Alexi: This is the rhythm of Tiesto. One of an elite group of superstar DJs who can earn millions of dollars a year spinning. Tiesto and his DJ brethren are credited with reviving a dying dance music scene with what some critics say is no more than a push of a button.
I’m Alexi Bario Nuevo for the New York Times. Top DJs like Tiesto sell out stadiums, have become pitchmen for Madison avenue and for the next two weekends will light up Miami at the annual Ultra Music Festival. I sat down with Tiesto recently to talk about his rise to stardom in an era when computer software makes it extraordinarily easy for anyone to mix music.
Tiesto: It’s like you know everybody who is 14 years old and has a laptop can get program.
Alexi: Just wonder how much you’re all really doing when you get up there.
Yeah it’s basically just, um, it’s more about the music and thinking of the program for the show and vision, what you think should be played. People give you a hard time if you just push a couple of buttons. But what’s the difference if you push a couple buttons or you play 4 strings on a guitar for 10 years. That’s for you, also a no brainer. Like if I would be, I don’t know, Keith Richards or someone, playing all my life that same guitar. With all due respect though, I still has the creative mind. But that happens in the studio, that doesn’t happen on stage.
Alexi: Much of the music Tiesto plays on stage is other artists’ music that he mashes and tweaks but his fans don’t seem to mind.
Gregory: I just go to listen to music and, like, have fun. It’s not like I care what he is doing, right?
Morgan: I mean I think, regardless, like, it takes a lot of talent to put your you know like hard work and creativity, like, into the set.
Alexi: High profile DJs like Tiesto are selling more than dance music.
Tiesto: I already start with the melody first.
Alexi: Ralph Lauren released a 2012 vintage denim line with a commercial set to the music of Tim Bergeling, a 23 year old Swedish DJ known as Aviici.
Aviici: If I really like a track, I know that my fans are going to like it as well.
Alexi: The French DJ, David Gaetta, is promoting Renault’s new electric car, and Tiesto has signed on with Guess. Tiesto started in a small bar in southern Holland, beat matching and mixing tracks live. Now he produces most of his sets in studio.
Many of his shows start after midnight and end when most people are having breakfast. Over the last three years, he averages a hundred and fifty shows a year, two hundred and sixty in 2011, and he averages a hundred thousand dollars a gig.
Alexi: Do you guys deserve to be paid like this?
Tiesto: I mean, uh, yeah, I don’t know. I would do it for free as well. I mean if you don’t have the love for the music, you won’t play this much, as I do. I’m rich so I don’t have to play for the money any more, so you just play for fun.