Answered by: Michael Laskow
I've been reading through the community threads and posts and I find fun and frustration mixed together. One question that keeps coming back is, "How come everyone I know loves my stuff, but the screeners never forward me?" You gave some great info on how TAXI works and why screeners WANT to forward our stuff. But I think the real frustration comes from some of the comments we get. I agree that we are competing with the likes of Jeffrey Steele and others (in the Country market) and that we should compare ourselves with the best. Why then do we hear new releases that don't hold a candle to those great songwriters and are... well... not nearly as good as those hits that we have to compete with or get returned? The comments we receive on our returns talk of overdone clichés, yet a new release will come out with... you got it... a worn out cliché. We got our stuff returned, someone else got a cut using a worn out cliché. Somehow, it doesn't seem fair. I do appreciate all (y'alls) efforts.

Scott Booker

Hi Scott,

No one is more frustrated than I by an industry that holds TAXI to a super high standard, then signs a bunch of crap anyway. The problem is that when we lower the bar even a smidge on our end, they call us to complain and stop running listings.

Ultimately, the public decides what stays on radio via call out surveys, but the same A&R guys who complain about clichés, are in fact the people who sign songs loaded with them. I wish I could push a button and fix that.

One thing I HAVE noticed is that sometimes, if not frequently, the songs with the clichés do have some other "thing" or elusive quality that still makes it sound like a hit, even though it's cliché ridden. It could be a cool melody or a rhythmic thing.

Look at "Who Let the Dogs Out?" The industry demands perfect lyrics from us and our members, yet that song was a hit!! But you know what? It was sooooo obnoxious, that it WAS catchy. There are always exceptions to every rule. But I agree with you that the rule sucks!

By the way, the old "Everyone loves my stuff" comment comes up all the time. The next time somebody says, "Dude, you're awesome, you ought to have a record out there!" Look them in the eye and say, "You're right! Would you mind taking out a second mortgage on your house and fronting me $250,000 to make and market my record?" That'll tell you if they REALLY love your music. That's how much an A&R weasel has to LOVE your music.

It's easy to tell somebody they're great when you're not gambling your entire career on that comment. A&R people don't just risk their jobs with every signing, they risk their career, their house, private school for the kids, and their trophy wife in Beverly Hills. They think long and hard before they put all that on the line. Somebody paying you a compliment risks nothing.

I don't mean to sound like a hard ass about this, but try to put yourself in their shoes. How careful would you be?

Come to the Road Rally and I GUARANTEE that you'll see our members being harder on their fellow members during the listening panels than the A&R people are!!! Surprising but TRUE.

I am a new member and just received my starter kit. I would like to let you know that I am starting off with a bad first impression.

The first thing in the package is a letter telling me that my $250 only gets me SOME of the listings. If I want ALL of the listings, I have to pay another $150 for TAXI Dispatch.

I had done a good bit of research before signing up for TAXI, and never came across a mention of Dispatch. I really feel it should be part of the regular membership, but at the very least it should be made clear when signing up that the basic TAXI membership does not include all the listings and that there is an additional fee for a premium membership. The way it is now, it feels sneaky. If I sign up for Dispatch, does that come with another letter asking me for even more money for some other kind of listings?

It seems like a lot of your marketing material goes toward dispelling the skepticism that so many other companies who promise to help musicians have engendered. I am sorry to say that I am starting out with TAXI feeling cheated.

Thank you for your time.

Jordan Yaruss

Hi Jordan,

I'd be happy to give you a refund to dispel your feelings of being cheated. When I started TAXI in 1992, we worked with 20 companies, and typically ran about 20 listings per month. Now we bring the needs of over 600 companies to your doorstep, and more than 100 listings per month.

In 1992, we didn't throw a convention that's FREE, and VERY comparable, if not better than other conventions which cost twice what your membership costs. Oh yeah, and you get TWO FREE tickets to the Road Rally!

It's also worth noting that our membership fee remains the same as it was in 1992. Does a car cost more than it did in 1992? A house? A shirt? Groceries? Yet even though our overhead has increased by MILLIONS of dollars, the cost of a TAXI membership has remained the same for 13 years.

Dispatch was created about three or four years ago. It costs extra salaries, extra real estate, extra marketing costs, and extra customer service costs. Basically, it runs us about $125,000 per year to add that level of service.

If you order leather seats in your car, do you get them for FREE? If you upgrade to first class on a plane, does it cost the same as coach? If you get a new Strat with a hardshell case rather than the gig bag it came with, does it cost the same?

I think it's fair for us to expect that if we're going to keep adding services that cost us hard dollars, that we should be able to at least recoup our investment.

Not all of our members want Dispatch. Should we raise the price of TAXI for ALL members to pay for something that only 10 percent want, or should we just charge a premium price to the people who want the premium service?

We went with the latter.

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