In this digital age, where music is developed and released in immeasurable numbers each day, a DJ’s role is becoming more and more pertinent. They don’t just play recorded music anymore. They have gone over from broadcasting musicians to becoming actual musicians themselves.
With the rebirth of electronic dance music, many would think that ravers (or people who go to countless dance parties) are too “high” that they would, quite literally, dance to anything. In no particular order, this list highlights 25 most talented DJs in the world who are/were rocking the EDM industry.
Table of Contents
- 25 Most Popular DJs In The World
- 1. Tiësto
- 2. Martin Garrix
- 3. Armin van Buuren
- 4. Benny Benassi
- 5. Steve Aoki
- 6. Zedd
- 7. Hardwell
- 8. Deorro
- 9. Showtek
- 10. Calvin Harris
- 11. Avicii
- 12. Daft Punk
- 13. Kaskade
- 14. R3hab
- 15. Axwell & Ingrosso
- 16. Dash Berlin
- 17. Skrillex
- 18. Afrojack
- 19. David Guetta
- 20. Alesso
- 21. Diplo
- 22. Deadmau5
- 23. Kygo
- 24. Paul Van Dyk
- 25. Markus Schulz
25 Most Popular DJs In The World
Tijs Michael Verwest in real life, he has been playing and producing trance, drum n’ bass, and house tunes in the Netherlands since 1994. He has headlined Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra Music Festival many times, and has also received a Grammy award for his remix of John Legend’s popular ballad “All of Me.”
Spin his track “Wasted” and see (or listen) for yourself why 7Up and headphone brand Audiofly signed him up for high-priced endorsement deals. He may be raking in a reported $20 million paycheck a year, but that does not 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 in the Vegas club, Omnia, where he is a resident DJ… or any of the EDM festivals where he has been a fixture for quite a few years. His meteoric rise became evident in 2014, when he leaped 36 places to #4 of the DJ Mag Top 100.
Born Martijn Garritsen, he counts his fellow Dutch Tiësto, Dillon Francis, Bauer, and Flosstradamus 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 will probably not expect me to say this, but I think it’s probably the ability to produce your own tunes.”
This, apart from his stellar career, is enough to land him a spot in this “Top 25 Most Talented DJs in the World” list. He crafts his own tracks, releases his music through his music label Armada and radio show A State of Trance.
His Intense tour practically covered the globe from every corner, which included Russia, Ukraine, and even India. Described as a born perfectionist, Armin van Buuren is always on the move, whether en route to a festival on the other side of the globe, or inside his studio creating 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 electronic dance music DJ and record producer (born Marco Benassi) is widely known as one of the most down to earth and treasured artist in the EDM industry.
His hit “Beautiful People”, a collaboration with R&B sensation Chris Brown, zoomed to the top of the charts and thus giving Benassi unquestionable international recognition. Another smash hit, “Cinema”, went Gold in the US and Platinum in Canada and Australia.
Even the Queen of Pop took notice, as 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
You can call this man the Midas of EDM, as almost every track he has touched, received tons of attention worldwide.
This Grammy-nominated DJ and producer may be earning less than many of his DJ counterparts ($12 million a year, which is still far more than any of us could ever hope to produce), but he has arguably become a strong force in helping underground house and electro music (and even those with rap and rock inclinations) turn into the sensations that they are today.
Much like his personality on-stage, this high-energy DJ will take you for a roller-coaster ride with the kind of music he offers.
Listen to “No Beef” by Afrojack & Steve Aoki:
This dance-pop poster boy, born Anton Zaslavski, is destined for musical greatness. He won several music contests, catching the attention of Skrillex and eventually signing him to his new OWSLA label.
He later signed with Interscope records in 2012, eventually releasing the monster hit “Spectrum” which features singer and songwriter Matthew Koma. The single climbed to the top of the iTunes dance chart and secured its #1 spot on Beatport Worldwide for almost three weeks.
Just last year, his single “I Want You To Know”, which features pop star Selena Gomez, won Choice Theme Song at the Teen Choice Awards and climbed to the top spot in the Billboard Dance/Electronic Songs chart, an achievement his album would later repeat in the Dance/Electronic Albums rankings.
Listen to “Beautiful Now” by Zedd:
Although he has been making his own brand of music since he was 14, Hardwell (born Robbert van de Corput) gained worldwide recognition towards the end of 2012 with his track “Apollo”, featuring Amba Shepherd.
His high-wattage sets became renowned in the industry following his appearances in Ultra Music Festival as well as his 2012 Tomorrowland performance that has garnered over 23 million views on YouTube to date.
He cites Armin van Buuren as one of his greatest inspirations, saying, “What’s there to say about Armin that hasn’t already been said? He’s such a gifted and natural producer.”
Listen to “Spaceman” by Hardwell:
Here’s another talented musician that started DJing at the tender age of 14. Born Errick Orrosquieta, his father (also a DJ) encouraged his love for music by buying the young Deorro a copy of DAW Cakewalk Sonar when he was 17.
He has been producing music ever since. His collaborations include fellow DJs Steve Aoki, Diplo and R3hab. He took a huge leap of faith when he announced in 2014 that he will be taking a break from performing to focus on expanding his label and producing more music.
And it appears that his gamble paid off. His single “Five More Hours” which also features Chris Brown reached various charts all over the world.
Listen to “Five Hours” by Deorro ft. Chris Brown:
Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, aka Showtek (and yes, they’re brothers), has worked with various artists in the past, which gave birth to their “Crazy Collabs” project a few years ago.
Right now, the duo says that the greatest compliment is in knowing that DJ superstars Hardwell and Tiesto want to work with them. Not bad for an act that has lost some hardstyle fans as a result of moving to a main stage EDM scene.
Listen to “Bad” by Showtek & David Guetta:
10. Calvin Harris
Who doesn’t know this guy?! Aside from being Tay Swift’s arm candy, this Scotland native has released four hugely successful albums “I Created Disco”, “Ready For The Weekend”, “18 Months” and “Motion”.
He may have (sort of) veered away from EDM, but go to any dance music festival or any club that plays dance music, and you’re sure to hear his tunes.
Listen to “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris (Diplo & GrandTheft Mix):
His hit tune “Wake Me Up” reached the #1 spot in 63 countries, with his debut album “True” peaking at #5 on the Billboard charts.
2014 would have been a mighty great year for this Swedish DJ, but it was soiled with health issues like a ruptured appendix and blocked gall bladder, which later revealed his struggle with alcohol dependency, a downside of living on the road.
“You are traveling around, you live in a suitcase, you get to this place, there’s free alcohol everywhere — it’s sort of weird if you don’t drink,” he told GQ in April 2013. “I didn’t expect it to last… I was so nervous. I just got into a habit, because you rely on that encouragement and self-confidence you get from alcohol, and then you get dependent on it.”
However, that did not stop this talented DJ. He bounced back even higher with last year’s “For A Better Day” and “Stories”, showing his resilience in fighting his demons head-on.
Listen to “You Make Me” by Avicii (Diplo & Ookay Remix):
12. Daft Punk
These Frenchmen, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, hasn’t really played a proper set since a few years ago, but fans all over the globe are still not losing hope. According to a story told by a producer to Eats Everything, Bangalter still hasn’t lost his magic.
“I saw Thomas Bangalter play the best DJ set I’d ever seen in my life on the Terrazza at Space,” said the Bristol-based producer.
“He was playing two copies of the same record, reversing the other backwards in sync, throwing massive 909 kick-drums into the mix… and then began cradling the mixer in his arms. We were like, ‘What the f- is he doing?’ He yanked the phono leads out the back of the mixer and started playing a bassline with the feedback. He was creating this enormous roaring sound with nothing but his clammy hands — and this curly-haired, terrified-looking Frenchman didn’t look up once for four hours, I swear to God.”
Listen to “Instant Crush” by Daft Punk:
Real name Ryan Raddon, Kaskade’s music has been described by Billboard as “unmistakable as it is beautiful…” For the past 10 years, he has headlined somewhere between 150 to 200 shows, building a name for himself as an innovator for EDM. He is currently a resident DJ in Las Vegas and commands steep personal appearance fees.
Listen to “A Little More” by Kaskade & John Dahlbäck feat Sansa:
Legally known as Fadil El Ghoul, this DJ 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.”
Aside from Coachella, he also played at Belgium’s Tomorrowland, and toured all over the world.
Listen to “How We Party” by R3HAB & VINAI:
15. Axwell & Ingrosso
Everyone knows that they are separate entities, even from when they were in Swedish Mafia, but they might as well get married… for creative purposes, of course. Their new track, “Sun Is Shining”, has only been released 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 from this duo “Something New” was also used as soundtrack by Beats.
Listen to “Something New” by Axwell & Ingrosso (Robin Schulz Remix):
16. Dash Berlin
These Dutchmen, DJ Jeffrey Sutorius (the frontman), Eelke Kalberg, and Sebastian Molijn has worked with countless music superstars including Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.
They also had a jam-packed touring schedule, with venues in Japan, Peru, Canada, Paraguay, and more. Outside of their music careers, they also support an Indonesian children’s charity by donating the proceeds of their merchandise sales.
Listen to “If I Lose Myself” by One Republic (Dash Berlin Remix):
Six Grammys, 19 million Facebook fans, collaborations with music giants the likes of Usher and Justin Bieber. It’s no wonder why this California native made the list.
Born Sonny Moore, he became sort of a lightning rod for EDM, bringing dubstep to American mass culture, whether you like it or not. With his bass music infiltrating everything and everywhere from huge music festivals to mom’s minivans, it looks like he is already a staple in dance music.
Listen to “GTA – Red Lips” by Skrillex ft. Sam Bruno:
Anyone who doesn’t agree that the past few years have been great for Afrojack is a doofus. No, really. This Dutch DJ (born Nick Van de Wall) is enjoying the success of his smash track “Ten Feet Tall”, his DJ residency at Las Vegas hotspot Hakkasan, and his numerous brand partnerships.
He also scoffs at doubters who say he has a ghost producers. “I’ve had a lot of people saying, ‘Ha ha ha, where’s your ghost producer, Afrojack?’ I’ve been using the same programme and the same instruments for all my music for the last 17 years. It’s pretty funny. I’m not gonna try to 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 that Afrojack still needs to prove anything?
Listen to “Ten Feet Tall” by Afrojack feat. Wrabel:
19. David Guetta
Just what is this “sellout” doing in the Top 25 Most Talented DJs in the World list, you ask? He has produced music and collaborated with some of the best-known musicians, and even went on to conquer countless different charts. You can hate him all you want, but whether you admit or not, you are still going to dance to his beats.
“Over the years, I have played funk, disco, house, hip-hop, techno, electro and EDM. It doesn’t matter what you call it, people are always going to want to dance,” he said. This 2016, you can expect more from the King of EDM/Pop. He was recently appointed by UEFA as official Musical Ambassador for Euro 2016 in France.
Listen to “Titanium” by David Guetta feat. Sia:
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He probably spends as much effort and time in his music as he does for his beautiful mane.
Alessandro Lindblad, a Stockholm native with Italian roots, makes LSS-worthy tunes of Grand Canyon proportions, with singles like “Years” featuring 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 the protégé of 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:
Real name Wesley Pentz, he is one half of the duo known as Jack Ü, the other half being Skrillex. Individually, he has been busy signing up 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:
Don’t mistake his online personality as purely hype. This Toronto native (born Joel Zimmerman) maybe (in)famous for his interesting views on the state of electronic dance music, but that does not mean he’s all talk.
Check out his Soundcloud account, specifically the track “Are You Not Afraid”, and see for yourself if he does not live up to his persona. He has also given a surprise (and live) performance for TI5, the largest ever eSports tournament to date, reminding all of us that his talent is just as huge as his character.
Listen to “Strobe” by Deadmau5:
Not convinced that this Norway native part of this “Top 25 Most Talented DJs in the world” list? His first original single, Firestone, has already garnered over 100 million YouTube views to date, he closed out the LIVE stage at Ultra Music Festival, and he has played at Coachella in the past year alone.
Listen to “Firestone” by Kygo ft. Conrad:
24. Paul Van Dyk
He has been recognized yearly as one of the top DJs since 1998, a feat no one can quite claim as of yet. Every appearance costs somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000, and rightfully so, as this German music superstar has remixed for the likes of Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and U2.
Furthermore, he uses his spare time (if any) for worthwhile causes for his native country, dutifully fulfilling his role as musical ambassador for the re-united Germany.
Listen to “For An Angel” by Paul Van Dyk:
25. Markus Schulz
According to an interview, said that he knew he hit it big after experiencing surreal encounters with fans. His moniker was coined after somebody tweeted, “Markus Schulz: the unicorn slayer of trance”. It refers to the term “unicorn melodies,” something used to describe light, upbeat melodies in EDM.
Listen to “First Time” by Markus Schulz: