Entrepreneurship: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
In this compelling and uplifting talk, world renowned electronic DJ, entrepreneur, and entertainer STEVE AOKI shares the driving force behind his career: his larger-than-life father, Rocky Aoki. Rocky was the founder of Benihana Restaurants, a Hall of Fame wrestler, and the first to cross the Pacific Ocean in a hot air balloon. Steve, a first-generation Asian-American, followed his father’s example by expanding his DJ business into a successful music label, launching a fashion line, investing in e-sports and gaming, creating a comic book series called Neon Future, and starting a “PizzAoki” delivery chain. Based on his hit Grammy-winning Netflix documentary I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Steve shares the lessons his father taught him about transforming your passion into entrepreneurial ventures.
Adapting to the Future, Today: Music, Technology, and the Metaverse
As a globally popular electronic artist, STEVE AOKI relies on technology to create his music and interact with his fans. With new developments in AI, VR, robotics, human “enhancements,” and the advent of the metaverse, Steve reveals the advantages of continuing to innovate alongside new technology. As an NFT Founder and metaverse entrepreneur, Aoki shares how to remain forward-thinking as you continue to grow your brand, organization, and products.
“When I make music in the studio or when I’m working on something in tech, I’m really obsessed with the future,” Aoki explains. “Where are we going? How do we help create the building blocks of culture? It’s exciting to be part of something fresh, brand new, and futuristic, and being early enough that it feels like a risk.”
Bringing Innovation to Philanthropy
Worldwide entertainer and multi-hyphenate creative STEVE AOKI is passionate about science, especially as it relates to the brain and our relationship with technology as humans. Steve is the founder of THE AOKI FOUNDATION - which supports organizations in the brain science and research areas with a focus on regenerative medicine and brain preservation. In this talk, Steve shares the vision for his foundation, to see a world where degenerative brain diseases do not exist and science & technology play a direct role in extending the healthy lives of ourselves & our loved ones.
Behind Steve Aoki’s creative, entrepreneurial portfolio career
Grammy-nominated music producer, creative entrepreneur, and NFT visionary STEVE AOKI’s portfolio career reflects his core passion: creating culture. In a profile for ABC News, Aoki describes the pressures and inspirations of growing up as the son of Benihana founder and Olympic wrestler Rocky Aoki, the cultural figure who popularized Japanese food in America. Aoki told Forbes, “One of the most important things about why I invest in the things I do is because at an early age, I understood what it means to build a brand.”
Aoki’s career path has been anything but linear. Aoki started his label, Dim Mak, from his college apartment and built the still-thriving brand from scratch. After finding himself $100K in debt, he took on more DJ work to pay it off, eventually becoming the highest-paid DJ in the world. Aoki has since launched comic books, fashion lines, an esports team, and even a pizza delivery restaurant. His nonprofit endeavor, the Aoki Foundation, funds brain health research. He has also pursued investing through a private fund with Eminem called Eminoki. Aoki’s successful portfolio career showcases his depth of both personal versatility as a creative and dedication to his craft.
Steve Aoki sees a future in Web3’s Metaverse
World renowned electronic DJ, entrepreneur, and entertainer STEVE AOKI believes that the Metaverse holds the future of music. Aoki’s ventures in Web3 and the Metaverse reflect his commitment to staying on the cutting edge of culture, using emerging technology to create music and interact with fans. Aoki told Inc, “Evolution is absolutely necessary if you want to survive as an artist.”
Aoki’s owned and operated metaverse ecosystem, the A0K1VERSE, offers exclusive merch, events, and NFT access. The A0K1VERSE has partnered with a move-to-earn Web3 app, STEPN, to reach growing gaming and wellness sectors. Aoki shows how individuals or organizations can harness the power of tech by thinking outside the box to grow and accelerate brands.
Steve Aoki’s beloved live performances draw millions
Worldwide entertainer and multi-hyphenate creative STEVE AOKI became the highest-paid DJ in the world for his ability to captivate an audience. A dedicated entertainer, Aoki holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Traveled Musician in a Single Calendar Year.” On his long tours, he consistently sells out tickets to his high-energy performances, igniting fans globally. Aoki’s shows push the envelope of what a DJ set can be, often branching out into surprising modes of performance reflecting his multimedia pursuits.
Crowds flock to Aoki for his engaging stage presence, crowd connections, and a memorable performance technique: caking. Fans come hoping to be caked, and Aoki delivers by hurling around a dozen cakes into the audience per show. Aoki brings his passion for creating unforgettable experiences to his all of engagements. He told Forbes, “I want to bring happiness to people. I want to bring an emotion that they haven’t felt before -- one that’s unique to an experience I give them.”
Steve Aoki is many things—Grammy-nominated music producer, artist, fashion designer, entrepreneur and NFT visionary—but there’s one key thing that connects everything he does. Aoki, one of the most successful American cross-genre artists and a deeply forward-thinking creator, brings a sense of community to all of his work, offering shared spaces and connections for like-minded fans and fellow artists. It’s also at the core of his new album, HiROQUEST: Genesis, an epic, multi-genre collection of songs with a world-building story that extends beyond the music itself.
Conceived, written and recorded during the pandemic, HiROQUEST: Genesis taps into the angst, anxiety and pent-up energy felt during lockdown and offers a dynamic soundtrack as we re-enter our lives post-Covid. The songs comprise five chapters, each detailing a different mythological faction, and the album opens the door for fans to enter a vast world that threads together the music and a new collectible trading card game co-created with MetaZoo Games, which Aoki co-founded and launched in March of 2021. The tracks draw equally on Aoki’s history with alternative rock bands and embrace contemporary musical trends like Latin and pop while retaining his signature EDM aesthetic.
“The music is a connecting tissue to this universe that I'm creating,” Aoki explains. “Before Covid I had a very purposeful, efficient mission when I was in the studio, but for the past few years I was stuck at home. I made a lot of songs during Covid and I was always experimenting. That allowed me to be free to be able to dive into different sounds and styles. This album tells a fantastical story, but it’s also about freedom from restraint. I went right back to my roots—that raw, rock energy and that became the basis of it. From there, I began to explore everything and it sprouted into so many different genres. Now, we’re coming back into the world again and the songs have an abundant energy of that.”
HiROQUEST: Genesis features a diverse group of collaborators, including Kane Brown, PnB Rock, Hayley Kiyoko, Natanael Cano, Bryce Vine, Guaynaa, and Lil Xan. Aoki harkened back to his roots on “Just Us Two,” a high-octane track created with Taking Back Sunday, and “KULT,” one of the album’s early singles, which features grandson.
“To me, ‘KULT’ is the benchmark sound of this new album,” Aoki explains. “It has some punk-y elements and it’s always about lyrics and the hook. If you can get people to sing something that makes them fill with angst and it evokes some energy, that’s a successful song. It’s like our own social club that lets everyone be part of a shared world. This album will have that synergy, where everyone is part of this club.”
Aoki’s music, which he releases both under his own name and through a number of aliases, has been his primary endeavor since the release of Wonderland, his debut solo album, in 2012. The LP earned him his first Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronica Album and Aoki has since collaborated with an impressive list of varied artists, including BTS, Maluma, Linkin Park, blink-182, One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Uzi Vert, 2 Chainz and Daddy Yankee. He boasts 17. 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify, with a 77 million average monthly reach across all his platforms. He’s released three Platinum singles, six Gold singles and has produced over ten Top 10 radio records. His label, Dim Mak, is credited with discovering influential acts like Bloc Party, The Chainsmokers, Bloody Beetroots and The Kills. After unveiling four Neon Future albums, the most recent being Neon Future IV in 2020, HiROQUEST: Genesis opens the door to a new adventure.
Performing live has always been an essential aspect of Aoki’s music career. Prior to the pandemic, he counted over 250 tour dates per year. He also holds the Guinness World Record as the “Most Traveled Musician in a Single Calendar Year,” an accolade he earned in 2012. In addition to multiple headlining tours, he’s performed at nearly every top festival around the world, including Coachella, Ultra Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Fuji Rock Festival, Tomorrowland and Electric Daisy Carnival. Ultimately, Aoki wants to work in exciting spaces with exciting artists, and to bring the spirit of connection and discovery to everything he does.
In 2022, Aoki launched A0K1VERSE, an NFT membership community, powered by the Passport, that welcomes his fans to both virtual and real-world experiences. The metaverse community draws people into Aoki’s all-encompassing network, drawing together Aoki friends and family in an innovative way. For Aoki, who has spent the past year becoming more and more involved in the NFT space, it’s essential to remain forward-thinking as he continues to grow his brand.
“When I make music in the studio or when I’m working on something in tech, I’m really obsessed with the future,” he explains. “Where are we going? How do we help create the building blocks of culture? With NFTs you really are stepping into a brand new world—you’re creating outside the box. I love that kind of energy and I love the community of other people who feel the exact same way. It’s exciting to be part of something fresh, brand new and futuristic, and being early enough that it feels like a risk.”
Aoki has continued expanding in niche spaces in the fashion and gaming worlds, as well. The artist designs the vibrant Aoki 1 of 1 clothing collection, which features one-of-a-kind apparel items alongside Dim Mak’s ongoing collaborations with IPs like Dragon Ball Z, The Matrix and Godzilla. Aoki approaches each new endeavor with the same sense of dedication he’s put into his past achievements, including his critically-acclaimed 2019 memoir BLUE: The Color of Noise and THE AOKI FOUNDATION, which Aoki founded in 2012 to support organizations in brain science and its research. In whatever space he enters, Aoki offers a community for those who need it most.
“I love the idea of partnering up with someone with a completely different mindset on life,” he says. “Almost everything I do is some level of collaboration, whether it’s fashion, technology, music, art or culture. I love this idea that we can come together and put aside the things from our past that may have hardened or jaded us, and just be free. We can try something completely unhinged together. Whenever I’m struggling to find my voice, I go back to when I was a kid and remember how important it was to find a group of people who all believed in the same thing—and believed in it passionately.”