Answered by: Michael Laskow
Your Web site is brilliant. Thanks for all the great info (and I'm not even a member).

Is there any way you can help a writer to focus on a certain style rather than half guessing whether I'll fill '80s Rock or '70s Rock, etc., so that I don't pitch for the wrong thing? I can write Latin grooves, for example, but I think that someone really into that style would do a more realistic job, etc. (I don't really like Latin music.)

I mainly write instrumental Rock guitar and would like to know a wee bit more before I join, should I focus on that alone.

Imagine I pay to join, send a demo, and am told that I need a complete overhaul of my equipment. I'm in serious trouble because it would take quite a while for me to afford new equipment. So is it a case of join up and take that chance?

Once again thanks for such a great, informative Web site. You guys certainly know your stuff.


Thanks,
Tommy (Scotland)


Dear Tommy,

I get this question ALL the time. If you were on my mailing list you would have gotten an e-mail I sent out a couple of weeks ago about this very subject. Pitching within formats is a necessity these days. I don't love it, but I don't make up the rules.

As a writer, you need to be fully aware of what's going on in the marketplace, and who is topping the charts at any moment, so you can be competitive. The pros you're competing against know who is currently doing what style, and they also know exactly what style they're writing at any moment.

In a perfect world, just having great music would be enough. ;-)

But you asked about '70s and '80s Rock, and truthfully my friend, the burden is on you to do the research. There must be at least a thousand places on the Internet where you could find Billboard's, or somebody else's charts dating back several decades.

Here's a great place to start your search: www.amg.com

Happy hunting,

Michael

P.S. I can't remember the last time somebody in the music business passed on a hit song because they didn't think the equipment the demo was recorded on was up to snuff. Hit songs always win the day.



If our band sounds like no one I've ever heard, how can our music ever get forwarded? Every listing says, "a la" whomever. We don't sound like anyone! Does that mean all our music is "not on target"? What could we do?

Paul

Hi Paul,

The a la's are a reference point more than a hard request for bands that sound just LIKE them. The best way to think of them is, "Would somebody who signed that band or bought a CD of that band also sign mine or buy my CD?"

Is it in the same ball park? Even though your band may sound completely different from all others who have come before, would it appeal to a certain audience or type of record buyer? If not, what bin would I find you in at the record store? What radio station would I hear you on? If a fan wanted to describe your CD to a friend of theirs, how would they do it?

"Oh man, you gotta check out Paul's band!"
"Cool, who are they like?"
"I dunno, but you'll like them."
"What style are they?"
"I dunno, but you'll like them."
"But are they Rock or R&B, or Country?"
"I dunno, but you'll like them."

Somebody who bought Lindsay Lohan (or signed her) probably wouldn't buy or sign or buy the White Stripes. A la's have been commonly used by record companies and publishers for decades. When TAXI runs a listing using them, we have most likely been handed the label's a la's, and then refined them further to give our members an even better idea of what the label is really looking for.

If we didn't have a la's, the listings might read something like this: "Major Record Label looking for signable artists and bands who are GREAT." Members would submit music in virtually every style under the sun, and then wonder why they didn't get forwarded.

We COULD run listings that request "Rock Bands," but there is such a wide variety of what people consider Rock, that using a la's narrows the target area. Somebody could otherwise submit a band that sounds like "YES" thinking it is Rock, and they'd be right. But WE know that's NOT something an A&R person would be interested in today's market, so rather than listing ALL the types of things or genres that won't fly (very long list!), we try to list the a la's as guidelines to help you pitch your music more accurately.

It saves you time and money, and in the end, it dramatically increases your chances of getting forwarded.

Hope that helps!

Michael



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