Brian Alex, posing with the members of Entrain, is third from left.

by Kenny Kerner

Like so many of our previous profiles, music was a part of Brian's life from the onset. Both of his parents played piano, with his dad actually making a living at it. It was his father who is credited with actually exposing young Brian to some jazz music and eventually to Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life at the impressionable age of seven. "When I heard that album," Brian recalled, "I thought--Oh, my God. I never heard anything like that ever before. That was the record that got me hooked on music for life."

Brian played piano and guitar and took it all very seriously. By the time he turned seventeen, he was performing live three to four nights a week, a pace he has kept up to this very day.

His credits include a gospel album with a band called Kingdom, some recordings with Donna Summer and a solo engagement for President Clinton on the very night Princess Diana was killed. "My mother is 80 years old and never really wanted me to have a career in music because she didn't think it was possible. So when she saw the photos that the White House photographer took of me and Clinton, it all clicked for her. She figured that if music got me this far then it was possible to have a career doing music so she stopped trying to get me to go to college."

Name: Brian Alex
Residence: Watertown, Mass.
Age: 32
Occupation: Full-time musician
Joined TAXI: 1993
Songs Forwarded: 25
Deals: Three songs in USA-TV Movie

Several years ago, MCA showed some interest in signing Alex as a solo artist but it never came to pass. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the young performer. "These things don't always work out. That Big Deal doesn't always happen the way you'd like it to. My band now is called Entrain and we're doing the same things with our own label that the major labels would try to do. We have a distribution deal and we sometimes spend up to $10,000 a month on independent radio promotion. We play all over the country--at clubs and festivals and we're all making a very good living from touring and selling CD's. Everyone in this band has a family and his own house and is a full-time musician. There are no day jobs. If we were signed to a label, we'd be fucked. Our last CD sold 35,000 copies, which for us, was a big score. For a label, that would be shit and we'd be dropped."

After hearing this story, I was immediately curious. Thirty-five thousand CD's multiplied by $10 a CD, plus performance payments is a nice chunk of change. So why TAXI?

"I heard about TAXI through Billboard. They ran an article on TAXI and a couple of my friends were talking about it and wondering how it was. I decided to give Michael [Laskow, TAXI President and founder] a call and eventually also spoke with Doug Minnick, the vice president. They really seemed on the level. A little later, Michael came to town for some seminar and it just seemed like a good thing. It turned out that way."

Brian not only landed a couple of songs in a television movie, but really takes the song feedback seriously, as well. "I'm always trying to improve as a songwriter, so I still love getting back the written critiques from the Screeners. We've had a lot of radio success--especially on AAA Radio, but no matter what level you're at, the feedback always helps. I'd like to be able to make a living as a songwriter and TAXI is a great outlet for trying to accomplish that. If a listing allows for a critique, I always ask for one--I don't care about getting the CD or tape back, but I do want the critique."

Having traveled the Indie road to success as a TAXI passenger, Brian Alex is quick to offer words of wisdom to newcomers: "Musicians and artists need to take advantage of companies like TAXI to empower themselves to change the industry. TAXI gives power to the musicians to take more control of their careers and their successes and on making a living without the artist having to retain a high-powered attorney or manager. As far as achieving your goals on a day-to-day basis, TAXI is a great thing."

Alex was hesitant to disclose his band's yearly income without approval of other bandmembers, but suffice it to say, that without a booking agent (the band books themselves), the President of the United States doesn't even come close to what Entrain grossed last year. Amen, brother!


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