Your Fellow Members
Screen the Screeners

By Sebastian Robertson
taxi music screeners
Twice a year, we invite a randomly chosen group of our Los Angeles-based members to our headquarters, to critique the critiques, and the screeners. Each member gets a stack of 56 critiques. They are given little direction, other than to judge the critiques based on whether or not they'd feel as though they got their money's worth (or better, we hope!) if they were on the receiving end of the critique.

The screeners/critiques are then graded on an A-F grading system. We had some screeners that scored perfectly, and we had some that were as low as B- on an individual critique. Not one screener averaged below a B!

One of mandates at TAXI, is to continually improve our service. We have an in-house monitoring system of the critiques setup, but we find the members opinion to be invaluable. This is an excellent way for us to learn more about the needs of our members. In this year's session we found that the members were very interested and pleased when the screeners were very clear about the style requirements of the listing. We find more often than not, our members submit to a listing that is inappropriate stylistically. So, we are trying to be very clear in the critiques as to what style your song might be, and for which genres your music might be best pitched.

Overall, I'd say the day was a great success for all of us involved — especially you! Thanks to your fellow members Jessica Penner, Richard Harris, Gary Kochakji, Charity Chapman, Norene Foin, and Lisa Gewirtzfor helping us keep the screening process and the critiques that come from it, vital, informative, and constructively helpful to you.

Here are some thoughts from your fellow members who served on the panel this time:

After that, it's up to the singers and musicians to bring your song to the next level. There's nothing more fun than listening to world-class musicians and vocalists record a song you've written. The more you prepare in advance, the more you'll enjoy your studio experience.

I couldn't help but notice that the critiques are getting better (Charity has done this before.) I've suspected it with my own critiques, but I really got to see it when I looked over hundreds of them and saw the same running themes: clear ideas about what might improve the song, tons of specific comments about what didn't work and knowledge of the genre at hand.

I read countless paragraphs of praise, doled out for great musical hooks and ideas. I think at least some, if not all of the Screeners like their job, like the music and want me (and all of us) to be giving them tunes good enough to forward every time.


Got to say I really found the Screen the Screeners day an eye opener. It's always good to get some perspective on life and this was a great opportunity to see the other side of the coin as a member of TAXI. Not only were most of the feedback forms very detailed, but the screeners in the majority seemed to care about what they were saying.

It also showed me how high the bar is set for songs to get forwarded. In many cases it appears that the songs submitted were really good, however were not passed on as the standard to get forwarded is not just "good," but obviously pegged at "great."

I view this as a positive thing not only as it says a lot about the how professional TAXI wants to be received by the industry and therefore bring more opportunities to us writers/artists, but also how satisfied we members can feel about a song being forwarded. The grade really is high.

We all, without exception, saw things that could be improved, but to be honest they were marginal and I think we graded most screeners as either A or B, which I hope gives all members another boost of confidence that being a member of TAXI is a very positive and professional part of their career.



Hi, Sorry I wrote so much. Feel free to edit. It's just that I'm feeling so buzzed and empowered since "screening the screeners". This has given me a much clearer sense of direction and hope. I had no idea that I was gonna get so much value from this experience.

And to think........... I was ready to rip the screeners a new one!

I found it to be an interesting experience. I didn't listen to any songs. I was given a stack of critiques and asked to grade and respond to them as if I were I were the person receiving them. Personally speaking, when I receive a critique, I pay less attention to the section that is scored 1 thru 10 and find more value in the more personal nature of the written comments. So, I did not look for consistencies between the scores and the comments as some of my fellow participants did. I based my comments on the screener's sense of empathy, clarity, helpfulness and overall emotional tone of the written comments.

There were a good amount of songs sent in that were not close enough to what was being pitched. Still, if the screeners liked something about the artist or the song, they let it be known and were very supportive. Even when they had to deliver bad news about an out of tune vocal, it was never done in a mean spirited way. Bearing in mind that I did not listen to any music, I found the screeners comments to be very fair and articulate. I found this experience a very helpful one in terms of my own future submissions. I'm gonna make sure there's a lot of contrast between my verses and the chorus. I'm gonna write lyrics and music that really work well together (prosody). No longer will I throw any song at an inappropriate pitch just to "see if it sticks." I know I can succeed at this. This experience has shown me the way.



See How TAXI Works

"I have spent my life playing and singing in bands and this is the most real thing I have ever seen."
— Dwight Nichols,
TAXI Member

"I am enclosing a check for my third year of membership in TAXI. You've got a great thing going, and it's fun being a member."
— Thomas Hipps,
TAXI Member

"In this competitive field you need all the help you can get and with TAXI, you've got a friend in the music business."
— Richard Scotti,
TAXI Member

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