A Transformative Weekend
How The 2017 Taxi Road Rally Exceeded All Expectations
This article first appeared Recording Magazine in January 2018. I reprint it here with permission, and I encourage you to subscribe to that publication, as they are a stand up bunch of folk!
Two disclaimers: Recording Magazine and Taxi have a great relationship, so I understand if you expect a bit of bias; I personally was a Taxi member for a short time 15 years ago, and not since. (2019 EDIT: I actually did become a Taxi member for the year after I wrote this, and did not renew, which doesn’t mean I don’t think you should. It’s one of the only pay-to-submit companies I would recommend.)
Now that that’s out of the way, GO TO THE TAXI ROAD RALLY. I went this past November for the first time, and I started the weekend with at least a small amount of skepticism. I’ve never liked paying any kind of membership fee for anything, and I’ve always especially distrusted anyone who asks for money from artists. So although friends were telling me Taxi’s great, I was really only going to the rally to network.
Boy was I wrong. I haven’t been this excited, juiced and sparked since my first National Poetry Slam, which if you’ve never heard of it, is 5 days of the 300 best performance poets in the world going head to head. It is one of the most intense, beautiful and transformative experiences you can go through. So is the Taxi Road Rally.
First off, take the breakout sessions. 4 time slots a day, with at least five different options for classes from industry pros – and I’m talking people who will melt your face with their credits, and then melt the rest of your body with the depth and clarity of their knowledge – on topics spanning from how to reverse engineer an instrumental cue to how to deal with stage fright, to how to master with new LuFS standards, to how to decipher music business contracts, to how to achieve balance and success without messing up your marriage (that last class, taught by Jill and James Kocian, revolutionized my career in a single hour and is easily the best thing I’ve done for myself in 20 years).
Next let’s talk feedback. One-on-one mentoring sessions and group mentor lunches where you can bend the ear of producers, sync agents, radio promotors, other musicians, and so on. Not to mention several listening panels with industry pros who will tell you in no uncertain terms what’s right and wrong with your music (from their unique industry point of view), and do so in an empowering way that truly helps.
You know all this though. You can see it in the back pages of this magazine quite often, and you can read it on the Taxi website.
What you may not know about, and what made me want to go back next year, and re-join Taxi ASAP, is the incredible community of like-minded, supportive and positive dreamers that Taxi members are. Members lift each other up, encourage each other, collaborate with each other, eat together, laugh together and make the big bad L.A. music industry feel like a huge beautiful slumber party – with millionaire mixers and hot shot producers in the next sleeping bags.
Not once did I hear a piece of feedback that didn’t start and end positively (I call that the sandwich method). Not once did I witness any sort of competitive vibe or see anyone stepping over each other to get up. The whole tone of the Taxi Road Rally, to borrow from Marc Smith (the inventor of Poetry Slam), is “pull the next one up”. The result is a collaborative energy that has clearly resulted in success AND happiness for countless members, and a level of overall quality that was frankly mind boggling.
AND I got to walk around with a guy who mixed and produced Christina Aguilara and Will Smith (Rob Chiarelli) and the guy who wrote Every Which Way But Loose (Steve Dorff)! That was a funny story! Not to mention men and women who have written with, produced, mixed, played with and known almost every artist I’ve ever heard of. To hob-nob with great people in the recording industry and have it be not only NOT intimidating, but absolutely invigorating, is, to me, high achievement.
As to whether I would recommend you join Taxi, I couldn’t say. That depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and where you stand in your career. Taxi, like any such company, can help you a LOT, but only if you’re ready to utilize that help. If you’ve got a good sized catalog, or you’re good at writing or producing music quickly and to spec, AND if you have the right attitude about feedback and being willing to grow and change, then Taxi could be great. If you’re not willing to change or your skin is too thin, or maybe you’re a beginner starting out, I’d say wait. But I encourage you to get on their list and check out the listings they send out (for free). That alone can teach you a lot. And when you’re ready, get yourself out to Taxi’s Road Rally – maybe as a guest of a member, like I did – and bring your tunes, your good vibes, and a REALLY big, empty notebook!
In the meantime, you can go check Taxi out and see if you like the vibe at www.taxi.com.