Many, many years ago, I went to a music seminar in a galaxy far away. Taxi, in LA, to be exact. If you don’t know what Taxi is, then suffice to say it’s a huge, sweaty mess of desperate songwriters that want to get their material heard / placed in movies & TV / covered by Rianna or Carrie Underwood, and/or they somehow want to receive validation with regards to their writing and singing.
It was a semi-painful and slightly boring experience for me (maybe for everyone?). It meant long lines (hate), listening to a bazillion bad songs (dislike – especially when your own are among them), 13 cups of coffee (like – when it happens on a lazy Sunday morning), spending time with my Dad (LOVED – he came to visit me & the Taxi seminar 4 yrs in a row. He was also a songwriter) and the distinct feeling that no matter how many people purchased your precious CDs (see bio), you were somehow still not really doing anything right …. mainly because you were still in that THRONG (sadly, not a thong) of needy people, as opposed to the multi-million selling extra exclusive club of famous, infamous or just plain rich songwriters.
***Plus, it kind of seemed like a scam. Where, for instance, if songwriters were likened to potential weight-loss clients, Taxi would be a $200 weight loss pill … that didn’t really do anything other than cause water loss for one day ~ but it felt kind of good to try it and you were skinnier for a day! Doing something. Showing up. Just doin’ it, right? ***
Now, let me say that I am perfectly aware that I am one of those desperate needy people. I need hugs more than the average person ~ long, 6 second hugs where the person hugging me is heimlich’d to the point of a purple face and then released slowly; not unlike a blood pressure cuff. I also need oodles of validation from my loved ones (me: I love you. them: I love you too. (big googly smile) me: but how much do you love me? Would you chop off a toe for me? And what is your exact definition of ‘love’ anyway? ~ actually, maybe I just need lots of intercourse — of the talking kind ;). I also really need people to give me wordy props … for instance: they like my songs or my voice or my hair or my shoes or my smile or, shoot, my callus’ on my left hand! Whatever! I need it. Maybe you do too? Regardless, I can not help it … so, I went to Taxi. Plus, I loved hanging out with my Dad. Who always thought I was extra cool and vice versa.
Well, low and behold!!! I learned stuff. Lots of stuffs. The first year, I learned not to get my hopes up with regards to having the glorified elite actually listen to my song; even if I spent $200 for that exact reason.
The next year I learned that I was really, really bad at recognizing people outside of context (to my great embarrassment and chagrin, I “helloooo’d” & bear hugged a guy I thought was another guy but was the Head BigBadHonchoDude at EMI. Seriously embarrassed myself with the 6 second hug! No joke – dude jumped away from me like I had spit on him. Ugh. People stayed far away from me that year. Even my Dad).
The third year, I learned that the difference between the money making songwriters and me was literally paper thin. As in, the money maker had slipped his lyric sheet under the EMI rep’s door the year before (I was not yet that courageous. I am still not that courageous).
The fourth year, I went to a remarkably good, charmingly presented talk in “the big room”. As I went into “the big room” simply to sit down and maybe even rest (i.e. – nap – dark corners), I was shocked that I not only stayed awake, but took notes on the back of my checkbook deposit slips (Do you even remember the time when you actually carried your checkbook with you everywhere? It was THAT long ago!!!). It turns out that this speaker fella (can’t remember his name) actually researched what songs hit #1 on all the charts – how long said songs stayed at #1 and what “type” of song the #1’s were. The longest running were the up-tempo songs. In addition, almost every one of the #1 songs was about love and only a very few had a person’s name in the title. That was actually something that a songwriter could use!!! I headed straight home to write an up-tempo song about love without a person’s name in the title.
The fifth and last year I went, I did “the big room” again. This time on purpose. The crazy thing that I learned that year was …. “like your friends. Like the people you like. Hang out with them and like them a bunch.” No kidding. That is what the speaker guy said was THE most important part of this “business of making music”. I laughed out loud. Of course I will!!! I can’t believe I paid $200 for that kind of songwriting advice! This is just silly! Who doesn’t like who they like and then like them a bunch more after spending more time with that person they like? I mean, really.
Funny, crazy, wonderful thing was, I got it. He was trying to explain that networking isn’t ONLY hunting down who was the hippest, coolest, richest, most notorious and most prominent in the room and then introducing yourself (I suck at that kind of stuff. My Mom, however, is a world-class athlete when it comes to marching right up, charming and making dinner plans with all of the above). Nope. True networking IS liking the people you like. A lot.
Enough to pick them up from a drunken fiasco of a night when they were grieving their monster break-up and went home with a one-night-stand jerk that pushed them out into the cold at 4 o’clock in the morning, without a way to get home and then telling them that you are certain they WILL find love again ~ and meaning it.
Enough to fly to their destination wedding (in New Jersey) and telling them that it was absolutely lovely even though their minister started their wedding homily with “Divorce! 50% of weddings end in divorce!!” Because, it actually WAS a beautiful day and you are so happy for them, bad minister mojo or not.
Enough to pick gravel out of their girlfriend’s hair when she takes a massive digger on in-line skates and tell her that it looks like it won’t be a bad scar – because you seriously hope and pray that it will NOT be a bad scar.
That is what networking is.
Because of a scenario similar to any or none of the above, I was asked by a very, very dear and loved friend to be a part of the taping of Hidden City. Because we took the time to like and love each other, even though my friend is not a songwriter (but has ALWAYS been a huge music supporter) and I am not in her industry (yet, I always do my best to support her endeavors), my band and I are a part of a really great Travel Channel TV show. AND, because of liking and loving friends, we are all consistently meeting other amazing and wonderful people who are not a part of our area of passion but that are part of a huge web of interconnectivity that makes writing a song (or a play or a donation or a will or a thank you note) even worth writing.
That is networking.
That is worth more than the $1,000 spent on Taxi.
Seriously consider going to Taxi if you are a songwriter.
Hopefully, with a friend.
It might get your song on TV.