I freely admit that we bash DJ Mag’s Top 100 list. We do so mostly because of the nature of the voting, which allows for undue paid promotion to swing votes. This means DJs and their teams can simply spend a ton of money to rank in the Top 100 if they want to. That being said, the very top of the Top 100 is still a hotly contested and debated ranking that has massive ramifications for booking fees and interests in tertiary markets – most specifically Asia (as detailed by 3lau last year).
Because of this, for years, I’ve been putting together my own personal predicitons for the Top 10 based on observations, rankings, and statistics from the previous years. This is the first time I’m making it public.
First, a little background on myself: my role at Your EDM involves daily content management, overarching social media management, digital marketing and artist relations. I’ve been leading in these roles for nearly 4 years now. Before diving in, I want everyone reading this to recognize that this is purely my opinion and mine alone. However, it certainly is based on hard statistics and in-depth analysis of the current dance music environment.
Now, let’s have a look at last year’s Top 15 to give you an idea of the front-runners for these coveted Top 10 spots.
15. Don Diablo (+15)
14. Calvin Harris (-3)
13. W&W (+1)
12. KSHMR (+11)
11. Avicii (-4)
10. Afrojack (-2)
9. Skrillex (No Change)
8. Oliver Heldens (+4)
7. Steve Aoki (+3)
6. David Guetta (No Change)
5. Tiesto (No Change)
4. Armin Van Buuren (No Change)
3. Hardwell (-1)
2. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike (-1)
1. Martin Garrix (+2)
As you can see, Don Diablo and KSHMR are the two biggest artists on the rise among the top DJ Mag contenders. Don Diablo was the highest gainer, but I’m going to predict he doesn’t break into the Top 10 quite yet. Although he has an album on the way, it has not been released yet, and therefore his momentum may have slowed down a bit this year. I still expect him to move up several places, but just how far remains to be seen.
KSHMR, on the other hand, launched his own record label, dropped an EP and a massive collab with Hardwell, as well as a ‘Game of Thrones’ remix and many other one-off releases. More notably though, he has been touring heavily in the Asiatic region and compels almost as strong a reaction as Martin Garrix in those areas. Because of this, I predict he will break into the Top 10 for the first time this year with guns’a’blazing.
As far as artists on the decline are concerned, Avicii and Calvin Harris dropped the furthest from 2015-2016. Avicii dropped the most, losing 4 spots. However, Avicii also announced his retirement from touring last year and dropped a rather timid amount of music, so that fall in positioning was totally understandable. But, in 2017, Avicii returned with a stellar EP. Two songs from the EP already have over 100 million streams on Spotify – an indubitably impressive feat for an August release. Because of this and the hype that was generated by his return, I predict Avicii will make his way back into the Top 10 powerfully.
Meanwhile, Calvin Harris dropped a full album of huge collabs. He’s a streaming and radio king once more with tracks like “Feels” and “Slide” approaching nearly 400 million streams on Spotify, but I don’t believe that this album resounded in the dance music world. I predict Calvin Harris will resurface around the 11-13 mark, but his lack of DJ appearances and the pop-nature of his album will inhibit him from breaking into the Top 10.
Another major change I foresee, although he saw no movement from 2015-2016, is David Guetta moving down significantly. Guetta’s biggest song of the year, his collab with Justin Bieber, “2U,” is more of a Justin Bieber song than it is a David Guetta song; and I feel like dance music as a whole has tired of the Guetta machine in general. I’m sure he’ll stay in the Top 10 – simply cause he’s David Guetta – but I think he’ll round out the bottom for 2017.
As for other changes, I think Oliver Heldens and Afrojack will drop out of the Top 10 (no offense to either of you guys if you’re reading this). They have drawn little attention over the past year in terms of releases and major tours, and I think Avicii and KSHMR have the momentum needed to replace them in the Top 10.
I believe Steve Aoki will maintain his position at #7 thanks to a collab-heavy new album and tireless work ethic and tour schedule that has made the cake-wielding DJ a household name.
When considering the Top 5, it feels like Tiësto and AVB will go nowhere soon as they retain their powerful positions in EDM with expansive tours and regular releases. However, I predict Hardwell will bump DVLM down a peg thanks to his ferocious release schedule throughout the year, including a two-part, ten-song EP.
Finally, at the #1 spot I firmly believe that the one-and-only Martin Garrix will retain the throne. And rightfully so. The 21-year-old released two massive future bass collabs this year which have outpaced any of his previous releases (excluding “In The Name of Love”) in terms of plays and widespread appeal. He also continued to drop festival anthem after festival anthem, filling the void in progressive house that the future bass trend has left behind. How long his reign will last remains to be seen, but it’s of my opinion that it won’t end anytime soon.
So, here it is…
DJ Mag Top 10 predictions for 2017:
- Martin Garrix (No Change)
- Hardwell (+1)
- Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike (-1)
- Armin Van Buuren (No Change)
- Tiësto (No Change)
- Avicii (+5)
- Steve Aoki (No Change)
- Skrillex (+1)
- KSHMR (+3)
- David Guetta (-4)