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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. ūüôā

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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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! ūüôā

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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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 Рand 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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Why I’m Not a Voice Over Superstar- Yet

I recently heard from one of my agents, someone who represents me in Chicago. We hadn’t had any contact in awhile, so I was checking in to see if we should “break up” or not. ¬†You know. Weeding.

What she said was both reaffirming and a wake-up reminder:

The reaffirming part: “You are an amazing talent. ¬†I was just on your website and it is incredible.” ¬†(Thank you!)

The wake-up call? : “In our market ‚Äď most all clients want to audition in person... They won‚Äôt accept taped auditions. ¬†I have had clients hear your voice and like it but want to record locally and not by distance.” (Aha!)

Jumping Up a Voice Over Level

There it is:¬†¬†Sometimes you’ve gotta live in the Big City if you wanna get work there. ¬†If you want to jump the level, like in a video game.

what now workshop

At Edge Studio, yes in NYC

Honestly, I am really happy with my voice-over career so far. I have regular clients, new interest in my work every week, several agents, local/national/international clients – and, most importantly, I pay the bills doing what I love while also being there for my family, friends, and other passions of my life.

Pretty fortunate, right? Continue reading

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Investigate Voice Over: the first step

Edge Studio Team

Edge Studio Team

Tomorrow night I teach another session for Edge Studio called “Investigate Voice Over.” We call it the “IVO” – and it’s taught frequently in our New York main studio, our CT and DC studios, in Los Angeles, and also via teleclass.

If you’ve ever wondered about the true path to VoiceOver success, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Got the Voiceover dream? Get the truth! And have fun finding out if this business – and make no mistake, it most certainly is a business -is for you, and if you are ready for it.

Every dream can always live if you never pursue it, but if you want to change it from a nice dream to an attainable goal then you must take the first step to see what it takes. The first step is to find out the facts.  Continue reading

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“You have such a nice voice!”: the 5 layers needed for voice-over

Edge Studio Coaches

Edge Studio Coaches

When I teach “Investigate Voice-Over” classes for Edge Studio – either in the CT or NYC studio, on a telecall/webinar, in Continuing Education sessions or at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting – I usually begin by asking students what brought them to the class.

If I had, say, a dollar for every answer that began, “Everyone says I have such a good voice…” I would at least be able to buy that ipad I’ve got my eye on.¬† And, yes, I’m thrilled to see anyone who takes steps to satisfy their curiosity.¬† Taking that first step takes courage, because sometimes a dream (“I could make it in voice-over someday if I want to”) is easier to handle than a goal (“Let me find out the reality of voice-over and then decide if I want to do what it takes”).

If you do take that first step -finding out the facts – I applaud you! Maybe you’ll

RandyeKayeVO

a moment of focus!

decide it’s a lot harder than you thought, and it’s not really for you. Or maybe you’ll love it so much that you can’t wait to start investing your time and – let’s face it – money into starting a voice-over business. Either way, you’re ahead whenever you learn something.

So – what does it take? Five layers!

1- A voice. Um, yeah. So –¬† maybe it’s pleasant, or unique, or makes people smile. Your “voice adjectives” will provide the first ideas as to where you might fit in this business. But voice is also about control of accents/speech defects/regionalisms. It’s about vocal care, and knowing how to breathe properly. This may take work – singing lessons, speech therapy, learning about the care of your instrument.

2- Reading Skills – You must be able to read fluently, fluidly, and with comprehension.¬† So many of my newbie students simply don’t know how to read well. Part of your brain has to think ahead, part must stay in the moment. It’s called lateral reading. And – if you don’t understand what you’re reading, and the purpose for every phrase, the listener definitely won’t either.

3-Acting skills – who are you? who are you talking to? why are you saying these words? Actors call it “motivation.” You’d better know how to communicatethe words to your listener. It’s not called “Voice Reading” –¬† it’s called “Voice Acting.” What can help? Acting and/or improvisation classes.

improv class

improv class

4- Technique – Acting uses a lot of the “right brain” – where imagination and the “big picture” reign. But it’s also about technique, and the compartmentalized skills (“left brain”) that mean you can control tempo, pitch, volume, articulation, microphone placement, etc.¬† Clients will expect this professionalism. The answer? Training, then focused practice until technique is so second-nature you don’t have to overthink it anymore – think driving range in golf.

5 – Business savvy and willingness – This is a business, people. If you don’t want to run one, read to your kids instead.¬† You can get a lot of joy out bringing words to life off the page – you just won’t get paid for it without treating voice-over like the business it is.

Want to know more? edgestudio.com career center, socialmediavo.com, youtube, google – there’s a ton of info out there! Set up a couple of sessions with a voice-0ver coach, or take a class. At the very least, you’ll have a good time, learn a little, and take home some skills that help in any kind of communication.

Good luck!

Randye

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Voiceover and Social Networking: Online or in person?

wow, remember live people?

Here’s an eye-opening article from PC World that provides a reality check re social media.  Right now I’m working facebook, twitter, and the voiceover boards, since my first session today isn’t until 2 pm. Yep, 80% of the VO business is spent marketing (well, that’s one statistic I heard) – so how much of it do we want to do online? And how effective it is, really?

If I look at the last ten jobs I did – unscientific, I know, but still-

  • five were from frequent-repeat clients initially found through old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals;
  • one was from a new client I met networking in person;
  • two repeat business from clients I’d landed years ago through voice123 (when I was a member);
  • one from a regular customer (my initial contact, by phone, after hearing about them from fellow VO peeps and doing my online research), and
  • one international client who found me online (via a listing on a free site I’d initiated years ago).

So it’s a combo marketing plan, indeed. Still, I believe that a real handshake beats a virtual friend.  How mush time do you spend tweeting, and it is paying off for you?  I love having nearly 500 followers, but maybe I spend too much time there instead of picking up the phone or at least targeting my marketing more personally.

Just sayin‘. Food for thought.

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