Forbes just released their list of the world’s highest-paid DJs for 2014, but what does that really mean to you? We put these colossal figures in terms that the rest of us in the normal world can actually understand.
How many years must a baker bake to make Aoki cake? How many bottle service girls equal one Calvin Harris? How long could Tiësto pay a private jet pilot to escort him from gig to gig before he spent all his earnings for this fiscal year alone?
We crunched the numbers, and now that we’ve finished sobbing, we’re sharing our findings with you.
2014 Annual Earnings: $12 million (tie)
Occupation: Road/tour manager
Annual income: $125,000
Years to make Steve Angello’s 2014 earnings alone: 96
Stevie doesn’t need the other Swedish House Mafia guys to make crazy dough. He’s been a real busy boy since the breakup. He’s released eight tracks in the first eight months of this year so far, and he’s been hitting the road like he’d never toured before. His road manager must be tired. Given that he’s Angello’s road manager, we’d imagine he makes somewhere on the higher end of the pay scale, which according to the Berklee College of Musiccan go as high as $125,000. If he’s banking that kind of cream, it’s just another 96 years of gigs before he can match up to his client. We hope that’s one comfortable plane seat.
Armin van Buuren
2014 Annual Earnings: $12 million (tie)
Occupation: Music journalist
Annual income: $28,000
Years to make Armin van Buuren’s 2014 earnings alone: 428
Did you know that Armin holds the record for most entries on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart? He’s got 21 winners, so it’s no surprise he’s one of the top-paid acts in the biz. But what about all those journalists writing about DJs on Billboard.com? We music writers can make anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 a year, according to Berklee, and we hear from indeed.com that Billboard staffers average $28,000 annually. That means it would take a writer 428 years to match the record-holder. No lie: Imagining writing that many lists makes us nauseated.
2014 Annual Earnings: $13 million
Occupation: Marketing/advertising specialist
Annual income: $116,000
Years to make Hardwell’s 2014 earnings alone: 112
It didn’t take Hardwell long to completely take over the scene, and part of that might be because he knows how to brand himself well. He’s got his name all over his tours and his radio show, and he even has his own documentary. He must have one genius marketing team behind him. The highest paid marketing and advertising specialists in the business can make about $116,000 a year, according to Berklee, but that still means 112 years of grade-A brand-building before they hit his annual watermark.
2014 Annual Earnings: $16 million
Occupation: Entertainment lawyer
Annual income: Annual income: $70,000–$150,000
Years to make deadmau5’s 2014 earnings alone: 106
No one gets into more word wars than Joel Zimmerman. Just the other day, he was berating Trey Songz, accusing him of jackin’ his beat. With that kind of beef flying around, he better have a nice entertainment lawyer, and those in the music business stand to make $70,000 to $150,000 per year, according to Berklee. We’re going to assume deadmau5 pays top-dollar attorney fees, in which case, he just has to keep fighting people and taking them to court for 106 years before his lawyer nets what he did this year alone. We think his lawyer’s up to the challenge.
2014 Annual Earnings: $16.5 million
Occupation: Recording engineer
Annual income: $150,000
Years to make Skrillex’s 2014 earnings alone: 110
Skrillie Willie (isn’t that adorable?) is a Grammy-winning artist. He changed the sound of dubstepelectronic pop music forever with his heavy drums, harsh synths, and massive wubs. But even a master like Skrillex can’t take all the credit. Recording engineers help our favorite producers get their best sounds. According to Berklee, the best in the business can make $150,000 a year, but that still means 110 years cooped up in a studio before you’re making Skrill bills.
2014 Annual Earnings: $17 million
Occupation: Lighting technician
Annual income: $40,000
Years to make Kaskade’s 2014 earnings alone: 425
Dude, have you seen Kaskade on tour? His light production is absolutely breathtaking. Hmm, we wonder what a lighting technician makes. According to simplyhired.com, the average annual salary is about $40,000. That means 425 years of bright lights to get as pretty as Kaskade’s single statement. Enlightening.
2014 Annual Earnings: $21 million
Occupation: Radio DJ
Annual income: $16,590–$72,500
Years to make Zedd’s 2014 earnings alone: 289
The 24-year-old is one of the most sought-after producers in the pop game right now. He just linked up with media darling Ariana Grande, ensuring his music gets played on the radio throughout the summer. Those radio disc jockeys slangin’ his tunes? They’re stuck making an average annual income of $16,590 to $72,500, according to the Houston Chronicle. That means even a DJ making the highest wages would have to play Zedd singles for 289 years before they could “Break Free” into Zedd’s territory. That’s basically forever.
2014 Annual Earnings: $22 million
Occupation: Auto factory workers
Annual income: $35,000–$38,000
Years to make Afrojack’s 2014 earnings alone: 578
Everyone knows Afrojack loves fast, expensive cars. He loves them so much, he sometimes crashes them just so he can go and buy another one! We kid, but it’s good business for the line factory worker putting those machines together. American auto factory workers made about $35,000 to $38,000 in 2012, according to Bloomberg, and the math says that’s at least 578 years on the assembly line before the guys making the cars can afford to crash them like it ain’t no thang.
2014 Annual Earnings: $23 million
Annual income: $80,000
Years to make Steve Aoki’s 2014 earnings alone: 287
Steve Aoki may not like being known as the cake DJ, but c’mon, he did it to himself. He should be proud, though. He keeps hundreds of bakers across the country happily employed. The average annual income for the taste bud’s best friend is $80,000, according to indeed.com. Since it’ll take the average baker about 287 years to make Aoki-level bread, we must say it’s a lot easier to throw a cake than it is to bake one.
2014 Annual Earnings: $28 million (tie)
Occupation: Air pilot
Annual income: $90,480
Years to make Tiësto’s 2014 earnings alone: 309
Tiësto is one of the biggest hit-makers with one of the longest-running careers in superstar DJ history. He’s kind of the original. He’s had not one private jet, but a series of private jets throughout his nearly 30-year career. The average annual income for unscheduled air pilots was $90,480 in 2011, according to GlobalPost, which means Tiësto can afford to fly solo for the next 309 years of his life. At 60,000 feet, it doesn’t matter if the music is trance or house or trap or polka. Everything sounds better in the sky.
2014 Annual Earnings: $28 million (tie)
Occupation: Hotel front desk clerk
Annual income: $24,000
Years to make Avicii’s 2014 earnings alone: 1,166
First off, there’s definitely a “LE7ELS” joke in this post somewhere. Avicii is so well paid, he gets his own hotel in Miami during WMC. It’s called the Avicii Hotel. Now, the Avicii Hotel is très chic, but the average hotel front desk clerk makes $24,000 yearly, according to indeed.com. That means checking in DJs for 1,166 years before you get to Avicii’s “LE7EL” (there it is!). Talk about some kind of living hell.
2014 Annual Earnings: $30 million
Occupation: Music A&R rep
Annual income: $85,000
Years to make David Guetta’s 2014 earnings alone: 352
This scruffy Frenchman was the first EDM DJ to break through to massive mainstream success. He’s the model to all the Calvin Harrises and Zedds of the world. Whoever signed him to Virgin must still be living off that bonus. According to Berklee, A&R representatives, the ones responsible for signing new talent, can make as much as $85,000 a year or more. But it’d take at least 352 years of solid music signings to match David Guetta’s 2014 income.
2014 Annual Earnings: $66 million
Occupation: Bottle service girl
Annual income: $250,000 + up to $250,000 in tips = $500,000
Years to make Calvin Harris’ 2014 earnings alone: 132
Calvin Harris, the highest-paid of all the DJs two years running, pulled in a nearly incomprehensible $66 million in the last fiscal year. A big chunk of that change comes from club appearances. He had 70 shows at Las Vegas megaclub Hakkasan in the past two years. Who are the other stars of big clubs? The lights! But seriously, who doesn’t love bottle girls?
We don’t know what bottle girls at Hakkasan make, but we do know Rachel Uchitel, infamous bottle girl and Tiger Woods mistress, made a base salary of $250,000 in 2010 at her New York City gig, plus a max of $250,000 in annual tips, provided she has her best night every night. That means Ms. Uchitel and her ilk could reach Harris’ annual sum after 132 years of perfect servicing. Who knows? Maybe you’d make better tips as a 153-year-old bottle girl, errrr, lady.