Steve Aoki Bühnenshow

The DJ Superstars

Photo above: Erik Voake

Partying is the great cultural form of our age. It’s an end in itself: letting go and dancing the night away are a way of life. In this world, superstar DJs are cultural icons. They influence trends on a global scale, fill stadiums and earn Hollywood-scale salaries. So who are they? What motivates them? And what can we learn from them? Part2: From Steve Aoki to Annie Mac.
Steve Aoki
Steve Aoki

Social media: Almost 7.5 million likes on Facebook
Worth: An estimated $55m
Performances: 143 in 2015 

The Entrepreneur: Steve Aoki

When Aoki was just 18, he was organising concerts for hardcore punks and running a record label. He went on to become a DJ entrepreneur. Now, at 38, Aoki runs four restaurants, a DJ management agency and a clothing line, and markets headphones. Cameo roles in films and on TV have tapped into new target audiences.

His trademark:

He was the first to understand that a 21st-century DJ couldn’t just play records, but had to be a brand and sell a lifestyle. How does he juggle his business, produce music and manage to perform 217 times a year, as he did in 2014? With the discipline of a top-level sports star. Aoki, who doesn’t drink and works out daily, is redefining what it means to be a DJ: party with a passion, but without the hangover.

What can we learn from him?

You can be authentic and rich at the same time. 

Cool:

Aoki has turned the DJ into a rock star. He headbangs on stage, cracks open bottles of Champagne and showers it over the ladies in the front row. The highlight of any Aoki show is the legendary cake fight with the crowd.

Uncool:

When the satirical website Wundergroundmusic.com made fun of Aoki’s stage antics, he threatened to sue.

“I still feel like a young punk with $200 in the bank”
Steve Aoki
DeadMau5 legt auf

© Drew Ressler/Rukes.com

Deadmau5
Deadmau5

Social media: More than 9 million likes on ­Facebook
Worth: An estimated $53m
Performances: 34 in 2015 

The Bad Boy: Deadmau5

Best known for wearing a mouse’s head mask, Deadmau5 is a 35-year-old Canadian who likes creating Twitter storms. There’s a reason why superstars react to his attacks – these days, he’s in their league.

His trademark:

The bad boy of the mainstream DJ circus loves confrontation. He informed his former protégé Skrillex via Twitter that his new music was sh-t. He accused Madonna of promoting drug use. His fans – who he calls “The Horde” – love him for it, and for pioneering the livestreaming of recording sessions. After one such studio session, a fan named Chris James sent him some song lyrics – and Deadmau5 used them. Their joint venture, The 
Veldt, went on to be a hit.

What can we learn from him?

Be upfront and say what you think. Some people will have a problem with it, but you’ll stand out and earn people’s respect. 

Cool:

Disney made a legal challenge regarding his mouse’s head mask. Deadmau5 showed the corporation the middle finger… and won. 

Uncool:

The speed freak had his Ferrari 458 Italia custom-wrapped with an image of rainbow-farting internet meme Nyan Cat. Ferrari was so appalled by the garish makeover that the car company issued a cease-and-desist order against Deadmau5.

“Get out there and immerse yourself in the world you created”
Deadmau5
Calvin Harris Konzert

© Getty Images

Calvin Harris
Calvin Harris

Social media: More than 13 million likes on Facebook
Worth: An estimated $160m
Performances: 77 in 2015

The Businessman: Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris, who turns 32 this month, hates interviews and says he can’t dance or sing, but what does that matter when you’re the world’s highest-paid DJ, pulling in $400,000 per performance? The Scot reckons his success is down to pure luck, but anyone who has heard We Found Love, his huge hit single featuring Rihanna, knows that Harris has an uncanny talent for a catchy tune.

His trademark:

Business savvy. For years he was remixing for other musicians such as Florence + The Machine, and instead of payment he would ask to visit the studio. That’s how he can spruce up his singles with vocals from stars like Rihanna.

What can we learn from him?

For true success, you need patience and a long-term plan.   

Cool:

Models and pop goddesses can’t get enough of him. He’s dated Rita Ora and Anne Vyalitsyna, and is currently linked to Taylor Swift.

Uncool:

Posing as an underwear model for Giorgio Armani and saying that he’s trying not to be a Justin Timberlake kinda guy. Not good.

“I know how to treat my voice to make it sound as good as it possibly can – which is still not that good”
Calvin Harris
Annie Mac
Annie Mac

Social media: Almost 300,000 likes on Facebook
Worth: No data available
Performances: 48 in 2015, plus five radio shows a week

The Tastemaker: Annie Mac

Annie Mac, 37, isn’t a music producer, but a DJ in the most traditional sense. Mac discovers new talent and presents it to the public through her weekday BBC Radio 1 show, in her club sets and at her music festival, Lost & Found.

Her trademark:

Mac has an incredible ear for hits and turns raw talent into stars. They remain loyal, giving her exclusive mixes and new tracks, which only reinforces her reputation as a tastemaker.

What can we learn from her?

You can get to the top by looking out for others.  

Cool:

Mac is a woman who has asserted herself in the male-dominated world of nightclubs, where far too often women are stood behind the bar rather than behind the decks.

Uncool:

No one has managed to find anything uncool about Annie Mac.

“The most important thing about being a broadcaster is believability – someone knowing that everything that comes out your mouth is real. It’s your job to have an opinion”  
Annie Mac
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02 2016 The Red Bulletin

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