This Article Originally Published June 2004

by Michael Laskow

You might be missing some great opportunities because you think your recordings/demos aren't good enough.

Many people think that "Master Quality" requires a professional studio with 24 or more "digital" tracks, and the final mix has been "mastered".

TRUE if you were making a record for a major label, it's NOT true for what Film and TV people need. They simply need a good, clean recording. You DO NOT need to go to a pro studio, have a live string section, tons of bells and whistles, or a mastering session for your songs.

There have been dozens, maybe hundreds of songs/tracks placed in film and TV projects through TAXI that have been recorded in home studios on 8-tracks, some even on 4 tracks!

Here are some examples!

Listen to the 8-track demo that started it all:

Wide Open
Listen to the music that Nissan used in their ad:

5th Element
Fantastic Planet

"Armed with nothing more than a computer, some software with a computer I/O and a nice mic, there's no reason not to get a good sounding mix." says BZ Lewis.

It all started back in 1997 when "Wide Open" (a song by his band, Sugar Danks) began to get placed in films and TV. A simple but well-recorded demo, "Wide Open" was done with 8 tracks on a 75 MHz computer — 6 years ago when computer recording was still in its infancy.

"Even though my setup was very simple," say B.Z., "I was able to get a great song and a great recording out of it. As I listen back to the song I realize how much I've grown as an engineer, but I think the mix still holds up today. That song has been in more than 10 films and platinum selling video game titles, and it was the song that launched my career.

His music has now been placed on all the major networks, platinum selling video game titles, 15 independent films, regional and local ad campaigns — all from contacts made through TAXI. In fact, B.Z. Lewis has used the benefits of his TAXI membership to build a lucrative career.

Listen to 'Rusty Red Wagon' by Elliott Park:

Think you need to have elaborate demos and state-of-the-art equipment to compete in today's music business? TAXI member Elliott Park proves the time-honored adage that "it's all about the song" by getting two of his home-recorded, 4-track demos on "hold" for superstar country act Diamond Rio.

We asked Elliott (from his home in the tiny town of Baird, TX — population 1623) to shed some light on his approach to writing and recording.

"I use a Technics Digital Piano hooked up to a Boss 4-track Digital Recorder. I usually do my own vocals, including harmony. When I need a female vocalist I have a couple of very talented friends who help me out.

"I don't really have an acoustically controlled environment. I mean, I've seriously had to redo vocal takes because my dogs started barking at a skunk outside. But a good mic and a little reverb added (on my 4-track) makes a good demo. I never worry about padded walls and all that — a room with a carpet works fine for me. The main thing is the song.

Listen to the 8-track demo that started it all:

As we often discover, PB&J's professional-caliber recordings were done at home. When asked what they use to record their material, James and Phil succinctly say: "Sonic Foundry and a computer." It doesn't get a lot more simple than that, does it?

"We have charted in the top 40 in over 20 countries in Dance/Electronica via Internet Radio, and have licensed more than 60 tracks for use in MTV's 'The Real World' television series."

"TAXI works. Plain and simple," asserts four-year member TAXI Phil Francis, when asked to describe his TAXI experience.

"I know — because since 1999, my partner James Kernick and I have had numerous deals and placements, including 5 independent films, a 20-song publishing deal, placements on E! Entertainment's Style, a featured minute-long usage on 'Malcolm In The Middle,' and a national Verizon commercial — among other things."

"All of these accomplishments came about as a direct or indirect result of our relationship with TAXI."

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