Imagine having all of your dreams for success fulfilled
by the time you reach your fifteenth birthday! Well, in a nutshell,
that's exactly what happened to this month's passenger, Diego Sandrin.
Leading his Italian punk band called Ice & Be Iced, Diego secured a
recording contract with Trux Records and, before he turned sixteen,
had released several singles, went on tour and achieved notoriety as
Italy's premier punkster.
"We were on
top of the world," Diego recalls, "not having to struggle at all. But
this only lasted about two years and then the punk scene just fizzled
out. I was about seventeen when New Age started getting popular. I decided
to do some traveling and songwriting so I came to America and while
there, bought some Windham Hill albums which I brought back to Italy
Tired of electronic
music and clearly finished with punk, Diego embraced New Age and, in
1988, started a little boutique record label of his own called Sentemo
Records through which he produced and released some 25 CDs. "Because
New Age became so popular in Italy, my label was successful. We had
a distribution deal with BMG and we also won several awards. We were
making pretty good money. I learned to produce by going to studios all
the time to put down some of my song ideas and to earn extra money by
helping out. At this time, I was about 26."
It looked as
though young Diego Sandrin could do no wrong. Everything he touched
seemed to smack of success. So why did he still feel unfulfilled and
Unsatisfied? Diego explains his desire for all things creative: "I got
bored having to deal with all of the business aspects of running a label--the
recording, the paper work, the royalties--so, in 1994, I went back to
writing songs. That's when TAXI came into the picture."
as it may seem, Diego was introduced to TAXI while taking care of some
very private business: "I was in America trying to find a distribution
deal for my label. I was in the bathroom at some airport and was leafing
through a music magazine when I read their ad and it caught my attention.
At first, I didn't think it was going to be very legitimate. I felt it
could be a scam, but I liked the way it was presented because they immediately
told me it wasn't going to be easy even if I joined."
Diego soon returned
to Venice and began the songwriting process in earnest. When he had completed
two songs that he felt were well-crafted, he remembered TAXI, found their
web site on the internet, and requested their free information kit. "The
free information package really convinced me that I made the right decision.
It was no b.s. talk. It explained everything. I figured that if I had
to play this game, I would play it to win and this was the right way to
Sandrin had a
plan. He had two well-crafted songs geared to the American music market.
He would send them in to TAXI for a bunch of different listings and see
what happened. Although only one in 30 submissions was forwarded, the
accompanying critiques finally gave the writer a clue as to what TAXI
is all about. "I started getting back the first critiques," Diego revealed,
"and realized that I was dealing with professionals who really cared about
me and my songs. I especially liked the fact that my songs were never
invalidated by any of the screeners. They just pointed out the good and
Like most songwriters,
Sandrin was discouraged at first, believing that his material was good.
But eventually, it dawned on him to take a closer look at some of the
critiques: "I decided to just keep an open mind and listen to some of
their advice. It was a challenge for me. I spent an entire year working
on these critiques, making some of the changes that they suggested. I
made a list of all of the critiques that I agreed with and when I began
writing my new songs, I followed that list of pointers. I was afraid that
if I made these changes I would jeopardize my creative integrity, but
I found that I was still able to keep my integrity and musical style."
Diego wrote and
recorded five or six new songs, strictly adhering to the list of pointers
suggested by the TAXI screeners. The results were amazing: "I began sending
these new songs out to TAXI listings and noticed that my forwarding rate
increased to about 80%. I was very proud when I started getting critiques
that complimented my song structure. This was one of the things that the
screeners used to criticize."
may have achieved some modicum of success at the age of fifteen, but it
wasn't until he became a TAXI member that he learned about the actual
craft of songwriting and the inner workings of the music industry. Here
are some words to remember from a happy passenger: "For me, music is an
art, but unless you're just playing for your girlfriend, once you start
sending out tapes, it becomes a business. When you sit down to write songs,
you have to put on your artist hat, and when you start mailing the tapes
out, you need to change to your business hat. I am still a member of TAXI
and I will continue to be one. My advice is for people to try TAXI and
open their minds to the critiques just for a few minutes. Things look
different on the other side of the table."