Tech Tip:Reach For The Sky
By Michael Laskow
Whoever said, "You can accomplish anything you want to if you really put your mind to it," was absolutely right. You can. I mean, you can. I know that for a fact because I have done it.
I left a six-figure job to start TAXI. I waved good-bye to the company BMW and bought an old clunker. We moved out of a three bedroom home and into a one bedroom apartment. And that was where TAXI was born.
We ate rice and beans for a couple of years. We avoided going to weddings and birthday parties because we couldn't afford to give gifts. We couldn't afford to go out to eat, so we'd scrape a dollar-fifty together from the "change jar" and go to a Mexican restaurant where you could eat free nachos when you bought a coke during happy hour. It was a humbling experience, but character building as well.
I know many of you already know this story, but I'm repeating it today for a specific reason. I want to reaf a firm that focus, along with diligent work, really does pay off.
It took nearly eight months of planning just to open the doors to TAXI. My days were consumed with making to-do lists, and methodically checking off items one by one. I didn't start with the easy tasks, and pass over the hard ones. I did them in the order in which they needed to be accomplished.
I worked sixteen to eighteen hours a day. I mean really worked. My life was focused on just one thing; making TAXI a successful company. I had to rekindle old relationships in the industry. I had to build new ones. I had to find people who were not only well qualified to screen submissions, but had the right attitude to genuinely help our members.
The hardest part, oddly enough, was getting musicians to believe that TAXI was legitimate. I naively thought that it was such a great idea, that thousands of members would join in the first few weeks. I could not have been more wrong about that.
So many songwriters and artists had been ripped off by one person or another, that they were extremely skeptical. I couldn't blame them, but I knew I was honest and TAXI was legit! All I needed to do was convince the rest of the world of that. It wasn't an easy task. It still isn't.
I knew that there were only two things that I could do to prove that we were legitimate. The first was to just deliver more than we promised. The second was to let people know that was the case. That required marketing skills I didn't have, so I began to read every marketing book I could get my hands on.
I expected the first book to be some sort of magic bullet, but it wasn't. It taught me a valuable lesson. There is no such thing as a magic bullet or a short cut. Everything good seems to take time and buckets of effort. I couldn't read just one book and get all the answers. Nine and a half years and more than a hundred books later, I'm still learning every day.
As songwriters and artists you need to establish realistic goals, make a plan, stick with it, and be persistent in your pursuit of your goals.
What is a realistic goal for you? Do you want to be a rock star? If you're forty-five years old and you don't look like Britney Spears or Ricky Martin, that may be unrealistic. Consumers love youth and sex appeal.
But that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel. It just means that you need to find other ways to earn a living with your music. Film and TV placements may be more realistic, and provide you with a higher probability of success. And let's not forget songwriting. That's where the real money is made in the music business.
What if you're a songwriter, and you haven't yet reached the point where you're getting forwarded by TAXI. Should you just give up? Hell no! Use TAXI's A&R team to help you learn how to become the writer you want to be. Read Billboard. Read the books we recommend on the back of the critique sheets and on our website. Study the masters of the craft. Get obsessed with becoming the very best. Remember, you can achieve your dreams through focus and hard work.
And if you write a string of duds, don't let it deter you. Obstacles are placed before you to help you learn. As Lamont Dozier said on the Hit Songwriters panel at last year's Road Rally, "I have good days (as a writer), and I have learning days." I hope you are all blessed with as many "learning days" as Lamont has had. I've had nearly thirty-six hundred, and loved most of them.
When I started TAXI, it was one man, one computer, one small apartment and one goal. As of two days ago (when we moved in to our new "real" office in an office park), we are now a full time staff of ten people, an A&R team of one hundred thirty people, and still, just one goal--to make TAXI a successful company.
That's right, even though we have more than sixty-three hundred members in thirty countries around the world, we still strive to make TAXI better on a daily basis. I hope our story inspires you to aim high, and never quit trying to reach your goals. "You can accomplish anything you want to if you really put your mind to it."
Brought to you by TAXI: The Independent A&R Vehicle that connects unsigned artists, bands and songwriters with major record labels, publishers, and film & TV music supervisors.