BOTTOM LINE: If you go to Taxi’s annual Road Rally Weekend, and you probably should, then Taxi is definitely worth the price of admission for that alone. If you don’t go to the Rally it may be worth it to you if you have quality music and want to learn in the right way.
TAXI.COM is an organization designed to help people who are looking for music to connect with people who make music. They publish listings from people looking for usually very specific types of music. Musicians submit their music, then Taxi screens them, and if they think they are good enough AND match what is being asked for they “forward” them to the person looking for the music. Otherwise they “return” them to the musician, sometimes with a critique of why the music wasn’t “good enough” or didn’t match the listing.
It costs $300 a year to join Taxi, $200 for following years. It also costs $5 per submission. On the negative side, this creates a situation where a lot of people (like everything else in the music industry) are disappointed. You pay money to an organization; they reject your music (fairly or unfairly) and don’t send it on to the people who want it. I’ve heard that more then 90% of the time this is what happens. If they return your music they often with give a critique of why they did so. If they do forward it it still might not end up being accepted by the person they forward it to. I imagine more then 90% of the music that is forwarded doesn’t get accepted either, as whomever gets it probably has a lot to chose from. Even if you music is accepted by the person it is forwarded to that is no guarantee that the music will be used, a lot of the listings are for music publishers and music libraries, who if they accept your music, will then attempt to get it placed somewhere. No guarantees.
On the positive side you can ask yourself “what is it I can do to be one of those few people who are forwarded and one of the even fewer whose music is used.” The first answer to have great music, recorded very well. If it ain’t great it won’t get forwarded, period. Taxi states clearly that part of the service they offer is to people looking for music is to screen everything so that only the best is offered to them.
The 2nd key to getting your music forwarded is to make sure your music matches what is being looked for. Remarkably more then half of the music people submit songs (which may be great) to listings doesn’t match what is being looked for. People submit original songs to listings for “cover songs.” If there is a person looking for “Garth Brooks” type music I obviously wouldn’t submit my song “D##kless Wonder” cause Garth wouldn’t touch it (pardon the pun). This cuts to the core of what so many people’s issue is with the music industry: they looking for a generalized “success” but don’t know how to separate themselves from their music and ask “where does my music fit, who specifically would want this music”. I believe that any music that is great has a place out their somewhere for it, and taxi is ONE WAY to potentially reach that place.
There are organizations out there that are total rip-offs, they take people’s money and do nothing for them (Google them and you’ll see complaints.) Taxi isn’t one of these, there are people who have success with it (though many more don’t). An advantage to Taxi’s approach is that it publishes listings for people actually looking for music, whereas some services simply provide connection to someone who may or not be specifically looking for music at that time. Also the pre-screening that Taxi does works in your favor (if you are picked obviously!) because when these people get music they get a lot fewer pieces of music to listen to so your odds are simply better.
Looking back, mostly I learned something from the “returns”, either my early demos simply weren’t good enough, or my later stuff was good enough but didn’t match closely enough. The one critique I got was for my quirky song “Pitter Patter” which said it was “cool” but was more of a “kids song” rather then and “Adult Contemporary ” song which is what the listing was for. This made since to me. On the negative side, I did get THREE songs returned for a listing for “quirky high energy punk song” which I felt my song were perfect for obviously. No critique was given on those.
So why am I Happy Taxi Member, well one reason really: THE TAXI ROAD RALLY. This is a once a year meeting that comes free as part of your yearly membership dues and to me makes the membership worth it. Similar conferences are held every year and are usually MORE expensive and not as good as this one. It includes classes on every aspect of music and the business: songwriting, production, business, etc. It also includes a chance to have private meetings with people in the business and to get your music potentially played for a panel of people in the business.
Most of the people at the Rally (more than 2000 in 2008) are simply other people who attend like you and me, not big shots. But meeting other people in your same situation can be inspiring.
FIRST TAXI FORWARD! (2009)
Last second update: I just got my first “forward” on Taxi, this means the organization deemed it good enough to be sent on to the “big shots” looking for music. I was very surprised, it was a sports listing looking for an INSTRUMENTAL so I submitted “Don’t Stop Playin.” I felt the song really loses something without the words and the backing vocals, but the screener felt it “was a unique rock submission… I’m going to say yes. I’m not sure exactly which sport this would be good for, but this colorful music is well executed and your chorus is a hoot… I just like this… that’s going to be ’nuff said” On recording quality said “sounds good” and gave it an 8 out out of 10 in every category.
What’s the lesson from this?? Well my music is better without the vocals! Actually that has some truth to it in that a lot of the time people are looking for music to play in the background of TV shows and Movies and vocals would distract from the scene.
The listing I submitted to was:
SPORTS INSTRUMENTALS that range from NFL, NBA, Fox Sports, ESPN, etc. theme songs to Extreme Sports/X-Games tracks are needed by a Production Music Library. For this one, you can submit material in a wide range of approaches but the energy level must be high and the adrenaline behind the music must be current-sounding, compelling & marketable. This company needs a wide variety of material that could be appropriate for a Major Network Sports special, as well as material that could rise to the energy of the edgy/adrenaline-pumping X-Games. Everything from high-energy/cutting edge Orchestral/Rock blends to Pop/Punk to Hard Rock to Electronica could work. For this listing, the overall tone and the level of the performance/production are the key factors. The energy must be high! This is a Broadcast Quality listing (great home recordings should be fine). Please submit one to three instrumentals online or per CD. All submissions will be screened and critiqued by TAXI and must be received by October 20, 2008.
THE HAPPYMAN/OPRAH CONNECTION
Happy Ron just got back from attending the four day Taxi Road Rally, a 2000 person music industry get together in LA. I wrote this to my 1000 new friends I met there:
Thanks to all of you who made my taxi trip this year so special. This was my 2nd Road Rally and my first since completing my first album TERRIBLY HAPPY. Everything seemed different now that I have an actual “product” to talk about and get feedback on. For those that haven’t made professional level recordings of their songs, do anything you can to so, everything changes when you do.
HIGHLIGHTS: I go to several open mikes a week here in San Diego, and at times I get burnt out on them obviously. But the open mikes at taxi were great, playing in front of so many (300?) and having many of them sing along on a song. TERRIBLY HAPPY, most had never heard was amazing. On the last chorus I stepped away from the keyboard and led the crowd in a music-free chorus of “TERRIBLY HAPPIES!”
The most remarkable thing was that a few days later I walked up to the Music Supervisor for Oprah and handed him my CD. As I was attempting to give him my “I’m Frank Sinatra Meets South Park” spiel, he started singing “Terribly Happy”!! As everyone knows Happy Man always has something to say, but it took me several seconds to figure out how the most powerful person in daytime television music knew me and one of my songs – ends up he was at the open mike two days earlier! Apparently the Happy Man makes an impression.
Made me feel like anything is possible. And of course anything is POSSIBLE!
Re-connecting to people who have helped me with my career/album and anticipating what they will think about their new copies of my first CD was also very special.
I have spent the last several weeks sending emails to music supervisors and libraries with very small (but important!) success). I was amazed at the opportunities I had to briefly meet so many music supervisors and give them my CD. They all seemed so open and enthusiastic and actually looking for music. They all of course got perhaps a hundred or so CDs, but hopefully the Happy Man and his music got the right connection with the right people.
The whole experienced re-enforced one of my basic beliefs about the music business: it’s about having great music, having a “story”, AND about who you know – so you better go out and meet everyone. All these little contacts may just be a 1/100 chance of having something come out of them, but if you do it 100 times you have 100 chances out of a hundred. The trick is to not hold your breath on any of them but then one day one of them might take your breath away.
A great-unexpected thrill was meeting the bass player from THE KNACK at a last second drive-by mentor session. Having one of my heroes listen to and enjoy my music just in and of itself what a great feeling.
Since, as everyone knows, gratitude is one of the six shortcuts to happiness, THANK YOU EVERYONE.
THE HAPPY MAN!