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Skrillex, Deadmau5 Land on Forbes’ Top-Earning DJs List

Skrillex, Deadmau5
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Who knew putting needle to wax could be so profitable? Forbes has come up with a tally of the world’s highest-paid DJs — its so-called Electronic Cash Kings list — and after one glance at the ten names that made the cut, one thing becomes extremely clear: they are raking it in.

Dutch EDM musician DJ Tiesto tops the list of highest earners in the last year with an annual take home of $22 million, followed by Skrillex with $15 million and Swedish House Mafia with $14 million. Other notables include Deadmau5 (No. 6, $11.5 million); Kaskade (No. 8, $10 million), who is spinning at Lollapalooza this weekend; and Afrojack (No. 9, $9 million), who is on board for Jay-Z‘s Made in America festival.

Estimates of their gross revenues includes profits from live concerts, recorded music sales, endorsement deals, merchandise sales and television takes. Sources used by Forbes to create the list included Pollstar, RIAA, promoters, artist managers and lawyers and some of the DJs themselves. Over the past 12 months, the world’s ten highest-paid DJs together earned $125 million, or “more than the payroll of the Los Angeles Lakers,” as Forbes points out.

One reason EDM is so profitable is that it is so efficient. When a band hits the road, it has to lug around guitars, drums, amps, stage setups — so much gear, in fact, that a touring band often only takes home about one-third of its gross revenue.  DJs, meanwhile, travel light. “I’ve got a USB stick and [turn­tables], and there’s no production cost,” Skrillex tells Forbes. “But you throw a great party and people have the best time.”

Forbes’ Top Ten Highest-Paid DJs:

1. Tiesto, $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

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