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Billboard’s List of Top Earning Musicians Is a Big Fat Lie

This week Taylor Swift has been dominating the news thanks to Billboard‘s latest list of the top earning musicians in the world. Taylor came in at the top spot with a staggering $73 million haul in 2015.

But astute readers will notice a glaring flaw in the list if they read between the lines. The list completely ignores DJs and electronic music producers.

So how did stars like Avicii, Deadmau5, Calvin Harris, and other top DJs somehow earn less than Billboard stars like Marc Anthony ($6.5 million), Bette Midler ($9.1 million), and Canadian prog-rockers Rush ($12 million)?

They didn’t. Billboard‘s Top Money-Makers List of 2015 is a lie.

For some reason, electronic musicians and DJs simply don’t qualify as real “musicians” according to Billboard’s new list. While it’s too early to know exactly how much top EDM acts earned in 2015, based on 2014 revenue figures, more than a few DJs should have earned a spot on this year’s list.

According to the Forbes 2015 Electronic Cash Kings report (which uses total earnings from 2014), the #1 top earning DJ in the world last year was Calvin Harris, who pulled in an incredible $66 million. As Taylor Swift’s latest high-profile boy toy, that means Calvin Harris and T-Swift likely earned more than $120 million combined over the past year.

EDM music has gone mainstream over the past five years, and it seems like a bizarre snub not to include electronic artists on the list. EDM has come a long way in a short time, and it deserves to be taken seriously by gate keepers like Billboard. Back in 2008, DJs like Avicii were little known nobodies. After earning 70% of the votes in an EDM competition, Avicii went on to become a world famous DJ with a net worth of $75 million, though you won’t find him on the Billboard list.

To be fair, part of Forbes‘ figures includes endorsement deals like Harris’ partnership with Giorgio Armani, and Billboard‘s list doesn’t include money earned from those kinds of sponsorships, but just imagine how much Taylor Swift would have earned if those numbers had been included.

Still, Forbes also reported that their EDM runner up David Guetta earned $37 million in 2014, writing that “The ageless French DJ had another massive year, playing 30 shows in Las Vegas while still maintaining a weekly residency in Ibiza.”

Meanwhile Skrillex and Steve Aoki earned a cool $24 million apiece, while even #10 on the list, Afrojack, earned the sizeable sum of $16 million, which would have put him at #12 on the Billboard list, in between Jason Aldean and Shania Twain.




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