By Kenny Kerner

This month's Passenger Profile is on a TAXI member who has been with us for about seven years—prosperous years, too, as you'll soon discover. Mike Schmid has received more than 50 forwards, but more importantly, he's negotiated five lucrative deals through TAXI that have led to many long-lasting relationships and plenty of national exposure. But we'll let Mike tell you the story:

How were you first introduced to music? Do you play an instrument? If so, when did you first start to play?

MS: My parents let us try everything:  Little League, wrestling, piano lessons, etc. But the piano lessons were the only thing I was really into, so I stuck with it. I started playing when I was 5, and wasn't any good till I was 10 or so. Then I started to really enjoy it. Also, I grew up listening to Pop radio. My sister and I would sit for hours and days at the boombox, and tape our favorite songs on cassette, and then we'd spend our summer listening to those tapes.

When did you start taking music seriously?

MS: In 6th grade, my sister and I started playing out. She would sing and I would accompany her on piano. We did a bunch of talent shows locally, and that's when I really began to enjoy it. When I was in 7th grade, I started accompanying the school choirs, and by the time I got to high school, I was accompanying 11 choirs every week. At that point, I thought I wanted to be a classical pianist.

When did you really think you could actually have a career in music and make money?

MS: Well, I never really thought about making money as a classical pianist. I just thought it was something I would enjoy. After high school, I won a national piano competition, and the grand prize was a recording session.  Instead of recording an album of classical piano pieces, my sister and I decided to do a full album of techno and drum n' bass songs—what I was really into at the time. When we were writing the songs, I discovered that, although I didn't have much skill at it, I really enjoyed the art of songwriting. So I went to college as a songwriting major, and I knew that was what I wanted to do. But I never really thought about the money-making aspect of it. It wasn't until after college, in Los Angeles, when I started playing for higher-profile acts, that making money as a musician became more realistic.

Did you encounter any frustrating experiences trying to get into the industry?

MS: My frustrating experiences were all personal. The industry is everything you hear people say: It's overcrowded, it's cynical, and it's incredible. But as soon as I moved to L.A., I started having intense throat problems, and it's taken me about five years to get through them. I'm just now starting to feel better. The whole time, I was submitting music, though.

How did you first hear about TAXI and what made you join?

MS: I first heard about TAXI in a music magazine. I lived in Pennsylvania. My sister and I had just recorded that album, and we had no idea what to do with it. TAXI seemed like a good way to get the music to publishers without any worry.

How has TAXI been helpful to you?

MS: The deals I've gotten have been lucrative, and have lead to long-standing relationships with those production companies. They call me for songs now. I've gotten national exposure on several projects, and all thanks to TAXI. I have gained many fans from many places (U.S. and abroad) as a result.

The most recent is the deal with 5Alarm Music. It was initially a placement deal for one song (through the TAXI listing) to be on the DVD set of Felicity. But they loved my stuff, and asked for more, so I have an agreement with them for 20+ songs now. I ended up getting three placements on that Felicity DVD. In addition, they got my songs into more than 900 theaters nationally, and they've done four or five cycles so far, with a different song each time. I had similar deals through Position Music and J2R Music and have gotten additional placements through those.

Do you read the song critiques? Have you learned anything from them?

MS: The song critiques can be valuable. But it's all got to be taken with a grain of salt, because opinions vary so wildly in this industry. It's important to learn the craft, and have the chops, and then know whether to take the criticism or leave it. Much of it is very helpful though, not just for writing, but to know where to market particular songs. I always look forward to reading them.

See How TAXI Works

"My writing and production skills have improved 200%! Although some credit belongs to me for such hard work, a lot belongs to you!"
— Chris Musulin,
TAXI Member

"Wow! 6 forwards for one listing! Thanks guys, you made my day (week, month, etc!)"
— Reid Power,
TAXI Member

"I am in awe of the sheer volume of amazing ideas to help musicians that you not only come up with, but make into real opportunities."
— Mara,
TAXI Member

"You are making an incredible difference in the lives of musicians and artists trying to break into the business!"
— Rob Khurana,
TAXI Member