by Kenny Kerner

The decision to focus on a career in the music industry has plagued Tad Michael Wheeler for most of his adult life. Though he was drawn to music since grade school when he excelled at many instruments (including violin), the pursuit of it full-time was not something that came without some serious soul searching.

Always the musician (Tad played drums and keyboards in many local bands while growing up), it wasn't until he attended Colorado School of Mines (a top engineering college) that he realized the worth of a good career and a fluid pay check. And so, Wheeler put musicianship on the back burner and dove, head first, into a career that would take him far from the musical realm. "I began to head in the direction of engineering for career reasons," he told the Meter, "but I still tried recording and producing some music demos. I tried getting involved in the recording aspects rather than the performing side of it."

During his stay at college, musical opportunities came a knockin', but Tad slammed the door on all of them. "During college I had lots of opportunities to go on tour or to record with some bigger names, but it would have involved moving to California. I made a decision to finish college and, at the time, it was probably the right decision."

i i
Name: Tad Michael Wheeler
Residence: Golden, Colorado
Age: 36
Occupation: Full Time Musician
Joined TAXI: '92-'94 & '98-Present
Songs Forwarded:  50
Deals/Contracts: One
In 1984, Tad began experimenting with MIDI recording with a 4-track sequencer and a Yamaha DX-7. He admits that MIDI really opened the doors of creativity for him by allowing him to "navigate toward keyboards and begin working seriously on composition rather than just getting together with the band and jamming to come up with songs."

The ability to experiment, for some reason, gave Tad's career some focus and some structure, but more importantly, for the first time, Tad began to take songwriting seriously. Wheeler graduated from college and went to work for an aerospace/electrical engineering corporation--again content to bring home the Big Bucks rather than pursue a full-time music career. Only this time, there was a musical goal: Tad Michael Wheeler would use some of the earnings to put together his own recording studio.

"I spent two or three years building the studio at the same time that I did some recordings-- laying down drum tracks or engineering--at other studios in town. " Then, in 1988, after buying a Grand Piano for his house, the music bug bit hard. Here's how it happened:

"At this time, New Age was kinda taking off. I had met and talked with artists like Yanni and David Arkenstone and my direction had changed a little. Before, I was more rock oriented, but by this time I was influenced by Classical music. So I did two solo piano sets and an electronic set for about 50 of my friends here, at the house, and in addition to all of the support, lots of the people came up to me and suggested that I record and release my own CD."

And here's where reality comes up and hits Tad smack in the head--as it inevitably does to all aspiring artists. Tad pressed 1500 copies of his new CD and found them sitting on his doorstep with no idea as to what he should do next! Sound familiar? Tad's intent was to use the new CD to help forge a career in the business. "I knew nothing about the business so I had all of these CDs just sitting there. I blew my budget--meaning I had nothing left over for marketing and promotion. I sat there and didn't know what to do. I thought about tiling my basement floor with them!

"Wheeler floundered around, making trips to Nashville to properly master his record and then to California to try and place a handful of them in record shops. Most of the time, simply spinning his wheels. "It doesn't matter how good the music is," Tad learned, "if you know nothing about the industry, it's all a crap shoot. You can send out CDs all your life."

That experience was enough to make Wheeler leave the music business for awhile. He went back to writing software and databases and in 1992, happened to land on the TAXI website. After several "great phone conversations with TAXI founder Michael Laskow," he joined the company. "This was the answer; this was what I was looking for. I was really excited about this company. I raved about it to everyone. I submitted three songs off the CD I did and three were forwarded."

With electronica making a giant comeback here in the States, Wheeler once again committed to his career focus and, in a move most uncharacteristic, quit his day job! Tad's one deal is with a company located some twenty minutes from his home in Colorado. "I made a deal with a production company called Red Sands that put some of my music in a video game. The owner of the company received about 50 tapes from TAXI and chose mine. He even kept my CD in his car to play. He told me that I really knew how to do this stuff and that I should be doing this for real. I thought about what he said for a few days then went into work the following Monday and quit my job."

Wheeler best sums up his relationship with TAXI in these words: "TAXI gives me a way to really challenge myself as a writer. The listings motivate me to work. It all came together because of TAXI."


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