how I went from A to C with TAXI U

Those who read Music Connection, Music & Musicians, and Recording Magazine, might have noticed an article/ad about me in the September issues. It was a pleasure to speak honestly about my experience with "TAXI U", the mentorship of TAXI and TAXI forum members... that is the foundation for my success in terms of signing music to deals.

When I joined TAXI in 2004, I had no idea how much I didn't know. I knew nothing about producing music. I thought I knew how to write really awesome country songs with excellent lyrics, though! My idea of a good song was based on my education as a classical singer singing music by composers of opera… and my love of folk songs by Carol King, Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell, and the Tysons.

I wrote epic folk songs - 6 minute long pieces with abstract lyrics - recorded worktapes on free recording software, and submitted them to TAXI, songwriting contests, and sent them to SAC (the Songwriter’s Association of Canada) for feedback. When I got the critiques, I was so angry. Really angry. What the hell was wrong with these people? Couldn’t they see I wrote outside the box, that my poetic lyrics were gems, that my meandering melodies were interesting to listen to?

I railed against the screeners and feedback givers. I called the industry homogenized. I, along with a co-writing friend, spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars getting demos cut of our infant songs. Big mistake.

When I got the rejections and ‘it’s not good enough yet’ critiques back I’d throw the feedback in a drawer and slam it shut.

But… even then… a couple days later… I’d take that paper out and read it again. I’d look at what they said and I would think, ‘hey, I can fix that.’ So I kept working and reworking on the songs… not really seeing the fact that you can rewrite a bad song a million times but that doesn’t necessarily make it a hit song. But I kept writing, rewriting, and getting feedback… and trying to learn from what I was being told.

It took two trips to LA, to TAXI’s music convention, the Road Rally, for me to really see the light. The answer, for me. It might not be the answer for everyone else. It was when I was sitting with a group of friends from the TAXI forum at Road Rally 2006 that I realized… I was in the presence of composers who were writing marketable music and who had signed that music to deals. They were writing, for the most part, instrumentals for use in film and television.

Now this was not as huge a leap as you might imagine. All the way along, while writing my epic fantasy folk songs, I had also been writing instrumentals. I used Band in Box to score the parts, and downloaded free plug-ins from the net to give them voice. I posted them on Soundclick sometimes. I had dozens of these.

I came home inspired to see if I could take those ideas and make them fly… make them acceptable to the industry. Thus began a journey of months and years to understand how to compose effectively for film and tv, to save up and buy the required computer, the required software, to make these things come alive and be considered marketable.

It was a challenge I was willing to embrace. And the rejections kept coming. But finally I got my first forward from TAXI, and my first deal. I’ve now signed more than 70 tracks to several different music industry entities, but there is much work to do and much more to learn. And many, many more tracks to write. Some will be good, some will need to be re-worked, and some will not fly commercially. But it's all grist for the mill.

taking an old road to renewal

Myself and three others have gotten together, we're meeting weekly, and working through Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way". We started by just meeting to talk about our creativity and visions for ourself, then we read the introductory chapters. This week we are reading Week One and making brainstorming stickies of visions or goals we have for ourselves.

I worked through the book a few years ago with a girlfriend, it was an interesting process of self-discovery and awareness growth. I started with the idea that 'I am fairly evolved so why do I need to do this book'. I ended in a place I never expected to be.... with a new vision for my life, and doing things I hadn't done for years, like painting.

Why do it again? My sister and I used to lease horses, and every weekend we would take the same old road down by the same old stream... but week by week, we would see changes around us. The falling leaves creating a carpet, the first buds of spring, wildflowers blooming, a bird we hadn't seen before. If we had our eyes open, seeking the new or the beautiful, then we were often awarded with something magical.

Walking this path, with a book whose message resonates with me so much... I hope will aid me to move in directions old and new.