This Article Originally Published June 1997


by Michael Laskow

Well, it took a while, but the TAXI Meter is finally a reality.

Several of my friends and business advisors told me I was nuts to do an eight-pager instead of just four. Others said I should only crank out an issue every other month. Did I listen? Nope. Do I ever? Rarely.

I stopped listening when I was about six years old. I refused to wear a pair of houndstooth slacks when my family went to see "The Music Man" at the Roxy Theater. My parents made me stay home. I saw the movie years later—didn't miss much. Not my cup of tea. "The Sound Of Music" was much better.

I didn't listen to my parents when they told me to study hard so I could get into law school. And today, I am definitely not an attorney. When I was told to go to bed at eight o'clock, I did, but with a transistor radio under my pillow. I should have been a music attorney!

Why am I telling you all this? Because I have a feeling that we're not all that different, you and I. Chances are you didn't listen either. If you had, you'd be a doctor or a rocket scientist, not a musician. Your mother would have been very proud. Come to think of it... we have several doctors who are members. Their mothers must be exceedingly proud of them.

So how does this inability to take direction bind us together? Because it's the stuff that turned you into a musician, while it turned me in to the kind of guy who has spent most of his adult life serving musician's needs. Sure, I was a musician once, too. But I knew from the moment I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show that my role would be on the other side of the control room glass.

My big break came when I was just nineteen years old. I was sitting in the lobby of a renowned studio when I overheard the owner proclaim, "We need a new kid to sweep the floors and clean the toilets." I jumped out of my seat and shouted, "I'll do it!" He threw me out of his lobby and told me to get lost.

Did I listen? Nope. I was a relentless pest. And I did get the job. I cleaned toilets, wrapped cables, labeled tape boxes and made dubs. I paid my dues.

Eventually, I was fortunate enough to work on sessions with Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Firefall, and many other top artists. My parents told me to quit being a dreamer. They thought I should "Grow up and get a real job," and of course, I didn't listen.

Well here I am twenty-three years later, and I'm still in the business of helping musicians achieve their goals. First, I worked from behind a recording console. Now, I do my thing from behind a desk.

I was driven to start TAXI by something that happened to me in 1977. I ran in to a couple of guys late at night at a 7-Eleven. They were in a band that I had produced some demos for several months before. I asked them how they made out with their quest to get a deal. Their response? "We couldn't even get through the doors."

It troubled me that these people who happened to have exceptionally great tunes couldn't get anybody to listen to their music. I made a mental note to do something about this dilemma, and years later, I did. I started TAXI.

I left a six-figure salary, a company BMW and my health insurance behind. I raised the start-up capital and went to work. I didn't sleep for the first two years. To say I was petrified would be an understatement. I'll never forget what it was like to lie in bed at night shivering from fear—and I don't scare easily.

I was terrified that I would fail. All I could think about was that I was risking my family's security and well-being. The fact that my closest friend had given me a substantial sum of money to start the company didn't help matters. How could I let him down and lose his life savings?!

Well, I didn't. And I didn't let my family down. I didn't let TAXI's loyal members down. Nor did I let myself down. How did I find the courage to keep going when the creditors were calling and the money wasn't rolling in yet? Commitment. Pure, unadulterated commitment.

That's what gave me the strength to work six days a week, eighteen hours a day. Commitment is also what got most major stars and songwriters to where they are today. Pick almost anyone who has been, or is currently successful in the music business, and research his career path. While it may look like he was an overnight success, upon closer examination, you'll be sure to find that he paid his dues. Serious dues.

So, how does my flag-waving speech about commitment play into the "don't listen" theme? Simple. When your friends and family tell you your music is great—don't listen to them. Ask them if they'll take out a second mortgage and give you fifty grand to go make your record. That's the true test of how committed they are to your music.

The next time a friend or family member tells you that you ought to stop fantasizing, and give up your dream of succeeding in the music business, DON'T LISTEN!

It's your dream, not theirs. And the only way you'll translate that dream into reality is by pure unadulterated commitment.


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