Upon the Aug. 5 release of his much-anticipated Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2, Boardroom explores Adam Richard Wiles’ path to becoming Calvin Harris, the highest-paid DJ in the world.
Calvin Harris, born Adam Richard Wiles, is a multi-purpose crowd-pleaser.
As a DJ, his electric mixes and layers of atmospheric sounds are liable to make you dance. As a composer, his masterful understanding of tone enables the sort of emotional productions that might just make you cry.
He started out DJ-ing around the UK as a teenager, going on to secure his first top-10 hits in his native country following the 2007 release of his debut album, I Created Disco. A moment of musical evolution would arrive in October of 2012, his third studio album,18 Months, would mark a change in the tides for Harris, stepping away from his customary vocal duties to focus more deeply on the production side.
The shift worked, helping Harris to move from disco-driven tracks to more of an electro-house sound. The album topped UK charts and became his first to crash the gates of the Billboard 200 in the US, reaching as high as the No. 19 spot.
And now, five years after the similarly acclaimed Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 — which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, spent 42 weeks on the chart, and featured collaborations with aces like Frank Ocean, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj — theDumfries lad is back with Vol. 2.
Like many sequels, it’s a little bloated and not quite as fresh as the original but there’s still plenty here to enjoy, like pop stalwart Charlie Puth and rising dancehall star Shenseea on “Obsessed,” or the legendary MC Busta Rhymes special guest appearance on “Ready or Not.”
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at how Calvin Harris transitioned himself into one of the biggest musicians in the world — and at just 38 years of age, reportedly the highest-paid DJ in the world, too.
Calvin Harris’ Music Industry Accolades
- Grammy nominations: 5
- Grammy wins: 1 (Best Music Video for “We Found Love“ ft. Rihanna)
- Billboard Music Awards nominations: 15
- Billboard Music Awards wins: 1
- MTV Video Music Awards nominations: 15
- MTV Video Music Awards wins: 4
- Solo albums: 6
- Solo Platinum albums: 2
- Solo Platinum singles: 17
- Music video views: 14+ billion
- Performances: Estimated to play approximately 125 gigs per year
- Key collaborators: Sam Smith, Rihanna, Pharrell, Elle Goulding, Frank Ocean, Migos, Young Thug, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Big Sean, Justin Timberlake, Due Lipa, 21 Savage
- Triple Platinum (3x RIAA certified) singles: 8
Calvin Harris’ Social & Streaming Impact
- Instagram followers: 10.3 million
- Twitter followers: 11.8 million
- Spotify monthly listeners: 58.6 million
- YouTube subscribers: 18.5 million
Calvin Harris’ Investments, Endorsements & Ventures
- Founder of imprint record label Fly Eye Records
- Sponsorship deals with Pepsi, Kia, Apple, Coca-Cola, Sol Republic, and Yeah Yeah Yeah, La La La
- Estimated booking fee is $350,000 to $500,000 per performance. His concert tour earnings are neck-to-neck with A-listers like Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber.
- Real estate investment portfolio estimated at approximately $30 million
- Starred as face of Emporio Armani for S/S ’15
- Co-owner of music-streaming service Tidal
- From 2012 to 2016, booked multiple DJ residency deals in Las Vegas. Forbes reported that Harris earned $46 million between 2012 and 2013 before banking in a whopping $66 million in 2016.
- Sold entire publishing catalog to Vine Alternative Investments for $100 million. The collection comprises over 150 tracks, including his featured works with Rihanna, Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, and Dua Lipa.