Imagine, if you can, that you're Steve Aoki.
In a world of pseudo-hyphens, you're a genuine multi-hyphenate. You're a two-time Grammy-nominated electronic dance music superstar. You're been in the Top 10 DJs in the World for four straight years. Dim Mak Records, the label you founded in 1996, has launched acts like The Chainsmokers, Bloc Party, and The Bloody Beetroots.
You have your own clothing line. You own restaurants. You perform over 250 shows a year. (And you throw a lot of cakes.)
Tired yet? Wait -- there's more. You co-own Rogue, an eSports company with teams that compete in Overwatch, CS:GO, Call of Duty, H1Z1, and Vainglory.
Neon Dream is inspired by Aoki's Neon Future album. It's an infinite runner-style game where players fly through a world of color and shape, collecting coins, avoiding barriers... all while listening to house and EDM tracks from the Dim Mak label.
You've already branched out into a variety of business besides music: restaurants, clothing lines, a non-profit.... so why video games?
It's been a gradual process. To make a long story short, I've always been a gamer, but I never found a way into the video game market outside of just being a player.
Then I went to some of the conventions like E3 and TheGameCon and saw how big the gaming ecosystem and community is, and thats when I got involved in eSports. I had meetings with different teams, and jumped in by co-owning Rogue.
We have really strong teams, especially in Overwatch, and it's been extremely exciting to be a part of a world I never thought I could get into.
That's what I like to do: Find little gateways of entry. Once I was in, I found more ways I could get involved in gaming... and the next step was video gambling games and bringing something new to the casino floor.
There are so many ways to be creative, whether in the music or the game play or the landscape of the game... the creative aspects are where I feel like I shine the best. And what I enjoy the most.
So while gaming may seem like an odd extension for me, it comes from a very genuine place.
And that's why your game is "Neon Dream."
Why Neon Future? I became obsessed with radical science, the future of technology, the future of biotech... I was reading very interesting scientists and authors that were speaking about ideas of singularity, and life extension, and science fiction.
The idea of how idea of science fiction is becoming science fact is what Neon Future is all about. I'm fascinated by that idea. That obsession also comes from a very genuine place -- so when I decided to jump into the video game gambling world, it made perfect sense to draw from the idea of a Neon Future.
I also wanted to make a fun, accessible game, one that would spark my interest as a gamer, and one where most people would instantly understand the concept. That led to creating an infinite runner game. Gamers know how to play infinite runner games, and non-gamers pick up the concept within minutes.
Add that up and Neon Dreams is the perfect blend of my interests as a gamer and an artist.
Based on your interests and your desire for creative outlets, a game makes sense... but how did you decide the opportunity made sense for you?
That was easy. I live in Las Vegas. I have a residency (Hakkasan at the MGM Grand.)
I play all over the world, but nightclubs are kind like my lab. I make songs at my house, go to the nightclub, and test them out before I play them at festivals.
Because of that, I thrive in casinos. For me, casinos are like home turf. I'm always in that environment.
Plus, in that environment my brand already exists. Go to Las Vegas and you'll see billboards of DJs; that's part of the culture. The DJ is a core element of Vegas nightlife.
So it makes perfect sense to create video gambling game, and to roll it out in an environment where I'm extremely comfortable and am lucky enough to have strong brand awareness.
Talk briefly about time management. You travel hundreds of thousands of miles, performing for millions of people every year... and run a variety of companies and ventures.
Obviously you have to really be efficient with your time. That means knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
Sometimes you do have to do everything, especially early on, but when you have the knowledge and are totally immersed in your field... you figure out what you can delegate, and learn to oversee those areas.
This also sounds obvious, but you have to choose your team wisely.
I have multiple teams. They all run different businesses. My job is to make sure I'm on top of things and that we're constantly communicating. We're constantly talking about strategies, tactics... it's a constant conversation.
The only thing I have my hands on from A to Z is music. In that case, it's not about business. It's about music: Creative freedom, execution, identity building... constantly transforming myself and my music.
Music has always been my primary focus. All my other businesses have come from that platform.
How do you set goals, both for current businesses and when you find new opportunities.
Goals are an interesting thing. I try to go one step at a time, because you never know. You can have ideas and visions... but I've learned not to be too fixated on a specific goal.
Goals will change. The most important thing I've learned is to make the experience you give an audience or a customer the absolute best you can make it -- and that's hard when you're too focused on the future. The focus has to be on the present; when the present is great, then you can think about what you'll do next.
So with the game, I want to make the experience extremely worthwhile for the player. A skill-based gambling game is a whole new format for the casino floor. It's not repetitive like a slot machine.
My goal is that it enhances the experience of the people who come into the casino. I'm not really a slots guy; If I walked into a casino, this is the game I would play.
It was really fun to create, and I think it will be really fun for the people who play it. And isn't that the point?