Musings on 2010 Taxi Road Rally

This year’s Taxi Road Rally (their yearly free for members convention) was especially good. This was my sixth Rally and they’ve all been quite awesome but for some reason this one seems to have been my favorite so far.

It could have been that the Taxi staff was smiling a bit more this year than I’ve noticed in the past. They’re great folks but the strain of putting on the Rally didn’t seem to be showing on their faces as much this year, and that’s a good thing! Great work folks! Thanks!

It could have been meeting all the folks I know from before and the folks I only knew from the forum. People came from something like 31 countries and I met some of them for the first time, even though we’d been chatting for over somtimes years on the forum. Great stuff!

Of course every Rally is about networking and this one was no exception. The opportunity to meet with others who are on the same path and trade stories, tips, tricks and just plain laugh! The potential opportunity to meet and rub shoulders with music industry pros who just might contact you is a cool feature of the Rally. It doesn’t happen to me every Rally but it happens to someone. I believe that when a person is ready, the opportunity presents itself. Pushing (or being pushy) usually doesn’t work well, particularly in the music business.

There were two themes that seemed to present themselves in different ways this year:
1. Generosity
2. Play to your strengths

Generosity was out in force this year. The question comes up from time to time: “Why would anyone share their knowledge with folks that are ultimately their competitors?” My answer is in two parts and goes something like this:

1. I’ve been studying and playing music intensely for my entire life. I don’t get the chance to share that in my day to day life (other than composing, of course), and, like most composers, I work alone in my studio. So by the time I get to the Road Rally, I’m ready and excited to share with and learn from my studio dwelling, hermit composer colleagues.

2. Sharing knowledge raises the value of music as a whole and the value of composers/songwriters to the music business. If we, as a group, are great writers and really know the business, we can eventually charge more for our time, and even if we aren’t getting paid up front, we will be more valuable in the eyes of our clients. If the quality of music is raised overall, even a simple piece in the background of an infomercial, it benefits the lives of everyone that hears us. I believe that we hold a great power in our hands as composers and songwriters, and we need to learn to harness that power for the good of all. With great power comes great responsibility. I am a humble servant to that power, and I want to be a part of raising the quality and value of music so that more of that high quality is experienced by the world.

Playing to your strengths (could be subtitled Play to your strengths while you’re developing other strengths):

We all have music that we write that is in our comfort zone or our “wheelhouse”. When we write it, it sounds great consistently, hopefully it reflects our passion and our ability to communicate through music. This will translate directly to the audience and more importantly to our clients. If you were at the Rally, you probably noticed that most of the pros that were on the panels were very musically literate and passionate about music. They have probably heard more music than we will hear in a lifetime and they can smell when it’s not right. As a media composer, it comes with the territory that we are versatile in several styles and of course, no one is a master of all styles, but we ultimately should have several styles under our belt that we can pull out if necessary. But my idea of playing to your strengths is, when putting your music out there, put out what you do best and work on that stuff that you want to do and get it to the point that you can put it out there with total confidence. I hear a lot of folks dipping their toe into the orchestral realm without really having a strong footing in the orchestral genre and really not having the sound of a real orchestra in their ears. Basically it’s about putting your best foot forward at all times while working in the background on constant improvement and learning. If you are a die hard rocker with an interest in orchestral music then spend hours with classical music and orchestral film scores on your iPod instead of rock. You probably have enough knowledge of rock music to get you through a lifetime without ever listening to another recording of it, but do you have that same level of knowledge of orchestral music? Probably not unless you studied it in school and even then you might be rusty. So create those killer rock tracks and get them signed while you’re honing your orchestral chops.

I can’t say enough about the folks I met and the friends, old and new, that I was able to talk to, laugh with and yes, stay up way to late with! I won’t even try to name them all, but suffice it to say, you are in my heart as I write this.

Road Rally 2010 will go down in my history as the best so far. And they keep getting better so sign up now for next year!!

Love and blessings!