EDM DJs: The Bleeding Edge and Early Model for Creator Economy Entrepreneurs

I’ve long been fascinated and inspired by Electronic Dance Music (EDM) DJs. 

Names like Steve Aoki, Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong, Avici, Carl Cox, Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Diplo, Tiesto, Skrillex, Calvin Harris, DeadMau5, 3LAU. Real drivers of culture. 

EDM has been around since the 80s but it has really only become mainstream in the last 20 years (I would recommend the documentary “What We Started” if you want to learn more). Consequently it’s become a very big business. The biggest rave, Tomorrowland, had 400,000 attendees in 2019 before the pandemic hit. These star DJs make $500k to $1M usd a night at a concert. Big Clubs in Ibiza, Las Vegas and Miami pay big time DJs up to $250k usd per set to be resident DJs. Why? Because these names bring traffic, business to these clubs.

EDM DJs are the original Multi-SKU Creator (Why a Paid Newsletter Won’t Be Enough Money for Most Writers (And That’s Fine): The Multi-SKU…)

or “Portfolio Entrepreneur” (

The Hard Fork by Marvin Liao
The Portfolio Entrepreneur
In a discussion with my friend Eric Siu of Single Grain, I raised this concept of the Portfolio Entrepreneur. “Basically the idea around the modern entrepreneur having multiple projects (or a portfolio of projects). More below: Some Benefits: -Multiple projects =multiple perspectives = more well rounded entrepreneur…
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). They take old music and remix it, they make new music, do live DJ sets, headline & sell out big concerts. They create and sell merchandise, they act as producers for other musicians, and build a large number of fans. This leads directly to massive social media followings. They are able to leverage this into many new business lines. Look at Diplo for example.

“He’s one of today’s most in-demand music producers, crafting tunes for Beyoncé, Usher, and Madonna (whom he helped with her... 2015 album). He’s also a fashion model (for Alexander Wang), a product endorser (Axe, Diesel, BlackBerry), a technology investor (for Phhhoto, an app that takes GIFs), an Internet-radio programmer (with about 4.6 million followers on SoundCloud), and an actor (he had a tiny part in 22 Jump Street), as well as a filmmaker, author, cartoon creator, philanthropist, and restaurateur.

(Source: Why The World Is Moving To Diplo's Beat)

Diplo has built an amazing career and portfolio. And he has to. 

This is a business that is cut throat, intensely competitive with new talent coming from anywhere and everywhere. This is a business where longevity is rare and popularity fades quickly. It’s the ultimate “Winner Takes All Market.” 

This is why it pays to watch the best DJs here as well as the moves that they are making. 

EDM DJs have always been on the cutting edge of culture and business. As the greater creator economy continues to grow, all future creators & influencers can learn a lot from these folks and how they stay on top. 

PS: For the record, I like almost all the EDM DJs. But the DJs that I often listen to are Charlotte De Witte, Amelie Lens, Boris Brejcha & Miss Monique.