The Dumfries-born producer earned £29.5 million last year, knocking Dutch DJ Tiesto off the top spot. Harris can expect to be paid up to £190,000 for a show, and has signed up to make 70 lucrative appearances in Las Vegas over the next two years.
It marks the latest success for the former fish factory worker, who was the fourth highest-earning celebrity aged less than 30 on the Forbes rich list in July and grabbed the UK record for having eight top 10 singles from a studio album. He scored his ninth earlier this month.
Harris, 29, credited his rise to the top of the entertainment industry to the popularity of dance music. He told the magazine: “The rise of dance music has been astronomical in the last three years, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I made that decision completely by accident.
“I like to think I don’t have an ego like you need to be number one – the best, the DJ of all time. [But] I want to be the number-one songwriter-producer guy of all time.”
Harris – born Adam Wiles – did not even make the first list of top-earning electronic acts last year. However, in 12 months he has pulled in a total of £29.5m from more than 150 gigs and album sales, beating artists such as Jay Z, Katy Perry and Rihanna. He was only outranked by other under-30 stars Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.
The son of a biochemist and a housewife, Harris stacked shelves in a supermarket and worked in a fish factory, fearing he would never be able to break into the music industry.
He released his first album, I Created Disco, in 2007, and it included top 10 singles Acceptable in the 80s and The Girls.
Ready for the Weekend was released in 2009 and was a UK number-one as he increasingly wrote and produced hits for other artists.
His third album, 18 Months, included collaborations with Florence Welch, Tine Tempah, Ellie Goulding and others, and was released in October.
Harris has since become the first exclusive resident DJ at MGM Grand’s Hakkasan Las Vegas nightclub, and in April performed at the post-race concert for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Forbes’ Electronic Cash Kings listings found the top 12 earners brought in more than £171m in 12 months. Much of the earnings are credited to the high fees paid at Las Vegas clubs, usually six-figure amounts for a single gig.
Second-ranking Tiësto told Forbes: “In America, dance music is booming. At the moment it’s the most exciting genre. I think Las Vegas is really taking over from Ibiza this year.
“You can already see … all the DJs having their residence there now. It’s going to be interesting to see how that develops. But it looks really good.”
Harris was posting homemade solo recordings to his MySpace page when the record giant EMI found him and signed him in 2006.
On August 4, Harris’s single Thinking About You debuted at ninth place on the UK singles chart, his ninth hit from the third album.
He tweeted: “Made a bit of chart history today! Thinking About You went Top 10 in UK … the first time anyone has had 9 top 10 singles from one album!”