I get a ton of emails asking what I think about certain services for musicians. One of the companies I most frequently get asked about is Taxi.
Should you sign up? Maybe...
To help you decide, ask youself these questions.
1. How do you define opportunity?
Here is my definition. If you think like I do, you may very well have a good experience with Taxi.
2. How do you feel about the following comments?
"I found the critiques and forwarding of songs to be very hit or miss - depending on who listens to your submissions each time (which you have no control over). For instance, I would have the same song criticized by one person, and then applauded and forwarded by another critic several times. Once I was told by one listener that the reason they didn't like one of my songs was because they didn't like the way I wrote a specific lyric (one sentence - it was too "poetic" and not natural speech) - yet another listener mentioned that they loved that specific lyric and forwarded the song!"
These are comments from a former Taxi member that I took from a discussion on a popular music business mailing list. Even if you have absolutely no interest in Taxi, I think they still bring up a very important aspect of the music business.
Here is the reality of how your songs, your performance, your muscianship, your stage presence, and anything else about you is judged...
1. Everybody will have a different opinion of your music, regardless of how good (or bad) it is.
People like different things. Some people, as this example illustrates, like "poetic" lyrics. Others don't.
This is a good thing. If somebody doesn't like your stuff, keep moving, because there is likely somebody who does.
The problem happens when nobody likes what you're doing. If you're not getting people to your shows or your music isn't selling, it may be time to look at your music. But if you've got that going for you, don't worry about one or two "critiques" saying you suck. Yes, they have industry experience and some specialized knowledge of what makes good music, but the only thing that really matters in the music business is whether your fans like your stuff and are willing to pay money that will enable you to keep doing it.
Lots of well-known albums have been panned by critics. The first Led Zeppelin album got a bad review by Rolling Stone. And the magazine hated everything Journey did.
So don't get your panties in a wad when somebody doesn't like what you're doing...especially if they're asking for something specific and the comment is in relation to that. Not only do people like different things, they also define things differently. A "happy" song for one person might be totally different than a "happy" song for somebody else.
2. It matters who you associate with.
A lone tree looks bigger than a tree with a bunch of other trees around it.
When you submit music to something like Taxi, where lots of music is reviewed at once, you'll be sandwiched between other music. You'll be compared to what's before you. If the music before you is amazing, it will affect how your music is perceived. If it was not so good, it will affect how your music is perceived.
When you submit to a music conference, you have to deal with the same thing.
When you submit your music to me at Music Business Radio, you have to deal with the same thing...on the air.
If it fair? No. That's the way it works though.
Taxi sends out a list of what people in the industry are looking for. The more you "write to order" and send in music for these listings, the better you'll get at providing what people are looking for. To me, that is worth fees they charge, regardless of whether or not you get a cut directly through them.
Taxi membership gets you into their conference in Los Angeles every year. Hundreds of people go and it's a great way to meet and network with like-minded people. To me, that is worth the fees they charge, even if you don't do anything with the information they send you during the year.
I'm not a fan of the "middle man" aspect of Taxi. If you're in Nashville, or LA, or NYC, or are good at making direct connections with people, you're probably better off striking out on your own, getting a tip sheet like New on the Charts, or a directory of record label people like Music Registry. If you like somebody to hold your hand though, even though it doesn't give you the freedom of striking out on your own, Taxi will probably be a positive experience for you. If nothing else, it can be a great motivator to write more.
If you've got a catalog of stuff and want to "make existing songs fit" the listings that Taxi sends, I'd skip it. If you want to "write to order" or are flexible with what you've already written, meaning that you're willing to change things based on what people are looking for, you may very well have a great Taxi experience.
Regardless of the direction you choose, keep moving forward with your music. In the music business, timing is everything. If a song doesn't work right now, it might work later, so keep pitching it. With that said, don't let the possibility of a great future be an excuse for not trying to make what you've got now better. Songs are never done. Keep improving and keep trying to better your odds of success.