Saturday, April 26, 2008

the tables have turned

There's a period of time early in their careers for all burgeoning songwriters and bands where they decide that they have something marketable/unique/professional enough that they want to make the jump from hobbyists or garage bands and try for true fame and fortune. It's usually after they've managed to have written at least a handful of songs and most likely have recorded at least one of them in some sort of version.

Nowadays, the first few steps towards notoriety tend to involve posting this recorded material on either MySpace or YouTube. But in the era before the Internet, there were seemingly very few roads into the industry.

- You could gig forever until you had an undeniable fan base (i.e. - Hootie and the Blowfish)
- You could magically find a well-connected producer who loves your work
- You could spam the world with demos (which ended up in the trash, if unsolicited by labels)
- or you could pay Taxi

Taxi is an "independent A&R company" that claims to be a magical bridge between unsigned bands/songwriters and the elusive power brokers that make and shape careers. Taxi's whole gig is that you give them your material and they send it to labels, music supervisors, and producers for you until you become a success - and all it takes a $300 a year membership plus $5 per song you want to submit each time you submit for a listed opportunity.

For bands that are just starting out, that's a huge money suck. Taxi claims that you get as many as "1,200 opportunities a year in just about every conceivable genre of music" to submit your stuff. Let's say that you're sitting on the world's greatest song and you end up submitting it for every listing up there. You're now spending $6,300 a year trying to get your song heard through Taxi.

Like I was saying, Taxi exists and presents itself as a magical in-road to the industry, and therefore every band seems to agonize over joining it at one point or another. Unfortunately, horror stories swirl about Taxi, too. Mostly about flushing endless amounts of money into a system that doesn't actually get you any results. Are the horror stories true? I don't know. I do know that I've never heard of a single person on the Success Stories page. And, to be honest, for a company that's been around as long as Taxi has to have "Four major labels came to see my show because of TAXI and then one of the A&R guys invited me to hang out at his house the very next day" as one of their top success stories is not a good sign.

Anyway, I'm at a meeting yesterday about something and when I return to my office, I have a message blinking on my phone. Turns out, I got a call from Taxi. Taxi called me to introduce themselves, tell me what they do, and try to pitch to me that they're an invaluable service to Music Supervisors and that they'd love to talk to me about all the great music LucasArts games can get by associating ourselves with Taxi. I'd forgotten all about Taxi, to be honest, and at that very moment I realized that I'd made it as a professional musician. Without sucumbing to the lure of Taxi, I'd managed to network myself into a great gig, climb the ranks to a Music Supervisor role, and now I have Taxi chasing after me. And come to think of it, I have no idea how they got my phone number. It isn't listed anywhere ...

I guess Taxi is magical.

1 comment:

EmoRiot said...

In recent years, as record labels have folded, consolidated into conglomerates, and otherwise continued the industry contraction that's happening as a result of digital file sharing and digital distribution, the industry has become a wash with people who used to be A&R and now find themselves out of work. As a result, the new cottage industry is "dream makers." People who claim to have inside access to labels (ie. their old rolodex file) and who, for a small (large) fee, can get your music into the right people.

They're all scams.