Review of the Taxi A&R Music Placement Service
by David Goldstein
The US-based Taxi A&R music placement service (www.taxi.com) is probably the grandfather of music placement services out there. Founded in 1992 by Michael Laskow, Taxi specializes in solicited leads for recording artists, commercials and also film and television. What’s special about the Taxi A&R music placement service is that they act as a middleman. They act as a quasi-music publisher that you submit your music to first. Members of the Taxi A&R staff will then listen to your submissions and screen them to ensure you pitched a quality song that is suitable for the music placement opportunity they published. If you don’t make it past this quality screen, Taxi’s music reviews provide some feedback to explain their decision for rejecting your song submission. The beauty of this system is that you always get a constructive response from someone and learn the trenches, so to speak. If you make it past the quality control screen, Taxi then submits your song to the A&R, music supervisor or music publisher who advertised on the Taxi A&R music placement service. At that point, Taxi sometimes reveals who advertised, so you know who your song is forwarded to. If that person or company is interested in working with you, they get in touch directly with you – so not with Taxi. At that point you get to interact with the A&R or company directly.
Taxi publishes several hundred song placement opportunities in any given year, so from a sheer quantity standpoint it is phenomenal. Just check out their latest industry listings right now: http://www.taxi.com/industry.php. However, as you can see, pretty much all of Taxi’s placement opportunities are disguised. Taxi will not publicly mention for which recording artists, film or TV shows they need music for. The reason is that if they were to do that, some people might try to bypass Taxi altogether and contact A&R’s or music supervisors directly, which might upset them, because they don’t want to inundated with poor amateur submissions. Taxi’s quality screen is a good first filter for those A&R’s, and also a good reality check for amateurs who might need that constructive feedback before they are ready to pitch to music buyers directly.
Having said that, it’s not clear how “real” Taxi’s opportunities are, because they are disguised. So you don’t really know who you’re pitching to, unless the company that you’re pitching to gets in touch with you after A&R submits your song to them. Pitching to an “artist who sounds like Rihanna” is very different than knowing that you are actually pitching to Rihanna. Though Taxi’s success stories and happy customer testimonials suggest that their opportunities are very real. Only caveat is that we haven’t heard of any major recording artist placements. I have seen a big Taxi envelope on an A&R’s desk once. When I asked him whether he asked for songs from Taxi, he said that he told a Taxi employee that “yeah, feel free to send something over”, but wasn’t really eager to check out Taxi’s submissions. It appears Taxi is stronger on the film and television front, given the number of successful placements their members have secured on that front. So we scored Taxi on the quality of leads a bit lower for that reason, because it has not been as effective for artists as a tool to get record deals, and has had limited success in placing songs with recording artists in its long history.
For professional songwriters, music publishers and record producers who don’t need feedback on their songs or want to bypass the middleman, a service like myHitOnline (http://www.myhitonline.com) or SongQuarters (http://www.songquarters.com) for recording artists, or MusicSupervisorGuide (http://www.musicsupervisorguide.com) or Cuesheet (http://www.cuesheet.net) for film & TV music placement opportunities might be better as you can jump the line and pitch straight to the A&R or music supervisor directly.
But for the aspiring songwriter and record producer, Taxi is the ideal first tip sheet for those starting out and learning the ropes. So we highly recommend this service for amateurs who don’t know how to approach A&R’s and artists directly.
Taxi’s annual membership is a reasonable $299. But please note that you have to pay an additional $5 for every song you submit. If you pitch 10 to 20 songs every month, you could easily spend $1,000+ per year. So all in, Taxi is among the most expensive tip sheets out there. That’s why we rated Taxi lower on the price criterion. Other tip sheets don’t charge extra per submission and also don’t screen your submission.
Last but not least, Taxi also offers its members an opportunity to attend its annual conference for free where you can network, and see panels with record label A&R’s and music supervisors. Not a bad bonus at all, considering that conferences like MIDEM and Canadian Music Week can cost around $400+ to attend. Overall, the Taxi A&R music placement service is a wonderful way for amateurs to get started.