To become successful in any field of endeavor, you need
equal parts of talent and luck, and a great big helping of what we call
FOCUS. That's the stuff that keeps you on track; it keeps your mind
from wandering. But this short, simple, five-letter word is pretty hard
to come by. In fact, it is responsible for destroying more careers than
easy to determine whether or not someone has his career in focus--just
ask him. If his answer seems scattered--"I want to sell millions of
records and posters and sell out the Forum and tour the world with hundreds
of groupies and win a Grammy"--chances are there's a lack of focus somewhere.
If, on the other hand, his answer is a decisive--"I want to be recognized
as a great contemporary songwriter"--then you can bet this guy thought
about his career and zeroed right in on what he does best. It's called
Erik Andrews has career focus. He's been writing songs since he was
in high school, but only recently (1994) began to seriously focus on
pop songwriting. "Before that, I was pursuing a band situation and not
just songwriting exclusively," Erik admits. "I was in several bands
as a keyboard player and a trumpet player. But I gave that up to focus
on what was most important to me. I enjoy being in bands, but songwriting
is what I enjoy most."
understands the care and nurturing his career needs to fully develop,
he has devised a daily routine to help the process along: "I made a
schedule for myself whereby I would allot a certain amount of time each
day for practicing piano, trumpet, composition and for taking care of
business. The schedule varies, of course, depending on the amount of
business that needs to be done. When I'm on a particular roll with songwriting,
it alters the schedule. The regimentation--creating the schedule--helps
keep me focused. Self-motivation is a tough thing for me, so if I don't
create a specific schedule for myself, I find myself wandering around--and
I can't allow that."
most other TAXI members, Andrews also suffered through the rigors of trying
to get his songs to the right people. Here's how he describes the very
time consuming, somewhat futile process: "I did the basic research regarding
who to send tapes to--like buying the Songwriters Market book. Once I
got some songs on tape that I felt strongly about, I made dozens of calls
and sent out packages. I kept a very detailed database about every contact
I made. It was nothing difficult, but you just have to do it. It's little
nickel and dime stuff that's very time consuming, but no one else is gonna
do it for me. I got a few bites from publishers, managers and producers.
It was enough to start a small network. I was able to get enough people
interested because my material was good. That made it so they always listened
to my songs when I sent them a tape."
| Erik Andrews
Redondo Beach, CA
Over 50 Forwards
Single song publishing
deal with Rex
with having kicked a little hole in the industry door on his own, Andrews
kept exploring ways of further penetrating the business. "Some time in
1995, a fellow songwriter told me about TAXI, so I called and had them
send me their free information package. Songwriters are always looking
for new avenues to expose their material. The TAXI thing looked like a
very cool idea. I was a little skeptical at first, but I'm skeptical of
everything. I liked the idea, so I went for it."
Now that he's
a TAXI member and is taking part in the tape submission procedures, Andrews
has become aware of another minor hurdle he needs to overcome: "Since
I don't write a lot of material that is hard core country or hard core
R&B, I'm having a lot of trouble getting some of my material placed.
The kinds of songs I write tend to be recorded by some of the more established
artists and, of course, it's a lot harder to get songs to those artists.
But if and when I do get the right songs to the right people, I feel it
could be very lucrative."
One of the "right
people" turned out to be publisher Rex Benson, who had a country listing
with TAXI. "Rex called me and said he liked one of my songs called "My
Heart," and he wanted to publish it. We spoke on the phone and I liked
him quite a bit. I said, "yeah, I'm comfortable with you, so let's go
for it." This was a few months ago. Rex calls me every now and again to
tell me how things are going.
forwarded over 50 times through TAXI alone, Andrews admits that the feeling
is bittersweet. "It's frustrating to have so many songs forwarded on but
nothing comes of it," he said. "For a while, I let my membership lapse
because I wasn't sure it was worth the money. But after I thought about
it, I decided it was still the best avenue around for exposing songs,
so I got back into it. For those undecided about TAXI, I'd say it's definitely
head and shoulders above getting involved in the myriad of tip sheets
that are out there. Those things are notorious for being outdated and
misleading. I think that in a lot of instances, TAXI will be the only
way to get material to certain publishers and producers and managers.
And as long as TAXI maintains and enhances its credibility, which I clearly
see them doing now, then there should be no problem. I doubt if I'll ever
let my TAXI membership lapse again!"