by Kenny Kerner

It's often been said that the music business is built around networking and cultivating relationships. And that is precisely how this month's featured passenger is moving her career forward.

Having joined TAXI exactly one year ago after listening to company President Michael Laskow talk in Boston, Noel was determined to finally begin contacting the right industry people. "At the time I joined, I had some of my own industry contacts but I just wasn't reaching the right labels or the right people that could help me. My music is a little left of center so I decided to join TAXI for a year to see what they could do with it."

Noel submitted material to her very first listing and was forwarded to a label that fully appreciated here talents. "The listing was for a classical crossover artist," Noel recalled, "and they were looking for a female singer-songwriter. I'm still talking with my contacts at that label. When TAXI forwards a tape to someone, that's just the very beginning of things. First you hope that someone calls and once they do, it's up to you to start establishing a relationship with them."

Name: Noel
Residence: Lynnfield, Mass.
Occupation: Singer/Songwriter 
Joined TAXI: March, 2000
Songs Forwarded: 13
Deals: Pending
Those of you who are members already know that TAXI simply tries to open a few industry doors for you, using your music as leverage. But once open, the process of keeping the connection alive is up to you. Once a tape is forwarded, TAXI is out of the picture; their job is done. They receive no commissions or points or kickbacks or fees from anyone. Noel took complete advantage of her very first TAXI forward:

"Originally, someone from the label called and told me that he was really excited about the music he received. He was so enthusiastic that I had to laugh. I just kept asking him one question after another. Did you like my music? What was your favorite song? Why is that your favorite? I was trying to get a better sense of the label. He was totally awesome and I ended up talking with him for a few months. When I visited Los Angeles for the Road Rally I called him up and he invited me over to sing for him. So between that and the Rally, I got to do all this stuff while I was out there."

More recently, Noel received a call from a second label, this one back in the Big Apple. Again, the singer/songwriter has been nurturing the relationship and gaining a familiarity with the label's likes and dislikes while realizing that in this business it's always a case of hurry up and wait.

"I think it's so very important to always try to develop the relationship with your connections because with this particular A&R guy, for example, we have a nice conversation but he told me that he wants to keep me at an artist level by knowing more about me and my music. He even wants me to send him piano/vocal tapes before they're arranged so he can hear where the songs really begins. He was interested in the fact that I came from a very structured classical background and didn't even go to see a band or a live show until two years ago. He attributes that to why I seem to write very fresh, different, interesting music. I think that if they wanted more material and I had my manager call them, it would be a different story."

Though Noel has been working the relationship for over a year now, she isn't the least bit frustrated with how slowly the wheels are turning. "In fact, if I have one frustration," she revealed, "it's that I haven't been able to finish the music as fast as the labels want it. They're very encouraging. A label called me last week to see how I was doing, so they all seem excited. And that's what keeps me excited. But my frustration comes from why I can't get these arrangements done sooner--why couldn't it have been done yesterday? But I have such a great team of guys working on the project that I can only push them so much."

Though Noel did know some industry people on her own, she is quick to tell others that she could not have made these two label connections without TAXI. "I could not have done this without TAXI's help. It would just never have happened. I still work things on my own, but TAXI brings to the table more interest and a much bigger scope and larger labels. TAXI is a great tool to help get you ahead in the business, but it's really up to me to work with what they get for me. TAXI can get you there but you have to cross the line--you have to keep working at it. TAXI just opens up the doors more than we can on our own. They're a professional organization that's there to help you out and you don't owe anybody anything. They're real people. They're there to help you and I would definitely encourage people to join. Even if you're good at what you do, it never hurts to open doors."

You can learn more about Noel at this Web site.









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