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DJ Superstars Taking Over the Music World |

  • On 01/28/2016

DJ Superstars Taking Over the Music World

They don’t sing, they don’t dance and they don’t play instruments, yet there are some musical performers out there who get payed millions for what they do. To the unskilled viewer, thousands dance and watch a man pump his arms and press a button every 30 seconds. While I am sure there is more skill, training and musical knowledge that goes into becoming a top DJ, does it really justify the astronomic payments they receive? At a time when most musician’s produced songs, which take blood sweat and tears to produce, are suffering most from poor sales and pirating, do these new superstars deserve it?

Money Makes the World Go Round Round

Forbes released their list of highest earning DJs of 2015 and revealed the unbelievable numbers to go with it. Calvin Harris topped the 2015 list, for the second time, earning an unbelievable $66m. This is the exact same as his 2014 receipt and puts him way ahead of his nearest DJ rival. David Guetta is second but at $37m he doesn’t even come close to the Scotsman. The French House pensioner is joined by Skrillex, Steve Aoki and Tiesto to make a top five all making tens of millions.

EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is one of the fastest growing genres of music around and has exploded filling nightclubs, huge arenas and festivals with adoring fans. 2014 Coachella saw its second largest crowd ever for Calvin Harris and in 2012 the Grammy’s recognised the genre with an EDM stage.

Calvin’s earnings have been calculated from 125 gigs by Forbes. Not only has Harris been touring and playing festivals but a lucrative residency in the biggest club in USA came in 2015 with a 2-year contract which will see him pick up $400,000 for every gig! His rock star status was confirmed with a modelling contract with Armani and a relationship with Taylor Swift

The Popularity Contest

EDM can trace its history back to the death of disco in 1979 and the man who has been there from the start is David Guetta. “I started in ’88 to play House music, it was a huge revolution for me. I went to London and I saw a DJ on stage and that was crazy at the time….A DJ on stage and people dancing and facing the DJ, looking at him? I was like ‘wow!'” says Guetta. DJ’ing has certainly rocketed up in popularity since then and it is big business too.

Corporate interests and profits can be seen as a direct catalyst for the rise in EDM’s profile. The keyword is dance. To enjoy EDM you need to be physically there, and being there costs money. There may only be one person on stage and not much show glamour, but the dancing is where the key to the whole genre is. This emphasis on live performance has coincided with the decline in sales from records, so businesses have started prioritising live events. EDM is built for this practice, with low staging costs and payment to only 1 person, instead of a complicated set list of bands, opens itself more to that world better than others. The production of EDM music is easier and cheaper than for what is deemed normal music production. One man and a laptop can create the next hit distribute it fast as well with new social media. EDM is music, and business, for the modern era.

Do They Deserve It

DJ’s are hugely in demand and so the biggest on the planet can exploit that fact. They are the new rock stars, with clothing, computer games, even casino based games glamourizing the DJ lifestyle, which is now synonymous with Las Vegas. The name disc jockey implies spinning physical records, but now it is usually just a man behind a laptop. Live mixing is a skill, but is it a skill which should be so remunerated? How do you even know if the DJ is mixing live? David Guetta has been accused of playing a pre-recorded set during shows, they are just being paid for their appearance it seems. That is what ex soap stars do at nightclub, but for £100.

The music they play is in file or disc form and there is no improvising or spontaneity. When you listen to a Guetta track in Belgium it will sound exactly the same as the one heard in Rio de Janeiro a month later.

DJ’s seem to have become a commodity who can command huge fees and while people are willing to pay hundreds to get into festivals they will continue to. EDM artists are becoming the new rock stars on the planet, but instead of showing off album sales, their success is being counted by people through the gates. If EDM festival The Tomorrow World in the USA is anything to go by 150,000 people are giving their opinion on the justification for the money, by getting their wallets out.


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