Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

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bigdrisk
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Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by bigdrisk » Wed Oct 10, 2007 1:02 pm

I am grateful to have had a couple of forwards in the past couple of weeks. But I find it interesting how the same songs for very similar listings get returned depending on who does the critiquing - sometimes one reviewer "gets it" and the next one doesn't.It reminded me that through the 11 years (80's and 90's) that I had exclusive relationships with publishers, very seldom did any ONE song-plugger push a song forward without playing it for several others on the staff to get their feedback. Most often this is how momentum developed for plugging the song to an artist - as everyone on the staff agreed that it was a great pitch. Before I ever got any songs published, of course I made the rounds to all the various publishers (in those days you could just make an appointment and basically walk in). After a week's worth of interviews, on the four songs I was presenting, all but one publisher turned me down. For the one that took a chance on me, two of the four later ended up being #1 songs.I think sometimes people get so used to "unsolicited" material being crap that it becomes very hard for them to wake up to the diamond in the sand - Easier to throw it in the huge return box with the others and not risk their reputation. After all, even if the song becomes a hit, who's gonna know that he/she passed on it?On one hand, I admire the song reviewers at Taxi for the songs they DO forward, strickly on their lone recommendation. But on the other hand, I wish songs could "make the rounds" so-to-speak so that (at least with songs that have previously been forwarded) you didn't end up with such a hodge-podge of conflicting critiques.Maybe there could be some sort of code on a song that has been forwarded which could tell the next reviewer that at least one of his/her peers thought the song worth a pitch. Just a thought.For songs that have come through taxi which HAVE been recorded by major labels, it would be interesting to know how many times that exact same demo was "returned" for other similar listings. I'm sure sometimes taxi's song reviewers feel a little foolish to have "passed" on something that turns out to be a hit. Of course, no one is perfect. Even the most notable publishers have their "how-stupid-was-I" stories.

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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by hummingbird » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:14 pm

Hi - I think most members would agree that being returned for one listing and forwarded for another is frustrating but is part of being a songwriter pitching music. Screeners listen to music within the framework of a particular listing, and they are hired to do so because their expertise is trusted by the listing client. Even if song A was forwarded by screener A it doesn't mean that screener B is going to forward it, as screener B has a different set of criteria. As for critiques.... well, I make my living doing critiques & giving feedback... and my philosophy is that, while there may be a method by which good feedback is given, it is obviously going to be given in the language of the person giving it. In my case, I'm building a relationship with the student and I learn to give my feedback in their language. A screener doesn't have that luxury. In the Matt Hirt videos, Matt talks about critiques and he says... once you get over your shock... sit down and try to translate the critique. Try to get inside their head and figure out why they pointed that thing out. Also, IMO, it's important for all of us to remember that the screeners are not our enemies. They are trying to help us understand why they felt that particular piece of music didn't work for that particular listing. I'm sure they would rather give forwards than returns. But in face of returning something, they then have to try to figure out how to explain it to someone who is going to be very unhappy as soon as they see "R" & therefore isn't likely to really listen/learn.In addition, as an actor I've been to many auditions where you may read / sing fantastically and don't get cast because they want a dark-haired momma or they want someone 5'8" to fit the costume they have. Sometimes you don't get the part even though you're talented and sometimes you do. The rejection/acceptance stuff is very difficult to deal with but it is part of the creative life style and therefore we have to try to be somewhat objective about it. On my best days, I can shrug my shoulders at a return and say 'next time' because there are far worse things happening in the world. On my worst days... I feel like totally giving up and getting a 'real job' when I see that "we listened carefully to your song and decided it doesn't suit this listing".just my two cents CanadianHummin'bird
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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by sevenharkey » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:29 pm

Okay, first, Hummingbird, you struck a chord with me with the different days/different reactions to returns quip. Right now, coming off what seems like a conveyor belt of returns, I keep drifting toward thinking "screw it, you can't teach an alt.country dog new country tricks". I then pull myself back from the ledge, of course, but it gets harder with each return.Now on to the original subject. Here's a fear of mine: If our beloved screeners are chosen for certain genres due to their expertise, then there could be a limited number for a certain genre and the same submissions could run through the same ears, right? Maybe the screener remembered my stuff from a previous review that they returned, and there's already a bias. For instance, I haven't been in here for long, but some of the returns I've gotten are chock full of helpful critiques. Then, there's the recent run I've gotten of pithy, one sentence critiques that really don't offer up much more than "no". I've even wondered if they were written by the same person. (So does my wife, and I've been trying to tell her otherwise). Now...someone please tell me otherwise.Seven

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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by hummingbird » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:37 pm

Quote:Okay, first, Hummingbird, you struck a chord with me with the different days/different reactions to returns quip. Right now, coming off what seems like a conveyor belt of returns, I keep drifting toward thinking "screw it, you can't teach an alt.country dog new country tricks". I then pull myself back from the ledge, of course, but it gets harder with each return.Now on to the original subject. Here's a fear of mine: If our beloved screeners are chosen for certain genres due to their expertise, then there could be a limited number for a certain genre and the same submissions could run through the same ears, right? Maybe the screener remembered my stuff from a previous review that they returned, and there's already a bias. For instance, I haven't been in here for long, but some of the returns I've gotten are chock full of helpful critiques. Then, there's the recent run I've gotten of pithy, one sentence critiques that really don't offer up much more than "no". I've even wondered if they were written by the same person. (So does my wife, and I've been trying to tell her otherwise). Now...someone please tell me otherwise.SevenEvery screener has a number. Check who screened what songs (it's at the bottom of every critique - even if there is no critique, click on "see critique" and you will get your screener number). If you are getting one line critiques then - with all due respect to Taxi - I don't think that's good enough. Perhaps you could go to screener shout-outs and post an entire "one line review" and a link to the song plus the listing details and we'll all try to help you figure out what's going on.H
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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by ljweber70 » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:47 pm

I think the "make the rounds" suggestion is a good idea in theory. If multiple screeners were listening to songs, there is no doubt that we would probably see more consistent, logical results from our submissions. Kind of like our beloved judicial system(OK maybe not ). Perhaps there could be a "first tier" panel of screeners that could quickly filter out the obvious "returns." Then, the pre-filtered material would maybe go on to a 2nd set for another round of culling and finally to a 3rd set of odd-numbered screeners that ultimately make the decision by vote whether or not a song was forwarded. I would bet that not one taxi member would argue against a system like that! I'm sure there are a hundred reasons why it is not being done that way -- cost being primary.Larry

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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by hummingbird » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Yah, it would cost a whole lot more money to screen the music and probably take a whole lot more time as well. Never mind finding 3 teams of screeners who are experienced in that specific style of music & having them available to work whenever the listings came up.I do this already, myself, by resubmitting a returned piece. I'll either target it more effectively, or I will revise it and submit again. So in affect I'm getting into the 2nd tier. So it costs me $10 to get educated & then resubmit. Probably cheaper than paying 3 screeners to hear it (assuming it got that far).H
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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by bigdrisk » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:36 pm

Hummingbird, thanks as always for your response. I hope it didn't sound like I was completely frustrated or anything like that. I was just making an observation. I've only been a member of Taxi for a couple of months now and I'm just learning how to apply the system.Obviously as a long time and published songwriter I've learned how to take and apply criticism. In trying to branch out into the country marketplace I have found much of Taxi's critiques to be beneficial and am working on rewriting a few things.But in my years of being directly connected to a couple of publishers, I learned how few people there really are who both, have an innate gut feeling about a song AND are willing to put their reputation on the line for it. It's only natural. Heck, if I was about to pitch some songs to someone who I wanted to "impress", I'd want to have a few more opinions about the songs myself. That always raises the level of confidence. I mean . . . it's rewarding to help people get work and all (forwarding their songs), but every time you pitch a song that the client DOESN'T like, guess who's job loses a little security? So in those cases, you've tried to get someone a job at the expense of your own. I would think Taxi's reputation in the industry would only be benefited by pitching songs that have the stamp of approval by more than one screener.We're all influenced by other people's opinions. I'm sure the screeners don't WISH for all the inconsistencies. They'd surely like for there to be some consensus of opinion as well..You'd have to admit that, as a screener, if you started listening to a song that you already knew one of your peers "recommended", you'd at least listen with an expectation of it being better than the norm. I doubt there's any good way to accomplish this OTHER than perhaps what I suggested about a song being coded in some way once it's been forwarded so that a level of confidence can be established. I mean . . . why not figure out some way to code songs with the listing number it was forwarded on, so that the current screener can see what a previous screener thought a good pitch? Heck, even make it possible for the screener to view the previous critique if they wished. This wouldn't have to slow down the process. The screener wouldn't necessarily need to review the linked listings. If the screener just saw the code(s) there, that would be enough. But even if it slowed the process down a little, aren't the few songs being forwarded worth a little extra TLC?

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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by hummingbird » Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:54 pm

It's not that I disagree with you it's just that I look at the logistics of hiring someone to recode mp3s of songs. How would that work, anyway? Since I can, at any time, remix my song and upload it to taxi.com, Taxi has no control over my creative property. In addition, I wouldn't want coding to be put into forwarded mp3s as they are going to the company - not back to me to be resubmitted.Considering that Taxi can get anywhere from 5 to 1,000 submissions per each listing, and that there are at least a dozen or more new listings bi-weekly, plus several dispatch listings a week, keeping track of who has been forwarded and to what listing would be costly. Right now you get the forward & the music is passed onto the listing party and Taxi moves on. If you look at it from Taxi's viewpoint, just because you got a forward on a 'any style' listing doesn't mean you're going to get a forward for a high bar Nashville listing. Your song may be good enough to be considered for a certain kind of film/tv opp and not be at all right for another listing.I have had the experience of being enthusiastically forwarded for one listing, and having the same song returned by other screeners for other listings. I have to believe that, even if the returning screeners knew of my forward, that they would be doing their job by holding me to the standard set by the particular listing they are reviewing music for & returning my submission. If I can't trust that at least the majority of the time... then I can't be a member of Taxi, IMO.It occurs to me that you can take action to do this yourself when posting your work on Taxi.com. Simply add at the bottom of your lyric sheet "Forwarded by Screener #000 to Listing #SyymmddAC". Problem solved Of course, you probably wouldn't want to list your returns
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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by bigdrisk » Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:22 pm

You're right about the "how to" part of it being perhaps unrealistic. Cool suggestion about adding the note at the bottom of the lyric. Thanks again. You are always very helpful, Hummingbird. I'm glad you're here!And no, I won't be listing my returns.

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Re: Inevitable Shortcomings of the Taxi System

Post by bigdrisk » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:06 pm

HOWEVER . . . I might list a return where I have made some changes according to the critique. But for now I've gone back in to my music page and added a note to the lyrics of my forwarded songs - example as follows:NOTE: forwarded for S070907CO by Listener ID #260To view listing go to: http://www.driskellsongs.com/S070907CO.pdfTo view forwarded critique go to: http://www.driskellsongs.com/tnoil_critique.pdfThink that'll fly?

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