by Kenny Kerner

Although Michael didn't think about music until he was in his early teens, he remembers seeing his older brother rockin' out in the sixth grade.

They would practice in his parents living room and Michael would watch. "I would sit there thinking about how that must be the coolest thing in the world. It had a major effect on my life. The band was called Toe Jam and my brother played bass."

Michael had a piano around the house but took a liking to the guitar and wrote his very first song, "Scarlet Red Eyes," which he culled from his personal experiences. "That was really the B-side," Souza admits, "the A-side was a tune called 'Dream To Be' which was about me making it in the music business. I kept writing and playing in school bands through high school just for the fun of it"

Name: Michael Souza
Residence: Templeton, CA
Age: 38
Occupation: Landscaper/Musician
Joined TAXI: 1997
Songs Forwarded: 9
Deals: BoyGirl Music & DMPML

Souza moved down to Los Angeles when he was twenty but didn't really feel comfortable or creative here. Although Michael always had thoughts about pursuing a serious music business career, he, like so many others, had no idea as to how to go about it. "I was in a trio called Valhalla and we were as serious as we could be at that time. I made a couple of attempts with bands down in Los Angeles but nothing really got off the ground. So I finally decided that maybe I didn't belong there. I moved back up to San Luis Obispo and just wrote songs and played my guitar."

Michael gave little thought to a full-fledged career until he saw a TAXI ad in an issue of Recording magazine. "Initially, like plenty of others, I thought this might be a rip-off. So I put it on the back burner for about a year after hearing about it. I then called, liked what I heard, but let it sit for almost another year because of financial reasons before finally joining."

Initially, Michael fell I into the same trap as many other TAXI passengers: "I thought that when I joined TAXI I would just start selling all of my stuff because it was so damn good. Of course, TAXI very nicely taught me otherwise. I submitted my first songs and expected them to get sold and wind up on the charts a couple of months later. TAXI was a nice dose of reality. Those critiques probably slowed me down and made me a little more careful. I slowed down on my submissions sending in songs every few months. But now, I'm crankin'."

Souza recalls vividly his first submissions to TAXI and the lessons he learned from the critiques. Here's how he tells it in his own words: "I submitted two different songs to four different listings, I remember. So I had two songs--each with four critiques. I started to read these things and everyone was saying almost the exact same things--You have to be a real idiot to not get the message."

Though Michael has been a TAXI member for several years, he concluded his first two deals recently. "I read a listing that asked for a song that had the feel of Roger Miller's 'King of the Road.' The company was looking for a song for a short film. That song has always been a favorite of mine since I was a little kid. So I sat down with my acoustic and wrote something called 'Out on the Road' that I just knew would get forwarded. It did, and it works great in the film."

Michael is on a roll now and readily admits that without TAXI, "I would have no career. They've given me the confidence to pursue things the way I want to. My confidence really picked up since I gave notice that I was leaving my day job. I realized that I needed to take a risk and that if I just worked for me, I could just get by. Since I made the decision to fully concentrate on TAXI, my attitude has totally changed. I'm much more confident; much more driven. The TAXI listings that apply to me are now more numerous because I'm writing more and focusing more. I'm working on six different things right now. I used to work on one thing at a time. The songs that I'm working on now are far better than the ones I wrote in the past. I'm confident about them getting forwarded."

Michael advises aspiring writers to try to work for themselves at least a couple of days a week. "If you can just get by doing that a month at a time, you're a step closer to fulfilling your dreams."

Although not all of Michael's tunes will get forwarded, his newfound confidence since joining TAXI will make him a better writer in the long run. And it already started to pay off.


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