Alum Steven Miller Returns to Campus for Talk Upon Hall of Fame Induction

Monday, November 17, 2014
Photo of Steven Miller and John Barsotti

Grammy-nominated music producer and executive Steven Miller was inducted into the SF State Alumni Hall of Fame on October 24 for his groundbreaking career in audio engineering. The day before, he visited the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Department on to deliver a four-hour talk to students on his life in the notoriously competitive world of audio engineering and music production.

In the end, he attributed much of his success to the knowledge and connections that he gained at SF State, also offering students encouragement and tips on making a living in the industry.

“Here in this school, in this building, if you can’t take away stuff that gives you the foundational building blocks to be successful out there in the world, you weren’t paying attention,” he said during his talk in Studio 43.

Miller (B.A., Radio and Television, ’78) has worked independently with a wide range of platinum recording artists including Dave Matthews Band, Bobby McFerrin, Backstreet Boys, Suzanne Vega, Pink, Jonas Brothers, Switchfoot, Manhattan Transfer, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Paula Cole and Chicago. He is responsible for the sound and arrangement on several landmark recordings such as George Winston’s December, Michael Hedges’ Aerial Boundaries and Mark Isham’s Vapor Drawings.

Miller’s work with Windham Hill Records helped transform the tiny independent label into a worldwide icon. He worked with Steve Jobs to create the musical components for Apple products in the 1980s including the IIe, Lisa and the revolutionary Macintosh. Miller also co-founded the Hip Pocket/AM and RCA/Novus record labels. As one of the first producers to embrace digital recording technology, he was appointed to the board of the Recording Industry Association of America’s compact disc group.

Following an executive vice president stint at RCA Records, Miller became a partner in Gang of Seven, producing exclusive programs for authors and spoken-word artists such as Spalding Gray and Peter Matthiessen. Miller’s own albums include Singing Whale Songs in a Low Voice and Subterranea.

Others inducted into SF State’s Alumni Hall of Fame on October 24 included Margaret Avery (B.A., Education, ’65), Academy Award-nominated actress, and Andrew Ly (B.S., Accounting, ’86), co-founder of Sugar Bowl Bakery). Congressman George Miller (B.A., American Studies, ’68) was honored as Alumnus of the Year, and California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (M.A., Special Education, ’65) received the President’s Distinguished Service Award.

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Photo caption: Steven Miller (left) talks to students in Studio 43, as Professor John Barsotti listens. Photo: Hannah Anderson.

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