By Doug Minnick
Hello,

I’m a member coming up on about 1 year. Let me start by saying I think your service is a valuable one to artists and I will continue my membership as it has helped me in certain areas.

However, it seems as if you love to toot your own horn with these types of letters. ( see letter from Bud Tower in last month’s issue -ed.) I read them all the time. It also seems as if you are immune to constructive criticism and/or unopen to it; as if there is nothing for your company to improve upon. This, in my opinion, is certainly not the case.

As a very secure and open-to-suggestions singer/songwriter, I can take constructive criticism. I’ve been a performer for 15 years now and have developed a very thick skin. I have received some good, constructive criticism from your people. However, my problem is that quite often, I receive conflicting reviews. This has not just happened once or twice. It happens about 50% of the time.

I will have one of your reviewers tell me my chorus has a great hook and it is the strength of the song and then another reviewer will tell me the hook is not good and the chorus needs a lot of work. I’ll be told my vocal is “powerful, fiery and candid” and another will tell me it’s too “forced and growly”.

The examples go on and on. I get the same thing with my bio. 1 person will tell me it’s perfect, another will tell me it’s too much information. The critiques lose some of their credibility with these types of responses. It’s hard for me to really isolate my weaknesses when your people are sending mixed messages.

Again, I think there’s value to your service and hopefully you don’t view this E-mail as one of those “angry jerks” out there because I’m not. I’d love to see some E-mails/letters that aren’t so positive listed on your website. That would show that your ego’s aren’t so inflated and will also show that you are okay with constructive criticism, which of course is the nature of your business.

It would be nice to see that you can take what you dish out.

Respectfully,

Paul Maged
New York, NY

Hi Paul,

I guess we aren’t doing a good enough job of letting people know that we are open to suggestions and criticism. Thanks for reminding us that we need to make that point. In fact, we pride ourselves on always striving to make the service better, and to give our members what they ask for. Many of the current benefits of TAXI are direct results of suggestions or criticisms from members.

For example, we used to have the screeners do hand-written critiques. We liked the personal touch they added, but the members told us they couldn’t read them well enough. Result? Now they are all typed.

Same with the current online submission service - we’ve now given members something they’ve been asking for—a way to skip the post office, save on postage, envelopes, CD’s time, etc.

The Road Rally was a member’s suggestion. Custom critiques, The TAXI Meter and a larger number of listings are all responses to member requests.

The area you mention, though - inconsistent critiques - is beyond our reach. It is a matter of personal reaction to music. If you were to be able to walk into ten different A&R or publisher’s offices, play them a song and get a detailed reaction - you would very likely get the same range of responses that you get from TAXI screeners.

That’s the nature of art. If you and I stood looking at a Picasso, for example, we would probably have very different opinions about it. The same is true of music. The screeners base their judgements not just on personal opinion (although that cannot be removed), but also on their knowledge of the genre, the industry marketplace, and frequently, on their personal relationship with the person running the listing, which gives their decision some necessary weight.

One key to understanding the critiques is to look for common threads coming from different screeners. If you are getting more than one screener suggesting that a song would benefit from having a bridge, for example, you might consider that more than if just one person suggested it.

Most importantly, though, you should look for suggestions in the critiques that make sense to you. It is your song, and you should be the one to make the final decisions about what you want it to sound like. We hope you find lots of good ideas in the critiques, but no one expects you to agree with everything on every critique. You wouldn’t agree with every suggestion made by your favorite collaborator - John didn’t always agree with Paul - but it doesn’t hurt to hear the ideas.



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TAXI
5010 N. Parkway Calabasas #200,
Calabasas, CA 91302

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