One of the best, former VP of concerts at Webster Hall and founder of Excess dB Entertainment, Heath Miller spoke to Four Over Four about what’s on the horizon for the New York live music scene and why New Jersey is a thriving market that has great potential with the reopening of White Eagle Hall.
What’s your favorite and least favorite “industry” term at the moment?
“Sold out” in regards to concerts is my fave! “Developing” is my least fave. Anyone who isn’t drawing (yet) gets referred to as “developing,” even when they’re not.
Best memories from the early days and what were some of the biggest challenges?
Best memories were always the crazy ones – when we barely knew what we were doing but would make it work – just not necessarily as smoothly as we can make it work now. I’ve done everything from building stages and hanging curtains to just getting to sit back and enjoy. I prefer landing somewhere in the middle, where I still have myself involved, but I’m not killing myself running all over the place.
What was the first moment in your career that made you feel like you made it?
That’s a hard one. I think it was when shows at Krome in central NJ, in the “early days,” started selling out on a consistent basis and it became clear the hobby of booking shows was actually my career.
What separates Excess dB from the rest?
We really try to be easy to work with, be accommodating and nimble to both the agents and the artists. I try to maintain a company policy of “focus on the solution not the problem.”
How did you achieve that?
I have to credit my father with a lot of that. He always worked for himself as well and taught me “even if the show does bad, you still have to live up to your obligations – both financially to all involved, and to the obligation of providing a good show to the fans.”
Do you have a dream lineup?
In a venue versus a festival? I can’t even answer that without making a few artists really happy and offending a few other artists.
To be safe I’ll only mention non-active artists – so clearly Eazy-E, Notorious B.I.G., and Tupac, all holding hands, followed by Elvis.
With the closure of Webster Hall, you are moving on to booking several venues across New York and New Jersey. How did this partnership come about and what are your plans and goals?
Some of these are venues I’ve already worked with previously, some are new venues for me, and White Eagle is brand new. I think there’s still room in the market for indies with AEG/Bowery and Live Nation, along with venues they don’t normally work with.
I’m lucky to have a lot of strong relationships with both the business people and artists I’ve worked with a long time.
What can you tell us about the venues, most notable the newly reopened White Eagle Hall?
The venues that I’m new to working with, I’ve always had friendly working relationships with, for example: Highline Ballroom and Le Poisson Rouge.
White Eagle Hall, the owner and I met a few years back and kept in touch, and the timing worked out really well. It’s a really beautiful room in a market, Jersey City, that’d been in dire need of a venue of that size with great production.
Over the past few years there’s been a major shift from independent to corporate in the music scene. How do you foresee the future of live music in New York?
Stronger than ever. More bands are touring and there’s a handful of us indies that are doing a ton of shows still. There’s some bands that also do prefer to work with a person and not a large corporate entity. For most bands however, it comes down to the venue they want to play more than anything else.
Do you think the US’s current political state is affecting the industry? If so, as a part of the music community, do you think it’s your responsibility to do something about it? How?
It has definitely impacted international artists and created a lot of hostility between people that didn’t exist before. As part of the music community, I think it’s important for me to not put someone “on my stage” that has a message that isn’t in line with mine and the people close to me.
Jimi Hendrix once said “Music is my religion.” If you were to have a famous quote, what would you want it to be?”
I have so many things I say on a regular basis. Find me at a show and I’ll just say one subconsciously. #nospoilers
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