by Kenny Kerner

Jay wrote his very first song when he was 16 years old and vividly remembers his dad laughing at him. Nobody's laughing now. The laughter must have been traumatic at that age because, as Jay recalls, "I didn't do much else until I was 26. I spent the next ten years working on songwriting and didn't get serious until then. I wasn't in the music business at all. I was writing and basically entertaining myself."

Pinto spent a few of those months at the Air Force Academy but soon decided that it just wasn't for him. There were brief stop-overs at certain classes but no regular college. After a stint at a Los Angeles newspaper, Pinto came to the realization that he'd better get with the program--any program--if he wanted a career in music.

"When I was 26 I definitely decided to get serious about it and started playing around Sacramento and then recorded my first album in 1989. It was always a solo/acoustic thing up until 1991. Occasionally, friends would join me on stage and we'd play as a band. But I was mostly focusing on songwriting. In 1991 I moved to Seattle and formed a band called Bananafish and we toured nationally and were together for about five years. We recorded four CDs. and had pretty good success. A couple of my songs were recorded by some name artists, but never released."

Name: Jay Pinto
Residence: Dallas, Texas
Age: 39
Occupation: Songwriter
Joined TAXI: 1996
Songs Forwarded: 4
Deals: Publishing Deal with
Heavy Hitters

Jay came awfully close to grabbing the brass ring, but when Bananafish ended, he spoke with an acquaintance at ASCAP who recommended that the songwriter continue to hone his craft as an active member of TAXI.

"We hooked up with Barbara Jordan of Heavy Hitters right after we joined TAXI in 1996. She was able to get a couple of our songs placed in some independent films and also got one into The Sopranos and The Young And The Restless. Over the years we had dealings with various publishers and companies--Aaron Jacoves and then some interactions with Bug Music, for example."

Unlike most Passenger Profiles of the past, Jay Pinto did not turn to TAXI to make connections. He joined to make money! Here's how he explains it:

"During the last three years of the band--actually, it was a duo--our yearly income seemed to plateau and then remain the same. We were grossing about $110,000 a year. All along, TAXI had been an intriguing idea to me. I knew it was there but never really gave it much thought until I thought about leaving the band. So I joined TAXI the summer before I broke up the band and started sending in some stuff."

Without having to ask him, Jay volunteered that he already "more than made back the price of his membership and the critiques are awesome. In fact, I recommend TAXI to just about everyone I come in contact with. I think it's a great service."

Like almost everyone before him, Pinto was suspicious that this TAXI deal was just too good to be true. "I spoke with some friends of mine at ASCAP and they assured me that for songwriters, TAXI was the best thing going. So I joined."

Jay has his own spin on how to interpret the critiques of his music and passes along advice to fledgling songwriters: "I think you need to be able to detach yourself from the TAXI critiques and just look at what they're saying. Generally, they're dead-on. I send in master-quality stuff so I'm obviously not going to keep re-recording the same song. Sometimes I read the critique toward my future writings and sometimes, if the critique really hits home, I might feel that it will improve the song in a major way and then I might redo it. There's not been a single thing about TAXI that I've been unhappy with. Through TAXI, I've been able to make money with my songs in ways I never knew of before."

Jay Pinto currently resides in Dallas, Texas, where he and his wife are writing songs and anxiously awaiting the next batch of TAXI listings. As a TAXI member, you could be doing the same!









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