Who says you can't do it all yourself and be successful?
Where is it written that an artist must work within the framework of
the music industry to get his or her music heard? Redondo Beach artist
Laurie Z. is the epitome of determination, perseverance and independent
she turned four years old, her parents began giving young Laurie piano
lessons. And though she fell in love with playing, like most youngsters,
she really hated the actual lessons. At five, she performed to hundreds
in the audience at an assembly and never looked back.
were extremely opposed to me making music as my career," Laurie revealed
in a recent interview, "and my father still is. They insisted that it
was a wonderful avocation but not a lucrative career. I guess they didn't
want me to struggle."
Like most musicians,
Laurie worked hard at her craft, but she had a secret weapon at her
disposal that not many others possess. "When I was about seven or eight
years old, I was told that I had perfect pitch. At that age, it had
absolutely no meaning to me, but as an adult, of course, it helps me
hear stuff easily and quickly. As a working musician it's been a helpful
tool--particularly for melodies and harmonies."
As an instrumentalist, Laurie's perfect pitch helped her craft some beautifully
melodic original songs, but it was her experience performing live at Disneyland
that gave the artist a finer appreciation for the art of songwriting:
"For about five years, I played at Disneyland every day. And when you
have to perform the latest tunes in front of a live audience, and you
have to perform them accurately, you really learn a lot about songwriting.
You begin to think that they're just a bunch of regular pop songs, but
there's an incredible art to it. Because I'm an instrumentalist, I learned
earlier on that the melody has to carry the song. So the melody has to
be really strong; something the listener can take home. I honed my craft
by studying songs of the Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel and Paul Simon."
Unlike most male
keyboardists who could have looked to Elton John, Rick Wakeman, Keith
Emerson, Billy Joel or a host of other superstars, Laurie had only Fleetwood
Mac's Christine McVie as a female role model. "I feel very comfortable
around men", she said, "so I just aspired to be one of them."
break came after college while working a job selling musical equipment.
Here's how she tells the story: "With regard to going through the record
company process of getting signed, I just put my foot in the water deep
enough to get gun shy. Too many of my friends were badly burned by deals
they made. So when one of the people I met at my job decided to let me
record an album for him, that's how my first record came out. I didn't
think it would sell anything at all, but as it trickled out there, I discovered
that there really was a market for my music."
Laurie's three independently released CDs have sold nearly 20,000 units.
Her mailing list has surpassed the 5,000 mark and her latest effort is
fast approaching the Top 20 on many of the instrumental music charts.
And lest we forget, she is also a solid Number One in many of those markets.
The logical question now is, why would a successful recording artist want
to join TAXI when she already has a market for her music and is selling
CDs? Laurie explains how she came to be involved with the independent
"I heard about
TAXI the same way lots of other people did--I saw the ads. And you know
what they say about advertising--repetition is the key. Initially, my
thought was that if they asked for money, it couldn't be good. I checked
out their web site, looked into their chat area although I never participated,
but found that there were a lot of people I could relate to. I thought
about joining but was hesitant about plunking down that amount of money.
However, I have always operated on the 'Seed' theory--you plant as many
seeds as you can. You send out as many packages as you can to places that
have an interest in hearing them. Assuming the product is decent, all
you need is for the right set of ears to listen to it.
with and meeting with both Michael and Doug, it made all the difference
in the world. I felt that they were credible men with integrity who had
strong backgrounds in the industry. It wasn't about hype with them. They
were really coming from the right place in wanting to help people like
myself. I have always trusted my instincts and my initial instincts about
Michael and Doug and TAXI were that this was a good thing."
is an avid TAXI supporter, she hasn't really sent in much material and
never asks for a single critique, either. "I haven't sent in material
diligently," she explains, "because to me, this is just another seed.
When I do see a listing that applies, I send in songs. I have never asked
for a single critique because I'm sending in finished product and don't
go backwards. I'm not intending to go back and re-record or remix anything.
I would welcome the critiques if I were in the formulating stages of making
So for an already
successful indie artist, TAXI is serving as another pair of ears--another
someone to listen. Laurie sums it all up with these words: "My goal in
joining TAXI was to get the ears to listen to my stuff and hopefully to
license some of my music. They can help with that. When my membership
expires, I will definitely renew. I want to keep the relationship with
TAXI alive because they're a valuable resource."