Musical chairs: The grab for headlining DJs is in high gear on the Strip

Shakers and movers: The hot names have a hard time staying put in Vegas’ nightlife scene.

Only clubbers should care about the whereabouts of DJs on the Strip, right? Maybe during the nascent EDM years. Now, the expansive (and largely VIP-funded) Las Vegas nightlife scene has become a billion-dollar industry. This makes the acts drawing the people paying $50 covers and $4,000 dancefloor-table minimums pretty important.

January is when most of the clubs featuring headliner DJs reveal their residents for the year. It’s a monthlong game of musical chairs, as many DJs spend the previous fall chasing the higher paydays, changing loyalties and signing exclusives with a former competitor.

This week, the forthcoming Omnia released its talent lineup, which pilfered trance icon Armin van Buuren from Marquee and EDM powerhouses Krewella and Nicky Romero from Light. But don’t feel bad for Light: Last week’s reveal featured three acts—Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Morgan Page—formerly of the XS/Surrender/Encore Beach Club roster. That triumvirate has yet to reveal its new beat brigade—it declared last year’s on January 31—with the exception of Kaskade, no longer shared with Marquee, and former Light resident Laidback Luke. Some clubs aren’t even demanding loyalty anymore; upstarts 3LAU and MakJ are currently shared by Life and Drai’s, the former venue unafraid to feature others’ acts and the latter largely opting for new blood.

Questions abound as nightlife’s trade season continues. Will Hakkasan Group give chart-topper Calvin Harris’ widely rumored Omnia residency the same sort of isolated announcement that it did for Tiësto’s Hakkasan Nightclub extension—or will another club dare top what’s considered the highest per-gig rate in clubland? Will Marquee’s once-mighty talent pool—typically the last in Vegas to emerge—rebuild after being picked over by every other nightlife entity in town? Will Life keep periodically luring competitors’ DJs over, as it has since its August opening? And can Wynn’s forthcoming nightlife lineup trump Light’s impressively well-rounded 2015 offering? It’s only three weeks into January—this musical chairs game isn’t over yet.

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