Creating a Balanced Career
of Music and Technology

Passenger Profile: Sam Gigliotti

By Kenny Kerner
taxi member success rate gigliotti
To Sam Gigliotti, music is all about conveying emotions. And he couldn't be more accurate. Sam combines writing, producing, and performing both classical music and electronic music successfully. He has toured, played hundreds of gigs, recorded his own music, and finally came to TAXI in 1998—some eight years ago—to achieve even more success.

A player from age seven, we'll let Sam tell you his story:

Did you come from a musical family?

SG: Yes, my father is a professional musician. He still plays an average of 10 gigs a month!

When did you first start taking music seriously?

SG: I started piano lessons at age 7, but it probably wasn't until I started playing in bands at around age 14 that I realized how much fun it is to make music. Then, a few years later, I got a four-track and started overdubbing. When I figured out how hard it is to make good sounding recordings, I knew I had a lot of learning to do.

Who most influenced you musically as a child?

SG: My father let me sit in starting in my teens, so that was a big influence. As far as bands, like everyone I loved the Beatles. I also wore out my Jimmy Smith records trying to learn his solos.

Have you ever tried going for the "record deal"? What happened?

SG: Several times, although the most serious was in the mid-90s in Atlanta. We had a six-piece Latin-influenced Pop band, recorded a CD, and played as many gigs as we could. After doing that for awhile, though, I realized that personally I enjoyed writing, recording, and producing much more than I liked to play out. Fortunately, that was the same time that the home studio became practical, so I was able to head in that direction.

What was your very first major achievement as a musician?

SG: Hard to list one. Hearing something I wrote being played on the radio was a highlight. In Atlanta, we were fortunate to play several times for the athletes in the Olympic Village during the '96 Olympics, including immediately after the closing ceremonies. That was a late night! Getting the first "forward" from TAXI after a lot of "returns" was encouraging, as was getting the first actual deal.

When and how did you begin to make music your career?

SG: I think the first time I stepped into a recording studio, I knew that I wanted to be involved in that area of music. I love both music and technology, so recording is a natural area for me to be in. Like most musicians, I went through a long series of bands, lounge gigs, etc., before I figured out what was the best route for me to take in a musical career.

What made you join TAXI?

SG: When I realized that one placement in a TV show can pay as much as five nights sweating it out in a bar! To break into that world, you need to get your music into the hands of a completely different set of people than if you are trying to get a record deal. TAXI seemed like the best way to do that.

Can you explain the deals you made through TAXI?

SG: The most exciting one so far has been a deal for an independent film American Shopper. It is still in production, but being a movie lover, I am really looking forward to seeing my name in the credits of a film.

I also have several library placements, which have not led to any licensing yet, although my fingers are crossed.

How has TAXI helped you as a writer?

SG: Ruthlessly objective feedback! Everything I have submitted has gotten better as a result of the critiques. Being computer-based, I can take the feedback and implement it very easily. I love it because it makes the music stronger, and that much more likely to be used.

How do you manage to balance classical with electronic music?

SG: Interesting question. A key thing in classical music, particularly instrumental music, is to have strong melodic structure—theme, variation, recapitulation. I try to follow that idea as much as I can, so that there is something for the listener to latch on to in the absence of lyrics. Also, I almost always use a piano somewhere in a piece—besides being my favorite instrument, I think it makes a nice contrast to the electronic elements. Finally, I try to use vocal phrases where I can—sometimes a spoken phrase, sometimes an ethnic sample or a choir patch. Even if you can't understand it, I think the emotions in a voice are processed on a subconscious level. Music is all about conveying emotion, so the more tools you can use to do that, the better.

Sam is right about one thing—the money you can make from placing a song in a commercial, film, or TV show is usually far greater than the money you make from gigging! And that's what TAXI helped him do.

Hey, Sam, here's to another eight years!

See How TAXI Works

"I just want a shot, and I feel that TAXI has given that to me."
— Roger Yeardley,
TAXI Member

"TAXI provides opportunities to people who otherwise would have no access to the music industry."
— Tom Wasinger,
TAXI Member

"Nothing bad can come from belonging to this unbelievable organization that has definitely allowed my songs to be stronger than ever."
— Justine Kaye,
TAXI Member

"Business is business, but TAXI has a heart. I wanted to send my praise to you for creating this "family" of members."
— Tom Johnson,
TAXI Member