Scottish producer and DJ, known for work with Rihanna and Rita Ora as well as solo hits like Summer, tops the list for the second year, beating David Guetta and Avicii
The Scottish producer and DJ Calvin Harris made $66m (£39.6m) last year according to Forbes, a jump of $20m (£12.02m) from the previous year that further cements his status as the world’s highest-paid dance artist.
He tops the magazine’s annual list, which is dominated by the EDM scene. David Guetta, despite a rough year in which he split from his wife and business partner Cathy, and was notoriously pictured in a state of some torpor at the Tomorrowland festival, hit the No 2 position with alleged earnings of $30m (£18.03m). Avicii, whose track Wake Me Up was a huge global hit, tied at No 3 with trance veteran Tiësto on $28m (£16.8m), who is now also making a foray into more traditional pop music.
Harris has produced a string of solo hits, beginning in 2007 with pure pop tracks such as Acceptable in the 80s and The Girls, before using an increasingly epic dance style, which culminated this year with his first US top 10 hit Summer. Last year he became the first artist to have nine UK top 10 hits from the same album. He has also produced hits for Rihanna and one-time girlfriend Rita Ora – who he recently blocked from performing a track they wrote together at the Teen Choice awards.
Other names of note include Steve Aoki, who rose up the ranks to No 5, with his earnings growing from $14m (£8.4m) last year to $23m (£13.8m). Aoki, the son of a multimillionaire restaurant entrepreneur, helped break the likes of Bloc Party and Klaxons in the US with his label Dim Mak, before focusing on electro and then EDM. He throws large cream cakes at his audience during his shows, inviting the ire of others in the dance scene. Aoki recently defended his cake-throwing as a “tool of expression … Everyone has their own style and some DJs have mastered the art of using filters and EQs to help connect the audience with a song or a mood. That is their tool. This is mine.”
Zedd is the highest new entry, following his Grammy-winning hit Clarity – he’s now installed as a high-profile pop producer, working with Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. Deadmau5, meanwhile, has fallen away somewhat, though the outspoken producer doesn’t hold the Forbes list in high regard – he said their 2012 list was inaccurate to the tune of $9m (£5.4m).
Forbes base their figures on the period June 2013 to June 2014, and include all earnings including live show revenues, endorsements, merchandise and more. Their data comes from RIAA and Songkick as well as the artists and their teams.
Dance music has surged in popularity in recent years, including in territories such as the US, India and Asia where it hasn’t previously had as much mainstream success. A report at the 2014 International Music Summit in Ibiza put the global value of the scene at $6.2bn (£3.7bn) – with DJ earnings driven in part by lucrative residencies at clubs in Ibiza and Las Vegas, as well as high-profile festival appearances.
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