Sherry’s shirt perfectly describes who and what she really is: Supergirl!
Editor’s Note: This is final part of this incredibly inspiring interview we recently did with TAXI member Sherry Marcus Milano. If you’d like to read Part One, click here, and click here for Part Two.
I was really impressed to see that you and Marcus came to our convention, the Road Rally, while you were still in your first year of membership. I feel like we often have to beg people to come during the early part of their membership. But, if they do come as newbies, they get a tremendous leg up because they’ve learned things that make their memberships so much more fruitful. Were there any revelations from your first Rally that had a positive impact moving forward?
Our membership started in December of 2015, so we had almost a year until our first Road Rally, and we decided very early on about that “All In” commitment we’re always talking about. We prepared that whole year and locked in on an intention to have 100 pieces of music forwarded by TAXI by Rally time and set our inner GPS to get us there; the Rally was the carrot in front of our noses and we couldn’t wait to meet the friends we were making on the Forums and in the TAXI TV chat room. The biggest revelation once we got there was the love, the kindness, the genuine camaraderie. That’s the real gas in the TAXI tank that keeps it running at top performance! That first Rally is what opened the door for 300-plus signings in the year that followed. We’re shooting for 350 by New Year’s Eve.
It’s no secret that the Rally is a great place to meet industry people – music supervisors, music library owners, publishers, and A&R people. Do you have any advice on things one shouldn’t say or do when they meet an industry person at the Rally?
Well, that’s a tough one, because we’re dealing with personalities and individual schmooze strategies. I can say, “don’t pounce,” yet you need to be assertive. Prepare what you want to say, and practice until you feel comfortable and confident. You only get one chance at a first impression.
"Less really is more, which is not my natural tendency, so I edit. I’ve become more of a surgeon than a stylist lately!"
Do you have any advice you can pass along for your fellow members when they meet potential collaborators at the Rally or online? How do they know when it’s a good fit? How do they move forward... what’s the next step?
Explore. It’s like dating. I’ve found that my new collaborations have their best chance when we’ve both listened to one another’s work and hear something we like and can feel. So I’d say start there. Listen first. Communicate. Sometimes I’ll send a couple of finished songs that display my lyrical style and flow, along with a few completed lyric sheets, so they can choose one to work on that inspires them musically, or they’ll send me an instrumental. At the same time, I’ve already listened to their music on their websites or Soundcloud, so there’s some preparation. Remote collaboration is a very new process for me too, because I’m so used to being there with a co-writer, playing with ideas, trying different things, making “mistakes” that take you to unexpected, even better places... I miss that part. But I also love stretching and growing, as well.
Sherry Marcus Milano is flanked by her two talented sons, Ethan on the left, and Marcus on the right.
I’m guessing that you and I are of a similar vintage and grew up listening to much of the same music. Has it been hard for you to learn to write and produce music that’s more contemporary sounding?
It’s a new discipline, but I’m learning so much, and I’m always in a better space when the student in me is thriving. Robin Frederick’s books, her TAXI TV tutorials and critiques, and her Rally classes have been my biggest source of help with my two main challenges right now: sounding contemporary and writing universal lyrics.
Is it true that you and Marcus signed 300 songs and instrumentals during the year between the 2016 Road Rally and the Rally in 2017?
Yes we did, and we are so grateful to you and the TAXI family. It all happened as a result of our first year of learning the ropes and the connections we made at our first Rally.
"The deadlines keep us on task, time-conscious, and disciplined."
How did you guys crank out so much music, while maintaining the quality?
Neither of us were new to writing and producing broadcast-quality music. It was already our full-time work long before joining TAXI. But it still took that first year to figure out how to blend what we were doing with what TAXI’s client’s required. We adjusted our content to the recommended form, and utilized the returns to build our understanding and resiliency. Now that we’ve developed a bit of a system, the process moves along pretty quickly. But we have never worked at this level, this quickly, ever before. See what happens when you’re having fun?
Have you changed anything in the way you work now that you’ve realized that part of the success formula is cranking out a lot of music and getting it in a bunch of catalogs?
I’ve replaced trying to make it my idea of perfect with making sure it works for the listing. Less really is more, which is not my natural tendency, so I edit. Can I say it with fewer words, does it really need the Rhodes and the piano... As an old-school producer, I hear so much more in my mind than is usually called for in our industry and in current, contemporary music. Now I’ve become more of a surgeon than a stylist lately, lol!
Can you tell us how you feel about the TAXI member-created mantra of “Write, submit, forget, and repeat”? Some folks might think it’s somewhat mechanical and antithetical to music creation. How do you feel about it?
Well, you still need music creation to Write and Repeat! To me, it’s a clever way of saying that in the “music business” there’s the music part and there’s the business part, and they’re both necessary. Submit and Forget are the business verbs, the detached, methodical parts of the equation, whereas Write and Repeat are where the muse plays.
Great answer! Do TAXI’s Industry Listings work well in giving you targets and deadlines?
Absolutely, and it has sharpened our respective skill sets more than I ever thought possible. In the early months it gave us a focus so we could go from “what do you feel like writing today?” into “here are the TAXI listings we chose; which one should we start with today?” We only had one time we couldn’t meet a deadline, and found out the next day it had been extended! The deadlines keep us on task, time-conscious, and disciplined.
"The voice that says it’s impossible is just fear, something I call False Evidence Appearing Real."
When you see a TAXI Listing that looks appealing, how do you approach it?
More carefully than we did at first when we were trying to do too much of everything. Sometimes I’ll say, “We can do this one!” Then there’s the realization that just because I think we can, doesn’t mean we should, if there’s something we know is more in our lane, where we can produce three good ones in far less time than my “challenging” one would take to do.
Do you pay more attention to the references or the description?
Sometimes it’s tricky; I’ve learned to read the description slowly and all the way through once I get past the first excitement surge, and often I’ll stop midway to read it again so I stay on track. The first reference listed is usually the safest bet, but I listen to them all.
What are your goals for the next five years?
To become five years wiser, happier, and farther along at understanding and fulfilling my part in this fascinating adventure of life; to keep working with my sons and making inspired music together; to see and enjoy the fruit of all this labor and watch it become a reliable, ongoing, and ever-increasing source of revenue, and to keep paying it forward. There are many things to accomplish; Marcus and I get great ideas and entire downloads of possibilities pretty frequently, but we feel that locking in on specific goals would limit what could just unfold, as long as we focus on doing and being our best in our work and in our lives. So that’s the plan: joy, faith, gratitude, and abundance!
If you could wave a magic wand, what wisdom would you impart upon all musicians who have dreamed of a career in the music industry, but deep, down inside, thought it was an impossible goal?
I’ll share the wisdom my Dad passed to me: “The dream the burns within you could not be there if the fulfillment of that dream were not built in with it.” We all come with a purpose, and it usually sits in the center of that dream. When there’s something you love to do that brings you pleasure and satisfaction, something you can do almost effortlessly but you always want to learn more and get better at doing, and it’s something you do without thinking about getting paid for it, PAY ATTENTION. If it brings thoughts like “If I didn’t need to make money, this is what I’d do all day,” that’s your purpose, your calling, your place! Find ways to get paid to do it in some form, even if it requires study, training, or having side jobs while you build. The voice that says it’s impossible is just fear, something I call False Evidence Appearing Real. The voice of the heart only knows love, so love yourself enough to go after what calls to you, and you’ll be surprised how doors will open. The most important relationship you’ll ever have in this life is the one you have with yourself.