By Kenny Kerner

This is a Passenger Profile about someone who knew his limitations at an early age and made a promise to himself to work hard and develop his talents.

Kurt picked up a guitar when he was a mere 12 years old and fell in love with it. His brother's girlfriend showed him a G chord and that was it. Though he has been playing since junior high school, Kurt considers himself to be only "adequate" on his instrument. But it is this kind of honesty that led to his future success.

"I don't even play on any of my own tracks that I record. I met too many wonderful musicians and I know where I stand in the pecking order. I'm a modest guitar player." It's this kind of self-evaluation that really allowed Kurt to move his career forward. Realizing his limitations, he was able to focus on his strengths.

"When I went to college, I studied Music Industry Arts. I learned about production and engineering and composing. It was a great course. When I left my little town, I figured that I was probably the second best guitar player. The day I arrived at college I realized I had moved down to about the 49th position overnight. It kinda woke me up. I though, 'OK, that's not my future. I'm musical but I'm not a musician."

Knowing he'd never be able to give Eric Clapton a run for the money, Kurt began to focus on his other love-words. He loved to read and felt that his ability to express himself with words could turn into a career as a lyricist.

After college, Kurt took a job at a recording studio working as an engineer for a couple of years. But as he admitted, it was a tough way to make a living. "I'd engineer a 12 hour session and get one guitar solo and the next morning the Toronto Symphony would come in and play an entire song perfectly, all the way through, and be gone in ten minutes." And that's just about the time he "got lured" into advertising.

Looking back, Hagan realizes how lucky he was to have been able to develop a career and make a living by expressing himself with words. "I was working full time in advertising and then I went freelance. When that happened, it opened up time for me to concentrate on my songwriting. With lyrics being my strong point, I sought musical collaborators. Finally, I found this one guy named Aidan Mason and we've become great friends. All of my earlier best songs were written with him. He's a professional guitar player and a great composer."

Finally able to fulfill his vision for writing songs and developing his talents, a friend of his suggested he join TAXI which would enable those songs to see the light of day. Kurt was overwhelmed. "When I first looked into joining, it didn't interest me. I went through all of the listings-rock, blues, pop, alternative, R+B, and I was overwhelmed because I didn't even know where my songs fit in. So I forgot about it. A little later on, another friend told me about it but I thought it was too expensive so I tried going to a song plugger. He wound up charging me a couple hundred dollars to get one song to one artist. All of a sudden, TAXI started to make sense. Joining TAXI was part of a pledge I made to myself. I pledged that for two years I would do everything in my power to make my songwriting happen. And I was going to pull out all the stops and go all the way."

Right off the bat, Kurt was satisfied with the services TAXI provided. The critiques were helpful, the forwards came and the doors were opened at a recent Road Rally where he was able to hook up with a publisher. "I originally wasn't going to go to last year's Rally because I didn't have the money but then I remembered the promise I made to myself-and I went. Within three hours of my arrival, I knew I made the right choice. I met this guy named Steve Bloch from a company called Writer Zone at one of the mentor lunches and he later heard one of my songs at the publisher panel. After speaking with me and hearing my music, he invited me down to Nashville to try and work something out. When I got there, he hooked me up with some Nashville co-writers and wow! They were guys who had Number One hits during the last year and I was co-writing with them. Anyway, we're working together. We have an affiliation where he's out there plugging my songs to everyone and it's all because I decided to go to the TAXI Road Rally."

Kurt Hagan summarizes his two years at TAXI this way: "It's been really helpful to me in developing my career as a writer. The critiques have been honest and I learned from them. And the people at TAXI are always incredibly helpful. If I hadn't joined TAXI I would not have been at the Road Rally and never would have hooked up with Steve Bloch who's plugging my songs now."

This month's Passenger Profile story clearly shows that there are many ways members can take advantage of TAXI's services. And more importantly, there are things you can do while you're waiting to make that deal-like learn how to write better songs, develop your networking skills and work hard at your craft.

Whichever you choose, TAXI will be there for you.

See How TAXI Works

"TAXI provided real access to a nearly inaccessible industry."
— John Mendoza,
TAXI Member

"With help from you guys, the music is pouring out and I'm having such fun! Thanks!"
— Willie McCulloch,
TAXI Member

"Listen to what the critiquer is saying . . . they're usually on the money. Most important of all: don't give up."
— Jimmy Clark,
TAXI Member

"We appreciate all that you do and try to do to help us struggling songwriters!"
— Pat Harris,
TAXI Member