Hi, folks....I just got back from the panel meeting in Nashville. I plan to renew my membership come July 3rd. This Nashville panel meeting was a TRUE eye opener, and a great educational experience for me. I'm not really a complainer when it comes to fowards. I learned a long time ago that it's difficult to get a cut in Nashville, although not impossible if you write a great song that grabs people's attention. But I did learn a few more things that I didn't know by attending this meeting. Later on, I will tell you why I think country songwriters should stay with TAXI, but first I'd like to say what I learned at this meeting. I'm going strictly by memory as I didn't take notes, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. 1. I learned there are over 20,000 country songwriters in Nashville. That was a conservative estimate by the panel, I believe. There are probably more, so the competition is very fierce. After the panel meeting, I sat with one person (some of the songwriters went for dinner afterwards) and they said there may be as many 45,000 songwriters in Nashville.2. Michael and the panel played hit songs so that we could hear the difference between the hit songs and ours. And there was a BIG difference. These songs grabbed you immediately, tugged at your emotions, were very well crafted, and used a lot of clever conversational lyrics. THEY STOOD OUT from the pack. One of them was a Rascal Flatts song, the other a Pat Green song....but they were definitely A plus songs. So a B plus song just isn't good enough. Not that our songs aren't really good, they are....we just might have to go a little further. 3. I learned that women listeners (according to Ralph Murphy) are the ones you have to please at 7 AM in the morning, and you have to grab their attention for the first 45 seconds, or you haven't done your job as a songwriter.4. For me personally, I learned that I need to get away from those poetic lyrics I tend to write and lean more toward the conversational. (when writing country) I think Michael put his arse on the line to play my song for the panel. It was my best one, but I knew it wasn't what they were looking for, but I'm still honored it got critiqued...that meant a lot to me. 5. And here's the BIGGEST THING I learned....that TAXI really is trying to help country songwriters. But they can't perform miracles. They (and the screeners) have to give Nashville what it wants. So by us regularly writing and submitting to TAXI's listings, we become more skilled at knowing what Nashville wants too....we're not flying blind. Think about this, if you DIDN'T have TAXI's screeners helping you to become a better writer, what would you have? NOTHING. You'd be pitching to listings without any concept of what Nashville really needs. I also noticed that the panel said the VERY SAME things about my song, "Silence Is the Best Thing I've Ever Heard" as the screeners did. So when people get upset at the screeners, don't see them as gatekeepers. See them as people who are trying to help YOU, but also as people who ultimately have to deliver the goods that Nashville is requesting of them. They can't send just a b-plus song....it's gotta be beyond the best, and it has to be exactly what the artist is looking for. The reason I think country songwriters should join TAXI is that like me, most of you don't have a direct pulse on Nashville. It would be ideal if we could all live there, but of course, we don't. When Michael put together this panel, that gave the country songwriters even more of a feel for what's going on. Now we know why it's so hard to get a foward or a cut, but as a TAXI member, I feel I can at least keep up with trends in Nashville, get a feel for what a country artist wants and keep improving my craft in the process.I'd like to thank Michael for allowing this panel meeting to happen....I think it went extremely well, and I really enjoyed it. Michael let us in on the world of country songwriting, and in the process, it's helped us all greatly. And finally, even though I don't name y'all, I really loved meeting all my fellow TAXI members.....I had the best time! BTW, I'm very tired from traveling, so I'll e-mail and PM folks later.