by Dave Latchaw
Awhile ago I had the opportunity to attend an interesting lecture given by Michael Laskow, the president of the A & R service Taxi. He covered a wide range of topics including how Taxi works, and various other aspects of the music business. I am currently a member of Taxi, I first signed up in 1992. The way Taxi works is, they are in direct contact with record companies, publishers, and film and t.v. music supervisors, and know what they are looking for. Twice a month, via regular mail or email, Taxi members receive a current listing of music wanted in many different categories. Taxi give specifics on this list, and if a member feels they have something that fits a listing, they send it in. Taxi then carefully listens to all of the entries that they receive for a listing by the deadline given, and if they find a gem that is appropriate for the listing, they pass it on to the company that placed the listing. The people who do the screening are highly qualified in their specific genre. For some listings, you receive just a “yes” (it’s been passed on) or “no” (it hasn’t), for others, you get a “yes” or “no” and a critique. The critiques that I’ve gotten so far have seemed very objective and helpful. One of the best things about the service is that anything passed on by Taxi will get listened to, it becomes solicited material. That’s next to impossible to do on your own. I think this is a brilliant idea! What a great resource for those in search of getting their music heard. It makes sense for the industry to use Taxi too, it saves them time to only have to listen to material that has been pre-screened by a knowledgeable A & R person.
In 1992 I was recovering from several years of banging my head into the walls of the U.K. and American record and management companies. (I was the keyboardist for the Scottish rock band “The Heat” from ‘86 to ‘90). “The Heat” had moderate success, but Taxi could have saved us many hours of frustrating schmoozing and networking. The amount of time wasted trying to get music to the music bizz underlings that might do something about advancing your career, is amazing! From my experience, the record business of the 80’s was all about connections. Bands would pass a tape on to a person who’s girlfriend’s brother mows the lawn of the accountant of somebody connected, thinking that this could lead something. Connections do help, and you can still try to do that today, but you will try many of this type of “passing the demo on” scenarios before anything might happen. Then you’re lucky if a person who can actually do something will even listen to it. Usually that person already has a mountain of music to check out. With Taxi, you can cut down the time of mass mailings, endless schmoozing and networking.
I was very surprised at the cast of characters at that Taxi lecture, (myself included). You could tell what kind of music people were into by the outfits they had on, which was pretty amusing. I was surprised by many of the questions in the open forum discussion about the music business. Ignorance is not bliss. With a bit of effort, one can educate themself about many aspects of music and the music business. You have to take responsibility. When Michael asked the room of people “Who reads Billboard?”, very few responded. Billboard is one of those publications that you have to check out and be aware of if you are working in the commercial area of music. Besides the many books and magazines that have information about various aspects of the music business, one can use the Internet for gathering information. Billboard has a web site, and also sites like Music Business Solutions and artistpro can be useful as resources.
The music business is generally not a simple, logical process. In the music business you meet all types of people who give you plenty of reason to be skeptical, but I was impressed with the genuine sincerity of Michael Laskow and his company, Taxi. Even from the website, you can tell they want you to have great information on how to improve your abilities and have a chance for success, and Mr. Laskow was just like that in person. Taxi is very clear about what it is and what it is not. From my experience, Taxi does not guarantee you success, but your music will be listened to by someone knowledgeable in the industry, and will have a much better chance of being passed on to someone who can make something happen. Seems fair enough to me, and worth the cost of being a member of Taxi.
(Shameless plug…if you check out Taxi and think it’s cool, and you join because this article led you there, please tell them Dave Latchaw referred you! Thank you.)