By Doug Minnick
Dear Passengers,

TAXI is the subject of many bulletin board postings on the internet. Sometimes it is frustrating because many of the posters have never been TAXI members, yet they seem angry at us for some reason. That, and their information is often incorrect. Below is a posting from TAXI member Bud Tower from one of the bulletin boards at Just Plain Folks (www.jpfolks.com) that we thought was fair, honest, and yes, favorable.

Thanks for taking the time to write it, Bud!

Hi Y’all,

Without getting into the sound & fury on TAXI, let me just say this—it has been an integral part of my learning how to be a better writer. By better, I mean not only that my songs are more engaging for the listener, I mean more commercial as well. If you are the type of writer that thinks that “commercial” is a dirty word—read no further. On the other hand, if you dream as I do of making a living at songwriting, this post may be of help in evaluating TAXI.

I have been a TAXI member for some five years. In the early years, their critiques, though hard to take at first, opened my eyes. They pinpointed what was weak about my songs and often did so by recommending specific cuts I should go listen to (which I did). Their feedback led me to understand that I needed to know more about the craft of songwriting and led me to sign up for and complete three Nashville Songwriter Association International (“NSAI”) SongCamps taught by pro writers like Jason Blume, Chuck Cannon, Hugh Priestwood, etc.

In short, in the early years of my membership (first three years), TAXI started me down a road of understanding that making the transition from amateur to professional songwriter requires getting feedback from pros and people in the business. Over the last couple of years, I have developed that network, but I still use TAXI for that purpose. Practically the first thing I do with a new song is find an appropriate TAXI listing and send in a good quality work tape. From their reaction, I can gauge how strong the song is. I cross-reference that against other pro feedback I am getting. If the song is truly “finished” and seems to be captivating people, I spend anywhere from $200 to $500 to get it demoed and send it into further TAXI listings. So, in effect, I view TAXI as one of my teammates helping me “win” as a writer. Last year, I had 8 TAXI “forwards” Three of these were major label forwards—BMG, Capitol Nashville and Curb Records. Two cuts ended up on an independent label release. One of those two cuts was picked by the label as the first single to be released to radio. It’s currently getting airplay in 23 markets. Not a big deal, but certainly exciting for me as “first blood” in my songwriting career.

A first year membership with TAXI is $300 for a year ($400 for a two year membership). Renewing your membership is $200. I took the two-year option the first year, so I have spent $1,000 for TAXI over five years. Will I ever make that back? The production run on the independent release I am on was 25,000 records. If they sell them all, I figure to make around $5,000. Performance royalties from airplay will add to that. But, if I made nothing, I figure the money was an investment in me, so it was worth it. Not to shill for TAXI, but unless you are in a music center (Nashville, NY, or LA), how are you going to get access to industry pros? Moreover, even if you are in those places, do you really want to pitch your stuff to a publisher and have him/her tell you it’s crap? Publisher meetings are tough to get. I don’t want to take that risk. Nor do I want to spend thousands on demos of crappy songs. Being a professional songwriter is being in business for yourself. It requires the same thing that any business requires: time, thought, and money invested in the business. For me, TAXI has been and continues to be a good investment.

I believe the knock on TAXI comes more from people with unrealistic expectations than anything else. I moved to Nashville two months ago after visiting here once a month for two years. In all that time, I have come to understand the difference between a good song and a great one. As an unknown writer—only your great song has a chance. The ‘good’ ones that do get cut are artist-written, producer-written, friend-of-the-artist-or-producer-written, etc.—you get my drift (which is not to say that artists and producers are not writing GREAT songs—they do it all the time). I think so many newbie writers send their crap to TAXI and just can’t understand why they don’t get forwards and cuts. I get frustrated too. My three forwards to major labels last year have netted nothing. No phone calls, zilch. I know these are damn good songs and maybe they are “great,” but still — nothing. So, do I piss and moan at TAXI? No, I just write another song and hope it’s “the one.” Moreover, I continue to network in Nashville and pitch these songs myself directly to up-and-coming artists, independent labels, etc. A sole-written #1 song is worth $500,000-$1,000,000 to a writer (if he keeps publishing). Money like that doesn’t get handed out to some newbie writer who doesn’t know what he/she is doing and has paid no dues. Yea, politics plays a part—live with it. The more songs you write, the more people you know, the more you know about writing, the more you tune into the genre you are writing for, the better your chances.

It’s your business, it’s up to you. TAXI is working for me. I recommend it. Just like a song critique—keep an open mind and seek other opinions.

Peace,
Bud Tower



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TAXI Member


"I met so many great people on personal and business levels, including a contact who is going to get our disc in the hands of the producer of Dawson's Creek."
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TAXI Member

"I've gotten one solid offer from a record company/publisher . . . and two other songs of mine are on the desks of A&R executives at major labels. Quite simply, TAXI works!"
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