Written by Michelle Murray, SAW Board Member
I have known about TAXI for years, but until I attended my first TAXI rally, I never understood how helpful it could be in reaching my songwriting goals. I’ve been a songwriter for many years and I’m actively involved in the Songwriters’ Association of Washington. I’ve always wanted to get my songs used in film/television, etc., but never quite knew how to go about it, and it just seemed like a pipe dream that not many could really achieve. I didn’t know many people who had actually done this successfully. But then, through a SAW open mic that I host, I met SAW member and MASC award-winning songwriter Michelle Lockey, who has been a successful TAXI member for six years.
In case you don’t know, TAXI is an Independent A&R company that was founded in 1992 by Michael Laskow to help songwriters, artists, bands and composers get their music heard by record labels, music publishers, and supervisors of film/TV projects. Record companies, publishers, and music supervisors call TAXI directly to find new artists and bands to sign and to find songs, instrumentals and tracks for TV and film placements.
Before last year’s rally, Michelle invited me to a Skype song critique session with TAXI founder Michael Laskow. He listened to one of my songs and liked it, and said that he could hear it being used in a movie about the South, being played in jukebox in a diner. It was very specific and I had never thought about my song being used in that way, but it was very encouraging! After that session, Michelle told me about the rally and encouraged me to go. I’m so glad I took her advice. It was there that I first realized that there were thousands of songwriters doing what I wanted to do, and that it was entirely possible for me to do so too. No longer did this seem like a pipe dream, but a dream that was in reach, if I learned all I could and worked hard at reaching my goals. This was quite the eye opener since I never realized how many people just like me (that is, not celebrities) were doing this successfully.
Lockey explained how TAXI has helped her songwriting career. “I joined TAXI Independent A&R in the fall of 2009. Since then I have met hundreds of people in the music industry and formed new co-writing relationships. I met most of these people through TAXI’s forums and Rally. TAXI holds many classes at the rally and I began to learn more about songwriting for film & TV.” Over the years Lockey says her catalog of songs and her network grew. “Connections from TAXI forwards as well as connections through the rally have opened up a whole new world. My songs are consistently being signed by publishers and placed into Film & TV projects. TAXI was the launching board. I owe TAXI so much for helping me get to where I am today. I am now able to do what I love for a living and it is awesome!” If you want to hear more of Lockey’s perspective on songwriting, check out her blog at: www.michellelockey.com
This was my second year at the TAXI Road Rally, but the first year as a member. I had a good time at last year’s rally but this year was even better. To be around so many talented, supportive songwriters was just amazing. I've made so many new friends and collaborators, and made some great contacts too. What struck me about the rally is how supportive and encouraging everyone was to each other, whether it was industry VIPs giving advice or fellow songwriters providing tips and offering to collaborate. Last year, I came home from the rally with a couple of goals: record a few new songs and try to get placed in a library. Happily, both of those goals were accomplished by this year’s rally.
One of my goals going into this year’s rally was to find more collaborators. Another was to build on last year’s networking opportunities. I also wanted to learn more from the classes, which was easier to do in the second year. The first year was a little overwhelming, so I was able to focus more on the classes this time around. I accomplished all of those goals, and it turned out even better than I expected. After this year’s rally I’ve set some new goals: write more songs and get started with home recording! So many of my fellow songwriters are more prolific than I, and that has been one of my challenges. I know now that I need to write on a regular basis, without worrying how “great/good” the songs are; what’s important is to just start writing. To that end, I finally decided to join a weekly songwriting challenge Facebook group founded by several TAXI members.
Through the rally, I found at least five new potential collaborators, and made some important industry contacts. I spent many years as a solitary songwriter, but through the TAXI world, I’ve seen how many songwriters collaborate with each other and the advantages of co-writing with other songwriters. Not only does it increase potential contacts, but it can help you grow as a songwriter to work with others and learn from them. In the collaborations I’ve done so far I’ve learned a great deal, and hope to learn more with my future collaborators, including several songwriters from Canada! New relationships with songwriters, formed through collaborations, can also lead to contacts with music library owners/publishers, as well as connections made by approaching those people directly.
In addition to meeting some wonderful new songwriters, I also learned a great deal from the classes and the music panels. Listening to the industry VIPs critique songs was a great learning experience -- to hear how their minds worked first hand was fascinating. I took many notes during that panel and didn’t even care that my song wasn’t picked. In fact, I was a bit relieved after hearing how tough they could all be! It was also inspiring to see how some people, right on the spot, got potential placements from the panel. It was also interesting to hear the varying opinions of each panel member undefined in some cases, one member disliked a song, but another one loved it and want to place it.
All of the classes I took were very helpful, but one in particular that really helped a lot was Casey Hurowtiz’s class on “Simple Song Structures That Sell.” This class will help immensely as I start to write new songs. It was also nice to hear the perspectives of seasoned songwriters who have substantial success and experience in the field, including Chuck Schlacter’s class, “Building a Catalog is a Marathon, Not a Sprint,” John Mazzei, Matt Hirt and Dave Walton’s “The 5-year Plan: A Film/TV Music Business Plan,” and Bob Mete’s class “The Pursuit of Excellence: Determining Winners From Others.” All these classes had helpful insights and provided good advice.
There is also the benefit of experienced members helping out newer people. One night in the lobby, several of the instructors I had met earlier went out of their way to encourage me in my relatively new journey as an aspiring film/TV songwriter. Their encouragement and support meant a lot. As one of the instructors said in his class, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It’s all possible because of this special gathering that is known as the TAXI Rally. It’s been a life-changing event for me this year and I can’t wait for next year’s rally for even more wonderful experiences!
For more information about TAXI, you can visit their website at: www.taxi.com.