Music & Musicians

The business of being superstar DJ Steve Aoki

Superstar DJ Aoki's life & biz tips

He's the son of a restaurant legend, but that's not stopping Steve Aoki from making his own mark in the pop culture spotlight.

The 37-year-old DJ—and son of the late-Benihana founder Rocky Aoki—is well-known for his high-profile music collaborations with A-listers such as, Iggy Azalea and Linkin Park, but he has also emerged as one of the world's most prominent Asian-American solo artists. Beyond his music resume, Aoki has also made his name as an entrepreneur as a result of his signature business venture.

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In 1996 he founded the successful indie label, Dim Mak, home to notable bands such as Bloc Party and The Kills. Dim Mak also features a lifestyle and clothing line.

Steve Aoki performs at O2 Academy Brixton on February 7, 2015 in London, England.
Joseph Okpako | WireImage | Getty Images

Much like his flamboyant father Rocky, who brought the world of Japanese teppanyaki to the American mainstream, Aoki wanted to bring a similar type of uniqueness to his own business ventures.

In an interview, Aoki told CNBC how his father influenced his work ethic.

"Obviously my father was extremely successful," Aoki said. "His work ethic was extremely diligent. That's one thing I learned from him. That's traditionally Japanese … to work at that pace and at that rate, at that level. I know I work pretty hard, and I drive my business in a diligent way as well."

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His father's influence on him is highlighted in a new documentary, aptly titled "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," filmed by the same team behind the popular documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." However, Aoki cited other notable executives as the inspiration behind his work.

"I get inspired by Elon Musk. I heard [he] made a generator that's solar powered that can generate the whole house," Aoki said. "We need more forward-thinking people [and] influencers in power to be able to help bring that to the masses."

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As a successful businessman with an estimated net worth of $23 million in 2014 according to Forbes, Aoki knows it takes more than hard work to make things happen. He said leveraging teamwork and passion is essential for any aspiring business owner.

"Without the team, there is no business," he said. "The most important thing in running a business is making sure you hire the right people. ... The people that will bleed the passion you need for that company to really grow as a business."

Apart from the Japanese work ethic he referred to, Aoki is also passionate about pushing his culture forward and providing more awareness for the Asian-American community.

"I think I am definitely a small representation of Asian people doing stuff. When there is no representation, then it becomes misrepresentation … the only way [you're getting] represented is [by] doing something creative that is going to gain attention and help build the culture that you're a part of," he said with a grin.