Music was a big deal for the Miller family out in Long Island who reveled at their first (and giant) CD player back in the day. The new technology meant a young Ira got his hands on the boombox for his own entertainment.
“When I was seven years old, I learned how to record myself onto my boombox and I made a demo tape of myself,” Miller tells Amplify. “It was a hip-hop tape. I don’t want to date myself but at the time I was really into Vanilla Ice.”
While he has no idea where the tape went, Miller vividly remembers writing lyrics, making liner notes and developing album art for the track. His attention to detail beyond the music made him the go-to booker and promoter for a pop-punk band called The Verdicts that he co-founded in the late-90s.
“I quickly learned a lot about myself — mainly that I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes work much more,” says Miller. “I have always been into helping artists, marketing artists.”
In college, Miller interned at an array of record labels, radio stations, and nightclubs which gave him a leg-up when he began interviewing for jobs upon graduation.
His first job out of college was at Sony BMG Music Entertainment in NYC in the A&R administration department. From there, he went on to work in the online marketing department at AEG Live for club shows around the city. AEG ended up moving Miller from NYC to Los Angeles where he did social media marketing for national tours as well as festivals in Southern California.
“I felt like I hit a bit of a ceiling [at AEG] and I wanted to see what else was out there. I was with the company for a while and ended up taking meetings at Beats and they were alluding to launching something, but couldn’t tell me what it was,” says Miller.
Beats was in the process of developing a new streaming service to rival Spotify. According to Miller, the plan at that time was to put an emphasis on playlists and create a service that curated the vast music catalog for consumers.
“I think competition is really good for the industry. Helping to launch that service and to work on it since its inception was a really incredible experience,” Miller says.
Beats launched in January of 2014 and by August of the same year was acquired by Apple in a move that would bring about Apple’s streaming service.
Following the acquisition, Miller moved to management where he worked with clients like Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson and Troye Sivan.
“I wanted to see what else I could do on a smaller scale and be closer to artists and be able to help an artist’s career,” says Miller who started with Deckstar Management before it merged with James Grant Group and re-branded to YM&U Group.
Miller now runs the digital retail and streaming department at YM&U Group where he works with Steve Aoki, blink-182, James Arthur, Clean Bandit, Morrissey and more. In the position, Miller develops strategies for artists and creates campaigns around their projects.
Amplify caught up with Miller to find out more about some of the shows that shaped his career.
At The Drive-In at Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA
A college buddy and I wanted to go see The Get Up Kids. We got to the venue a bit early, and caught the opener by mistake. When we walked in, a 5-piece band comprised of giant afros, prop boomboxes, Orange amps, and a ton of attitude took the stage. The band was At The Drive-In — never heard of them before… neither had anyone else really. The most energetic and explosive stage presence I have ever seen. Ended up buying a 7″ and a t-shirt at the show, and instantly fell in love with their music. The Get Up Kids were completely shown up.
Billy Joel at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY
Dec. 21, 1989
This was my first concert ever when I was sever years-old. It paved the way for my love of music. I loved the energy, how everyone was there for the music. We were all in it together. I think it is really beautiful for everyone to unite over an artist like that.
Bush, No Doubt, The Goo Goo Dolls at Nassau Coliseum
April 11, 1996
This was the first show that I went to with my friends alone. Bush’s Sixteen Stone had just come out, and No Doubt was touring on Tragic Kingdom. I was able to take money from my chores and put it towards something for my friends. It was an awesome show for my 14-year-old self.
The Foo Fighters at The Dragonfly in Los Angeles
Feb. 4, 2011
Foo Fighters played a string of underplays in Los Angeles, all to test out new unheard music. Each show’s venue location was hinted about via cryptic posts on Twitter. I figured out it would be held at The Dragonfly, a tiny club holding 200 or so people. I left work early, went down to the club, and stood in line for four hours to buy a ticket for that evening. When I made it to the front of the line, my cell phone was dead, and I couldn’t have been more excited for what I was about to experience. Bob Mould opened the show… just his voice and a distorted guitar. Great set to start the night. Once the Foos took the stage, the energy in that room was so electrifying that it felt like the roof was about to cave in. It was loud, sweaty, and awesome. To set it off, the band played a number of new songs that no one ever heard before. So cool. After 45 minutes or so, the band played all of the hits spanning to a two-hour set. It was apparent that the band was extremely proud about this upcoming album, so much so that they were playing it at these tiny little show months before the album even had a title. I felt very lucky to be in that room.
Less Than Jake & Blink-182 at Tramps in New York
Oct. 3, 1997
Less Than Jake was one of my favorite bands at the time. I was playing their album Losing Streak cover to cover on a daily basis, and was one of my favorite live bands. It was a super fun, energetic set with people dressed up in costumes stage-diving. I remember this being a sweaty mess of a show. Also, this show was the first time I saw blink-182. At this time, “Dammit” had just hit radio, and I fell in love with that track. My band at the time ended up covering “Dammit,” which shifted our direction into more of a pop-punk/hardcore outfit. blink-182 became one of my favorite bands coming out of that show.