, and Alison Wonderland got within a few million of making the list this year.

According to Forbes, the list ranks electronic acts around the globe using pretax earnings from June 1, 2018 through June 1, 2019; it does not deduct fees for lawyers, agents and managers.

Estimates are based on numbers from Nielsen, Pollstar, Bandsintown and Songkick, as well as interviews with industry experts and many of the stars themselves.

Electronic Cash Kings 2019: The Full List

  1. The Chainsmokers ($46 million)
  2. Marshmello ($40 million)
  3. Calvin Harris ($38.5 million)
  4. Steve Aoki ($30 million)
  5. Diplo ($25 million)
  6. Tiësto ($24 million)
  7. Martin Garrix ($19 million)
  8. David Guetta ($18 million)
  9. Zedd ($17 million)
  10. Armin van Buuren ($15 million)
  11. Kaskade ($14 million)
  12. Skrillex ($13 million)
  13. Alesso ($12.5 million)
  14. Afrojack ($12 million)
  15. DJ Snake ($11.5 million, tie)
  16. DJ Pauly D ($11.5 million, tie)
  17. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike ($11.5 million, tie)

 

More Music

  • darlene love

    Darlene Love's Blue Christmas: Singer Says NBC Tree Lighting Organizers Are Ageist

    Darlene Love’s iconic Christmas song, “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home),” was performed Wednesday night on NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” tree lighting special — but the woman who made it famous was iced out and she is furious about it. Love, 78, explained her frustrations on Facebook, calling out Brad Lachman Productions for excluding her [...]

  • Joycelyn Savage, Azriel Clary. Azriel Clary,

    Joycelyn Savage Denies Creating Patreon Account Exposing R. Kelly

    One of R. Kelly’s longtime girlfriends, Joycelyn Savage, has come forward publicly to refute claims that she’s turned on the R&B singer after an Instagram account claiming to be her suggested as much. In a video obtained by TMZ, Savage, first reading pre-written statements on her cell phone, strongly denies the assertion that she had [...]

  • Jagged Little Pill review

    Broadway Review: 'Jagged Little Pill'

    Nearly 25 years after “Jagged Little Pill” hit the shelves of record stores, Alanis Morissette’s innovative 1995 album has arrived on Broadway under the muscular direction of Diane Paulus, who launched this galvanic production at the American Repertory Theater. The show’s supportive book by screenwriter Diablo Cody interprets Morissette’s musical idiom as a universal domestic [...]

  • Who album cover

    Album Review: The Who's 'Who'

    Not only did the death wish expressed 55 years ago in “My Generation” not come true, but the Who have now become the first major rock act of their generation to come up with a whole album that’s actually about getting old. And this from an outfit that pretty much entirely skipped its own middle age, [...]

  • Billie Eilish Makes Her Directorial Debut

    Billie Eilish Makes Her Directorial Debut With ‘Xanny’ Video (Watch)

    In a week with lots of other Billie Eilish things going on — including Variety’s two cover stories, her acoustic performance at Apple’s headquarters and, not least, reports of a multi-million-dollar documentary deal with Apple — a new video from the 17-year-old singer has also arrived. The clip — for the song “Xanny,” from her [...]

  • CMJ Music Marathon to Relaunch in

    CMJ Music Marathon to Relaunch in 2020

    CMJ Music Marathon, the New York-based music festival and conference ran from 1978 until 2016, is apparently relaunching next year. Details are scant, but a tweet from the company’s official account said that the festival is under “new management” — which means that its most-recent CEO, Adam Klein, who was ordered by a judge to [...]

  • Megan Thee Stallion Swae Lee Victoria

    Variety's 2019 Hitmakers and Hitbreakers Revealed

    It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2019 and the horse it rode in on — or the horse that dominated the conversation: Lil Nas X’s. The year in pop has been largely defined by a gay black man peddling country tropes, an all-shapes-and-sizes-glorifying soul shouter and a waif who felt like Kate Bush reincarnated [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content