More than 15 years ago, trance wunderkind Markus Schulz earned some serious scrilla performing at now-defunct Valley clubs like The Works in Scottsdale and Freedom in Tempe, as well as spinning up EDM on local radio.
The German-born trance artist, who resided in the Phoenix area in those days before eventually moving to Miami, is still making major bank, to the tune of a couple million per year. To paraphrase the late Kurt Cobain, it looks like club kid angst has paid off well.
Schulz was included in a rundown of the "Top 30 Richest DJs" in the world, which was released earlier this week by the website Celebrity Networth. The 37-year-old occupies number 29 on the list, sandwiched in between Finnish trance god Darude and Dutch house guru Afrojack, with an estimated yearly income of $2 million per year.
The number-one spot went to big baller Tiësto, who beat out Paul Oakenfold and Paul van Dyk with his $65 bankroll. (You can see the entire list on the next page).
Schulz -- who lived in the Valley from 1989 to 2001 -- is the only turntable jock with a Phoenix connection to make the list, as homegrown superstar DJs like Eddie Amador and Z-Trip apparently don't bring home enough bacon to have been included.
Like many who did make the list, Schulz's has enjoyed a lengthy DJ career that harks back to the last time EDM was overwhelmingly popular (read: the mid- to late-'90s).
In addition to working the local club circuit and hosting an electronica show on former alt-rock station The Edge during that era, Shulz also ran local EDM store and label Plastik Records.
Former New Times music editor Bob Mehr documented Shulz's "growing DJ empire" in a 1999 story titled "The Journey."
The original impetus for starting Plastik was his own growing creative restlessness as a remix guru. Schulz became a sought after remixer with the international success of 1994's The Journey. European labels came calling, and, along with onetime studio partner C.L. McFadden, Schulz remixed tracks including Blue Amazon's "No Other Love," Bedrock's "For What You Dream Of" and Jayanne Hanna's "Lost With You." He also scored a series of domestic assignments reworking cuts by Poe, Madonna and the Backstreet Boys. "I just got tired of doing remixes," says Schulz. "I wanted to experiment more. I really wanted to develop a unique sound and just experiment with sounds in general. That's why we started the label."
What started as a creative outlet has turned into a profitable and growing enterprise. During his recent European trip, Schulz finalized arrangements on a deal to license Plastik releases in Europe, began negotiations with a "major British underground label" to distribute in America, and confirmed the opening of a U.K. branch of Plastik Records.
Schulz left Phoenix in 2001 after Plastik Records closed down and headed for greener - and obviously richer -- pastures. His onetime partner C.L. McSpadden is still kicking around the local DJ scene, however, and will perform at this weekend's edition of Frequency Fridays at DWNTWN.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Wonder if he's considering giving his old buddy a call for a loan?
Here's the complete rundown of the world's 30 richest DJs:
30. Afrojack - $2 million 29. Markus Schulz - $2 million 28. Darude - $2.5 million 27. Kaskade - $3 million 26. Martin Solveig - $3 million 25. Eric Prydz - $4 million 24. Swedish House Mafia - $4 million each 23. Gareth Emery - $5 million 22. Avicii - $6 million 21. Skrillex - $8 million 20. ATB a.k.a. Andre Tanneberger - $8 million 19. Calvin Harris - 10 million 18. Deadmau5 - $12 million 17. Benny Benassi - $14 million 16. Carl Cox - $15 million 15. The Chemical Brothers - $15 million 14. Ferry Corsten - $18 million 13. Steve Aoki - $20 million 12. Fatboy Slim - $22 million 11. David Guetta - $25 million 10. Moby - $28 million 9. Daft Punk - $30 million each 8. Pete Tong - $30 million 7. Judge Jules - $40 million 6. Sasha (DJ) - $40 million 5. Armin Van Buuren - $40 million 4. John Digweed - $45 million 3. Paul van Dyk - $50 million 2. Paul Oakenfold - $55 million 1. DJ Tiesto - $65 million