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.

7 comments:

Keiran said...

That's a really inspiring story. I'm currently at the stage you were at several years ago. I'm trying to do the things you talk about to try and knock my songs into shape. Being based in the UK it's not easy for me to get to the TAXI Road Rally but it sounds great - maybe one day soon. Thanks for the post. Keiran

lokigui said...

Hello I followed your link from linked in. I am lokigui from Montreal an aspiring singer songwriter. Thank you for the favorable review about TAXI. I have read about so many rip offs I barley trust myself. lol.
Nice blog you have.
bb lokigui
lokigui.blogspot.com

lokigui said...

Hello I followed your link from linked in. I am lokigui from Montreal an aspiring singer songwriter. Thank you for the favorable review about TAXI. I have read about so many rip offs I barley trust myself. lol.
Nice blog you have.
bb lokigui
lokigui.blogspot.com

Big Koz said...

Great blog! I am from BC Canada to! I am trying to get into the tv/commercial/movie business myself. I had some health issues the last 5 years so I coudlnt work on much music, but now that things are improving I am trying to get back into the swing of things!

Any advice or tips you have would be appreciated! Your blog is wicked, definatly going to bookmark it!

Anyways, take care and god bless!
Sasha

Jeffrey Philip Nelson said...

This is great, thank you so much for sharing your story. This happens to everyone starting out and it is so discouraging. Thanks for the honesty.

Jeffrey Philip Nelson said...

Thank you so much for this story. I am currently discouraged because of the wall that every beginner has to break through to be heard by an industry professional. Your honesty is so encouraging!

Austin Truax said...

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http://songwritersecrets.blogspot.com/