Shoot Jeff an email Matt, I've spoken to him already (very pleasant guy) and I believe he's very receptive to offering Taxi members some cool Perks. But I hear you on the finances thing. It's always tough trying to work out how to divide money in 10 different directions.
FWIW: You hit the nail right on the head with your other observations. I've fully accepted I can't do it all either.
The difficulties of maintaining any heightened performance ability when spending all our time and energy on composing/arranging/refining songs as producers, is near on impossible. We just can't do it all. And that for me is a constant frustration when it comes time to try and pull out those sporadic (as you put it) recorded performances.
For me as an ex pro drummer and competent bass player, it extends way beyond the already starving
difficulty of my playing edge alone. Even when I set aside dedicated spaces for live instrument tracking, I always have to spend handfuls of time setting up the room acoustically for the drum/guitar sound I need, tweak tracking/gain/eq settings, constantly reset compressors, adjust mics, retune drums etc... And even then, I often find I get a beautiful take down I'm happy with, only to realise later on in mixdown that I had a second comp active and slamming the room mic (inserted on the desk) that I had been using previously to track vocals/bass, and didn't hear it because my mind was trying to think of 10 different things at the same time! Ahhh, too much!..
And the older I get, the more I'm reminded of these cold hard "mental energy" limitations. So, sooner or later I've had to accept these player limitation realities in lieu of getting enough songs out the door.
Let me recount a recent conversation I had with a music colleague, who was coming purely from an aspiring jazz 'performers' perspective.
He asked what I was up to lately. I started explaining the licensing journey I've been forging, and was describing all of the time challenging roles I face every day from a writing/producing and business perspective. And that getting enough songs out the door quickly is a real challenge.
I could tell he was making the assumption that because I'm a capable multi-instrumentalist, It'd be quick and easy for me to get the bones of songs down without any issues because I can play them live.
I tried explaining calmly that it's rarely that simple when those "live instrument" parts (aside from their own time requirement) are only a few processes in a long line of processes while getting the song written and finished, and to the level it needs to be quality wise. When I mentioned using libraries, he overtly vocalised his distaste of them, and ranted about them not ever being able to sound like a "real player" (hmm yep, heard that a 1000 times before because I used to be one of those young-gun voices). To which I said "your missing the point of what they are really useful for".
I'm a drummer but I simply HAVE to rely on drum and other instrument libraries for many daily things, there is not enough time left in my lifetime to do it all manually myself! Not to mention the massive blisters I got on my bass plucking fingers after only doing a 5 song show recently! Man, they hurt when your off the wagon!...
So, to shorten the point of my story; he simply refused to acknowledge why I wouldn't track my own drums or guitars instead of using "obviously fake" libraries. To which I replied "start doing what I'm doing, and you'll find out yourself one day where your time/energy limits lay! It's not the 1980's any more".
Oh, and I also added; "wait till you raise kids to adults, and go through numerous life altering challenges, then feel free to recount your industry priorities to me. I guarantee they'll be different to what they are today".
The shear time inability for me to cover all the roles I need, to get a song to where it needs to be, is a hard pill to swallow. But real nonetheless.
So yep, in a nutshell, libraries for me are an absolute 'essential tool'.