Friday, December 14, 2012

Why your GREAT song didn't get forwarded

'If my song is great, TAXI will forward it.' This has to be one of the biggest misconceptions about TAXI.

Many writers and producers know their song isn't right on for the listing, but they believe the greatness of their song will compensate for the differences in the request.

That is absolutely, 100%, unequivocally WRONG.

That mindset is detrimental to your progress, and it is frustrating for the TAXI staff.

Imagine this scenario:

Lets say you are a general contractor building a home. You've laid the foundation and now it's time for the walls to be constructed. You've got all the 2x4's and 2x6's laid out and ready to go. All you need is the right tool - the nail gun.

So you let your associates know you need the nailer, and they all go running in search of it. Some of them dig through their old tool boxes and find some hammers. Some just grab the first tool they see. Some pick up rocks and know that will work to pound in nails. Some even go to the store intending to get a new nailer, but get side-tracked by the updated and glitzy dremmel and bring that instead.

Then they all bring you their stuff. You start looking at it. You see how some of the people thought the hammer would work. It could, it's just outdated. You know those who just grabbed the first tool they saw did so in haste. The rocks baffle you, but I guess at one time it worked. But the that's curious.

You concede it's a great tool. It could work in so many applications. It's actually the right tool for so many OTHER applications. But just not this one. Not to construct walls. Not for your request.

That's what sending in songs to TAXI is like.

Some material is outdated, some is sent in haste ("shotgunned"), some are rocks, and some are dremmels. And no matter how GREAT your dremmel is, if it's not right for the request, it cannot be used for the job at hand!

When the TAXI listing says, "Uptempo, contemporary URBAN POP songs ala Usher, Chris Brown..." please do not send them a country ballad that sounds like it was recorded in '92. It's just not getting forwarded. Period.

And that makes some people angry. Very angry. But who's fault is it? Really? (Not TAXI's)

Remember, TAXI's bar is high. Very high. They're not going to forward material just to keep a member happy. Or to keep stringing them along. TAXI has no interest in collecting your money without helping you to make money in the music industry.

TAXI wants us to succeed. That's why they have the forums. And the critiques. And TAXI TV. And the Rally. And so much more.

So your song can be great. But if it's not the right fit, they can't forward it. It might be the production, performance, lyric, melody, style, arrangement, vibe, theme, hook, rhyming pattern, form, instrumentation, or more.

That's why it's crucial to read the listings carefully. Write your songs strategically. And submit them purposefully.

Then you will enjoy getting forwards and soon after, signing deals.

You can do it, so get to work!

I don't work for TAXI, but TAXI works for me!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

You are TAXI

TAXI Music provides opportunities for writers, producers, artists, and industry executives. In short, TAXI serves both the original song submitter by critiquing, screening, and possibly forwarding the music. TAXI serves the listing company in the same way by only sending along material that can fill the request.

It's at that point that TAXI steps out of the process. Many a TAXI member get zealous and contact the listing company (TAXI often tells its members who/where the forwarded music is going) by googling them and calling/emailing.

TAXI asks its members NOT to do this. But some members ignore TAXI's admonition. Bad idea.

For starters, it's very unprofessional. It's pushy. And frankly, it's just awkward. The calls go something like this:

Zealot: "Umm, hi. Yeah, my song, "When you hear this great tune you'll pass out" was recently forwarded by TAXI to you guys"

Secretary: "ok"

Z: "..ok, so I'm John Hitwriter and I wanted to make sure you guys had all my info."


Z: "And, well, like I was just wondering when you guys were gonna' maybe use that song, because I don't know if you want me to keep pitching it or not?"

Secretary: "Who is this?"

Z: "Like I said, John Hitwriter."

Secretary: "Right, 'Tuan, we'll let you know"

Z: "Umm, it's John. Anyway, do you know when that project is gonna be finalized, cuz I've got other songs that TAXI returned...even better than the one you have that TAXI forwarded.. but I know they're hits because my Uncle's former common-law wife used to be a music teacher and after she heard my music, she said...

Secretary: "Thanks for calling Juan, we'll let you know.."

Z: "It's J-o-h-n, but ok; well I have a second email address. It's 'TheNextDianneWarren@...'

Z: "hello, hello??"


Z: "jerks"

Secretary: (what a jerk)

Trust me, I know how badly you want to make that call. You're (rightfully) excited. On the verge of a deal! I've been there. It's practically all you think about.

But just imagine being that secretary. She's got a job to do, too. Now imagine repeating that conversation multiple times. Do you think her opinion of TAXI goes up? Consequently, do you think her company's opinion of TAXI goes up? Does it make them want to run more or less listings with TAXI?

Therein lies a great truth about TAXI:

Every writer, producer, and artist that gets contacted by the listing company (Label, Publisher, Agency, etc.) is representing TAXI.

Sure, the company knows you're not on staff, but you're an affiliate. What does that mean?

How you carry yourself and handle your business impacts not only Michael Laskow & the TAXI staff, it also affects each TAXI member.

Your professionalism, integrity, and work ethic help define what TAXI is. The quality of your music represents the numerous musicians world wide who submitted to the same opportunity. Your ability to consistently deliver music that meets their requests reflects favorably on you and TAXI.

And because TAXI stakes its reputation on its affiliates (members), the very least we can do in return is represent TAXI well in the industry.

TAXI is what you make it, and what you want it to be. But in the end, the reality of it is this:


I don't work for TAXI, but TAXI works for me!

Monday, December 3, 2012


That one word single-handedly changed my musical career.

It's a concept that took years (literally) to sink in and accept. It's one I still grapple with. But it's also the one that helped to change everything. Let me explain:

Years ago I was in L.A. spending time with a guy who was helping me write better songs. This particular guy has written numerous hits in multiple genres, and he was taking me under his wing. We were "driving" the 409 (a/k/a stuck in bumper to bumper traffic!) and he told me to put on my latest CD. He said, "don't turn it up. Don't touch the EQ. This is how A&R guys are gonna' hear it."

Wow, ok.

So we're driving along and I'm waiting for him to come unglued. I mean, I'm thinking, 'yep - hit after hit,' or something foolish like that! On occasion he nods his head, or tilts it slightly to one side while possibly releasing what could be interpreted as a slight grin; but other than that, nothing.

CD gets done - nothing.


So we head to a taco joint and sit down to eat. And he says....

"Listen, you have diamonds. There's no doubt. Diamonds."

I'm thinking, "OMG, is he really saying this? Ferrarri's, mansions, private jets..."


(Geo's, double-wides, greyhounds...)

"You need to polish them."

Crash, bang, boom. Huh? What? But I thought I had diamonds??!!

He continued, "It's as if you pull a diamond out of the dirt, but never polish it."

Fast forward a few years...

I think I finally get what he was saying! There's the art of songwriting...pulling the song 'out of the ground.' Whether or not is a diamond is not the point here - (BTW, most are NOT!)

But the craft of writing is the polishing process. It's removing the impurities. It's making it shine! 

How does that translate to writing?
- Analyze the lyric. Does your story make sense? Are all the tenses correct? Is there tension that the chorus resolves? Does each line stand on its own? Does each line push to the hook? Is the hook original (google it)?  You get the idea.

 - Analyze the melody. Is is current? Is it fresh and original? Is it memorable? Is it easy? Does it fit the mood of the lyric? Does it fit the the mood of the music?  Is it consistent?

Analyze the music. Repeat aforementioned analysis.

Polishing is tweaking. Polishing is also re-writing. Polishing is refining. 

Polishing is GOOD!  

Some of you may be wondering, "I get the polish concept, but HOW do I pull out diamonds?'

- Learn how to dig!
- Get the right tools! (TAXI provides an extensive list of diamond mining materials)
- Put yourself in the right spot! You don't just dig anywhere!
- Start digging.
- Keep digging.
- Find others who will help you dig and dig together.

TAXI helps you with each step pf this journey.  If you're just beginning, they will guide you and teach you to become better (if you're willing to learn.) If you're established, TAXI will refine your skill set and develop your ability to regularly write good songs. Even if you're already a great writer, TAXI will make you better!

If our goal is to write songs that make it in the commercial market, songs that speak to the masses and connect with them emotionally; then we must embrace the polish.

I don't work for TAXI, but TAXI works for me!

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's all about relationships

There's a common approach/mindset among writers/artists/producers who are new to the music industry. It goes something like this,

'If I could just get my music to XYZ, then I'd be a star.'

Consequently, when given the opportunity to rub shoulders (a/k/a interact) with desired music executive (or anyone else in the industry), the newbie will often bum-rush the executive and insist on giving them their CD, business card, letter head, refrigerator magnet, and college SAT scores.

See the problem is that the music executive is having dinner with his wife on the one night he's had off in the last six months and the last thing he wants to do is talk music. No matter who you are.

So, what is the best approach for the aspiring artist?

Be respectful. Be courteous. Be gracious. Be humble. Be genuine. Be yourself.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not advocating sitting back and waiting for the music industry to come knocking at your door (they're not coming). You have to be hungry, driven, passionate, dedicated, professional, and relentless. But you don't have to be a jerk.

We all know that desperate vibe. It's annoying and insincere. Self-promoting and shameless. It doesn't attract people, it repels them.

You might be thinking, 'what does this have to do with music?' Well, the answer is: everything. And it has to do with your friends, family, kids teacher, neighbors, and strangers!

The music industry has regular people in it. Just like you and me! People with kids. People without kids. People that are tall, short, fat, skinny, old, young, fun, boring, etc, etc, etc.

It's not about talent - there's so much talent in the music industry it's staggering.
It's not about gimmicks - there's no shortcuts or substitutions.
It's not about luck - everyone who makes it, earns it.

It's about relationships.

Relationships are the key to everything.

How does this translate into making a difference in your career? Let me give you two examples:

1. You might not currently know anyone in the music industry. Lucky for you, TAXI music knows everybody. And not just the everybody's from 1995, the everybody's of NOW!

The most productive use of your time is to get to know TAXI. Use every resource they offer.
For example, join the forums. Join U-stream for the Monday night TAXI TV shows. Purchase the books they recommend in the critiques and on their website. Attend the Road Rally. Get some custom critiques.

Let TAXI represent you by proxy, and when you get those forwards and those music executives start reaching out to you, represent TAXI in the same honorable fashion!

Think back on your most serious dating relationship. Remember when you got committed? More committed than ever before? You invested more than ever before, right? More time, more money, more of yourself; because you were passionately committed! That's what being part of TAXI should be like for all of us! That's how you develop a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship!

2. I'd like to share my personal approach. If you can glean some insight or inspiration to help you succeed, by all means please do!

After you get a forward...
The publisher/executive will contact you.
They really don't want to hear about how you recorded said forward(s), or what gear you plan on buying in the next 36 months. Or about the time you won the outstanding soloist at 7th grade band camp. No offense, it's just not that interesting.

Here's what I do:
I listen.
I listen.
I listen.
I try to find some common interests between us.
I try to develop a feel for who they are, and give them an accurate feel of who I am.
I talk about a mutually interesting topic, which thus far has never been me.
Here's some idea starters:
Sports. Family. Kids. Life.

Why do this? To develop a relationship!

The first deal I signed through TAXI went exactly that way.

It was ONE forward, to a film/TV publisher. Shortly thereafter, the owner of the company called me. We talked on the phone for an hour about life. Sharing stories, laughing. No pressure. No pushiness.

Then at the end of the conversation he asks to hear whatever else I have.

So I ask him about which genre he's most interested in. (I'm not going to waste his time). In short, that one forward turned in to contracts for over TWENTY songs.

This has happened with EVERY publisher and executive I've worked with. Just today I reached out to a friend who also received some of my music via TAXI a year and a half ago...
He'd previously asked me to write more music in that genre, which I did. Then he told me that project was being shelved (can be code for: 'sorry, leave me alone'). So, I left him alone. Then this summer (1 year later) I get an e-mail asking if he can consider my songs for his next project?! Now I hear back that three songs are on the record, and he wants to work more closely together in the future.

Is that luck? Is it talent? Is it gimmicks?

No, no, and no!

In every case I firmly believe it's been because my motivation has been singular:

it's all about relationships!

Write great songs. Produce to the best of your ability today. Go that extra mile. Be a blessing to people. Make their lives easier. Then cultivate, nurture and cherish those relationships!

I don't work for TAXI, but TAXI works for me!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The forums - what, how, and why?!?

As outlined in the prior post "How TAXI works", the forums are an unrivaled tool that TAXI offers its members.

TAXI is a large, world-wide community of creative types primarily comprised of songwriters, but also including recording artists, music producers, and lyricists (and others). The members of the greater TAXI community don't typically interact with one another (the primary exception being the annual "Road Rally"music conference in L.A.).

The TAXI forums offer a place for all the people form the large community to congregate. It's a place for people to bounce ideas off of one another, ask questions, find collaborators, share their successes, and even vent their frustrations.

There is a TAXI staff moderator, and that's a good thing. I'll explain why later.

For now, lets take a look at the forums. Lets find out why the TAXI staff is regularly advocating its members take advantage of all the forums have to offer. And lastly, lets find out how to use them forums effectively!

The Layout
Any bulletin board type of forum is not technology's flashiest offspring. If you want interactive, holographic video streaming and projecting your TAXI screeners review of your song in realtime, well; that's not here. Or anywhere for that matter. Graphically speaking, forums look boring. TAXI isn't immune from that, but you don't go to the forums for glitz. You go to learn. To interact, to communicate, and to grow.

On all of those levels, TAXI's forum delivers!

To get to the forums, you need to sign in to your TAXI account. Upon sign in, you have a few options. You can go to personalized TAXI homepage that lists your mp3's, your photos, your bio, your videos, your gigs, and your interview. (You've uploaded & completed all this info - all free of charge)

Of course, if you're not serious about utilizing and maximizing your TAXI membership, you would likely see nothing on your artist page. But if you're here now, that's not don't worry.  :)

Underneath the header that contains all the hosting information, is an icon that says, "community." The first hyperlink under "community" reads, "Forums." That's it. That's where you want to go!

After selecting 'forums,' you're re-directed to a new page. Don't freak out, you're doing great - it looks a little different but you're in the right spot. Again, forums just have a more tech-y vibe.

A side note for anyone younger than me (which is getting to be a fair amount of people):
Just imagine, the whole INTERNET used to look that way. Wow. I remember it. And that 14.4 modem dial-up sound. Those were the...I digress...

To contribute (post/comment) in the forums, you'll need to create (via request) a username and password. The TAXI staff has to process this, and it's not an instantaneous process. I wish it were faster, but don't fret - they will get to ASAP. It's important to them as well!

Please know that you do NOT need to have a username or password to browse the forums. 

That being said, why aren't you going to check it It's ok, I won't get mad....just click here.

(cue snoring sound)

Dang, where have you been, stranger?? Only joking. But those forums are awesome, right? BTW, I'm jrkocian.

The forums are fairly self-explanatory. There are six major categories, with each grouping having it's own subs.

I was surprised by the SCREENER SHOUTOUTS section. Why? It's an opportunity to get a message to your screener. (Reminder: be nice. These are real people with real feelings, too).

The way the screeners operate is with a screener number. They don't use their names, and that's smart because some people get really, really angry with the reviews. I'll admit I've received some critiques that I thought were not always on the mark, but I'm not the most objective, critical reviewer of my own material!

Also, even if the review is totally off (rarely happens, if ever); so what? This is where I developed a skill that allowed me to break-through my self-limiting boundaries. It was a major catalyst in my development from an amateur to a professional. Here it is:

A professional critique is not a personal criticism. 

You may read that and think, 'yahhh, duhhhh.' But how do you FEEL when your e-mail bell goes "ding" and you see it's from TAXI, only to read:

"Dear James,
We listened carefully to your song(s) listed below, but unfortunately,
it wasn't right on target for listing....."

You feel like TAXI is judging you as a writer. You feel like TAXI doesn't like you, or your music. You feel like TAXI doesn't know what they're doing. You feel hurt. Maybe offended. Maybe more, maybe less. But I guarantee you feel something.

But before you go ballistic posting hateful slander about Michael Laskow and the TAXI staff in every cyber nook and cranny, remember this:

A professional critique is not a personal criticism. 

At some point you were willing to TRY. You joined (or will join) TAXI. You wanted to get better. To improve enough to get your music out to the world. So just take it for what they said...'it wasn't the right fit.'

Maybe it was one little thing - like the intro was too long. Or maybe it was that the melody was dated. Or the mix was off. Or whatever.

Now, read the critique. It's like medicine. It's good for you. Learn to like it. 

Ok, so you're done crying and you're ready to learn how you can improve. You want to know what you SPECIFICALLY need to do next time around.....

That's the spirit! (cue back taps)

This is when you hit the forums.

TAXI sends out the notifications (forwards/returns) in a group for each listing. What I quickly realized is that people like to celebrate their forwards because it's exciting.

Here comes the hard part...

So lets say you got a return for a listing. What you need to do is log on to the forums, and click on the "forwards" hyperlink.

Shortly after notifications are sent out, people will start to post their forward notifications.

Pro tip:
What I noticed was that most people would give the song name for the song they wrote that got forwarded. CLICK IT. Listen to it. Study it. Analyze it.

Then go find another song that got forwarded. And keep clicking all of the forwards. You're not listening to judge their track, and how you deserved to get the forward but got screwed (you're over it, remember?!)

You're listening to find the common thread between each of the songs. You're analyzing the chord progressions, tempo, melody, song structure, mood, tone, instrumentation, production, etc.

(Just like you did for the "Alas's." You didn't do that?!? We'll go over that in a future post, too!)

Then you are contrasting that to your song. There should be some glaring differences. Make a note of them for future reference because....
Pro tip:
That listing is going to come back around again. Or one like it. And probably, relatively soon.

That's it.

You can use the forums to glean all sorts of great info. About gear, structure, form, style, rhyming patterns, song length, fade outs, deals, etc.

I've merely outlined my personal tenchnique that made an IMMEDIATE impact on that amount of forwards I was getting. And the amount of publishing and production deals.

I developed this technique on my own. And now I'm sharing it with you. Why? For one, I'm tired of all the negative TAXI misinformation floating around. Also, I want others to succeed. That's the TAXI spirit. The music industry is big enough for every great, ambitious, flexible, and teachable writer/producer in the world.

Here's some more forum benefits:

- Have a question about what gear people are using? There's a topic for that.
- Looking for a lyricist to collaborate with? There's a topic for that.
- Got a question about a specific listing and what you think TAXI is looking for? There's a topic for that.

Pretty much every topic you could imagine related to the TAXI experience can be found on the forums. It's a great place to hang out. There are some incredibly motivating and inspirational stories by regular people who are making great music daily, like Big Blue Berry, CherBer, Mazz, Seth, Peeyo, and so many more!

Before I close this post, as promised I want to tell you why having a moderator is a good thing:

It's true that TAXI helps writers become better, no matter what your current level. It's also true that there are many young writers who think shotgunning their material is the path of least resistance to success. (That couldn't be further from the truth)

On occasion,  a zealous member might post the name of the publisher/library/label/contact person they just connected/signed with. If left unmonitored or unedited, many people would inundate said music professional with unsolicited material.

That would be horrible.
And possibly catastrophic.
It would jeopardize TAXI's credibility. This is, after all called the music business, not the music hobby!
Think of it, the company lists with TAXI confidentially, for a reason! If that trust is breached, what would happen if that company's boss called another music publisher and told them how they just got 4,789 songs from TAXI, unsolicited??

(they would never list with TAXI again) - goodbye opportunity.

It hurts everyone - the writers (chances), TAXI, the publishers (they do want music, just the right music).

So the moderator has to edit those names out. For everyone's protection. That's an important (and thankless job). So on behalf of all those members who have used the forums and appreciate the enormity of the moderator's task I say - thank you!

In closing, let me encourage you to rise above the few conspiracy theorists who spew negative and unfounded statements such as, "People on the forum (success stories) are TAXI staff."

That is 100% false. I KNOW those people (from the RALLY), and they are not TAXI staff. They're Moms and Dads, pro writers, amateur writers, day jobbers and DJ's (and everything else you can imagine); but not TAXI staff. Nor am I. It would be a loooong commute every day from Green Bay to L.A.!

So, in review:
To get MORE forwards...
1. Go to the 'forwards' section after you get a return
2. Listen to the forwards. Analyze. Take notes. Implement.
3. Write new material when the listing re-runs (or similar listing appears)
Repeat endlessly.

(enjoy getting more forwards)

I don't work for TAXI, but TAXI works for me!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

You can be a killer musician and still not get a forward

"You can be a killer musician and still not get a forward"

That's harsh, but it's true.

You can be an accomplished instrumentalist. Or vocalist. Or all around musician. And that's awesome, it really is. But that doesn't automatically mean you're a shoe-in to get forwards and deals.

Does that seem unfair? Yeah, maybe - but here's why:

Being a an excellent musician is not a prerequisite to getting a forward or a deal. 

There are many artists, musicians, and bands that are not necessarily amazing individually.


They have a great song. A great melody. A great lyric. A great sound. The magic.

You don't have to shred like Steve Vai, sing like Adele, or program like Timbaland to make it in the music industry.

But you do have to have a great song.

And at least be proficient in your recording and presentation of said song.

Dancers have instructors. Athletes have coaches. Authors have editors. And songwriters have TAXI.

I don't work for TAXI, but TAXI works for me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How TAXI works

TAXI was started by a former music producer/engineer named Micahel Laskow.

Michael's vision was to provide opportunities to songwriters, developing artists, and producers who may not otherwise have an opportunity to submit or expose their music to industry professionals.

In short, TAXI is set up as an independent A&R company. But if you're familiar with how A&R really works in 2012, you'll quickly realize TAXI is far more than traditional A&R.

Let me explain:

If you're fortunate enough to get your music in the hands of a legitimate A&R person currently looking for music in the exact genre you write/produce in, most A&R people today will give you 10 seconds. And that's if all the stars align properly for you. They might (and often do) just toss out your CD/e-mail/voicemail, etc. You have 10 seconds (or less) to FORCE them to listen. The song has to be such an overwhelmingly, undeniably STRONG HIT in the initial onset, otherwise it's done. (Now, go look at your songs - do they have long intros? Cut them.)

Here's an important insider music tip:
Most A&R people are not looking for unsolicited submissions. The chance of your song being exactly what they need is so improbable that it's literally not worth their time. 

But all hope is not lost.

Because if you're music is great. I mean HIT SONG CALIBER great. Consistently great. Well, you'll get noticed. You'll have to do a LOT of work (networking, building and cultivating relationships, traveling, etc.) but it can, and does happen.

But again, not often.

Here's how it usually happens:
A top A&R guy is looking for songs for XYZ artist. Top A&R guy (T.a.r.g.) tells a few of his top writers and producers he needs a hit, now. Those top writers and producers get cracking, tailoring a song for said artist. Then the word leaks out a little, and more writers and producers are gunning for said placement.

Then T.a.r.g. is at a party and he gets an email from his other industry friends, who are sending along mp3's of what they consider to be hits for said artist.

And as T.a.r.g. is at his daughter's dance recital, he runs in to a friend who has a smash for said artist. The friend vouches for the writer/producer and hands T.a.r.g. a CD.

Repeat scenario endlessly.

Now imagine trying to get your song, recorded in your home studio, often with a sound that is dated (not as good as radio quality), with a song that is average (not BETTER than the current #1).

Here's the problems:

1. T.a.r.g. doesn't want to hear your song. Don't take it personally. There was a time when he did. It's just that he's playing the %'s, and the overwhelming %  of songs he hears from unsigned writers or producers is not great. And saying 'not great' is being really nice.

2. Even if you get your song to T.a.r.g., it's likely not:
           a) a hit
           b) what he's looking for
So even though it seems like a bummer you can't get your song to T.a.r.g, it's for the best (for him) and for you! (Why? you don't want to make a bad 1st impression with t.a.r.g, because that will likely be his first AND last impression of you!)

3. You don't know how to get your song to T.a.r.g. You don't really know anyone (except great-aunt-Mildred, who once saw Wayne Newton sing live in Vegas) who knows anyone like T.a.r.g.

4. You have no idea if you're song is a hit (even though it feels like it to you, plus all your family and friends LOVE it and are convinced that if Josh Groban only heard it, he'd insist on recording it!), nor do you really know how it stacks up against the best of TODAY.

As I'm sure you can imagine, there's far more than 4 problems; but I feel sure you get the point.

Enter TAXI.

TAXI solves ALL the problems, and a ton more. Here's how:

T.a.r.g. may not know you now (or ever). That's ok, because t.a.r.g. switches careers, gets promoted/fired at break-neck speed! You want to know someone who knows t.a.r.g, t.a.r.g's boss, and the label owners.

Meet Michael Laskow.

He's spent his life in the industry developing and cultivating relationships with the top music industry professionals. He knows labels, t.a.r.g.'s, film/TV supervisors, and Madison Avenue (advertising) executives.

Let's be honest here - we could spend our lives networking and not know who Michael knows. So, let's do the smarter thing - let's get to know MICHAEL!

How? TAXI. He runs it, he oversees it, he is vested in it and passionately cares about its members.

Here's the nuts and bolts:

TAXI costs a couple hundred bucks.

This seems to be the most major point of contention for people. Truthfully, before I joined I was hesitant to spend the money, too. I was afraid of being ripped off. But then I sat down and reasoned it out. My thought process went like this:
1. I want to get my music cut (recorded by) major label artists and hear it on the radio.
2. I want to get my music in major films and TV shows.
3. I want to get my music on national TV spots.
4. I don't want to spend the money.
5. I spend waaaaay more than that on entertainment, which does nothing for my music career (NFL tickets, NBA tickets, dinners, movies, vacations...) and think NOTHING of it.
6. I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
7. Calling 1-800-451-2111 to join!

There's also some people who think Michael Laskow is some snake-oil scam artist who is ripping off unsuspecting musicians. I will craft a post at a later date offering my perspective on the most common complaints, but I can tell you from my personal experiences that Michael Laskow is a genuine, sensitive, and incredibly generous man of the highest integrity.

He's a family man that cares deeply for his community and often extends (and overextends) himself to others because that's just who he is. He creates opportunities and celebrates the successes. Yet he also understands the frustrations and hurt, and is willing to listen. I cannot think of another CEO who is more involved or in touch with his company and clients than Michael. In summary, this guy is a true champion.

After you join, here's what you get:
1. A free webpage to host your music (50 mp3's), bio, and pictures. You use this artist page to upload your music and then electronically submit songs. You can do it via snail-mail, but why?

2. Access to the forums. The forums alone are worth the membership fee. Again, I will create a future post just on the forums and specifically how to use the forums. For now I will just say that the forums helped me get FORWARDS and LAND DEALS.

3. Access to TAXI TV via Ustream. Michael hosts a weekly show on Monday evenings called, "TAXI TV." He brings in TOP industry people and peppers them with questions. He asks them questions for the members' sake. MICHAEL USUALLY already knows the answers - he's doing it to HELP!
Again, just imagine Steve Jobs having a weekly show, taking questions from Mac owners and interviewing people relevant to the community. How likely is a scenario like that?!?
The sad fact is that usually only around a couple hundred people show up on Monday nights. Of the THOUSANDS of members, only a couple hundred are using this indespensible tool!

4. A FREE CONFERENCE in L.A. It's called the "Road Rally." It's career-changing. Industry executives in all genres (music) and sectors (label, management, consulting, distribution, education, film/TV, advertising) speak and LISTEN to music. There's even an opportunity to sign up for a FREE 15 minute 1-on-1 listening session with a top industry person. I can tell you that I was offered a MAJOR deal, on the spot at one of theses sessions.

5. A community of like-minded, passionate, and driven individuals who are rooting for your success. That includes the other members, the forum community, and most importantly, THE TAXI STAFF!

6. Bi-weekly tip sheets. TAXI releases an industry tip sheet every two weeks. This sheet is ALWAYS current, and covers music in EVERY genre. Now, TAXI does NOT tell you directly who the artists are - they will give an "a la." For example, it might say:

"R&B/SOUL songs with a POP feel needed ASAP for a major, iconic artist in the style of JENNIFER HUDSON, ALICIA KEYS,..." etc.

A current tip sheet can be found here (click me) go check it out for yourself!

7. The opportunity to get your music placed with artists, labels, films, TV shows (worldwide), advertisements, online, video games, and wherever else music is heard!

So then what?

That's up to you. 

Depending on where you are with your writing and production, you could either:
1. Write music for specific listings
2. Submit previously written music for submissions

The most successful members typically write for a specific submission. If you're not able to do that, that's ok - TAXI can still work for you. Read on!...

You're next step is submitting your material.

The way you do that (as previously mentioned) is electronically or via snail mail. I'd guess nearly everyone submits electronically, so I will overview that procedure:

The tip sheet is online, on your aforementioned artist page. There's a hyperlink for "submit music." You click it, and it brings you to a page that contains all the listings. They are grouped by genre. So you find your genre, and read the listing. At the end of the listing there is a link to click to submit songs to that specific opportunity.

After clicking it, it will bring up a list of all of your songs that you uploaded to your artist page. You select your song, and click it.

It costs $5 per song to submit.

That appears to be a contentious point for some folks, so I'll say it again:


The anti-TAXI people point to this as Michael's grand get-rich scheme. Truthfully, here's the real scoop:

After you submit a song, TAXI guarantees that they will listen to the song in its entirety. No matter how long your intro, they're committed to hearing it. Now, it's good form to keep that intro SHORT (see above 'T.A.R.G.'), but unlike T.A.R.G., TAXI will not turn off your song after :10.

Also, in nearly every listing TAXI WILL give you a critique. That's also worth the $5. And the few hundred. Why? It's a PROFESSIONAL, someone who achieved success in the industry that's listening to your songs(s). They KNOW what works and what doesn't. And they will offer advice. Directly to you. On how to get better. 

Finally, if the submission process were free, amateurs would submit EVERY SINGLE SONG they've ever written for EVERY listing. That's just bad business. 

After some time (TAXI says 10-30 days, it's usually around 2 weeks), TAXI sends out notices. At this point your song either got forwarded to the music company that placed the listing, or got returned to you because it wasn't the right fit. If you get a return, they do their best to let you know WHY (this is PRICELESS info).

Now, at this point you have a choice:
1. Listen. 
2. Get angry and think/say, "TAXI sucks. It's a rip. They're idiots, they are a bunch of $%@&#&@*&#*, etc."

Every return stings. Every one. In my nearly 2 years of membership I've had 50+ forwards. And a bunch of returns. I've had songs signed and placed by majors. I've had songs recorded and released. And still every return stings.

But here's a little known fact:

the TAXI screeners WANT to forward your music. It makes them happy. THEY KNOW it's hard to get a return, and they don't enjoy that part of their job. But they HAVE TO DO IT. To make you better.

So lets follow the song after you get the notice:

If the song was returned you SHOULD read the critique carefully and adjust accordingly. Not only will the screener offer specific song ideas, they will likely make book/resource suggestions. Buy them, read them, study them, apply the info - and get better! The next time you submit the song, re-label the mp3 as "XYZ re-write." It shows your willingness to get better. If you want to be regarded as a professional, it's imperative to treat your colleagues as professionals AND invest in your craft as well.

Let it sting for a moment, then use it as fuel to improve. Read the bios of EVERY GREAT artist/business person/inventor - they ALL had a TON of failures. Learn to move on. The quicker, the better.
 If the song was forwarded you should be happy. And move on. Wow, anticlimactic, right?!

Well, what happens is that your song, along with any others that were forwarded get sent to the company that submitted the listing. The great thing for you is, the song has ALREADY been screened, so the company KNOWS it's decent. They know TAXI is not gonna' send them subpar material.

But realize this: most companies do not exclusively use TAXI. They have other writers, producers, and artists submitting (see "t.a.r.g." above) so your song is in a BATCH of songs - at least one of which is going to land the placement.


Anyway, here's a truth I had to come to grips with:
My songs might be good enough for the forward, but not good enough for the deal.

That was tough. But true. There's a saying on the forums that applies whether or not you've been forwarded:
"Write, submit, forget, repeat."

After getting multiple forwards, it is just a matter of time before you get a deal. Again, there are many variables, such as:
1. It's easier to get signed with a smaller, less active publisher.
2. It's easier to get a film/tv placement than an artist cut.
3. It's easier to get an instrumental cue signed and placed than a song with lyrics.

So if you're goal is to have Taylor Swift sing your new song with your production, well, that's a loooong shot. But anything's possible, and you CAN get your music to major artists and film/TV outlets.

Back to the forwarded song's journey...

It's been forwarded, and piqued the interest of (for example) an active film/tv music placement company (a/k/a music library). What happens then is that someone from "ABC Publsihers" reaches out to you expressing interest in your material. Now, this next step is very important:

Be nice.

Be genuine.

Be thankful.

Be humble.

Be easy to work with.

You know, all the stuff our mom's taught us.

This is business. It's their profession (even if it's not yours) and they don't want to work with a prima-donna who is some flaky nut-job. Would you? I mean, this is so basic, but be the kind of person YOU would want to work with. Be the kind of person YOU like to be around.

At this point (in my experience), the "ABC publisher" is developing a rapport with you and wants to hear more music. 

That's key. So send them what they want. And make sure it's as good as your prior forward (or better). Then, a 1-song deal can turn in to a 10+ song deal. Or a staff writing deal. (I'm speaking from experience here, this has happened to me) or, any number of other opportunities.

Insider tip:
Then at this point it's best to consider that song OFF THE TABLE. Meaning, it's good form NOT To submit that song any longer. Music supes are not happy when they see the same song re-titled 6 times with 6 different publishers. It reflects poorly on you, and it's not worth it!

Now the publisher will begin "pitching" the song and (hopefully) getting placements. The getting placements part is NOT up to the publisher! It's up to the label/artists/company/music supe that the song is being pitched to. Obviously the publisher wouldn't sign the song unless they thought it could be placed, but sometimes a song gets signed and not placed. Luckily, most deals are not forever.

The home stretch for the song...
The publisher pitches it and a very popular TV network's supervisor LOVES it. You get notification (on occasion) that the song is going to be in this week's episode of "the most popular show on planet earth" so you can celebrate with your friends and family. The show comes on, and you're waiting...until the character enters the obligatory bar scene  and you hear a familiar song in the background - BAM - that's you!!

Or the last scene of the show is playing, tying in 3 different story lines, all seamlessly fading together around the chorus of YOUR SONG!!

Or 1 of 100 other ways it can happen - and that's just ONE song in the film/TV market. The artist cut market is similar in some ways, totally different in others.

I feel sure you get the idea though.

TAXI creates the opportunity for your songs to get heard. To get placed. To get played. To make money. But for me, the most important thing TAXI offers is the opportunity To get better.

And THAT'S how TAXI works!

In conclusion, let me summarize by saying:
I don't work for TAXI, but TAXI works for me!


My name is James Kocian. As of this posting, I've been part of TAXI music for nearly 2 years. I'd like to share my experiences with you, and tell you what it's like at TAXI.

I will be using my own experiences, as well as interactions from other fellow members. I will also speak to the issues, concerns and notions frequently broadcast over the internet.

I will do my best to answer any questions you have.

Let's get to it...

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