By Kenny Kerner

Stuart Ridgway is a college graduate with a degree in mathematics and computer sciences. Although his first love is music, he didn't think that he could turn it into a lucrative career—until he found himself in his mid-twenties working for AT+T and he realized that if he didn't take a chance on his first love, it might be too late.

What follows is a short but inspirational question and answer session I had with Stuart one quiet Sunday morning:

Was music always a part of your life—even from childhood?

SR: At six years old, my sisters and I had to take piano lessons and I was the only one who kept at it all the way through high school. I kinda tolerated the lessons partially because I didn't feel I had the right teachers until I got into high school. I was always an "ear" player and never got into the reading music thing. My high school teacher understood where I was coming from.

Like most others, were you also in a local band in school?

SR: Yeah—I was in two bands in high school and was also in the men's choir. At this point in my life the playing in bands was for fun. I thought it was pretty cool and a good way to meet chicks. I remember saying in school that I could never be a composer because I didn't know how to do that thing. The H.S. bands were cover bands but by the time I got into college, we were writing original material.

You went to college in Connecticut. What were your majors ?

SR: I majored in math and computer science. I didn't major or minor in music but I basically was able to take all of the music classes I wanted. I didn't major in music because I didn't think there was any real future in a music degree. I didn't think that degree would get me anywhere. I played my Mirage when everyone else was getting a DX-7 and I also had my Korg Poly 6. I graduated and went into consulting for about three years when I found myself in Omaha, Nebraska working on a project for AT+T and said, "this has got to end." I just knew I wasn't going to be doing this for the rest of my life. I had a Latin jazz band that I wanted to do a lot of work with but my job was getting in the way so in 1992 I decided to open a recording studio.

Opening your own recording studio is a pretty big financial step. Was it successful?

SR: Well, the bank owns me for a very long time. This was in the Washington, D.C. area and I was one of the first studios to have ADAT at that time. What happened was that I was spending a lot of time with my clients and that left me with little time to work on my own material. Nevertheless, it was an incredible experience because I got to experiment and build my chops on hip hop and sampling and got to be able to just fly around the studio. Once I started the studio, I did that full time.

How did you go about turning your attention to furthering your career?

SR: I had a couple of clients at my studio who were writing music for jingles and documentary films. I thought that I would give it a shot so I put together a demo reel and sent it to some of my clients for their comments. That's really when I began writing more and more and turned it into a full-time thing.

How did you discover TAXI?

SR: When I started writing full-time, I had no idea about how hard it would be to get my foot in the door. I kept banging my head against the wall. I was only getting dribs and drabs of work while still working with some clients. I always saw the ads for TAXI in magazines and thought I'd do it. I also read about the Road Rally which seemed really cool. So, in mid-2001 I gave it a shot.

And I'm assuming that TAXI came through for you?

SR: I've made several deals because of TAXI. I made one with Joe Bourne Productions, one with MBA Music, one big one with Bunim/Murray who originally contacted me for some music for the P. Diddy series, Making the Band for MTV. That didn't work out but when I met with my contact at a later date, they spoke with me about a new NBC show called Starting Over. Anyway, the show debuted this September and my music is being used in that NBC show. It's freakin awesome.

And all of this success was due to deals you made through TAXI?

SR: Yes. I told Cathy to tell Michael that this certainly would not have happened without them! I give TAXI complete props because I've gone to a ton of music conventions, dealt with a ton of people in different areas of the music business, and TAXI is the total cream of the crop! The Road Rally is overwhelmingly filled with good information. I've been to the last two Rallys and never felt like I was wasting my time there. All of the other conferences are just full of crap. They don't really tell you anything you can't figure out by yourself by reading a book and they charge you a whole lot of money for that. And, they don't even try to get your material out there for people to listen to it. They give their seminar and run out the door.

So you credit TAXI with opening the doors to your career?

SR: Absolutely. And the spirit of the entire company is on the up and up. All the people on the staff have always worked hard to stay on top of things and to help me out. There's nobody else out there like them. They have the contacts that I've been able to parlay into something real for my career. I work really hard to make my CD and music easy to understand and on putting together a nice package and in following up and tracking everything once I get it out. You gotta make it happen for yourself, also.

You can hear some of Stuart Ridgway's music on the NBC series, Starting Over this fall. Check your TV listings for the exact air time.

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