By Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune, Batesville, Ind.
Kiera Miller has fallen in love with electronic dance music (EDM).
But instead of just dancing, the 2012 Batesville High School graduate has become entrepreneurial. First the junior at Indiana University, who majors in social work and is working on a certificate in arts management, launched a student organization called the Electronic Music Association.
Then she founded and runs the Aspire to Inspire series on Your EDM Web site, one of the leading online music publications in electronic music, managing five on her team.
But that's not enough. The 21-year-old just began managing an up-and-coming DJ/producer duo from Oregon called Sokko & Lyons, which recently had a song debut on SiriusXM's BPM Radio.
During the last week of March, the daughter of Jeff and Denise Miller, Batesville, and sister to Chris, New York City, attended Miami Music Week + Ultra Music Festival, known for "beach parties, pool parties, minifestivals and parties at nightclubs. It was insane. I stayed up until 5 or 6 a.m. partying most nights and woke up the same morning at 9 or 10 to go see my friends speak on panels .... I did this 100 percent sober," contrary to the EDM industry rep "that we all drink and do drugs."
She launched Aspire to Inspire (www.youredm.com/tag/aspire-to-inspire/) almost exactly a year ago. At first a brief musician's profile would include three points of his or her advice. Someone's life story would be published one Thursday a month. "Now we just share people's stories" through both a livestream (using Google Hangout on Air now, Twitch soon) and a written series, which alternate each week.
"My job is basically to coordinate all of our features -- reach out to the artists and their management, conduct some of the interviews, write some of the stories, business development and just make sure everything runs smoothly.
"Our interviews are not typical. We go very deep. We ask our features to talk about what adversity they have both faced and overcome in life. Examples include dealing with death, addiction, depression, being gay and career dilemmas."
Participating in March's Winter Music Conference: The huge music conference in Miami is where everyone who works in the music industry (specifically EDM) comes and networks. They have panels, DJ spinoffs, showcases, industry parties and the International Dance Music Awards. I spoke on two panels -- "Women in the Music Industry" and "Getting Real About Drug Use." In the first one we talked about what it is like to be a female in a male-dominated industry .... I think it's very important to be a feminist, but to speak through our actions rather than our words. I like to keep my mouth shut and focus my energy on working my butt off instead.
What a touring group manager does: I handle all of the bookings (shows, hotels/flights, interviews and photo shoots), travel planning, creating itineraries, business negotiations and contractual agreements, public relations (getting songs posted on music blogs and YouTube/Soundcloud channels), tour management (I travel with the group) and finances. The hardest part is acting as the mediator/problem solver. I have to know what exactly my clients want and be their best friend. I have to be very selfless and often times their needs come before my own.
Working vacation: I am going to Los Angeles for a week to meet up with my friends in the music industry. In Las Vegas, I will be going to a three-day EDM festival called Electric Daisy Carnival both as a fan and to work as press.
What's next: Begin hosting panels at music conferences. My end goal is to launch a national motivational speaking tour, where we have artists and music industry professionals speak in schools and to the public.
Dream job: Honestly, I'm working it right now. My dream job is to combine my two passions for social work and music, and that is exactly what I'm doing both with managing and the Aspire to Inspire series. One day I would also like to work in the film industry by creating inspirational movies based on true stories or producing/directing documentaries based on musicians' stories .... I know that my purpose in life is to provide a platform where people can share their stories. That's what I have to give to the world.
How I encourage young people to do what they love: It's simple -- by sharing people's stories. Here in America, we love a good story. A lot of our features on Aspire to Inspire have faced major career dilemmas in their lives -- do they continue college or a job that doesn't make them happy or drop out and pursue what they love? They follow their passion. I'm not encouraging people to drop out of school because I do think school has had a huge impact on my life, but I'm encouraging people to realize that they have the power to choose to do whatever they want.
What parents need to realize about their young adult children: That we have a voice and that we will do whatever it takes to be happy. I work in an industry filled with entrepreneurs. A lot of my friends have quit comfortable, well-paying jobs in the NYC financial district to pursue what they love. Parents need to be more understanding and open-minded. I understand that you want your kids to be successful. So if you want them to be successful, I suggest you give them the power to make mistakes and to do what makes them happy. Life is too short to focus on pleasing other people. Do your thing, and make an impact at the same time.
Past and present jobs: I worked at Margaret Mary Health in high school in the dietary department. In the music industry, I started out as the booking agent for a nightlife Web site. I would book our photographers to shoot clubs, concerts and music festivals. Then I handled all press inquiries for a music blog and became a reporter for DJ Mag Canada. I would go to concerts here in the states and interview DJs, and then write feature stories about them for our online magazine. In addition, I began managing two hula-hoop dancers who would perform onstage at concerts and music festivals. Now in college I work at Kroger as a side job to help pay for this music dream.
In high school: I had a very big passion for music, specifically EDM. I guess you could say I started my career then because I created an "underground" or rave-like high school dance called Lights Out. My senior year I hosted one in the fall and one in the spring at RomWeber Marketplace. My goal was to give high school students a chance to do something fun that didn't involve drinking or drugs, and to introduce our town to electronic music.
Major challenge: Going through a state of depression in middle school and half of high school. Every struggle that has been thrown my way, I've overcome it. Nowadays I can even say that I appreciate the hardships I've gone through because I wouldn't be who I am today without them. I just encourage people to get through whatever it is that they are facing. Life really does get better and it all starts with our attitude. Seeing a counselor helped me to realize that. Positivity is so important.