By Doug Minnick
Hi Doug (and all at Taxi),

Just wanted to fill you in on the latest. On Monday, November 24th, I signed on the dotted line with Extreme Writers Group. I'm very excited. It sure feels good knowing that I now have a publisher on Music Row pitching my songs and working for me 24/7. With all that behind me and a good little travel advance fund in the bank, I can focus on making a lot of trips to Nashville and writing some hits. Right now I've got songs on hold for Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts, and Diamond Rio. We'll see.

I can't express enough appreciation for all you guys have done for me.

Some very promising things are happening. In my last visit I had the opportunity to write with Derek George who has written some stuff recently for Rascal Flatts. My publisher just got me a gig to perform live at an RCA new artist night in February. All these things that are happening have been a direct result of you guys.

It wouldn't be a fair assessment, however, if I didn't mention a couple of the frustrations I've encountered. One of which is just the general pace of gettin' things going. I've had several holds that didn't pan out. I've learned that a hold is a long way from a cut. Something to be happy about-but hold your excitement. You're probably up against a bunch of other holds, not to mention the artists' songs and the artists' friends' songs and producer's songs etc.. So it's all the politics I'm trying to cut through. And it's terribly frustrating to have someone say "your songs are absolutely phenomenal, don't have a cut yet. You're still unproven." There's a serious lack of gut in Nashville. On the other hand almost everyone has been very supportive and willing to take the time to talk with me. So that's why I'm focused on getting more good co-writes in the next few months.

Anyway, just wanted to update you guys, and to thank you again for an incredible year!!

I'll keep you posted.

Elliott Park
Baird, TX

Dear TAXI,

I became a Taxi member in Autumn of 2003. I've learned a great deal through your articles and personal critiques of my songs. This brings me to my question. When I receive critiques from Taxi rejecting a song for reasons such as: Lyrics are too abstract, can't understand lyrics well enough (i.e. too far down in mix and/or not well annunciated etc.), verse is stronger than chorus, chorus is not memorable, one note is slightly out of tune -etc., who am I being compared TO? By what standard is one being measured, as MOST of the songs on pop radio are guilty of ALL (and sometimes much more)of the aforementioned? Thanks!

Daniel Johnston
Milwaukee, WI

Hi Daniel,

Our A&R staffers listen with the listing company in mind. Any submission needs to be good enough-and close enough to their request-that we can confidently walk into their office, slap the CD on the desk and stake our reputation on it's quality. If we fall short of that, we lose our credibility in the industry, and no one runs listings with TAXI anymore.

This means that music that is forwarded is being compared to hit songs on the radio, or professional caliber music in other areas (like film and TV for example).

So while there are shortcomings and weaknesses in lots of songs on the radio, it is not the healthiest idea to compare yourself to the worst music out there. You should be striving to create the best material you can. Don't be satisfied with a weak chorus or an out-of-tune vocal or whatever, and rationalize it with the fact that others make the same mistakes. If you recognize them as mistakes, work past them. Fix them,, work, work.

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