Worth nearly $7 billion, electronic dance music continues to revolutionize the music industry, and DJ and producer Diplo is at the center of it all.
Ranked in this year’s Forbes list for highest-paid DJs, the Grammy-nominated producer stretches across all genres, collaborating with music’s biggest names like MIA, Beyonce, Snoop Dogg and Justin Bieber.
He is also recognized internationally, with his label that helped set off the infamous “Harlem Shake” videos.
Diplo joined “CBS This Morning” Wednesday to talk about his career and success in the electronic dance music industry.
“What’s exciting about it is that a lot of young kids – it represents what they’re into. … Any kid can just grab a laptop and make music,” Diplo said.
You don’t see him in videos or hear his voice, but he is the man behind a string of hits, like “Lean On,” that plays on repeat in the latest Google ad and is the 35th most watched video on YouTube with over 700 million views on YouTube.
He also co-produced “Where Are You Now,” which owned the summer music charts and added a jolt to pop star Justin Bieber’s career, thanks to the song’s signature component – a catchy, mysterious riff that one might guess to be a violin or flute, but actually does not come from any musical instrument.
“That sample is actually a piece of Justin’s voice. We just pitched and created it into a synthesizer and put a small, little reverb on top of it,” Diplo explained. By doing that, they were able to create a “brand new” sound.
While he admitted he was not great at playing any instruments himself, he described himself as a musician with “strong ideas about what can change in music.”
“Music as a producer, it’s like when you’re dressed up in different fashion every year – you’re the same person but you have to wear different … you change … so production – the music always changes,” he said.
Diplo says when he first took the career turn to become a DJ at age 23 after various jobs – working as a school teacher, social worker, and even at Subway — he did “whatever I could do to get my foot in the door as a producer.”
But now, top artists are vying for Diplo’s attention, including Madonna who sought him out to co-produce her latest album, “Rebel Heart.”
“As I get further in my career, I think I have a lot more leverage with artists like Madonna and Justin, who have a lot of respect for me,” Diplo said.
Diplo plays 300 shows a year all around the world, ranging from festivals with over 100,000 people to nightclubs and bars, which he says is the way he communicates with his audience.
“I’m not a pop star, but being out there and working hard and distributing my music to people at live venues is the way to do it nowadays,” he said.
As he releases more electro-dance hits into the mainstream, Diplo says his attitude towards music has remained the same.
“Just pushing the boundaries as far as I can, and if people all over the world are able to hear it,” he said.