Memories…The Way We (Voice Talents) Were

Listen, oh newbies, and you shall hear

of the way things were for the (…um…) voiceketeer…

(ooh! reserving that domain name right now!)

Whether you’re just starting your career as a voice talent, or have been at it for a few years, you’ve probably heard from some more seasoned talents that “the voiceover  business has changed.”

Yep. True that. Honestly, what business hasn’t changed lately?

But what does that really mean? What was it like, back in the days before twitter and blogposts? And – is anything still relevant from back in the “VO olden times”?

Getting a Voice Over Start, Before the Internet

why I kept business local at first

why I kept business local at first

I started in the business over 25 years ago, when I was a fairly new Mom – a son, then a daughter, both at home with me most of the time.  I began my career with a goal of part-time work, to supplement my husband’s income while being there for my kids until they were old enough for school.  I live about an hour from NYC, but chose to focus on local work in Connecticut – with the occasional stroke of luck (or referral) that led to a gig in the Big Apple.

 

 

Here is what I did:

  • Got some VO coaching to supplement my already-existing skills as an actor (made a living, not famous) in theatre, film,
    yeah. that long ago. theatre headshot

    yeah. that long ago. theatre headshot

    and TV.

  • Learned about the business of voiceover.
  • Found demo copy that suited my voice and delivery.
  • This is a cassette tape.

    This is a cassette tape.

    Hired an active production company to produce my demo, another to make copies of it onto cassettes. Both companiesended up hiring me as a voice talent (I chose their services partly because I knew there was a chance they would hire me after I hired them….one way to get someone to hear your work!)

  • Asked for referrals from my two happy clients.
  • Drew a geographical circle that would cover a 90-minute drive from my home, and researched possible clients there (recording studios, mostly, in those days). Called them for info. Sent demos. Followed up. There was postage involved, and the telephone.
  • Networked with other voice talents – I recommended them, they recommended me. Continue reading

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The Best Laid Plans…are still a good idea

OK, I will admit it. Here it is, January 23rd, with just about a week left in the month, and my monthly VO goals and plans are far from complete (as you can see in the photo below). So, if you want to gloat, feel free. I hope your list looks a bit more, um, checked off than mine.

The Best Laid Plans...may have to be flexible

The Best Laid Plans…may have to be flexible

See, the VO Plan for this month is supposed to be all about e-learning.  But, hey, life happens. And some of it comes in the form of lovely surprises that we didn’t plan on.  Some stuff we help create, some stuff comes to us unexpectedly because of seeds we have planted in the past, or sometimes just plain luck.

Kayaking on Lake WindermereLife flows. And the truth is – sometimes we have the paddle to speed up the process, steer the canoe. And sometimes, we don’t. But the upside of this is that sometimes, when we have taken a breather from navigating, good stuff happens anyway. It just may not be what we had planned.

I suspect that my to-do list this month may stay a bit unchecked. But, ya know, sometimes you gotta look and see how far you’ve come, and what you did accomplish while you were busy fretting about what didn’t happen. For instance, these obstacles/surprises happened so far in January:

  • the local NPR affiliate radio station needed me to fill in some air-shifts while they wait to hire a new announcer. Bonus: I got to get out of the house and work with a team (in person) for a change.
  • a voice-over pal of mine needed a place to record while she was out-of-town (and right near my house) – and I was able to help her out. Bonus: this cemented our often-virtual friendship
  • I gained one new telephony client, one possible “live announce” client, and a promising regular retainer for internet radio work. Sure, I planned on marketing e-learning this month, but I am happy anyway :). Bonus: well, you know.
  • I replied to a facebook post on a whim and am voicing the audiobook of Peter Pan. I finally get to play Peter! and John…and Wendy…and Hook…Bonus: what a lovely book!
  • I gained a new agent – in Germany!
  • and of course there’s family, and friends, and community…having the freedom to choose those over the to-do list? Your married daughter calls and asks if we can “all go see a movie together and have family time”? Yeah. Priceless.

Yes, there’s a limit to procrastination. Can’t blow it all off. Bills must be paid, we all work hard, and it does feel really good to stick with your plan. And, even though I haven’t done everything on my list, the fact that I made the plan, and keep it handy, makes it easy to fill those rare “unplanned” hours productively.

So, hey. Definitely set goals. Definitely break them down into action steps, and don’t let fear get in your way. But if what does get in the way is other good stuff in your life, let that happen. Put down your paddle and let the flow carry you. And -forgive yourself! Look at what you did get done -both on the checklist and off it. Transfer those “un-done” tasks to the next month – and celebrate what happened instead.

By the way, here’s the famous quote – but I disagree with the second half of it. Sometimes the detours bring you promised joy of their own kind. It just, maybe, wasn’t you had planned.

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

(originally, in case you’re a stickler:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!)

Robert BurnsTo a Mouse (Poem, November, 1785)

Scottish national poet (1759 – 1796)

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You Are VO-Unique: How To Stand Out and Get Hired

Want to begin or expand your career in Voice Overs? You will hear this question, I guarantee it:

“But there is so much competition. Why even bother?”

Yep. That nay-sayer (even if it’s your own inner thoughts) is quite correct. Sorry, but it’s true…..well, at least the first half of the sentence is.

How to Stand Out in the Voice Talent Crowd

Stand Out and Get Hired - if Red is What they Want!

Stand Out and Get Hired – if Red is What they Want!

Yes, there are quite a lot of people who want to “go into voiceovers”. Newbies constitute one category, especially the magical thinkers who think that all you have to do is make a demo and clear a corner of your kitchen table for a microphone, and the jobs will start rolling in (because they have “such a nice voice.”)  Yeah. Those folks are not the competition – at least not yet. Most of them give up after a few months because it turns out that magic actually requires some hard work and practice in order to happen. But what about those who are VO pros?  Already working in the business? Are they as talented as you? Yep, you bet they are.  If you need convincing, go onto voicebank.net and sniff around, or just listen to Terry Daniel’s Annual Holiday Greeting from VO talents.  Yes, you will hear incredibly talented folks – each unique, hard-working, creative, funny, and also willing to take the time to contribute to the greeting.

So, why bother going into Voice Overs?

Because there is no one like you. What you bring to this business is your uniqueness. All skills being equal (and if they aren’t, then get better at this via study and practice), what will make your voice rise above the competition is simply: you, yourself. Just like in dating, or in househunting, casting takes the right match to work.  You will not – YOU WILL NOT – land every single

QTIP = Quit Taking It Personally! :)

QTIP = Quit Taking It Personally! 🙂

audition. Even the Superstars, Voiceover or otherwise, lose out on some gigs. So –  Q-TIP  (Quit Taking It Personally)! If you are good, then the client will choose you for the right  project.  And be glad to have finally found you. Sure, in this business, you will hear, “Sorry, you just don’t have the sound we’re looking for.” But you will also hear, “You are perfect for this! Where have you been?” (yeah, gotta love that)

So – How do you embrace your own VO Specialness? Continue reading

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Fascination: A Voice Talent Necessity

When you hear an ad on the radio, do you change the station, or do you listen and evaluate?

  • Believable or fake?
  • Interesting use of technique?
  • The talent’s voice quality, emotional choice, use or pitch?
  • Unusual accent or character?
Fascination is a Key

Fascination is a Key

If you listen actively, and – even better – if you then imitate what you heard to observe how the sounds come out of your instrument – then you probably have the voice-over bug, and you’ve got it bad – and that’s a good thing, if you want to succeed. The quality that keeps us learning, keeps us going, is fascination.   Sure, it takes more than that. The wonderful Maxine Dunn just summed up a lot of the qualities you need to succeed in this issue of her Creative Biz newsletter – beautifully done, so I won’t try to recreate all the qualities she mentions, like commitment, optimism, tenacity, focus (definitely sign up for her newsletter, by the way – she is awesome!) But I will add this quality to the list: fascination. It’s a great quality to have in life, in general. Instead of judgment, try fascination.  Instead of “that’s too hard!” or “that’s just stupid”, what if we asked:

  • “I wonder how that works?”
  • “I wonder why/how he/she did that?”
  • “Isn’t that interesting? I’d like to know more”

Okay, so at a party you’ll make a lot more friends by asking sincere questions about others than by bragging “me, me, I, me.” But this is a voiceover blog – so – huh? So here’s what I’m talking about: Continue reading

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Your Voice Over Business: Why Keep Investing?

(Short answer: Because it pays off!)

Is Your VO business a "dead shark"?

Is Your VO business a “dead shark”?

“Alvy Singer”, in the movie Annie Hall, says:

A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.

Don’t let your voice over business be a dead shark. There is always more to learn, always ways to get better. And once

VOVirtual

click here to register!

excellent way to do this is to register for Voice-Over Virtual, coming soon.

No, you do not need to save up for plane fare, or hotel rooms! This is a virtual conference (hence the name). But don’t let that fool you…or think you won’t get anything out of it. You will more than make your investment back.

Okay, listen: I’ve been a successful Voice Talent for many years. Sure, “success” keeps getting redefined as my life and ambitions progress, but still. I do make a living communicating someone else’s words into a microphone and into a listener’s ears. Every once in a while I sit back and remember: This is so cool!

A major reason I still work is that I keep investing in my business, and honing my skills.

Example?:Lately I notice my audition-to-booking ratio is getting better (yay!). Why? I invested in some coaching and classes to hone those skills, especially in sounding more “conversational” – and it has paid off.

Another one?: I was feeling frustrated when first learning Twisted Wave app on my iPad. Hated recording while traveling. Felt stupid. The solution? One webinar with George Whittam. bingo! Now I know what to do, and love the app…therefore more likely to send auditions and projects even while on the road, if I choose to. Investment made the obstacle disappear.

So – what’s in your way? Chances are you will be able to dissolve some of those obstacles by investing time – and, yeah, some reasonable bucks – on your VO future.

Whether you’re just starting out in this amazing biz, or working hard to keep current clients while marketing to new sharkones, this remains true: You must invest in your business to keep it alive, to help it grow, to help you to grow – as an artist, a businessperson, a skilled talent in all the forms that this ever-changing business requires.

This is what makes your business thrive – what makes you thrive. Don’t let your business become a “dead shark”. Move ahead! Voice Over Virtual is the best way to get moving – right now. You’ll be glad you did.

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The Full-Time Eclectic Voice Talent: Many Eggs, Several Baskets

When I created my Voice-Over website with the amazing folks at Artist Upgrade, we wrestled with the age-old question (well, for voice talents, anyway):

“Just” a Voice Talent, or  More?

I opted for the latter.

RandyeKaye.com

RandyeKaye.com

Yes, I am a full-time voice talent. My VO clients are my highest work priority. If you book me, the job will be done on time (well, usually before that deadline), at budget, and to your satisfaction.  This is what I do for a living. The only thing standing in the way of your project is a prior commitment to another job – and you will know about that before you book me for your project.

So – does that leave room for the other things in my life? Can I let my clients know that I also do other things? Stage, on-camera, writing, speaking, teaching, broadcasting — or, for that matter, parenting? rock climbing? (well, I don’t actually do that, but you get the point. Maybe you do it!)

You bet.  At least, that’s what we decided. Because every other skill and experience in life makes us better voice talents. Continue reading

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“All I Need is a Voice-Over Agent” – What??

Maybe that used to be the way, in the “olden days” of voice-over, which now means, maybe, a few months ago. Things are changing fast, and will continue to. Still, a great agent (which means a good match for you, and your skills), can help you get access to opportunities you might never have seen otherwise.

Sure, at the tip of the iceberg of VO success, getting signed with a powerful agency is a real coup. That is still true. But getting to that level- if that’s part of your business plan – means you must take the journey to become a talent the agent feels he/she can make money with!  And, these days, many of us have “an agent in every port” until we put all our eggs in one agency’s basket – if we do. And know this: you are not going to just sit back and wait for the phone to ring (or the e-mails to arrive), even with the best agent ever. You are partners!

Voice Acting for Dummies

Voice Acting – for Dummies?

But – if you are ready – you’ll need some basic info as to how to begin to connect with an agent. So, let’s get some facts – from my Guest Bloggers, Stephanie Ciccarelli and David Ciccarelli,  the founders of Voices.com, from their new book Voice Acting for Dummies.

Is Voice Acting for “Dummies”? Certainly not! Nor is running a business for the faint of heart. But from the brand new VO-dreamer to the most experienced among us, it’s still a good idea to learn, or review, the basics.

But here’s one more tip from me, before you start your search – be worthy of an agent’s time before you contact them!  What does that mean?

  • You are an experienced Voice Talent -you are already making some bucks at this.
  • You know how to deliver what the client wants – and when it’s needed.
  • You have some kind of proven track record.
  • You can take direction.
  • Your demo is awesome – and you can deliver what it promises!

Remember, it will be your job to make your agent look great, not the other way around. Just my two extra cents to the great advice below. So, take it away Stephanie and David!

“What Can an Agent  Do For You?

Before you go looking for an agent, you need to know what an agent does and what an agent expects of his voice actors. An agent manages relationships between voice actors and the end client, including the auditioning process, casting to a degree, and the billing related to the job. An agent’s role is to qualify voice actors for opportunities to reach a successful end. Agents can have relationships with companies they directly work with as well as pursue opportunities through online marketplaces where they can promote their voice actors. Continue reading

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Fruits vs. Laurels:The Balanced VO Life

resting on our laurels?

resting on our laurels?

Running a small business is not for sissies. Nor is it for dreamers who don’t take steps toward the dream.

Yeah, yeah. We know that.

We know we can’t just rest on our laurels…but at times, we do need to enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Most of my voice-over pals get that first part; we don’t let ourselves rest on past success. Yes, we know…”you’re only as successful as your next booking.” In fact, we’re constantly sharing progress on our never-ending to-do lists (finish the project, register for Faffcon or Voice-Over Virtual, send the audition your agent wants) as well as ongoing projects

fruits of our labors...

fruits of our labors…

(organize clients and prospects clients into a database, write that next blog post, revamp the website and demos) – and, often, we feel we come up short when we look at what we still want to accomplish.

Nope, no resting on laurels here. What we forget to do – or sometimes don’t let ourselves do – is to enjoy some of the fruits of those labors.

Voice-Over Talents: Can a Small Business Owner Take a Break? Continue reading

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Voice-Over Envy: Stop the Madness!

Sometimes I just gotta stay away from Facebook these days.  There is a dogbookenvydocumented phenomenon (I know it’s true, ’cause I read about it in Psychology Today) called “Facebook Envy”, and I must admit it hits me when I check my newsfeed and it seems like my VO Peeps are landing more gigs, way more impressive gigs, and making tons of money all the time.

Sigh. And – oh yeah- Yay! I truly am happy for your success. Really. But, sometimes, the old green-eyed monster rears up, and its name is Voice-Over Envy.

And it’s a really stupid monster!

Voice-Over Jealousy – or Admiration?

Yoko Ono is credited with saying: “Turn jealousy into admiration and what you admire will become part of your life.”  Whoever originated that quote (Yoko, really?) , it’s really cool.  I actually used that thought process to go from single Mom to happily re-married Mom/wife, from wanna-be-published author to a published one.  And it’s useful in any life endeavor; it’s the backbone of gatherings like faffcon, of the VO social media groups, of the newly-forming industry association, World Voices.

So – why not just be inspired by the success of others? Continue reading

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Why I Hired My Plumber: How’s Your Voice-Over Business?

Our water heater died last week. Sniff. Not only that, it was kinda leaking everywhere. After two days of hoping my husband’s efforts with the wet-vac would buy us some time (ha!), I knew I had to call in an expert.

plumber

What Does This Profession Tell Us About VO?

So what to do? Audition plumbers? Post a project and consider dozens of prospective plumbers? Yikes. What a pain that would be!

Nope. I did what most of our voice-over clients want to do: Hire someone they trust to do the job professionally, reliably, skillfully – to their satisfaction.

The Odds: Auditioning vs. Marketing

Yep. I firmly believe that many of my VO clients and prospective clients never even listen to a good portion of the auditions they receive.  Would you? Just go to voices.com or voicebank.net and put yourself in the client’s shoes.  Listen to some demos, even the top-rated ones. How quickly have you had enough? Continue reading

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