In the height of the 70s, Contemporary Entertainment flew their artists around in a Boeing 720-022 that they purchased from United Airlines for $750,000 in 1972 money. They spent another $750 thou to rip out the passenger seats and install a den, private bathroom with shower, 30-foot long couch, bar, electric organ, TV with a video cassette tape player, and a badass psychedelic paint job. Dubbed ‘The Starship,' it most famously carried Led Zeppelin on their tours from 1972 to 1975, as well as Alice Cooper, Allman Brothers Band, Deep Purple, Elton John, Olivia Newton-John and Peter Frampton.
People like to bitch about the golden days of rock and roll, when rock stars were men, when dudes with awesome hair played traditional instruments and flew around the world in private jets that the record company paid for. Well it turns out, those weird things made of wood and strings that you connect to an amplifier and play with a tiny piece of plastic and don't even have any cool blinky buttons—yeah, totally not cool anymore. And you cannot compare Led Zeppelin to any of today’s EDM stars. There will never be another Led Zeppelin, what with the successful artist career reduced to a two-year cycle rather than a 20 or 30-year one. The world is a different place than it was in 1968, but despite the odds, some of EDM's most famous DJs are either chartering or outright purchasing private jets to hop between high-paying gigs in the world's great cosmopolitan cities.
In the world of big money business, many frequent flyers opt to charter a private flight for their travels, which runs an average of $1,600 to $8,600 per hour, depending on the type of jet you book. According to Forbes, that would be over $100,000 for one roundtrip flight from New York to San Francisco. If you have a show scheduled in a different country for every other night of the month, it might make sense to buy a plane.
But owning a private jet is not like waltzing out onto a used car lot. It is a complex legal process that involves a costly team of consultants, safety inspectors, and lawyers. No wonder most musicians leave it to the label or the airline. After you make the multi-million dollar purchase, you are still looking at hundreds of thousands per month in flight crews, storage, jet fuel, parts and labor, taxes and levies, security, and even missile defense. Then you have to get the interior and exterior of your plane pimped out, which is a multi-million dollar industry in itself.
You expect to see major label darlings like Rihanna or Justin Bieber flying around in a private jet. But these days we're seeing plenty of independent producers entering the atmosphere. Even though most of the DJs on this list have already been declared the richest, it's still up in the air as to who actually owns the planes they've been tweeting about.
DJs Spotted on Business Jets:
When Tiёsto is in the market for a new business jet he chooses JetNetherlands. The custom Cessna Citation XLS they built for his 2010 European Tour included a custom paint job with headphones and his name. On a 2011 flight to Ibiza with Swedish House Mafia, they got so hammered that they sprayed champagne and Jägermeister all over the interior, including the pilot in the cockpit, before passing out.
When you're flying all over the world to work with the biggest names in pop music—Usher, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Bono, David Bowie—you don’t want to sit with the normies in first class. Last August his business jet caught on fire right before Creamfields. He Instagrammed a photo accompanied by the words, “The plane, the plane, the plane is on fire!!!!”
Afrojack has been photographed with his plane "The Afrojet" many times. He opened up to The Independent when they asked him about it last year: "I have a steady rental jet which has a big sticker on the side that says 'The Afrojet.' It’s just for fun but it’s necessary for all the touring. In the last three months I did over a hundred gigs. You don’t want to do that on a bicycle!"
The founder of Dim Mak Records posts pictures of himself with his private plane—affectionately christened the Aoki Jet—all of the time. Actually he constantly posts pictures of himself in general. It turns out that the benefits of flying private include being able to pass out in the aisle in your underwear, even though it is a total safety hazard that they would never allow on a commercial airline.
Fedde Le Grand
In September 2012 National Geographic Netherlands published a spread of Fedde Le Grand’s journey by private jet to Ibiza. The result was some of the best wide angle, high definition DJ shots we've ever seen. Also pictured were several images of Fedde Le Grand onboard with his laptop, an external hard drive, and a pair of Technics headphones. The six-seater is not huge but it’s better than your private jet.
The Prodigy are going strong after inspiring a generation of producers and dropping one of the baddest remix albums ever, "Fat of the Land (Remixed)", late last year. They recently posted a picture on their official Instagram that appears to have been taken by Keith Flint, of the duo on board a private flight. The caption reads, “The new wider big pimpin jet, rollin the Russia."
Last August Forbes declared Calvin Harris the richest DJ in the world after he made $46 million in one year. That same day he published this photo of himself looking pensive on the wing of a business jet. He entered, “Counting my blessings,” into the comment section. Word is that that Harris chartered a private flight for his girlfriend Rita Ora after she missed her plane at Heathrow last May.
Diplo told the Shortlist, “I still fly cheap airlines like Southwest: $49 a flight. I couldn’t say to my kids that I couldn’t pay for college because I had to buy a private jet.” Of course he also said this on his Instagram feed, “This is what you think a private jet is like. I’m rich! (Hi-fives pilot) Keep dancing! (To dancer twerking by his face). This is what it’s really like. Where are the Pringles?”
The paparazzi favorite has been jetting around in style for a while now. But does he have his own jet? Last month deadmau5 Instagrammed his lunch, which was In n Out aboard a private plane. (He also took a video of his straw having sex with the cup.) Before that it was him standing in the turbine of a jet plane wearing his new Microsoft mau5 head. They don’t let you do that at American Airlines.
It's not just star DJs that get branded jets and stuff. You too can be an EDM jet-setter... if you've got $20,000 to drop on a weekend. TomorrowLand offers private jets to their festival if you've got money like that and are travelling within the States.