Answered by Michael Laskow, TAXI CEO
Dear Readers,

I'm leaving the following letter in its original, unedited state for a reason. I'll include that reason in my answer below.

— M.L.

Dear TAXI,

I once wrote a song about nascar and wrote about two drivers Martin and Wallace .I received a reply that said "Who's Martin and Wallace?" I think some of your listerners are in a fog. I'm a songwriter that does not perform,so when they say change a beat or a chord it costs me hundreds.If you like a song but it's not perfect, the people in the listings "the pros" should be able to change it to their liking.I have scored very high on some of my lyrics, so the "pros"should be able to put their own spin on it.My son is the drummer for (name deleted) and has three cds, a video on MTV,and no one has to tell him or anyone in his band to change a chord or a beat.I sent you a song called "I'm Diamond in the Rough"and this song had great hooks.So what I'm trying to say, is that song should been put through.

When I have a demo made, have to hire everyone. I cannot spend that kind of money with out some kind of guarantee that these changes would make a difference in someone giving me a contract, only to be rejected again.


— Richard

Dear Richard,

Sorry to make an example of you for this, but it will help you AND your fellow members. So, think of it as a public service!

Your e-mail is so poorly constructed, and so full of typos, that I think you are doing yourself a tremendous disservice.

I often find typos in my own work, and that's after I've read it twice, and at least two other sets of eyeballs have proofed it before it goes out. I still cringe when I see those typos.

Why? Because they make me look unprofessional, and they might give people the impression that I don't care enough about them to get it right.

If you were to send an e-mail like the one above to anybody in ANY industry, in ANY sort of capacity, I've got to believe that they would quickly discount you and what you've got to say, long before they finish the e-mail.

In this specific case, it also sends a subliminal message about the subject in the actual e-mail: While you're telling me that the A&R person at TAXI should forward your song even though they feel it needs some tweaks, you have actually communicated to ME that your song is probably just as sloppy as your e-mail.

Please take this as constructive criticism. I'm not doing this to publicly admonish you, and have dropped your last name to save you any undue embarrassment.

To answer your concerns:

#1) There are thousands of writers in Nashville and out (I'm assuming your song is Country) who are total professionals. The songs they submit to the execs inside the industry ARE tweaked to be as near-perfect as they possibly can be. Those writers are your competition.

If you were on the "buying" end of those songs, would you prefer songs that didn't NEED any work, or those that did?

If you were buying a new car, would you buy one that's fast as hell IF you adjust the fuel injector, or buy the one that's fast as hell, and has an injector that's rock solid?

#2) Without seeing the context of why the TAXI A&R person asked you who the drivers were, my guess was the that he or she might have been recommending that you explain who they are in your lyric, so that the appeal of the song is wider than just hard-core NASCAR fans who already know them by name.

#3) The reason that nobody is telling your son with the three albums and songs on MTV to tweak HIS songs is that HIS songs are for HIM. He's not competing in the highly competitive arena of song pitching to other artists.

By the way, please ask your son if his bandmates, producer, A&R person, or publisher have ever suggested ANY tweaks on his songs? I'll bet they have, and that's exactly what we're doing for you—acting as part of your team to help you get your songs whipped into shape, so they're as viable as they can be. If you're looking for feedback that blows smoke up your rear end, then I've got a list of other services that I can refer you to. If you want a company that can truly help you get your songs to a level that competes with other industry professionals, then you've chosen wisely.

#4) Regarding changes made after the demo session is done: The next time you go into the studio to record a demo, why don't you get the ProTools or Garageband files from the engineer, and put them on your computer? Then, when somebody suggests a lyric change or a new guitar part, you don't have to go back to the expensive studio to tweak it.

You can go a step further, and have the engineer give you what are called "stems." Essentially, they are mixed/sub mixed tracks that are broken out like this: track 1, instrumental mix, left side; track 2, instrumental mix, right side; track 3, vocals. All you'd need to do is re-work the vocals, and blend that new track with the others, and you're back in business, without going back to the studio.

There are many other ways to break out and create stems. Really, they are just sub mixes that can be used in any combination after the mix is done. If you were to pan all of the sub mixes appropriately, and bring all their faders up to equal levels (unity gain-"0" next to the fader itself), you'd have exactly what the stereo mix originally sounded like, but with post-mix control.

This technique was originally developed for film mixing—Music, Dialogue, and Effects—each on it's own stem. It has been successfully adapted for music mixing over the years. And even with advent of nearly flawless mix automation, it remains a favorite trick of top shelf mixers in many areas of the audio business.

— Hope this helps,

Michael




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