Passenger Profile: Greg Shearer

By Kenny Kerner
Greg Shearer
Greg Shearer is a professional composer/producer and artist, but among his many credits is the prestigious honor of getting his music in the highly acclaimed Oprah Winfrey TV show through his TAXI Dispatch membership. I'll let Greg tell you all about this and other great accomplishments:

When did you first realize music was going to be your career?

GS: Like many kids, I got an electric guitar as a Christmas gift when I was about 11. All through middle school and high school I played in bands, some of which did very well, but it wasn't until after my first year of college as a psychology major that I realized that my greatest sense of joy and fulfillment came while playing music — so I switched majors and universities and started studying music in earnest.

Did you come from a musical family?

GS: No one in my family (that I know of!) has been a professional musician, but many of my family members are serious music hobbyists, so there was always a high value placed on musical participation and education.

What was your very first success in the music field?

GS: I guess that depends on how you define "success" — it could have been being in a teen Rock band that opened up for some national touring acts, or it could have been when I heard a song from my first CD playing on a car radio parked next to me at a stop light, or it could have been writing and producing my first national TV spot. It could have been starting my own production company, StreetLevelSound, or getting my music placed into a CBS Movie of the Week. It might have been hooking up with the Harpo Production folks and getting regular play on those shows! In some ways I guess I'm still anticipating that moment . . .

How did you get the gig on The Oprah Winfrey Show?

GS: That came as a result of a TAXI Dispatch listing. The original call was for orchestral backing type tracks. Since I compose and produce in a whole lot of styles, I had some good examples of this type of work to submit. Within a couple of days I received a call that I was on a list of seven that had been narrowed down from 50 or so. Several days later I received another call in which the deal was explained and offered. Since that time, I have been able to provide them with quite a few tracks for show content, promos, bumpers, etc.

Do you get all of these gigs yourself?

GS: In this business getting the gig is more than half the work — there are so many qualified individuals! Establishing and maintaining good relationships is a key factor — being friendly, positive, and walking the thin line between effective self promotion and egoism. Many of the gigs I get come through existing relationships — previous satisfied clients, referrals, mutual friends, and sometimes word-of-mouth. Sometimes I get a gig as a subcontractor for another production company that needs extra help pitching a client. TAXI has been a great way to get my stuff in front of potential clients who I might not otherwise meet. In that way you can use TAXI's relationships and network of contacts to your own advantage.

What was the highlight of your career so far?

GS: A couple peak experiences come to mind — the first was writing and producing my first national TV commercials. The musical direction for one spot was sort of a retro big band Jazz thing for client Union 76. We hired a lot of Chicago's best players for the session. It was a real kick to conduct those musicians and hear a great realization of my piece. I get a similar thrill every time I get to step in front of a large orchestra in the studio under the pressure of client scrutiny. Another recent highlight of my career was being voted as one of the top 10 composers worldwide in Extreme Music's "Extreme Idol" competition in 2003.

What made you join TAXI?

GS: A couple of years ago, I was producing some Country tracks for a friend who was a TAXI member. He told me about his positive experiences and suggested I check them out. I did — and joined soon afterward. I added TAXI Dispatch as soon as it became available.

How have they helped you?

GS: My initial idea in joining was to use TAXI to try to place some of my miscellaneous tracks of varying style that weren't being used. But I soon found that it was a great avenue for broadening my exposure to potential music clients who might be difficult to reach in another way. The folks at TAXI have been very friendly and accommodating — especially Chris Baptiste, the director of film and TV at TAXI. This past year has been particularly rewarding — with both the Oprah gig and the CBS Movie placement!

You have a Masters degree and are doing doctorate work. Did that education help you in your career?

GS: Sometimes I think I'm way overeducated for some of the work I do — but then along comes that big orchestral scoring gig, where you have to conduct great symphonic players and earn their respect quickly by speaking to them in their language — knowing their concerns — like bowing for strings, etc. It certainly adds a dimension to my marketability — allowing me move from the world of "the street" to the recital hall if that's what it takes to get the gig!

Do you recommend TAXI to others?

GS: Without a doubt — TAXI is not only a valuable tool for existing professionals who need to expand their contact base, but also for the up-and-comer who needs guidance and critical appraisal on their songwriting and production. There is also a whole bunch of other helps that TAXI can provide to those just starting out, from info on copyrighting to the ins and outs of licensing to production ideas.

Well, there you have it. Greg is equally at home in front of a live orchestra as he is writing a song at his home. His recommendation of TAXI goes a long way as Greg is the consummate professional who still relies on TAXI for networking and exposing his original music. Whether it's Dispatch or just plain TAXI — we are the No. 1 independent A&R company in the world. So why not climb aboard?

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TAXI Member

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TAXI Member

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TAXI Member

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TAXI Member

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TAXI Member