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By Michael Laskow

Photos by James DiModica and Ryan Taalbi

Switching gears from virtual Road Rallies (2020 and 2021) to an in-person Rally in 2022 was more daunting than I expected. They are two completely different disciplines, with hundreds of details for a live Rally that we didn’t have to worry about for the last two years of doing them virtually.

But the big worry was: Would members come, even though COVID was still lingering in the background? The answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

Frankly, we were surprised that once again, members flew in from all over the world! And while we were prepared with 5,000 masks (if people wanted them), gallons of hand sanitizer, and cases of wipes, hardly anybody used them! The good news is, this year’s Rally attendees seemed very comfortable, and thankfully, I don’t think any of us on the staff have had any post-Rally reports of attendees coming down with COVID.

Two things that were harder this year were, 1) Getting panelists to come for the live event, and 2) Sponsors not having enough staff to run their booths.

A lot of potential panelists said they were happy to participate virtually. Not because they were concerned about COVID, but because they loved the convenience of not having to deal with LA’s traffic to join us in-person. They got spoiled during the lockdown!

Thankfully, through persistence and patience (something I don’t possess in abundance), I was able to find the all-stars I needed. The sponsors weren’t as fortunate. Some even wrote sponsorship checks, but didn’t set up a booth because they didn’t have enough staff to work at them!

In the end, this year’s attendees loved the Rally for many reasons, not the least of which was seeing each other in person for the first time in three years! Countless collaborations and friendships have started at the Rally. Many of those relationships have become so close that members can’t wait for their once-a-year opportunity to see their “best friends” from all over the world. The joy and excitement were palpable no matter where you were at the Rally.

Something that brought joy to my heart was the number of times attendees complimented TAXI’s staff for doing such a great job, both at the Rally and during the rest of the year. Even though we were a little “rusty” at presenting a “live” Rally, the staff quickly adapted and put out every little “fire” as they happened. Most of all, the staff did a great job of making everybody feel welcome and “at-home” during the weekend.

Speaking of feeling “at-home,” one of the most frequent comments I personally heard was, “You weren’t exaggerating! I’m normally pretty shy, but I feel incredibly comfortable here amongst all these like-minded people. I’m angry with myself for not coming to the Rally before, but you can bet I’ll be back every year after this!” We hear that a lot!

In the end, the 2022 TAXI Road Rally was a success by every measure, and we’ve got pictures to prove it. Boy oh boy, do we have pictures! Hundreds, probably thousands! And it takes a lot of time to go through each and every one, looking for the best shots, trying to identify who’s in the shots. So much time in fact, that I didn’t have time write captions for all of the selected shots and make the early holiday deadline for this month’s newsletter. My solution?

This month, I’m giving you a little taste of some of the photos, along with thoughts about the Rally from people who were there. Next month, we’ll do a large photo spread with proper captions for all. So, for now…

Michelle Bell, Vice President of Creative at Roc Nation, gave an incredible keynote interview.

The Grand Ballroom locked and loaded for a great, in-person Road Rally!

“This weekend was worth every second of the 18-hour flight. Thank you TAXI Music for the amazing experience. Will be back next year.”—Michal Sinka

Prescott Niles (bass player on “My Sharona”) is one of our most-requested One-to-One Mentors at every Road Rally.

Music Supervisor, Mason Cooper, takes time to chat with TAXI members after his presentation had wrapped up.

“This was my 8th Road Rally (10 if you count the two virtual Rallies), and as is always the case, this one was better than all that came before. The TAXI staff always outdoes themselves in the planning and preparation of this mammoth weekend. The panels, workshops, classes, interviews, mentor sessions, etc.... every single opportunity presents knowledge you won't get anywhere else, and is given freely with a spirit of camaraderie that is unmatched by any other music event. It would be impossible to walk away from a Road Rally without having picked up at least one game-changing nugget of wisdom that could alter the trajectory of your career.

If you haven't gone to a Road Rally yet, you are truly missing one of the easiest ways to fast-forward your timeline to success, as one weekend at the Road Rally is the equivalent of 3 years-worth of working on your own, trying to figure this stuff out for yourself. And who's got that kind of time to waste?”—Matt Vander Boegh

Legendary Record Producer, Michael Lloyd, hams it up with a group of TAXI members.

“I learned more over four days than I learned over the past four years on my own. I also felt like I had finally ‘found my people’! I am now collaborating with three extraordinary singers I met during the Rally, and I hope to keep in touch with other wonderful people I met there as well! I also renewed my membership! Thank you!”
—Sherry Wolk

TAXI members rock the house during one of the Jam Room sessions.

“The energy at the Rally is probably the best benefit of a TAXI membership, second only to the networking and people you meet. The community is wonderful and can be very helpful, especially toward new members and those still honing their skills. The Rally fills my gas tank and helps me focus on my next musical direction.”—Paul Croteau

(Left to Right) Craig Pilo, Dean Krippaehne, Joe Brandt, and Steve Barden did an Instrumental Cue review panel during which we had highly experienced members and TAXI A&R team members give feedback to see if they agreed. Guess what? They did!

“Even though I’m relatively new to TAXI, I’m so glad I made the investment to attend the Road Rally this year. I came away with inspiration, connections, and pro tips that have made a huge difference already. See you next year!”—Doug Knight

Our Keynote speaker, Michelle Bell, takes time to chat with members after her session in the Grand Ballroom.

“Such an incredible gathering of so many like-minded songwriters, artists, and composers, not only learning, but giving selflessly to help others. Describing what it's like is nearly impossible as you have to be there to live it and feel it. Today's strangers are tomorrow's successful collaborators.”—Casey Hurowitz

Music Licensing Executive, Tanvi Patel, appears happy to reconnect with some TAXI members.

The Eat & Greet Luncheons were a huge success, once again!

“My songwriting partner and I wanted to extend a sincere, and gracious thank you to you, your staff, audio-video-logistics-team and presenter-speakers. The practical information - and its voluminous amount - were worth the yearly subscription membership alone. Not to mention the warm and inviting reception by your support staff, the convenient amenities at the Westin and inspiring engagements with fellow songwriters. We shall be looking forward to the next one.”
—Harry Levinson and Tom Amador

Music Publishers, Jeff Freundlich (left), and Michael Eames (right), were very generous with their time and expertise after they finished their panel.

“Had a blast, as usual. saw lots of old friends from previous rallies. Met lots of new ones at this one. It’s always so great to be in a place where so many musicians from such a divergent mix of the music world come together in a loving and giving way. I haven't found any other conference or convention that engenders the spirit the Rally and TAXI bring to its attendees. Keep up the good work and we’ll see you next year.”—Jonathan Sanson

Roc Nation’s V.P. of Creative, Michelle Bell answers a question during her Keynote Interview.

Signed BMG recording artist and songwriter, Greg Shilling, listens to a TAXI member’s question during a One-to-One Mentor session.

“I just attended my first TAXI Road Rally and I had the BEST TIME! My friend and I flew from Nashville. We have been collaborating for years, and during the pandemic we did a deep dive into the world of sync. After going to the Rally, I feel so full of new knowledge, and rich with new friends and contacts. See you next year!”—Robin Ruddy

TAXI member, Reiny Baer, belts one out during a session in the Jam Room.

“Thank you for the excellent few days of education, music and fun at the Road Rally. This was an amazing event for me, I learned so much and in such a small amount of time. I learned things that I didn’t know I didn’t know. I learned how the industry is structured and more importantly, why it’s structured that way. I learned how to better classify music and how to think about its usefulness with regards to applying it to pictures. I appreciated how many different types of sessions I had to choose from at the event. It really allowed me to focus on the areas that I wanted to learn most about. Great conference, really well run. I hope everyone on the team gets to take a breather and recover for a bit.”—Sean Samet

Music Licensing Executive, Ryan Gaines, chats with a member after his panel in the Grand Ballroom.

Getting a shot of you and your friends on the Road Rally Red Carpet, priceless!

“I plan on attending every year going forward. It was amazing to see how the industry functions with everything under one roof! I feel supported and inspired.” —Ken Mesford

Successful TAXI member, Matthew Vander Boegh, chats with fellow member Al Bryant after his panel finished up.

“Such an incredible gathering of so many like-minded songwriters, artists, and composers, not only learning, but giving selflessly to help others. Describing what it's like is nearly impossible as you have to be there to live it and feel it. Today's strangers are tomorrow's successful collaborators.”—Casey Hurowitz

TAXI A&R Team member, Mike Dupree, gives some advice during a One-to-One Mentor session.

“I was so happy to see many familiar faces, see people whom I had met online face-to-face, and, not less important, making new connections. I certainly came away as a better person, both in terms of increasing my knowledge of music and the industry, and more importantly as a better human being.”—Marco Iannello

The audience gives a standing ovation after one of the panels at the 2022 Road Rally.

“This was my 8th in-person Rally in a row and I’m already looking forward to the next one. As long as you run it, I will come.”—John Lewitt

Every Road Rally photo diary has to end with a shot of our mascot, a 1968 Checker Marathon taxi that gets its passengers to where they need to go, just like TAXI!