This Article Originally Published November 1998


by Michael Laskow

You must want to achieve success in the music business or you wouldn't have joined TAXI. But do you know how you are going to be successful? Do you have a plan? You should. No if, ands, or buts about it. You need to have a plan.

When I started TAXI, I needed to have a business plan just to raise the necessary capital. After I raised the money, I wrote an action plan that detailed the start-up of TAXI, step-by-step. It took me about a day to write my action plan and a week to refine it and re-order the steps. But once it was done, I knew that I could accomplish my goals.

When I started TAXI, I needed to have a business plan just to raise the necessary capital. After I raised the money, I wrote an action plan that detailed the start-up of TAXI, step-by-step. It took me about a day to write my action plan and a week to refine it and re-order the steps. But once it was done, I knew that I could accomplish my goals.

Fifty-seven steps and six months later, TAXI opened its doors. It was not an accident that all the systems worked right out of the gate. It was planned that way. I checked off the steps one-by-one until I was at the bottom of the list.

I'm confident that if you take the time to develop a plan for your success in the music industry, you'll fare much better than if you don't.

The hardest part of making the plan will be defining the end-point: your goal.

Specifically, what do you want? To vaguely state that you "want to be successful" is not going to help. A tightly-worded statement that could fit on the head of a pin should do the trick.

An example: In five years time, I want to be a top Country songwriter who gets cuts with major artists. My plan?

  1. Buy a subscription to Billboard. Read every word they write about Country music. Identify the top ten Country writers in today's market.

  2. Find and read biographies on each of the writers and look for clues to their successes. Write them down.

  3. Buy a collection of Country's greatest hits. (Maybe one of those jobs I always see in late night T.V. advertorials.)

  4. Block out ninety minutes of time each day when I can completely isolate myself from family, friends, phones, and T.V., and study each song in my collection. Write out the lyrics, map out the form, analyze why the melody is catchy and appealing, note the rhyme scheme, and then listen to the song over and over again.

  5. Spend ten minutes each day writing down song concepts and titles to go with them. Try to stay away from over-used themes like love and heartbreak, but try to find fresh new concepts that have commonality with most people's lives.

  6. Stick to steps one through five for six months.

  7. Spend the next six months reading books by John Braheny, Pat Pattison, and Sheila Davis for a half-hour each day. Spend an hour writing each day. Co-write with more established writers whenever possible.Spend the next six months reading books by John Braheny, Pat Pattison, and Sheila Davis for a half-hour each day. Spend an hour writing each day. Co-write with more established writers whenever possible.

  8. Year number two: Spend a minimum of at least three hours a day writing. Continue to seek out and work with collaborators who have already had success.

  9. Keep listening to Country radio and analyzing each song that I hear.

  10. Pitch my songs to TAXI and anybody else who will listen. Absorb the feedback. If the feedback causes undue stress, revisit it a week later when I can be more objective.

  11. Year number three: Continue to write on my own and with collaborators.

  12. Use the infomation I gather from Billboard and other sources to get familiar with "who might cut what," and then figure out ways to contact them.

  13. Go to Nashville once per quarter to meet people and learn the ropes. Develop relationships with potential collaborators.

  14. Keep listening to Country radio and analyzing each song that I hear. Keep writing three hour a day.

  15. Keep pitching my songs to TAXI and everybody else who will take them.

  16. Remind myself that it took Diane Warren twelve years to get her first major cut.

  17. Keep reminding myself that it took Diane Warren twelve years to get her first cut.

  18. Repeat the seventeen previous steps until I acheive the kind of success I want. Remind myself that if Diane Warren had bagged it all in her eleventh year, she might be asking, "Do you want fries with that?" instead of being fabulously wealthy.

I could go on (and on), but I seem to be running out of space. I'm sure you get the idea. A plan is something to keep you on course as well as measure your progress. If you have a plan and choose to ignore it, then you will only have yourself to blame for your lack of success. You'll also have the guilt that goes along with knowing you didn't try your hardest.

Thank goodness I was able to dig way down deep and find the stamina and focus to follow through (to this day) with my commitment to make TAXI a success. No... let me re-phrase that. I'm really glad I didn't treat my commitment to making TAXI a success, like I treated my last membership to a health club.


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