DJs are this generation’s rock stars. Guitars and drums are being replaced with giant LED screens and intense light shows that seem to stimulate every possible nerve in our brains, and we are loving every minute of it. As the EDM scene continues to grow at an exponential rate, so does everything else associated with EDM, including prices.

Less than 3 years ago it was still possible to go to a major music festival or show for a reasonable price. Now however, ticket prices are at an all time high with no sign of slowing down. How has this come to be?

Higher ticket prices are the result of higher booking prices for DJs. Each year for the last several years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount per show that a major headliner makes.

To give you a prime example, Calvin Harris, who was making roughly $200,000 in 2012, now costs over $400,000 dollars to book for an “average” show and closer to $500,000 for special events:

Artists Booking prices in 2012 Booking prices in 2014
Calvin Harris $150,000 $350,000 – $550,000
Tiesto $200,000 – $400,000 $350,000
David Guetta $100,000 – $200,000 $350,000

Major headliners are able to boost their booking prices so high because the current state of the market is in free fall, with no bottom-out price in sight. Essentially, as long as tickets keep selling, DJ booking prices will keep rising.

The rising booking prices affect more than just consumers and events, they also have an economic impact on smaller artists who are trying to make a living off their music. With promoters and venues having to spend monstrous amounts of money on headliners, they compensate for the cost by cutting the budget for supporting acts:

“The most popular 10% receive 90% of the pie. Of course, they make music and do it well. But it must remain in balance, which is now gone. It now is about so much money, that everything has changed. It also comes at the expense of the festival experience. At those high wages remains less over for good sound, lighting and decoration. That makes festivals less attractive.” –ID&T Founder

This “trickle down” phenomenon can already be seen in the major festivals we all love. Over the course of 3 years, festivals have had to up their ticket prices just to offset the rising DJ prices and stay profitable in order to return the next year:


Normally, these rising prices would be totally natural. As a market increases in popularity, so does its value and prices. So what’s the problem? The income of this market’s demographic isn’t adapting at a matching rate.

The 18-26 year old demographic, the target market for EDM, has not seen any significant increases in household income in recent years, and in many cases, their income has been declining:


As the target market is making less money each year and ticket prices continue to rise, we are heading toward an eventual market collapse. The rate at which the prices are growing means that we will soon reach a point where prices will no longer be affordable for the fans who want to attend and enjoy EDM festivals and events. Until the DJ booking prices reach an equilibrium that the market can support, the trickle down effect of these prices could result in the collapse of our scene.




DJ Booking prices: Your EDM

Graph: Seatgeak

Household Incomes: Advisor

Image Source: Rukes