Tag Archives: Randye Kaye. Female Voice talent

Five Things You Learn While Narrating Non-Fiction Audiobooks

Look out! Instant Expert Unleashed!

I just got booked (thanks, Tantor media!) to narrate another non-fiction book, and my family needs to know its topic – so they can avoid bringing it up during the recording phase. Already I can see them rolling their eyes.

Why? Because sure as shootin’ (sorry, left over from a fiction series narration located at Mustang Ridge…) I’m gonna have an temporarily-well-informed opinion on the subject.  Truth, people. Look out.

So -First lesson you learn while narrating non-fiction:

  1. You may  tend to become an instant expert on whatever topic you’re immersed in while recording. Sooo annoying, I know. But I can’t help it!

Why? Well, as nonficton narrators, we actually “play the author” while reading his/her words. It’s an acting job, too, although that is less obvious than in fiction narration. And – well, yeah – I tend to take on my characters

inhabiting the character

while playing them, whether in theatre, TV/film or in audiobook narration. Don’t ever let me take a role as a bitchy broad. You’ll have to run for the hills. Playing “Lucy” in Charlie Brown was the closest I got to that (and I liked it so much I played the role twice!)

In narration, we really get inside the author’s head as much as possible. And, being the kind of person who is fascinated by pretty much everything, this is fun for me. But – after (1)prepping the book, (2)reading it out loud while making sure to stay present at all times, and then (3) listening back to it at times in the final stages – it tends to get in your head. So, yep, I’m gonna feel like I have earned the right to an opinion on the subject of say, Black Holes, Sexually Addicted Spouses, Chakras, or Financial Savvy. Because I wrote the book! (Didn’t I? Oh, wait. Oops)

It’s one thing to say “I read this book about….” – but somehow “I just narrated this book about…” gives the input more clout. At least it feels that way to me. Dangerous, I know. Warn your friends and families.

So, look out, new-Mom-daughter-of mine. Mom’s going to be an instant (and temporary) expert or Montessori child-rearing in February. Good time to take that trip to Disney, honey!

(No I do try to keep away from the parenting advice. But still.)

 

Lessons  2-4:

Beside the lesson above, there are other things to learn from non-fiction narration work:

2.  Finishing a book gives you the whole picture. Did you know that most Americans only read one or two chapters of a non-fiction book (if that much), and then put it on the shelf to “finish later”? Yeah, we know how that goes. However,  when you narrate it, you gotta finish reading that book (um, yeah) . Good thing, too.  It does tend to round out the authors’ points:)

3. Time management becomes absolutely essential. This is true for fiction as well – and of course for any large project of any kind. Break it into small manageable goals, schedule them , and get started! This ain’t your college paper, where you can start the day before and pull an all-nighter. Yes, I mean you. Or me.

4. The world is full of fascinating things – and people passionate enough about them to benefit the rest of us. Some people devote their lives, quite happily, to things like measuring the exact age of a The Great Commissionskeleton, camping out for months to observe a star, meditating for hours daily, planning finances, researching one breed of dog, learning every detail about digestion, proving or refuting the Black Hole theory…the list goes on. These are not things I personally would want to do, but I am grateful that there are people who do. Specialization of labor, distribution of gifts of strengths from the universe. Not just the authors, but the people they write about – many have chosen a little corner of the world to specialize in, and it’s amazing to me.  You get to learn about all this when you narrate.

5. What the heck happened to the red pen? Okay,  perhaps getting just a bit too close to the authors’ work.  Full disclosure:  I have written a book myself and went through the process of editing (over 100 pages got cut) and publication, so a little bit of “writing hat” stays on my head as I narrate. But, seriously – some of these books need serious editing! There are a few that feel like the authors had to prove their research with quotes and dates, often (to my ears) interrupting the story, and over-explaining the points. Okay, I get it! I believe you!  Was this a doctoral dissertation you turned into book?

 Okay, rant over…but I do wonder if some of these books actually saw an editor. (Of course, if I narrated your book, dear author, I am not talking about you. Definitely that other guy.)

Which brings me to a final point – not a lesson, but a reminder, while we are at it:

God Bless the audio editors, and the proof-listeners. Your precision amazes me. I could not do your job! I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy narrating. Thank you.

 

 

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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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Voice Talents: Go Outside and Play! (and Faffcamp)

Voice Talents spend way too much time indoors. In fact, on certain days (neighbors mowing lawns, airplanes zooming by) we kind of curse the outdoors. Noisy!  Those of us who do this full-time, and primarily from home,  know that when we are not recording and editing we are “supposed” to be still chained to the computer: marketing, researching, attending webinars, adding to databases, flaunting our latest work….and before we know it our brain hurts from activity but our bodies hurt from inactivity.

Plus, unless we’ve been lucky enough to work that day in an outside studio with actual other humans, we are often isolated and mentally locked in. Yes. This has become an occupational hazard.  And while the “Social Media Water Coolers” (facebook groups, video conference calls, blogs, twitter, etc) provide a lovely reminder that we are, indeed, part of a community of others in the same boat (or, rather, booth), they do not take the place of actual physical contact with other real live humans – and the world outside our sound-dampened spaces.

It happens if we want it to happen!

It happens if we want it to happen!

One big fix, of course, is to make room in your budget and schedule to attend some kind of voice over conference. These vary from local meet-up groups to the more national ones like WoVoCon or Faffcon. If you have heard of Faffcon but haven’t been able to get in (attendance is limited) , here is your chance to go to another incredible Faff-event called Faffcamp.  This will happen in March of 2015 but only if enough sign up by tonight! (July 10, 2014)  Newbies, this is your chance. Don’t blow it – take the step now! I can attest that every single time I have attended one of these, my spirit soars and my voiceover business increases. So register today, and if you use this code,  VT9026055 , you’ll get $25 off!

 

Between conferences, however, we need to take care of our mental and physical health as well – every day. So, on a daily basis – what to do?

Voice talents: go outside and play!  It is not something to do “if you have time” – make time. 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 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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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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Vocal Booth on Tracks: An Option for Space-Challenged Voice Talents

Yahoo! I now have my own recording “room” – and, even better, I can whisk its “walls” aside whenever I need to.

a glimpse into the old booth area

a glimpse into the old booth area

How? I replaced my wardrobe-screen-from-Goodwill-draped-with-quilts (only 5 feet high) with a floor-to-ceiling Vocal Booth on Tracks from vocalboothtogo.com. And it’s great – exactly as promised.

First of all, let me clarify that in a perfect VO world I’d get a sound-PROOF booth – and perhaps someday I will. This is not a WhisperRoom, or StudioBricks booth – and is not offered as such.  This booth, however, delivers exactly what it promises. I love it.

What is a Vocal Booth On Tracks?

What is it? It defines a vocal space where you have none, and provides excellent sound-dampening in the process. Many of us do this with moving blankets, acoustic foam, closet space, even hanging clothes – but it can look unsightly and be a pain to “undo” in case the in-laws are coming over for dinner. Continue reading

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Your Voice Over Business: got a Plan?

Imagine you want to lose, say, five pounds. So you make a plan (lower-case p). You decide to give up wine,  to eat fewer carbs, or count points, whatever….yet it somehow doesn’t happen. Things get in the way. You open the fridge and can’t make a decision, so you just grab the Frosted Flakes and milk as usual. And, before you know it, it’s back to deciding to put it all off until tomorrow, or next Monday.

What went wrong?

You had a plan, but not a Plan (with a capital P).

Now imagine a Plan.

You take ten minutes on Sunday to list 7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners you

Hard to get the job done without Scaffolding

Hard to get the job done without Scaffolding

love that fit your plan(repeats are fine, too – hey, it’s life), and a few snack ideas.  And, right then, you choose 1 from each list to pencil in for Monday – or, for some, make a rough-out for the week.  Also make sure you have the “tools” you need – and, if not, make that shopping list and plan when you will buy them – or go get them now (preferably when not hungry). Then, place some tools on the counter for breakfast – the measuring cup, whatever will give you “activation energy” to remind you of your plan and make it easy to make the right decision. Continue reading

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Value Exceeds Cost: The Designer Voice Talent

The project specs say: Client is very budget focused.  Um..okay. But what does that mean? Sure, so you can go on fiverr.com and find someone to read words for, well, five bucks.  But – what’s the value?

Consider this: How long is takes to get the sound and attitude you were looking for, how much creativity the voice talent brings to the project, how easy he/she is to work with, and your satisfaction with the final product.

blue ribbonIf someone calls your phone system, sees your video, takes that virtual tour – what will that potential customer’s first impression be of your product, project or company?  They may not be aware that a sub-par voice created a sub-par first impression, but it will be there.

One recent client told me, at the end of a phone patch session for an awards show, “Working with you guys is always a pleasure because it requires the least amount of intervention on my part.” Thanks!

What does an experienced and/or well-trained newbie voice talent bring to the project? Here are a few of those things:

  • Responsiveness. If you say, “can you make it more authoritative, but still friendly, and just make the tempo a bit faster – oh, except on this line…” – we can do that for you.
  • Creativity. If you ask, “I don’t know. Just try something.” – we can do that for you, too. Five different ways.
  • Fun. We have a professional fee scale because many of our clients are regular customers. Part of that is that we are fun – and easy – to work with. We’ve been at this long enough to bring confidence to the session.
  • Professionalism. We meet deadlines, honor commitments, have spent time and money on home studios, take care of our voices, invest in “continuing VO education” to keep our skills sharp – vocal, technical, and business.
  • Uniqueness. Like every actor.

To paraphrase an old L’Oreal ad (and date myself in the process): Sure, l'orealI’m expensive. But you’re worth it. Designer voice talents make a client’s work easier, and the final product something to be really proud of. And that pays off, in many ways, in the long run. That’s the value.

“Randye ‘gets it.’ She has a way of sensing the right level of assertiveness, compassion, playfulness, sarcasm (or whatever is being called for) on the first take so that subsequent takes are more a matter of fine-tuning. Recommending Randye Kaye to my clients makes me look good!” — Walt Graham Productions, Norwalk, CT

“Randye has worked with Fairview Media on multiple projects with tight deadlines, and rapidly changing requirements. She has always been right with us, through easy clients, and not so easy jobs, remaining on track and on time, giving her expert knowledge of professional voicing to us. Randye is an asset that I will continue to keep in my ranks for the future.” — Eric Oppegaard, Fairview Media

Randye is the consummate storyteller. She is among the best voice actors we’ve ever recorded…a real pro.”

— Daniel M. Welsh, President and Publisher, Spoken Arts Media, NY

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