By Joshua Mason



a person who introduces and plays recorded popular music on radio.

“he was the only DJ to play our last release on the radio”


play recorded music on radio or at a club or party.

“he DJ’ed for 5 hours non-stop”

Those of us who have not been initiated into the cult of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) will still think a DJ is either an annoying man on the radio between your favourite songs or a sleazy middle aged man who drives from wedding to school disco for £40. The reality in today’s world is very different. DJ’s are now the most sought after people for their music and live shows. Raves that used to be illegal are now mainstream and some of these people who play tracks back to people aren’t going around the home counties in a van anymore, their raking in millions.

What is EDM?

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is the fastest growing genre of music in the world right now. The Grammy’s even gave the genre its own stage in 2012. David Guetta, who is the most veteran of DJ’s on the circuit, is the most followed artist on Spotify with 6.9m people.

Supposedly starting after the death of disco, EDM was born in the late 1980’s and one person who has been there throughout was 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.

Andy Moor DJ (Wikipedia)

Andy Moor DJ (Wikipedia)

It is bizarre to think thousands of people now show up to watch a middle aged man jumping behind a laptop, but it has grown exponentially from those humble beginnings Guetta describes. DJ’s are not playing instruments or singing, but simply playing recorded tracks back to the crowd. Of course there is skill in the mixing of tracks live but many DJ’s have been accused of playing pre-recorded mixes anyway, surely meaning the crowd are being short-changed.

EDM seems to be benefitting from the time it is born into. With social media a major player, tunes that don’t take long to put together on software can be pumped out to the masses quickly. The genre has also created its own version of a chorus with the ‘drop’. This gives something for artists to build for, excite the crowd and then allow the them to release with dance rather than singing, which would be seen at a rock concert. It is this attraction for live shows that makes it so lucrative in the modern market too.

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 glamorizing 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?

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.

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.

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