Answered by Michael Laskow, TAXI CEO
I think you owe it to the 10,000 members of TAXI to explain how such a thing can happen. The song "Swing" by Trace Adkins is receiving air time and video play in regular rotation. This is not the third worst song in history. This is not the second worst song in history. This is the absolute worst piece of shit to hit the airwaves in perhaps 50 years. How does this happen? Please explain to us songwriters who work to provide Country music with quality sensible lyrics, how this shit comes out on top. Who is blowing who?

There has to be a blow*** in here somewhere.

Can I hire a proxy to issue a blow*** and thereby compete? Thanks for your time, Mike, I know you'll listen to the song and get back to me. I hope you'll also use this song to instruct TAXI members other than myself in this valuable lesson.


— Thanks,

Wayne Mayfield


Dear Wayne,

I haven't heard the song, but understand your frustration. I hear stuff on the radio all the time that makes me wonder how it got there.

I'm going into a meeting at the moment, so don't have time to research who wrote the song, but can tell you that a lot of the decline in good songs is actually being caused by illegal downloading, and here's how:

Artists used to be able to make gobs of money from record sales. Downloading has crippled their ability to do that, so they went in search of another income stream. What they found was songwriting and publishing. So... in many cases, you get an artist co-"writing" the songs with a pro writer.

The artist (let's take Paris Hilton as an example) comes into the writing meeting, meets the pro writer, and says, "I've got an idea for a song. Yesterday, my dog wouldn't lick my face, so I said, 'Here poochie, poochie.' Isn't that a great idea for the song?"

The pro writer then has to make something out of that crappy idea, and the result is the lowered bar for song quality.


The best thing you can do to fight this downward spiral of music quality is to encourage people you know to NOT illegally download music, and to become proactive in letting your radio stations know that the music they play sucks.

The number of opportunities for pro writers to get cuts the old fashioned way has dropped considerably because of this phenomenon. The best way for them to stay in the game is to "co-write" with artists who are not great writers, if writers at ALL. You can't really blame them for taking the only opportunity LEFT to earn their living doing what they've worked hard to learn, but it's very sad that they've been more or less forced into this situation, ultimately by the public illegally downloading music.

People who steal music online might be thinking to themselves, "Oh what the hell, if Britney Spears makes a few cents less because I've stolen this song, screw her. How's it really going to affect her... one less ride in her private jet?"

But in truth, it hurts songwriters who've worked for years to get great at their craft, it hurts the people who used to work at the record stores, it hurts the guy who used to drive the forklift in the warehouse, and countless others in the sales chain. Also... the public really has itself to blame for the crap we hear on the radio to a pretty large extent. How? Because radio stations play what tests well.

When they roll out a new song, they measure its popularity with their audience. They track calls TO the station, AND they do call-outs to survey their listeners. If a song doesn't test well, they'll stop playing it. Their objective is to keep their audience as large and happy as they can because they need big numbers to keep their advertisers happy. Happy advertisers means more money for the station, so you can rest assured that they won't play what the audience tells them sucks.

The best thing you can do to fight this downward spiral of music quality is to encourage people you know to NOT illegally download music, and to become proactive in letting your radio stations know that the music they play sucks.

Depressing and daunting, I know, but that's what the answer to your question is.

— Warm regards,

Michael




I was a member back in 2001 and kept submitting tracks from my finished CD, but they rarely got forwarded. I was angry at first, but eventually realized that the comments your A&R people were making were on the mark more often than not. The bummer was that even though I knew they were right, I couldn't go back and change the songs because I had already pressed a thousand copies.

I let my membership lapse, but rejoined in 2005 and used your screening staff to help me make my songs better before I recorded my CD this time. I'm very happy to report that the end result is that I've had a bunch of forwards from my new CD, and I wanted to let you and the rest of your members that one of the greatest things about TAXI is the feedback.

My second CD is much, much better than my first, and I've got to give credit where it's due. Thank you for being much more than just a way to get your music into the right hands. I think the feedback aspect of TAXI is worth its weight in gold (maybe platinum!) when it comes to making your CD the best that it can be.

I hope this letter helps some other people realize that they shouldn't wait to join TAXI until after they've made the wrong album, when this incredible resource is available to help them get it right the first time!


— Gratefully,

Marianne Vetrus


Dear Marianne,

I've been trying to tell people exactly what you just reported for the last 15 years, and I'm glad to know that it's starting to sink in. ;-) $300 seems like a cheap price to pay to get feedback from top industry professionals before and WHILE you're recording your CD.

— Thanks,

Michael




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