This Article Originally Published September 2002

by Valerie De La Cruz

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Michael Laskow. Just being able to do that, to have accessibility to the owner of a company, is one of the reasons why TAXI is such a great one. I've been a TAXI member for several years, first by joining after reading about it on the internet, then with a free membership from winning the Great American Song Contest, and finally by re-signing because of the great discount offered to existing members. I also participate in the great new TAXI Dispatch service, which is a bargain combined with the regular membership, and has increased my opportunities and forwards greatly.

Whenever people ask me about being a TAXI member, they want to know right away if I've gotten any deals because of it. It seems people need instant gratification. But if you've spent any time in the music "business" at all, you know that there is none. I have had about 60 forwards during my membership with TAXI, and some minor deals; one on a compilation disc, one with the now defunct Audio Highway (which was one of the first on-line music download sites, and they actually paid royalties!). But I have had forwards to SONY Nashville, BMG, Viacom Interactive, MCA Nashville, Warner Brothers Nashville, FOX TV, ABC TV, Lyric Street Records, as well as many smaller publishers and music supervisors. These have all been opportunities that I would not have had by knocking on doors on my own. They are opportunities I've had from the comfort of my own home in upstate New York. I have had doors open for me in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles all while I went on with my normal life, all leading me one step closer to my dream of earning a living from my songwriting.

It always surprises me that people think TAXI is a magic wand that will get them a record deal, a publishing contract or a song placed in a movie. TAXI is a service, one of many tools I use to advance my songs, songwriting craft and exposure. As a tool, it is very cost-effective and offers the chance to get your music heard by upper level people in the industry that you would never have access to on your own. In fact, the pricing has been the same since I first joined in 1997. Imagine the expense (and I can, because I have been making monthly week-long trips to Nashville for writing, demo-recording, publisher meetings and general schmoozing for the last three years) of bringing your demos to a music town like NY, LA or Nashville twice a month (twice-monthly listings). Once you even got there, could you get the ear of the people who can decide to use your music? Would you know who they are?

Years of cultivating resources, contacts and networking are required to make inroads in this industry. People work with people they like and trust; not strangers cold-calling and asking for something. We benefit from TAXI's experience and continual efforts to maintain a network of decision-makers.

The other thing that surprises me is the way people think TAXI can guarantee the use of a song once it is forwarded. The forward process is a winnowing down to the best potential candidates to send to the decision-maker. Once your CD is in their hands, it has to stand on its own. TAXI has the magic key that opens the door, but they are merely presenting choices and additional options to the people requesting the listing. Your song may seem to fit perfectly with the listing; but music is so subjective; you can't "make" someone hear it for the use if it somehow doesn't have the indefinable "it" they are waiting to hear. So you keep trying. It is a law of averages like anything else; dues have to be paid no matter how good you think you are. Do it because you have to, not because you think you will strike it rich, and you just might. It takes discipline, perseverance and belief to try and be successful. I make sure that I do at least one thing every day to advance my career; some days it is sending in submissions to TAXI, some days it might be surfing the internet and entering a song contest; some days it is booking a gig.

And take advantage of the helpful people at TAXI. They want you to succeed; it will only help them to have a big success story for their marketing materials. They are very accessible for questions, direction and encouragement. Go to the Road Rally and meet the people behind the names as well as network with the industry leaders. The axiom, "I never made the shot I didn't take," is so true. And TAXI can help you keep taking those shots.

TAXI Member Valerie De La Cruz has won numerous songwriting awards including First Prize in the USA Songwriting Competition, Country Category, 1997 and 1998 Songwriter of the Year from the Northeast CMA, and 1999's First Prize in the Great American Song Contest (Country). Look for one of her songs, "I.M.Me," on BMG/Jive Records' newest artist, Britt Cleary's fall CD release in 2002. E-mail Valerie at: