Went to my second Taxi Road Rally about a week ago and although I'll post some more of what I learned as I get around to it here are some of my impressions. For those of you not familiar with Taxi in a nutshell, unlike most of us they have many established relationships with many major industry organizations such as publishers, television production companies, major and indie labels, etc.  What these companies do is tell Taxi what they are looking for, for example a publishing company is looking for songs to pitch for a major artist's next release, a tv show is looking for a sad indie band song for a montage, etc.  For specific examples just go the actual listings on their site.  You need to be a member to submit, and each song you submit is $5.  It's understandable that they have a nominal fee to submit or else the inevitable result would be everyone submitting everything they have to every listing however inappropriate.  Although I hear this is still quite common.  For most listings you get a pretty well thought out critique for why or why not your song was forwarded including things like performance, production, song, appropriateness for listing, etc.  As any artist knows criticism is always hard to not take personally so Taxi does get it's share of hate mail.  Music is subjective and you should take these critiques as one persons opinion, albeit an educated one.  But if you get several critiques saying the same thing you might want to put the ego aside and use this info to figure out what weak points, and we all have them, you need to focus on to get more of a chance at success in this business.  As a colleague that does not work for Taxi but has been dealing with many of their members for years said, they are totally legit and one of the few companies of it's type that do exactly what they say they do.  Now if you think your stuff is amazing but alas it doesn't get forwarded well either you send them some hate mail and bad mouth them on a forum, or you figure out why and take the appropriate measures from improving your songs to pitching your stuff to a more appropriate genre.  It's a very competitive business and if it just took wanting it real badly, everyone would be a star.  Most people don't have a clue what it really takes, years of practice, years or rejection and self reflection, years of falling down and picking yourself up, etc.  If something truly is great, it will eventually get noticed.  Great songs and performers are as rare and in high demand as diamonds.  But when most people say they would do anything to make it, they really have no clue what that involves.  To do music for a living you'd really have to be crazy unless you can't really see yourself doing anything else in life and being happy.  Than no amount of tenacity and hard work and sacrifice or rejection would deter you.  Anything short of that obsessiveness is probably not enough to get you to be competitive in the big leagues. OK now with that Taxi overview out of the way, the convention.

One thing I did notice is that although due to the economy there have been less attendees over the last few years, the quality of the attendees has gone up.  1. I think the people are going learning, applying what they learn and coming back more competitive than before. Which is kind of the point off all of the educational session at the rally.   2. The people that are truly dedicated are the ones that regardless of economy or circumstances still do what they have to do to make it, and those are the types or people who always get better.  So there is an obvious direct correlation between those who go despite circumstances and how far along they are in their quest.  In other words the chaff has fallen to the wayside in tough times leaving the wheat.
These people are serious about what they are doing so are all types of like minded and supportive people to associate and network with.
The talent at the open mics as well as the listening panels still ran the gamut from why are you here, to damn why isn't that guy signed.  But overall the talent pool was has improved.  I was dying to do the open mic but I didn't sing only cuz I was still pretty sick.
I think everyone I know benefit from some of the songwriting sessions and there are tons of books out there from 10-30 bucks that have tons of valuable info on how to make your songs the best they can be.  Its a skill no different than playing guitar, or singing and one needs to learn so they have all the tools at their disposal and not just throwing whatever comes into their head down.  Just because the writer really felt it when they wrote it doesn't mean that the listeners feel it.  That's where the craft comes in, to impart your sentiment in a way that others can connect easily with it.  If people can't spend $15 to read a book on songwriting, well I always say you can lead a horse to water.  So many people want to make some career but few do the learning to figure out what the best next steps should be, make a plan, follow through, and keep doing that consistently to keep taking it to the next level.  I mentioned to Steven Memel who is friend and a performance coach who presented at Taxi that I knew so many talented people that had they come could have really made an impression at the open mic, and he said, something along the lines of, well Dave you know there is a lot of factors that affect success besides just talent.   So True.

Even if people aren't members their website and forum have tons of info on the business, and Taxi TV has tons of 1 hour interviews with major producers, songwriters, etc. that helps clear up a lot of open questions people have about the business, the process, next steps, where your material stands in the context of the competition, etc. So overall if you are interested in making a career in music you it would behoove you to attend a Taxi Road Rally.  If you have skills the sessions will help you hone them as well as figure out next steps in packaging and promoting them in the best manner possible, and give you much clearer perspective in what to expect and where you fit in in the industry.  It's really shooting yourself in the foot to base your career planning in a vacuum base on how you think the industry works.  Also great to network and meets tons of other like minded and talented artists to compare notes on everything from recording software, favorite songwriting books, how to use Facebook fan pages, and anything else you can think of.