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Tiesto, Skrillex top Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid DJs

Skrillex accepts the award for best dance recording

Skrillex accepts the award for best dance recording at the 54th annual Grammy Awards preshow in Los Angeles. (Feb. 12, 2012) Credit: AP

Does “EDM” mean anything to you? “Electronic dance music” has built the beat up from its underground roots and dropped the bass on the mainstream music industry, for better or worse.

In the last year the “Electronic Cash Kings,” as Forbes dubs them, have mixed, faded and sampled their way to $125 million.

While its wonderful that people are investing money in music as the industry is recovering and reinventing since it met the Internet, that number is more puzzling upon examining the list.

Tiesto’s brand of EDM is fine and standard, maximizing his mass appeal, which earns him the top spot, raking in $22 million, $7 million ahead of second place Skrillex.

Sonny “Skrillex” Moore, formerly of hardcore-emo fame with From First to Last, manufactures EDM of the “dubstep” genre, which originated in London. When dubstep crossed the pond it transformed into something louder, more distorted and fraternity brother-friendly, aptly nicknamed “brostep” by dubstep purists.

Premier London EDM act Burial mixes dubstep in the original, smoother variety:

Skrillex’s version of dubstep seems to be doing well for him; aside from the $15 million he earned this year, he won three Grammys and was nominated for two more.

And it’s impossible to ignore the seventh place earner: DJ Pauly D of “Jersey Shore” fame with a facepalm-worthy $11 million. That’s double digits, people. Perhaps that statistic serves as a reminder that quantity doesn’t mean quality.

Also curious: all of the highest paid DJs are men. Looking for your female EDM fix? Ikonika, Tokimonsta, Laurel Halo and Ellen Allien make quality, innovative beats.

The full list:
1. Tiesto - $22 million
2. Skrillex - $15M
3. Swedish House Mafia - $14M
4. David Guetta - $13.5M
5. Steve Aoki - $12M
6. Deadmau5 – $11.5M
7. DJ Pauly D – $11M
8. Kaskade – $10M
9. Afrojack – $9M
10. Avicii – $7M

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