This week on Masters in Business I sit down with Steve Miller — yes, that Steve Miller – of the Steve Miller band. An fun set of coincidences led to this interview —John Pizzarelli led to Lawrence Juber which led to Miller – where we discuss the music industry, technology, and what the future of music might look like.
He tells about meeting the Stones, Beatles, and other greats of the 1960s, recording with Paul McCartney, and why he has since come to accept McCartney’s thesis that the first take is always the best one – freshest, most real, the one that has the “magic.”
We also discuss how the business of music – mot especially fair to musicians in the first place — and how much worse its gotten today courtesy of technology. Tech companies like Spotify, Pandora, Apple are making money on the artists, who make next to nothing on streaming services. We also discuss why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is failing to fulfill its cultural purpose. Millers strongly believes the founders need to step aside and “let in some new blood.”
I was fascinated by the personal story of how Miller thought his career was ending — his first record contract was coming to a close, and while the band did sell a decent number of albums, there was never the hit single the record company wanted. “I thought my career was over” he said.
His final contractual album was The Joker, and the rest was history.
You can hear the full interview, including the podcast extras, by streaming it below; you can also download the podcast at iTunes, Soundcloud or Bloomberg. Miller also shared his list of favorite books on music, which can be found after the jump.
Next week, we speak with Michael Murphy, co-founder of the Right to Rise Super Pac and former campaign manager for Jeb Bush.
Steve Miller’s favorite books on Music & Musicians
In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work by Anthony DeCurtis
Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll by Peter Guralnick
How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention by Stephen Witt
I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons
Been There, Done That: An Autobiography by Eddie Fisher