We’ve been so slammed making this year’s Road Rally the best ever (we’re not exaggerating), that we didn’t have time to interview TAXI member Sherry Marcus Milano for this month’s Passenger Profile. We promise to interview her right after the Rally!
When we started looking to see if any of our recent Profile subjects had mentioned the Road Rally, we weren’t all that surprised to see some great advice. We thought we’d share these interview excerpts with you so you can see just how important these Passenger Profile members think the Rally is…
Fett (yep, that’s his entire name)
Here’s what I tell people who are thinking about joining TAXI…
Oh God, please don’t turn this into a commercial. People are going to think I asked you to say this…
No, let me say it! It needs to be said, and you didn’t ask me to say anything!
First, if you don’t have an open mind and don’t want to learn and change, don’t sign up! Assuming you get past that first hurdle, then you should sign up and be prepared to listen—a lot! And for at least a year, do mostly listening and paying attention to what others are doing and saying. And nowhere is there a more valuable place for that than on the “Best Kept Secret of TAXI”: the TAXI online Forums. There is a community of literally hundreds—maybe thousands, I don’t know… of other friendly, supportive people with previous experience and a willingness to help you along in every imaginable aspect of the process, from creating the material, to performance, to which virtual instrument library to invest in, to production tricks – and it’s included in the price of your TAXI membership! You can even listen to – and join a discussion about – which songs did and didn’t get forwarded for a particular listing, and most importantly, why!
I find it very interesting that many of the most active members on the TAXI Forums are also the most successful members. They’re the ones who’ve been TAXI members for five, 10, even 15 years and have made a lot of money through their association with TAXI—some of them to the point of it becoming their sole source of income. And interestingly, those people who have “gotten it,” and figured out all the “hidden secrets” of success are the ones who are the most willing to share their expertise and help their fellow members along. It is so NOT the stereotype of the back-stabbing, turf-protecting music industry ethic!
Now, take that vibe and environment, put it on steroids, multiply it by 2,500, and that’s what you get at the Road Rally every year. I should know; this year will be my TWELVTH Road Rally in a row! I literally re-arrange my recording and teaching schedule every year to make absolutely sure I will be able to make it to the Road Rally – it’s that valuable an experience to me. As Nancy and I have always said, “The emotional and professional lift we get from three days at the Road Rally each November carries us through to at least March or April of the following year!” It’s that incredible of an experience.
And, just like the Forums, it’s included FREE with your TAXI membership!
Okay, you’re starting to sound like a commercial again.
Seriously Michael, I think it should be the duty of every TAXI member to do everything in their power to make the TAXI Road Rally their “music industry pilgrimage” every year, because entire, successful music careers have been built from the Road Rally alone. I have witnessed it personally; it’s not just a bunch of marketing hype.
Well, when you say it like that, I think people will see your emphatic endorsement as genuine.
Can I say more about TAXI, or are you going to edit it all out?
Maybe you should say something negative so people don’t think you’re shilling.
How about if I just tell the truth?
How much of what you write and record is a collaboration VS the material you create on your own?
I would say right now it’s about half are collaborations with a small group of talented writers, artists, and producers that I work with on a regular basis. I am currently starting to work a lot more on my own, but I still feel strongly about the value and power of collaboration with the right people. It’s great when they compliment your skillset as well as filling in the areas that are not necessarily your greatest strengths.
How have you met your collaborators in person?
Yes! Some of the relationships began on the TAXI Forum, some in the chat room during the live TAXI TV broadcasts, but eventually I met all of them at the TAXI Road Rally. Many relationships began for me at the Rally, not only with fellow members, but also with music library owners and publishers who eventually signed my music. The Rally is free with your TAXI membership, and it’s a chance for you network with so many other like minded people in the business. It’s amazing! I would not have any of the success I have had so far without the TAXI Road Rally. It’s a no brainer in my opinion, if you’re serious about your career.
I saw the following post on the TAXI Forum minutes before I started working on these questions: “Thank you all for welcoming me (us) with open arms… it really feels like being part of an amazing family… And to the new members... follow the plan… don't get down… keep creating and trust your path and the process. Go ‘all-in’ with TAXI. Try the listings, get on TAXI TV, GET ON/STAY ON these Forums... they are priceless. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET TO NEXT YEAR'S RALLY. It is an impossible event to describe… and trust me, despite what any of us say, it will far surpass your expectations.”
With a community that inspires that kind of enthusiasm, why do you think there are still musicians who don’t take advantage of all the great stuff the TAXI community offers?
I honestly cannot say! This is a very competitive industry and I find this supportive community indispensable. Perhaps some people have an unrealistic idea that they will just all of the sudden be discovered and skyrocket into a successful career without needing to be part of a community like TAXI. For me, it provides a lot of education, support, and opportunity as I work hard to reach my goals.
Any sage advice for people about making the best use of the TAXI Road Rally?
For me, the annual Road Rally is the primary reason I continue to be a member of TAXI. I have made more contacts in the industry and made several deals from people I’ve met at the Rally. Not to mention the friends I’ve made.
Of course the classes are very informative – something for everybody – and the panels in the ballroom are the best. I even got to meet one of my idols, Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick. What a great guy he is!
I live in Los Angeles, near where the Rally is hosted. At my first Rally I went to the classes during the day and drove straight home afterward for dinner. I learned that there is great value in hanging out in the lobby/bar in the evening and getting to know people, going to the open mics, and general good times. You can’t get that online. So ever since then I’ve booked a room at the hotel so I can make the most of everything that the Rally has to offer.
It’s hard to describe in words. You just have to experience it for yourself. When you start hearing people on the forum talking about the upcoming Road Rally – months in advance – you begin to understand why people go through withdrawal anticipating the next Rally.
Kim (my wife) came with me to LA for my first TAXI Road Rally in 2012. I think she came away more jazzed than me! She’s always been a great networker and interested in self-improvement. During the Rally we split up often to attend different Drivers Ed classes. That’s the way we do things. We each have our strengths and support them in each other.
At my first Road Rally, I looked around at the MASSIVE crowd of members and guests, knowing that only a small portion of them were active Forum members. And then I considered how many other TAXI members weren’t even there at the Rally! It was mind-boggling.
I wonder if people are buying into this romantic notion of “I’m a self-made star, and everything I’ve achieved is because I worked hard and I prevailed and I am so cool.”
There are no “self-made stars.” No one can do it on his or her own. Everyone who has “made it” will tell you that they didn’t do it on their own. The TAXI Forums and the Road Rally are packed full of people who understand this very basic concept.
Have the relationships you’ve built with fellow TAXI members helped you become more successful, and if so, how?
For sure! First off, I have learned (and continue to learn) an incredible amount of information from these folks. The thing is, every single member is at a different stage of their career and has various experiences in the industry. Things never feel competitive, like you might find in other facets of the industry. Most importantly, TAXI members are eager to help each other out. I have also discovered most of my co-writers through TAXI. In fact, if I hadn’t met these wonderful people I would have missed out on numerous placements; including landing a song on CW’s The Flash recently, which was a co-write with the amazing artist Bamtone (also a TAXI member). I think that the tears you inevitably see for your members at the end of each TAXI Road Rally [conference] sum it up well.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share that can help the people reading this?
Keep at it, no matter what. There are so many ups and downs that it’s hard to not either give up or just become completely bitter. However, the likelihood of hearing your music on TV is very real; it just takes work and patience. Use ALL of the tools at TAXI, I can’t stress this enough, they are simply amazing. Reach out to other members, go to the Road Rally, watch TAXI TV, become active on the TAXI Forum, and become immersed! And lastly, be sure to have an honest conversation with yourself about your goals and what you need to learn to get there. Then…get to work!