David Guetta and A-Trak on Googling Themselves and Why What Happens in Vegas Doesn't Stay There

david guetta atrack las vegas 2015
Ramona Rosales

David Guetta and A-Trak photographed at XS Nightclub in Encore in Las Vegas on March 1, 2015.

Booming beats mean booming business in Vegas, as big-ticket DJs have become the city's real high rollers

When pioneering French DJ David Guetta first ­performed on the Vegas Strip in 2009, the crowds didn't get it. "It felt like they'd seen the world's best magician the day before, and now they were seeing the fancy, fun DJ," says Guetta, 47. "There was no scene."

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Flash forward six years, and the scene has exploded. DJ-centric venues have opened all over the city, each bigger and more lavish than the last, culminating most recently in the 2013 opening of Hakkasan at the MGM Grand, an 80,000-square-foot nightclub and restaurant that cost a rumored $200 million. By 2014, seven of the ­country's 10 highest-grossing properties were in Vegas, according to Nightclub and Bar magazine. The ­publication estimates that XS, the ultra-luxe nightclub owned by The Wynn (and where Guetta has a residency), earned more than $100 million in 2014. To maintain ­momentum, it underwent a $10 million technology revamp in December.

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It's the DJs, though, and not the high-end light shows that attract the big spenders willing to drop thousands of dollars on VIP bottle service. Afrojack was the first DJ to sign an exclusivity agreement with a hotel, when he paired with The Wynn in 2010. Now, ­residency contracts are common, as are the high fees that accompany them. Insiders say it's not unusual for a DJ to earn up to $300,000 per gig. (In his new three-year residency with Hakkasan, Calvin Harris is rumored to be making $400,000 per gig.)

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For these artists, the benefits of playing Las Vegas extend beyond the paycheck. "If we spin in Vegas, we get billboards in L.A.," says Alain Macklovitch, 32, better-known as A-Trak, who is a regular at the club Light. "It's insane marketing. I can't think of anywhere else that has that kind of trickle-down effect. You want to see how big Vegas EDM has become? Drive down Sunset Boulevard."

This story originally appeared in the March 21st issue of Billboard.