Rhyme Report

Published on October 4th, 2018 | by Jerry Doby

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Could Tiesto or The Chainsmokers Dethrone Calvin Harris?

It probably should come as no surprise to anyone that Scottish DJ Calvin Harris has yet again topped the rankings of the highest paid DJs in the world for the sixth year running. Following another career-boosting year for the DJ which has seen him release such number one hits as “One Kiss” with Dua Lipa and “Promises” with Sam Smith, Harris has reportedly bagged a staggering $48 million in 2018.

While things may be looking pretty rosy for the producer of some of the most widely-known hits of all time, his place at the top of the pile may not be secure for long. While Harris remains the highest paid DJ for the moment, other superstar DJs are swiftly closing ranks, thanks to their own respective abilities to release hit after hit. Closely trailing Harris in second place are The Chainsmokers, the New York duo responsible for such hits as “Closer” and “#Selfie”, reportedly earning $45.5 million between them.

In third place, we have the Dutch DJ Tiesto, whose $33 million dollar pay packet shows that he’s still going strong since 1998. With Calvin Harris no longer winning the game by a country mile, it’s worth pondering whether these two acts will overtake him in the year ahead, and what that would say about the electronic music industry.

Just four short years ago, it looked like no one stood a chance against Harris in the race to the top, with his 2014 earnings being way more than double the amount of the second entry on the list for that year, David Guetta. However, things may have changed as several other contenders, including the relatively recent breakout act Marshmellow (who clocked $23 million this year), are almost neck and neck.

Such a dramatic shake-up in the upper echelons of the EDM industry says a lot about the wider success of the genre, and about the audiences and labels which keep it thriving. First off, earnings for the leading lights of EDM have skyrocketed across the board in just a few short years, which is indicative of the increasingly mainstream appeal of the genre overall.

The more revealing picture appears once you take a look at the charts. While Harris, Tiesto, and The Chainsmokers have plenty of smash-hits between them, only Harris has topped the Billboard and UK singles charts in the past year, yet all of these DJs have seen huge windfalls. So how are Tiesto and The Chainsmokers closing ranks without corresponding chart success?

The main reason is festivals. While people may not be rushing en masse to buy the EPs that the two acts both released this year, they are paying big to see them live. Recent appearances by the acts on the festival circuit at such coveted slots as Coachella, Tomorrowland, and Creamfields is what has provided the vast majority of their earnings.

Both acts already look like they have a packed schedule in the year ahead, meaning in terms of earnings, they could easily topple Harris. Whether or not they could ever do so in the charts is another story.


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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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