Tag Archives: female voice talent

Are There Too Many Voice Talents?

Reality check, with a question:

Do you find it more difficult than you’d thought it would be to get, and keep getting, work as a voice talent in 2015?

I’m not one to wax poetic about the past.  Change is, at best, exciting; at the very least, it’s inevitable. And certainly the voiceover business has changed drastically since I joined it over 25 years ago.

Too Many Voice Talents?

Too Many Voice Talents?

Back then, it was a fairly local, and more personal world. You trained until you knew you could deliver the performance, made a demo based on your suitability to the market, and started marketing your services to recording studios, advertising agencies and (possibly, eventually) casting directors and agents. Marketing, word of mouth and referrals were your golden keys to that first chance, and then you hoped to continue to get hired based on the awesome job you did (and keeping in gentle touch).

So far, sounds pretty much the same, yes? Only, back then, your marketing was to your general geographical location, there were post offices and telephones involved, and most of the time you knew your clients more personally, often got to shake their hands in person.

And – fanfare for the truth – there was less competition. Once you were in that “stable” of voice talents a studio or agency could rely upon, the phone kept ringing. That’s how I built my business. And that part of the business still exists. Most of my work is from word of mouth and repeat clients. Believe me, it’s easier for the client re re-hire someone they trust than to go out and start a brand new search.

But, as you know, things are also very different. Many potential clients have a huge database of voice talents to choose from – and, thanks to the internet, all they have to do is post a project and hundreds of auditions will show up in their mailbox. The work, for the client, is not on the front end (listening to demos, sending invites to those who suit their requirements, then choosing from the handful of hand-chosen candidates) but on the back end – easy to post the project, but harder (I imagine) to sort through the hundreds of auditions that may vary widely in quality.  Casting this way must seem easier, but I suspect it often is not, for the client. However, in this new virtual and pervasive climate, they might not know there are other ways to find voices. Continue reading

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Getting Your “VOJO” Back: Breaking Though When Inertia Hits

Hi, my name is Randye and I’ve lost my VOJO.

(If you haven’t had your caffeine yet this morning and can’t guess, I will define VOJO for you: Voice Over plus Mojo/motivation.

SONY DSCGot it? Now go to Starbucks, already).  We all need VOJO, and we need to reignite it now and again – or daily.

VOJO is not about the easy stuff: meeting the client’s deadline, getting the work done, depositing the checks. VOJO is about the tasks with less-immediate deadlines and results, such as:

  • planting the marketing seeds,
  • making those cold calls,
  • creating a database,
  • submitting an audition,
  • sending those thank-you cards.

We need VOJO to keep our business fluid, active, and progressing. Problem is, for those of us who thrive on immediate return (umm, slight ADD, anyone?), it’s difficult to get motivated and too easy to procrastinate.

blue brace, cane...but harder to stand than it looks!

blue brace, cane…but harder to stand than it looks!

This has been particularly true for me since October 6th, 2014 – the day I was hit by a car while crossing the street (result: broken wrist, injured leg and shoulder). I’d barely gotten the use of my dominant hand back, when a surgery complication of my left hip resulted in a month-long hospital/rehab stay and an extended period of home and outpatient rehab after that. Right now, until things heal more fully (still using a walker/cane and leg brace to get around), I am working from home (feeling very grateful for my “personal studio”) and have only recently begun to drive again – but only to places that are handicap-accessible. So – yeah – though I am meeting my Voiceover clients’ needs, my VOJO for that additional and necessary work has been cut short. Healing saps energy, but I’m finally ready to use a bit of that energy to reclaim my career.

But – I needed a jump-start. If you get stuck, complacent, or discouraged…how do you reignite the VOJO flame?

So, here’s what I did this week – and how it worked. Not about results, but certainly about action – and ACTION felt really good.

It’s as easy as ABC…DE!

Step One: Admit that you’re stuck, and (but don’t spend too much time here) why you’re stuck. Just like in therapy, often the main value in examining “why” is to see how you can (or can’t) fix it. (for me: this means accepting what I currently can, and cannot do. NYC is out for now – but I can increase my marketing to e-learning and other virtual clients. Physical healing is top priority – but after that, returning to some voiceover marketing tasks outranks binge-watching Mad Men.)

Step Two: Break the pattern by doing one constructive thing. (I went through my billables and sent out statements)

Step Three: Make a “Realistic Plus One” Commitment. specific and attainable. What, When, How? (“Each weekday, I will touch five new potential clients – either by sending an audition, or submitting my demo after researching the prospect”)

Step Four: (Yay, Nike) Just Do It…and until it is done, stay away from facebook and the refrigerator.  And keep a record of it. A “Got Done” List can be very motivating. (“Today I auditioned for projects for___________. CHECK!”) Don’t let yourself indulge in the distracting activity until the task is done! For more, check out Insane Productivity. (Thanks, Bobbin Beam, for the input)

Step Five: Evaluate the list and tasks weekly. (are five touches enough? any results? keep doing it, or increase?)

Thy key here is to be realistic – but to push those boundaries just past the comfort zone (which for me, lately, has been with Don Draper and Peggy Olson. Six seasons of Mad Men got me through a lot of pain. But now it’s time to move on and get my self-esteem back – but being proactive again. One step back into VOJO-land. And it feels great!

 

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The Voice Actor’s “Down Time” – Ha!

In a recent discussion among members and executive board members of the international pro voice actors’ organization WOVO wovo(World Voices), we were sharing the virtues of various technologies to record remotely: ISDN, ip DTL, Source Connect etc. This question then emerged:” isn’t the real issue how do I get enough work to use these technologies?” The response, so beautifully and simply put by our esteemed president Dustin Ebaugh, was this:

My secret to getting the WORK has been doing at least 100 auditions or marketing contacts per week, every week. The work seems to come when I do that. 🙂

So, yes, that’s the answer to the myth of “downtime ” for voice talents, i.e. between bookings: there is none.  Other than vacations and “personal days” we give ourselves  (such nice bosses we have!), the hours other than what an attorney would call “billable”  are really the times we must be building our business and our skills

This will help me explain “loss of work hours” to a lawyer soon – and serve as a reminder that all work hours, whether billable or not, are important hours when you run your own small business.

arm

half of the body language immobilized!

I write this post with one hand – my non-dominant one – due to a car (with distracted driver) vs. pedestrian (me) incident last month. Long story, and not the point here.  I will, eventually and gratefully, be able to use both hands again – at least that’s the plan, and I’m going to work hard until it’s true. But, in the meantime, I find myself musing about what we voice actors do, and how we must spend our “down time” so that our futures contain possibilities.

As I am discovering, there is much that is difficult even within those billable hours with only one usable hand — editing, for one. Effective body language, for two.  Not to mention working through the pain and energy-sap as bones heal.  I’m proud to say that I haven’t disappointed my clients, and have met my deadlines so far. But  still.  I have had to turn down projects due to the need for a little extra time. And while my main priority is to not hurt my body right now, (the leg was injured as well), I can’t help but think about how this may hurt my future business.

Why? Well. that is what the inquiring minds will want to know when I say I have lost work hours due to this injury. “After all, your voice still works, right?” But you and I both know there is so much more to this business than voicing in the booth, or editing the files.

So – what the heck do we do when not technically “earning money” , as voiceover entrepreneurs? Bearing in mind that some of us have related skills and income streams, your list may be different, but basically we are preparing and growing our businesses.  This is as necessary to our work as recording and editing are.

arm leg rkHere is my partial list. What’s on yours?

  • research and contact (phone, e-mail etc) new potential clients
  • send handwritten thank-you notes and reminders
  • shop for client gifts, and send them
  • invoice clients, do the bookkeeping, send out statements
  • write blogposts and articles (for some of us, books)  to increase visibility and outreach
  • practice new genres
  • respond to inquiries
  • send out demos
  • travel to outside-studio gigs, in-person auditions and networking opportunities
  • enter info into databases
  • practice new genres and studio skills
  • update demos and reload them to rosters/agents

What’s on your down-time to-do list?

(And, hopefully, you have two hands to use while you do it.  Dictated to Siri, with gratitude for technology advances)

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VoiceOver Copy: Your High School Play, on Speed

There are a lot of surprises for aspiring voice talents who cross my path either as a student via Edge Studio, or just at, say, a party. You know, the ones with “such a nice voice” who need to read Dave Courvoisier’s book ( or any of the other amazing resources I blogged about a few months ago).

The first reality check is, of course, the need to treat this like the business it is. There has been a lot written about that, so again I refer you to those who have busted this myth in their amazing blogs and books. (Derek Chappell, our blog curator, and John Florian, Voiceover Xtra guru, are more great places to start).

The second big myth to bust – and equally as important to know – is that this not a business of “reading in a pretty voice.”  This is a business of communication – and, often (or always), a business of acting.  Maybe there is really no difference – but, whatever you call it, you’ve got to know the story you are telling!

Remember that high school play you were in? Or summer camp? College? Community or Professional Theatre? hs playThink back….whatever role you had, there was a process to follow to get the story from page to stage.  Here’s what probably happened, and what it has to do with voiceover reads.

The Theatre Process, and Voiceovers

1 – Casting. yeah, that.

2 – The cast assembled to do a full read-through of the script. This way, everyone knew the whole story, where it was going, what the overall gestalt and tone of the story was. (Voiceover equivalent: Read through the script – or at least skim the longer ones – before you press record. See what it’s about, where it’s going) Continue reading

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Voiceovers… and The Lure of “Normal”

When I was 17 years old, I made a vow that I would never work a Monday-Friday 9-to-5 job.

It made sense at the time. I’d just finished ten weeks doing just that in Manhattan, the summer before college, to earn tuition money.  It had seemed like a great opportunity, assisting in the publicity department of a book publisher. Unfortunately, the job mostly entailed typing while facing a blank wall. Well – that, and watching the clock for lunchtime and quitting time. Yuck. Plus, my typing sucks (and btw still does). So I figured the “normal” life was just not for me. And I’ve pretty much kept that vow ever since.

That, my friends, like all vows, can be a curse as well as a blessing. Limiting, sure – but any improv actor can confirm that limitations can unleash lots of creativity. And sometimes we really need it.

Being a full-time voice talent means that no day is exactly the same as the day before. I love that! And yet – sometimes I am tempted by the lure of normal. Are you?

The Temptations of an Everyday Gig

This past month, I’ve spent more time on the air at our local NPR radio affiliate, as they are in the process of hiring a new full-time talent and I’m filling the

Today's Morning Gig

Today’s Morning Gig

gaps until then.  Sure, I thought about applying for the job myself.  Ah, the lure of benefits! a 401k! something stable in my schedule! steady salary!

But ultimately, I didn’t even apply. I’m happier being the understudy here, free to say no if I have big voiceover project to finish, or a business trip planned. So I stay, for now, with the eclectic, uncertain  life I lead as a voice talent (plus extra, related, gigs). A small voice is asking why I made that choice…but I know why. And, if you are an addicted voice talent too, I’ll bet you understand the choice – and also the temptation. 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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