For the past 16 years, Ira Marlowe had been through it
all--the bands, the solo act, pitching tunes to labels and publishers.
He could probably write a book if he had the time. But Marlowe is concentrating
on making the best of his development deal with Dreamworks that he acquired
as a result of his membership with TAXI.
playing guitar when he was 13 and joined his first band five years later.
"It was a horrible cover band with a horrible name," he recalls, "the
guys in the band were a lot older and they insisted that nobody wanted
to hear original material. So, I put together a band with my two best
friends from high school and we played all of my original material and
became a big hit in Richmond, Virginia, where I lived. We later met
this charming Englishman who told us that if we wanted to make it we'd
have to move to Los Angeles. We were young and dumb and knew nothing
so we moved to Los Angeles where we couldn't get booked, got our equipment
ripped off and came back to Richmond and broke up. It's a pretty common
story." Sound familiar?
Marlowe picked up his Never Say Die attitude and headed for the Big
Apple where he came face to face with the Music Industry for the first
time. "I went there to try and get my songs published but quickly realized
that I had to write songs that I totally despised for artists that I
wouldn't dream of listening to, just to get in the door. I did that
for a year and then came to the conclusion that I should be writing
songs for myself because I didn't have the heart to write songs I didn't
believe in. And anyway, most of the artists I do believe in write their
Ira Marlowe found himself back in Richmond putting together yet another
band. Only this time, he was ready to try something completely different,
willing to change both the scene and the sound; willing to throw caution
to the wind in an attempt to break through. Willing to chuck it all.
He dropped the band idea and, determined to go solo, moved to San Francisco.
playing in a band I finally got up the nerve to go out on my own and play
solo/acoustic sets. It was out of financial desperation, actually. I lost
my job and just put a hat out at some cafe. I made some money and realized
that I had a skill after all. I realized very quickly that, unlike playing
in a band in clubs, when I play now, there's a real focus on the songs;
people can understand the lyrics. Instead of drunks coming up to me after
the show telling me what an awesome, kick-ass sound I had, people now
come up asking about the vampire song. It's quite a difference." You can
check out that difference on Marlowe's new CD, "Songs From The House Of
Wax," and also comment on his material by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
||Walker & Songwriter
With his newfound
confidence, Marlowe kept writing at a brisk pace and once again tried
pitching his tunes to the publishing community: "I had a whole one-man
show I did with monologues and songs and video clips. I describe it where
you sit in somebody's office and the guy fast-forwards through your tapes
and casually wipes his ass with your future and sends you on your way.
I tend to think that the people with the personalities and sensitivities
to be great artists almost never have the personalities to be their own
agents. They just don't have the stomach for it. I think art should ultimately
be about truth."
on pitching material to executives is somewhat harsh, but brutally honest
and based on his personal experiences. Let's let him tell the story in
his own words: "When you're sitting there in someone's office with a smile
on your face trying to keep your nose up someone's butt even though you
think he's a despicable character, but you want him to listen to your
tape--it wears you down. And eventually you start turning into that person
and you lose touch with the songwriter. I know too many people who have
gone through that process and eventually you become a great businessman
and a very bad songwriter."
well that his material spanned many musical genres, from comedy to musicals,
Marlowe turned to TAXI and signed up because it "looked like it would
provide a broad-based outlet for a lot of different kinds of songs."
fairly quickly," as Ira continues, "is that I got this interest from Dreamworks.
I submitted some songs to a listing, Brian Huttenhower, a screener, heard
it and gave it to Lenny Waronker at Dreamworks, and Lenny offered me a
development deal. They gave me about $6500 to record some demos and Dreamworks
has first rights of refusal."
So, after running
into one industry brick wall after another, songwriter Ira Marlowe finally
found some respect and credibility in the TAXI family. "I totally encourage
people to join TAXI," he concluded, "it certainly helped me. Clearly,
you can get your songs heard by the right people through TAXI. And what
I did is evidence of that!"