Calvin Harris may be dating pop superstar Taylor Swift, but don’t think for a second that she’s the big breadwinner in the couple. The Swedish DJ takes the crown as Forbes’ top earning EDM act globally, earning $66 million in the year ending June 1 according to the publication. His number five-charting 2014 record, Motion, “six-figure DJ fees,” and an endorsement with Giorgio Armani drove him to the top of Forbes’ list for the third year running. The 31-year old beat out fellow mega-DJs David Guetta ($37 million), Tïesto ($36 million), Skrillex ($24 million) and Steve Aoki ($24 million). (For those keeping score, T-Swift earned a comparatively minuscule $13.6 million in 2014 according to Billboard).
Harris’ commercial domination is particularly impressive considering he’s only embraced being a DJ over the past couple of years. Prior to that, he thought of himself first and foremost as a music producer. “I wasn’t even going to be a DJ,” he told BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac (via Beatport). I was planning on being a producer. It was mostly that I didn’t want to sing on my own songs anymore, and I had songs in the bank that didn’t suit my voice. … I was thinking, this isn’t creative, I’ve written 15 songs but I want to do way more than that. So in 2011 and 2012, I worked more in the studio than I ever did in my entire life.”
We’re sure he’s glad that he made the transition, but he makes sure not to take his success for granted. “If you have enough success in dance music, you have a responsibility to release really good music,” said Harris. “You know a lot of people are gonna listen to your records and say, ‘That’s dance music, that’s EDM.’ Make something good!”
And the superstar has some humility in him as well. When Forbes asked him to comment on topping its list of world’s highest paid DJs for the first time in 2013, he attributed his success partially to luck. “The rise of dance music has been astronomical … I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”