by Kenny Kerner

Randy DeFord learned the hard way that the life of a rock & roller just wasn't for him. One of his best friends, Michael Lee Thomas, played guitar with country acts Sawyer Brown and Reba McEntire. So DeFord heard all the stories about the rip-offs and the glory from 1977-1991, the year Thomas and most of Reba's band were killed when their plane crashed.

"Michael went down to Nashville in 1977," recalled DeFord, "with no money in his pocket, determined to work hard and pay his dues to get somewhere. I was real active with what was going on during that period because he was one of my best friends. I lived out all that stuff through him. I also saw the bad side of the business but I didn't want that for me."

DeFord was a late bloomer, as it were, starting to write songs in his early twenties. Always a talented musician, DeFord, like so many others of us, found it very difficult to put together the right serious-minded people to do any kind of recording. So, he did what came naturally--he learned how to play all of the instruments by himself. And once he discovered multi-track recording, he didn't need anyone ever again! DeFord went multi-track and with no more hurdles to overcome, got real focused about his career as a vocal and instrumental songwriter.

As Randy continued to hone his craft as a songwriter, he soon came to another startling realization: "I discovered that there was so much competition with vocal music and that instrumental music just didn't sell. So I looked to fill a musical niche that I could do well. I really like movie background music--the kind that guys like Jerry Goldsmith, Michael Kamen and Danny Elfman do. So I sent some of my music into Mix Magazine and Guitar Player and they did a piece on me. But they also told me that I was in the wrong place; they told me that to be successful, I'd have to move to Los Angeles, New York or Nashville. Nothing much was going on in Indiana, but had a good career as a product engineer that I liked and didn't want to lose, so I just kept on writing my songs."

i i
Name: Randy DeFord
Age: 43
Residence: Monticello, Indiana  
Occupation: Product Engineer
Joined TAXI: July, 1997
Songs Forwarded:   4
Deals Made: None
For a while, it seemed as if Randy would have to put a hold on his plans to become a successful writer. But then fate intervened: "I usually make it a habit of reading as many music magazines as I can and I noticed that TAXI was in them several times. One magazine in particular had a special on music for movies and TV--and this was exactly what I'd been looking for. That's what made me join TAXI. And I have to say that since joining, I got farther, faster than I ever thought I would."

Living in Monticello, Indiana, Randy can appreciate the connection he's made to the music industry. He especially likes the critiques he gets back in the mail. "I really take the TAXI critiques seriously," he told us by phone, "because they point out both my strengths and weaknesses in the songs. They're not all just negative. I'm sitting here in the arm pit of America and I never ever had anything even close to TAXI before. So even though some of my songs weren't getting to the next step, I was still being critiqued on how to improve them. The critiques also made me search out more and different sounds from the recording equipment I have."

Slowly and deliberately, Randy began to send in material for the listings until one day his song was forwarded for the very first time. Here's how Randy recalls it: "When I received word that one of my tunes was forwarded, I was thrilled--because that told me that my song was appropriate for the listing; that told me that somebody might consider it. It finally gave me some credibility. Getting forwarded also made me feel like the more tapes I send in, the better chance I have. I was sending in one song for one listing at a time. But now I feel like I need to send in more songs to better my chances. You just gotta keep hacking at it. If I got my music used as background music in just one film, I would feel successful."

For Randy DeFord, TAXI is clearly the best thing that ever happened to him, and his advice to others is nothing to sneeze at: "Unless you're living in a giant metropolitan area where the music scene is going on, what other venue do you have other than TAXI? Especially for someone like me living in Nowhere, USA."

Well, Randy, you might reside in Nowhere,USA, but as long as you stick with TAXI you can never be called a Nowhere man! Keep pluggin' away.


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"I am enclosing a check for my third year of membership in TAXI. You've got a great thing going, and it's fun being a member."
— Thomas Hipps,
TAXI Member

"Nothing bad can come from belonging to this unbelievable organization that has definitely allowed my songs to be stronger than ever."
— Justine Kaye,
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