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Calvin Harris Is The World’s New Highest-Paid DJ

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By Scott T. Sterling

Last August, in response to the pervasive explosion of EDM in America, Forbes published its first annual World’s Highest Paid DJs list. It was topped by Dutch DJ Tiesto, who generated a cool $22 million dollars.

Now Forbes has revealed their list of the globe’s top-earning DJs for 2013, with Calvin Harris coming out of nowhere to earn the top spot, raking in a staggering $46 million over the past 12 months. It’s worth noting that the Scottish DJ, best known for his pop collaborations, didn’t even make the list in 2012.

“The rise of dance music has been astronomical in the last three years and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Harris told Forbes.

Calling Harris simply a DJ could be somewhat misleading, as he earned a good chunk of his fortune for producing and featuring on pop hits for Rihanna (“We Found Love”) and Ellie Goulding (“I Need Your Love”). His 2012 solo album, 18 Months, boasted a string of hit singles led by the worldwide hit “Feel So Close,” which climbed as high as No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“I like to think I don’t have an ego [that's] like you need to be number one–the best, the DJ of all time,” Harris explained of his lofty goals. “I want to be the number one songwriter-producer guy of all time.”

Tiesto, who topped last year’s list at $22 million, generated quite the pay raise this year, pulling in $32 million to claim the No. 2 spot on this year’s list.

All of the top DJs this year made considerably more money than they did last year. David Guetta, who was No. 4 last year with $13.5 million, definitely moved into a higher tax bracket in 2013 by almost tripling his earnings with $30 million to step up to No. 3.

Coming in at No. 4 is now-retired DJ collective Swedish House Mafia with $25 million, after earning $14 million last year for the No. 3 slot.

Just behind Swedish House Mafia is Deadmau5, whose earnings of $21 million were enough to own the No. 5 position (last year, he was No. 6 with $11.5 million).

Rounding out the Top 10 are Avicii (No. 6, $20 million), Afrojack (No. 7, $18 million), Armin van Buuren (No. 8, $17 million), Skrillex and Kaskade (tied for No. 9 at $16 million) and Steve Aoki rounds it out with $14 million. Other top-earning DJs include MTV reality star Pauly D and super-producer Diplo, both with $13 million.

America’s love of EDM has gotten so strong that Tiesto believes that a certain U.S. city is poised to assume the mantle as the world’s premier destination for dance music nightlife and events.

“I think Las Vegas is really taking over from Ibiza this year,” he told Forbes, with the city now home to the annual Electric Daisy Carnival and a slew of high-profile dance clubs. “You can already see… all the DJs having their residence there now. It’s going to be interesting to see how that develops. But it looks really good.”

Among Harris’ upcoming U.S. tour dates include stops at Jay Z‘s Made in America festival over Labor Day weekend, and a headlining slot on the new Forever Festival, scheduled for September 27 in suburban Detroit alongside such acts as Flux Pavilion, Morgan Page and Beats Antique.

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