By Michael Laskow
TAXI’s 22nd Road Rally convention begins on the evening of Thursday, November 1 and ends on Sunday, November 4. It’s closer than you think, and the planning is well under way at TAXI world headquarters!
Your planning should begin well in advance of the Rally as well, so we recently asked TAXI members who have attended past Rallies to share some tips to make the weekend super productive for you, and of course, lots of fun!
From the TAXI Forum:
If you are driving to the hotel and intend to park in the hotel's parking structure, be sure to inform the check-in person [at the hotel’s front desk] you want the discounted TAXI RR attendee rate. (Hopefully that's still in the offering.) They will give you a special card/ticket for the self-service entry/exit gate. Might save you a few bucks. The entrance to it is on the right side, behind the hotel, as you enter off of Century Blvd.
- Attend both mentor lunches.
- Get the Rally schedule in advance (before you arrive) and plan out your days.
- Plan on socializing around the bar, regardless of if you drink or not.
- Don't bother making CDs unless you want to have your music played during listening panels. One song per CD, label it, test before you bring them.
- Have business cards, preferably with some white space on the back to take notes. Carry a pen always.
- If you can afford it, arrive a day early and volunteer helping to stuff the Rally swag bags. It gets you early access to the One-to-One Mentor selection line. TAXI will send out a letter asking for volunteers at least two months before the Rally.
And to me, the most important thing you can do: PRACTICE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH so when someone asks you what you do, you can answer coherently.
- "I'm primarily a guitar playing singer/songwriter and focus on Americana, but I also dabble in other guitar-based genres."
- "I'm new to the business, but I want to write instrumental cues for tv. My main genres are electronic like Future Bass, EDM/Dance, and some Hip-Hop."
- "I focus on piano-based music: reflective solo stuff, cocktail jazz, emotional/drama underscores and new age."
- Thing NOT to say: "I'm a multi-instrumentalist and can do a whole lot of genres. What do you need?"
Hope this helps.
Socialize, socialize, socialize. Don't hide in your hotel room. When the day’s events are done, make sure to hang out at the bar and introduce yourself to every person possible. You might meet a new collaborator, you might learn an awesome recording technique, and you might just make some lifelong friends!
Don’t go up to people and try to make a connection with only how it can benefit you in mind; be genuine and build real relationships. These aren’t just connections you’re making, they are potentially great relationships and friendships. The few people who come off as needy and are just looking to benefit themselves, stick out like a sore thumb.
Don't think of it as only being about meeting A&R folks, getting "discovered,” etc. Meeting and building relationships with other TAXI members is probably the most important part!
This might seem obvious but Take notes, Take notes, Take Notes! I still review my first TAXI Rally information. There is just too much to rely on your memory!
- Read the One-to-One Mentor bios carefully, then shortlist and prioritize your most appropriate mentors. After registration, go straight to book your mentor and session, as the popular mentors are soon fully booked. The 15-minute sessions are over in the blink of an eye, so have in mind what advice to ask for so you can “cut to the chase.” Double check your session time, because it might be in the middle of a class! Be fair to everyone else by arriving early and leaving on time, otherwise you're cutting into someone else's 15 minutes.
- Mentor lunches cost no more that a similar quality meal in the hotel anyway, so get tickets for both days. Get in line early if you want to choose a seat because the tables fill up fast. The best seats are closest to the mentor so you can hear them (it’s noisy in there). Everybody wants to hear the mentor speak, so if they ask everyone at the table to introduce themselves don't tell your life story. Book Mentor Lunches in advance of the event and pick up the tickets at the TAXI registration area.
- Study the class schedules well. The start/end times often overlap and it will be impossible to attend everything that you want, so plan ahead and prioritize. If there's a clash of timings on classes you'd like to attend, find a friend who's attending one and go to the other then share each other's notes afterwards.
- Put your music on your phone (or mp3 player) and make sure you can quickly find your tracks that you might want someone else to listen to.
- Carry a Y-split cable for ear-buds so that you can both listen at the same time. Keep your earbuds with you so you can listen to other people's music too.
- Make a few well-labeled CDs though to give to those who prefer “old” tech or listening later, and also for the one-to-one mentors who use ghetto blasters to hear your music.
- The more you socialize, the more business cards you'll collect, so make a quick note on the back of each card to remind you who those people were (e.g. what you discussed, where/when you met, their special skills, etc). On your own business card it might help to have your photo and your TAXI Forum name/avatar on there.
- Keep checking the stalls in the Book Sellers area. Vendors might be there for a limited time only, so if you see something you're interested in go for it there and then, don't wait until tomorrow as they might not be back.
- The combination of excitement about the event and exhaustion from long-distance traveling can take its toll. Evenings in the bar should not be missed, but don't neglect the need for some good sleep so you can get the most from the next day. Oh, and take it easy with the free Rockstar (energy drinks) or you'll be awake all night!
- Everything that has been posted is exactly what I would have said … I can add, however, that the One-to-One Mentor meeting is very important. Don't skip it just because it's a long line or you didn't get the person you wanted.
- Also, do not be shy about just saying "hi" to an industry person as you pass in the hallway. Don't try to give them your pitch ... just say hi and something complimentary like, "I enjoyed the panel you were on this morning. Learned a lot!" I am continually surprised at how friendly and approachable people are.
Ask folks at the Rally what you can do for them. It's not about you, it’s about the community. It’s about sharing information. Everyone is a resource. Also, make sure to hit the Thai place [next to the hotel], and get some bacon at Denny’s [down the steeet].
Have a simple but professional elevator speech... business cards, if you are handing out CDs, have labels printed or go to the Disc Makers booth and make sure they look professional... remember that business card or CD is what will be representing you AFTER the Rally.
If you submit music to a music industry professional for them to listen to and provide feedback on after the Road Rally, MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW UP WITH THEM after the fact! I've been a presenter/mentor at the Road Rally for 15 years in a row (wouldn't miss it for the world!), and each year, I typically receive 50 to 60 CDs (or other media) from attendees who want me to listen to their music and provide feedback. Consistently, only five or six of those people ever follow up with me. That's only TEN PERCENT of the people who ever follow up! Not only does following up get them the feedback they seek, it also makes them STAND OUT as one of the few who are professional and reliable. I always remember them, and have developed great professional relationships (and friendships) with many of them over the years.
If a breakout session isn't for you for any reason, feel free to politely leave and go to a different one. One size doesn't fit all!
Don’t be shy. Put yourself out there and introduce yourself to those around you.
Write down the names of the people on the panels and note what they do. Also taking a picture of the people on the panel can help you remember who they are by putting a face to their name for future reference. You'll meet so many people by the end, that it's hard to remember who does what, and what they looked like, unless you have a photographic memory in which case, I'd love it if you could share some of that. lol. Googling their pictures can also be helpful.
Carefully choose your One-to-One Mentor. That connection from the 2014 Road Rally has been the most enjoyable and profitable for me.
Take some quiet time during the day to recharge your batteries!
Making friends and building relationships with your peers is just as important (I would argue more important) as making connections with industry pros.
Have fun; these are all great people.
Show up as your true self – not your representative
SLEEP!! No matter how much fun you’re having, SLEEP! I am speaking from personal experience. Sadly, it took me till my third Rally before I figured this out and heeded my own advice.
Pace yourself. You literally CAN’T do everything there is to do. Then focus on enjoying the things you ARE doing. Be in the moment. And, people are more important than sessions. Foster relationships.
Make a goal for the rally. What do you need/want to learn? Focus on that. Too many things will leave you a bit overwhelmed.
Even if you are an introvert (like me!!), decide ahead of time to be bold and talk to people! Network! Ask questions!
Stay at the hotel on site. Well worth the cost, plenty of people look to split the cost. Look on the TAXI Forums to find new friends! - Patrick Adams
The 2018 Road Rally is in the planning stages, so this year’s schedule isn’t locked in yet. If you look at the 2017 scehedule, you’ll get a great idea of the amount and quality of the information offered each year.
We’ll update you as panels, classes, and mentors are confirmed. Register for the Rally soon, buy your plane tickets well in advance, and book your hotel rooms ASAP, as they sell out every year, and you don’t want to miss being at the epicenter of activity and networking!
See you soon!