In this digital age, where music is developed and released in immeasurable numbers every day, the role of the DJ is becoming increasingly important. They no longer just play recorded music. They have gone from being radio musicians to real musicians. This list highlights, in no particular order, the 25 most talented DJs in the world who are rocking the EDM industry.
25 Most Popular DJs In The World
Tijs Michael Verwest in real life, Tiësto has been playing and producing trance, drum and bass, and house tunes in the Netherlands since 1994. He has been the headliner of the Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra Music Festival many times and received a Grammy for his remix of the popular ballad “All of Me” by John Legend.
Listen to his track “Wasted” and see (or hear) why 7Up and the headphone brand Audiofly signed him for high priced endorsement contracts. He may be earning a reported paycheck of $20 million a year, but that doesn’t mean he’s about to stop.
Listen to “Wasted“ by Tiësto:
2. Martin Garrix
Another Dutch prodigy, this 19-year-old musician is not even old enough to drink or hang out at the Vegas club Omnia, where he plays as resident DJ, or at any of the EDM festivals, where he has been a regular for several years. His meteoric rise became apparent in 2014 when he jumped 36 places to 4th place in the DJ Mag Top 100.
Born as Martijn Garritsen, he counts his Dutch compatriots Tiësto, Dillon Francis, Baauer and Flosstradamus among his greatest inspirations.
Listen to “Animals“ by Martin Garrix:
3. Armin van Buuren
When asked about the most important skill a DJ should have, this DJ said: “You probably won’t expect me to say this, but I think it’s probably the ability to produce your own tunes”.
Aside from his outstanding career, this is enough to earn him a place in the “Top 25 Most Talented DJs in the World” list. He creates his own tracks, releases his music through his music label Armada and the radio show A State of Trance.
His intensive tour has taken him virtually all over the globe, including Russia, Ukraine and even India. Armin van Buuren, who is described as a born perfectionist, is always on the move, be it on his way to a festival on the other side of the globe or in his studio to create the next best thing in dance music.
Listen to “This Is What It Feels Like“ by Armin van Buuren:
4. Benny Benassi
This Milan-born DJ and record producer for electronic dance music (born Marco Benassi) is widely known as one of the most down-to-earth and respected artists in the EDM industry.
His hit “Beautiful People”, a collaboration with R&B sensation Chris Brown, climbed to the top of the charts, undeniably gaining Benassi international recognition. Another huge success, “Cinema”, was awarded gold in the USA and platinum in Canada and Australia.
Even the Queen of Pop took notice when Benny and his cousin Alle Benassi produced three tracks for Madonna’s twelfth studio album “MDNA”.
Listen to “Satisfaction“ by Benny Benassi:
5. Steve Aoki
This man can be called the Midas of EDM, as almost everything he touches receives tons of attention worldwide.
This Grammy-nominated DJ and producer earns perhaps less than many of his fellow DJs ($12 million a year, which is still far more than any of us could ever hope to generate), but he’s become a powerful force that has probably helped underground house and electro music (and even those with rap and rock leanings) become the sensations they are today.
Similar to his personality on stage, this energetic DJ will take you on a rollercoaster ride with the kind of music he offers.
Listen to “No Beef“ by Afrojack & Steve Aoki:
This dance-pop poster boy, born as Anton Zaslavski, is destined for musical greatness. He has won several music competitions, attracted the attention of Skrillex, and finally signed him to his new OWSLA label.
Later he signed with Interscope Records in 2012 and finally released the monster hit “Spectrum” with singer and songwriter Matthew Koma. The single climbed to the top of the iTunes dance charts and secured number 1 on Beatport Worldwide for almost three weeks.
Just last year, his single “I Want You To Know” with pop star Selena Gomez won the title “Choice Theme Song” at the Teen Choice Awards and climbed to the top of the Billboard Dance/Electronic Songs Charts, a success his album would later repeat in the Dance/Electronic Album Ranking.
Listen to “Beautiful Now“ by Zedd:
Although he has been making his own kind of music since the age of 14, Hardwell (born as Robbert van de Corput) gained worldwide recognition towards the end of 2012 with his title “Apollo” with Amba Shepherd.
His high wattage sets became known in the industry after his performances at the Ultra Music Festival and his appearance at Tomorrowland 2012, which has received over 23 million hits on YouTube to date.
He cites Armin van Buuren as one of his greatest inspirations, saying: “What is there to say about Armin that has not already been said? He is such a talented and natural producer”.
Listen to “Spaceman“ by Hardwell:
Here is another talented musician who started DJing at the tender age of 14. Born Errick Orrosquieta, his father encouraged his love of music by buying young Deorro a copy of the DAW Cakewalk Sonar at the age of 17.
He has been producing music ever since. His collaborators include his fellow DJs Steve Aoki, Diplo and R3hab. When he announced in 2014 that he would take a break from performing in order to focus on expanding his label and producing more music, he took a huge leap of faith.
And it seems that his gamble paid off. His single “Five More Hours”, which also features Chris Brown, reached various charts around the world.
Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, aka Showtek (and yes, they are brothers), have worked with various artists in the past, from which their project “Crazy Collabs” emerged a few years ago.
Right now the duo says that the biggest compliment is knowing that DJ superstars Hardwell and Tiesto want to work with them. Not bad for an act that lost some hardcore fans by switching to an EDM from their original sound.
Listen to “Bad“ by Showtek & David Guetta:
10. Calvin Harris
Who doesn’t know this guy?! Born in Scotland, he is not only Tay Swift’s arm candy, but he has also released four extremely successful albums: “I Created Disco”, “Ready For The Weekend”, “18 Months” and “Motion”.
Maybe he has (so to speak) distanced himself from EDM, but if you go to a dance music festival or club that plays dance music, you will certainly hear his melodies.
Listen to “Sweet Nothing“ by Calvin Harris (Diplo & GrandTheft Mix):
His successful melody “Wake Me Up” reached number 1 in 63 countries, and his debut album “True” reached number 5 in the Billboard charts.
2014 would have been a great year for this Swedish DJ, but it was burdened with health problems such as a ruptured appendix and blocked gall bladder, which later revealed his struggle with alcohol addiction, a downside of life on the road.
“You travel around, you live in a suitcase, you come to this place, there’s free alcohol everywhere – it’s kind of weird not to drink,” he told GQ in April 2013. “I didn’t expect it to last. I was so nervous. I just got into the habit because you rely on the encouragement and confidence you get from alcohol and then you get addicted to it.
But that didn’t stop this talented DJ. With last year’s titles “For A Better Day” and “Stories”, he recovered even more and showed his resilience in the fight against his demons.
12. Daft Punk
These Frenchmen, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, haven’t played a real set in a few years, but fans all over the world have not lost hope. According to a story told by a producer of Eats Everything, Bangalter has still not lost his magic.
“I saw Thomas Bangalter play the best DJ set I have ever seen in my life at Terrazza at Space,” said the Bristol-based producer.
“He played two copies of the same record, spun the other one backwards in sync, threw massive 909 kick drums into the mix… and then started holding the mixer in his arms. We asked him, “What the hell is he doing?” He ripped the phono lines out the back of the mixer and started playing a bass line with the feedback. He produced this enormous, roaring sound with nothing but his clammy hands – and this curly-haired, horrible looking Frenchman never looked up for four hours, I swear to God”.
Listen to “Instant Crush“ by Daft Punk:
Real name Ryan Raddon, Kaskade’s music was described by Billboard as “as distinctive as it is beautiful”… Over the last 10 years, he has headlined 150 to 200 shows and has made a name for himself as an innovator in EDM. He is currently a resident DJ in Las Vegas and charges high personal performance fees.
Listen to “A Little More“ by Kaskade & John Dahlbäck feat Sansa:
This DJ, legally known as Fadil El Ghoul, is just getting the party started.
“The past 12 months have been an absolute whirlwind,” he told DJ Mag in an interview. “The most memorable personal highlight for me was playing Coachella. Two weekends with 25,000 people per show, and we even had Ciara come out and do two songs. It is something that you dream about as an artist, and it could not have been better.”
Apart from Coachella, he also played in Tomorrowland in Belgium, and toured the world.
Listen to “How We Party“ by R3HAB & VINAI:
15. Axwell & Ingrosso
Everyone knows that they are separate entities, even from the time when they were in Swedish House Mafia, but they might as well get married… for creative reasons, of course. Their new title, “Sun Is Shining”, was released just last year, but has already been viewed over 41 million times on YouTube.
They also acknowledge the boom of EDM in the US. “It helped us become big,” Ingrosso says, “but that meant it couldn’t be a side-project. The culture was demanding more.”
Another 2015 hit by this duo, “Something New”, was also used by Beats as a soundtrack.
Listen to “Something New“ by Axwell & Ingrosso (Robin Schulz Remix):
16. Dash Berlin
These Dutchmen, DJ Jeffrey Sutorius (the front man), Eelke Kalberg and Sebastian Molijn have worked with countless music superstars such as Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.
They also had a packed tour schedule with venues in Japan, Peru, Canada, Paraguay and other countries. Outside of their musical career, they also support an Indonesian children’s charity by donating the proceeds from the sale of their merchandise.
Listen to “If I Lose Myself“ by One Republic (Dash Berlin Remix):
Six Grammys, 19 million Facebook fans, collaboration with music giants like Usher and Justin Bieber. No wonder the California native is on this list.
Born Sonny Moore, Skrillex became a kind of lightning rod for EDM and brought dubstep into American mass culture, whether you like it or not. With his bass music infiltrating everything and everywhere, from major music festivals to mom’s minivans, it looks like he’s already a fixture in dance music.
Listen to “GTA – Red Lips“ by Skrillex ft. Sam Bruno:
Anyone who does not agree that the last few years have been great for Afrojack is a fool. No, really. The Dutch DJ (born Nick van de Wall) enjoys the success of his smash track “Ten Feet Tall”, his DJ residency at the Las Vegas hotspot Hakkasan, and his numerous brand partnerships.
He also taunts doubters who say he has a ghost producer. “I’ve had many people say, ‘Ha ha ha ha, where’s your ghost producer, Afrojack? I’ve been using the same program and instruments for 17 years for all my music. That’s pretty funny. I ain’t gonna try and prove them wrong.”
With the follow-up hit “Hey Mama”, which also features fellow DJ David Guetta and hip-hop superstar Nicki Minaj, who says Afrojack still has something to prove?
Listen to “Ten Feet Tall“ by Afrojack feat. Wrabel:
19. David Guetta
What exactly does this “sellout” in the list of the 25 most talented DJs in the world do, you ask? He has produced music and worked with some of the most famous musicians and even conquered countless different charts. You can hate him all you want, but whether you admit it or not, you’ll still dance to his beats.
“Over the years I’ve played Funk, Disco, House, Hip-Hop, Techno, Electro, and EDM. It doesn’t matter what you call it, people will always want to dance,” he said. This year 2016, you can expect more from the King of EDM/Pop. He was recently appointed the official musical ambassador for Euro 2016 in France by UEFA.
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He probably spends as much time and effort on his music as he does on his beautiful mane.
Alessandro Lindblad, a native of Stockholm with Italian roots, makes LSS-worthy melodies of Grand Canyon proportions, with singles like “Years” with Matthew Koma, “Calling” alongside Sebastian Ingrosso and the summer anthem of 2013, “If I Lose Myself”, which is a remix of One Republic’s hit song.
He is considered a protégé of the Swedish House Mafia, the EDM powerhouse responsible for hits like “Save the World” and “Don’t You Worry Child”.
Listen to “Heroes (We Could Be)“ by Alesso ft. Tove Lo:
His real name is Wesley Pentz and he is one half of the duo known as Jack Ü, the other half being Skrillex. Individually, he has been busy signing new names and producing music under his label Mad Decent. Now, you can say what you want about Jack Ü’s collaboration with the Biebs, but the charts don’t lie.
Listen to “Be Right There“ by Diplo & Sleepy Tom:
Do not confuse his online personality with pure hype. This Toronto native (born Joel Zimmerman) may be (in)famous for his interesting views on the state of electronic dance music, but that doesn’t mean he’s all talk.
Check out his Soundcloud account, especially the track “Are You Not Afraid”, and see for yourself if he doesn’t do justice to his personality. He’s also given a surprise performance (a live performance, no less) for TI5, the biggest eSports tournament ever, reminding us all that his talent is as great as his character.
Listen to “Strobe“ by Deadmau5:
Are you not convinced that this Norwegian-born DJ is part of this list of “25 most talented DJs in the world”? His first original single Firestone has been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube, he closed the LIVE stage at the Ultra Music Festival, and last year he played at Coachella alone.
24. Paul Van Dyk
Since 1998, he has been recognized annually as one of the top DJs, an achievement that no one has been able to claim as yet. Every gig costs somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 dollars, and rightly so because the German music superstar has already done remixes for bands like Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and U2.
Furthermore, he uses his free time (if any) for worthwhile causes for his home country and dutifully fulfills his role as a musical ambassador for Germany.
25. Markus Schulz
In an interview, he said that he knew that he had achieved great success after experiencing surreal encounters with fans. His nickname was coined after someone had tweeted: “Markus Schulz: the unicorn slayer of trance”. It refers to the term “unicorn melodies”, something that is used to describe light, upbeat melodies in EDM.
Listen to “First Time“ by Markus Schulz: