About three years ago, news outlets reported that Paris Hilton makes up to a million dollars playing a single DJ set. Given her level of fame and years of experience, this piece of information wasn’t as shocking as some made it seem at the time. A six- and sometimes seven-figure fee is standard for big name acts and for those who have residencies, that fee applies for every set they play.
Hilton is the highest-paid female DJ in the world — despite her lack of recognition by Forbes — and like any good businesswoman, she knows just how profitable it is to work on New Year’s Eve.
“It’s not [like you have the] night off on New Year’s like most people,” Hilton says. “It’s a big working night, but it’s also a very lucrative night. It’s definitely worth my time.” Her reps confirm that she has made anywhere between $250,000 and $1 million playing a single NYE party.
“The energy is incredible. Everyone’s so excited with the countdown and everything happening. It’s always really special,” she adds. “I’ve literally been hosting a New Year’s party or DJing every single year since I was 20, so I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
When asked if she’s ever played more than one venue in one night, Hilton reveals that all of her shows are exclusive deals. “[Clubs] want to have exclusivity so, for example, every time I play in Vegas, whatever club I would play at, I was not allowed to go to any of the other clubs during that entire weekend because it’s competition,” she explains. “A lot of people want to lock you in under contract. But if I could, I would.”
She usually receives about 20 offers “from around the world” to play on NYE, but this year, she’ll be DJing a private party in Aspen, Colo., where her family will be. Her go-to NYE jams are “One More Time” by Daft Punk, “1999” by Prince and her single, “Stars Are Blind.”
“We’ve never booked a DJ based on cost,” says Stephane Vacher, executive vice president of entertainment and culture at Le Bain. “We want our events to be of the moment and that is never about the money, it is all about the music and our guests’ experience. This is the case for NYE and for every event we put on.” This year, Le Bain is throwing a Tiki Disco party.
Vacher says it’s “almost impossible” to give a general number for how much DJs can charge on NYE. “There are so many elements that go into this one night,” he explains. “It depends on the artist, the capacity of the venue, who else is playing, if there is a cover charge at the venue. I wouldn’t do it justice coming up with a cost.” He adds that it ultimately depends on the artist’s popularity.
Steven Klavier, director of bookings and managing partner of House of Yes in Brooklyn, says that while big acts can command tens of thousands per set on a regular night, the fee for local DJs is generally around a couple of hundred dollars. Acts can command between 50 and 100 percent more on NYE.
This year, House of Yes is hosting Moon Boots and Sander Kleinenberg. Klavier says he’s cool with DJs playing other venues in the same night since House of Yes doesn’t rely on the DJ to promote their parties, but generally, venues ask for exclusivity.
“People are really determined to end the year with a bang and a good party,” says 21-year-old Dutch DJ Martin Garrix. “Every crowd that I perform for is different somehow. That’s why I always adjust my sets to the vibe that I’m getting from the crowd.”
Garrix was named the ninth highest-earning DJ in 2017 by Forbes, raking in an estimated $19.5 million. This Sunday, he’ll be headlining Sunburn Festival in India. He can’t remember if he’s ever played more than one NYE show in the same night, but he says that overall, there are “no lows” to DJing on NYE.
“I get to do what I enjoy doing the most while celebrating a new year and leaving the previous year filled with great memories behind me,” he says. “I just try to make the best party possible.”