Tag Archives: voiceover

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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Filed under Business of Voice Over, voice talent, voiceover, Voiceover, Voice Talent, Voice Acting

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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Parade Magazine – and the Myth of Easy Voiceover Money

So….in page 8 of last week’s Parade magazine, I revealed my almost-6-figure income for all to see:

Parade

Parade

photo (12)

 

This was my 15 seconds of fame for the spring….about how long it takes to turn the page and move on to something else – like, say, how much Beyonce and Sandra Bullock make.

Why did I participate? For fun. For the attention, sure, not gonna lie. But also as another slice in my marketing pie.  As a member of WoVo, (Worldvo.org)  the industry association for international Voice Talents, I want to promote our industry as a field where professional talents are seen – and paid – as the professionals we are.  And my fairly-decent income for 2013 was another way to make that point.

Of course,as you might imagine, I got lots of e-mails, messages, and even a couple of phone calls (one really weird one in the middle of the night from Los Angeles, but he might have had a different, um, agenda) saying “wow! you make so much money just for talking? I have a nice voice!”….well, you get the picture.

How to Get Started in Voice-Overs.

Judy Carter says it beautifully in her book The Comedy Bible (for aspiring comics and comedy writers)The-Comedy-Bible

  • Get good.
  • Get noticed.
  • Get paid.

In that order.

And then, she continues with a terrific book full of chapters with concrete steps to accomplish all that – chapters that most people, sadly, probably don’t read. “Really? I gotta do all that?”

And so it is with Voiceovers.  In the words of Mama Rose (a part which I just auditioned for, and btw, did not get… sad face…but hey that’s show biz. indeed.): “Got the dream, yeah, but not the guts.”  

Got the Guts? Here’s What You Do First:

(In the interest of public service, the contents of the letter I usually send to aspiring talents – tho I do tailor it a bit….

Dear______________ – 

As you might imagine,  I get this question at least 5 times a day!

This is a business that requires you to be self-starter. Get good at it, learn all you can, and then you must build your business.

My best advice is to do the research first – learn what it takes.

Here are some articles to get you started:   http://voiceoverxtra.com/articles.htm?cat=biz%3A+newcomers+to+voice-over

There is also a terrific resource called The Voice-Over Entrance Exam, which spells it all out beautifully

In addition, I highly recommend Edge Studios. They have a 4-hour “Investigate voice-over” class that will answer many of your questions, and it’s a very reasonable rate.  Here is the link to that: http://www.edgestudio.com/voice-over-class

regarding audiobooks, some great info is here: https://www.audiopub.org/faq.asp#narrator

There are also some fabulous blogs from the VO community.

additionally, here are some great books :

There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is : A Complete Insider’s Guide to Earning Income and Building a Career in Voice-Overs  (latest edition)  by Elaine A. Clark. Lots of script examples with detailed discussions.

Art of Voice Acting  by James Fourth edition – an excellent book with CD examples. Complete overview of the business.

Technique Guidebook, available at Edge Studio, www.edgestudio.com-

Sound Advice, by Dan Friedman – clear home studio info from a voice talent/engineer

Voice-Over Garden – Jonathan Tilley (online purchase);

Voices of Experience – Doug Turkel – FREE e-book, how VO superstars got there!

also, look for books by Dave Courvoisier, Paul Strikwerta, Bill DeWees…

That should get you started!

good luck, Randye

 

It is not complete, but it is a place to begin. Feel free to chime in with comments, fellow talents.

Ready, set, go!

Continue reading

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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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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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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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Frequent Faffers: Why We Can’t Wait for Faffcon 5

Two weeks from now I’ll be back with fellow Voice Talents, this time in Charlotte, NC.

faffcon 4

loving faffy the mascot

My name is Randye and I am a frequent faffer. (everybody all together: “Hi, Randye!”)

Why? Why spend hard-earned voiceover income on plane fare, hotel lodging, and a registration fee? WIIFM? (“What’s in it for me….?”)

Oh, so much. That’s why I am doing it for the fifth time. Yes, I am not only a frequent faffer, I guess I’m kind of addicted.

If you are saying, “huh?”, allow me to explain.

This is from the official info department:
Voice talent from around the world (Australia, Great Britain,

founding faffers 2011

some founding faffers – we were in Portland OR in 2010!

Canada, United States) have come to FaffCon since it began in 2010. The objective for participants and guiding principle behind FaffCon
is very simple- “Get What You Need, Share What You Can”. FaffCon continues to provide a very educational, interactive and fun environment that encourages peer-to-peer professional development for
all unconference contributors (who are nicknamed “Faffers”).

So, it’s a gathering of Voiceover professionals, only about 100 of us (hence the waiting list every year, and many of us camping out by our computers until registration  opens). Continue reading

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The Five-Second Voice-Over Billboard: How Hard Can it Be?

My first billboard for NBC! What a pleasure to be directed and produced by the fabulous Bill Rock, who has been one of the voices of NBC for years and is one of the voice-over greats. I pinned his studio on Pinterest on my “Great Places to Record Audio” Board.

Bill and I were talking about why it can take so long – well, let’s just say more than 5 seconds – to record “short, easy” pieces like this.
What do you need? When to market yourself to this work?

  • First of all, you need to be able to deliver variety – so the client has choice and can pick the one they want.
  • Secondly, timing is of the essence, down to the hundredth of a second.
    voice over brain

    technique plus imagination...

    As in many shorter reads, to really deliver the tone the actor in you wants to perform, you’d need a little more time. You don’t have it! It helps to have a master producer/director like Bill, who can make an extra tenth of a second go away without adjusting speed.

  • Third, techniques like articulation, pitch, coloring words, phrasing, tempo changes are all vital here. Some of the variety will come from these “left-brain” techniques, some will come from your “right-brain” sense of play and imagination. And be willing and able to take direction, especially from a pro like Bill.

Fascinating, too, to hear the listening expertise of the client from NBC – one listen to all 7 takes, and she knew: “let me hear 3,4, and 7”. Then “Let me hear 4 and 7” Then, number 7 it is. Whew! And I can’t even decide which pair of jeans to put on in the morning (and, um, they all pretty much look the same).

So – it didn’t really take that long (I mean, way under an hour) to come up with seven reads to play for the client, all under 5 seconds – but, as Bill said, “People think this is easy; it’s not! It’s hard work.” Indeed. Okay, maybe not compared to, say, police officers, construction workers, and middle school teachers. (not delusional…I know voice-over is cushy compared to that!)  But, harder than the average person might expect.

Thanks again to Bill – and if you want to hear the 5-second result it’ll be part of “Fashion Star” on April 24 and it’s about Maybelline.  Yeah, I’m taping it. It’s my first one.  Guilty!

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Voiceovers: That’s What I Like About You

So you wanna be in voice overs? Yes. Well, read up, person with that lovely voice. Just check the archives at voiceoverXtra, Edge Studio, or any of the number of fab VO blogs out there, and you’ll get the truth: becoming a professional voice over talent takes lots of training,  hard work, marketing,creating business goals, scheduling action steps, investments of time and money, and an effort to always think ahead.

When I teach Investigate Voice Over classes for Edge Studio, or in answering the inevitable cocktail party  “so how can I get into VO?” question, I make the hard work clear: Voiceover is a business. I don’t care if you have an agent or not – it is still a small business you must run yourself – as talent, salesperson, marketing team, accountant, perpetual student, networker, and often editor and producer.

So – why do we do it? What’s the payoff? The other side of the coin?

Faffcon VO Fun

Like in any relationship that needs work, sometimes we need to be reminded of why we fell in love in the first place. So, dear newbie or pro, here’s my love list.

Why I Love being a Voice Over Talent:

1. Fun! This morning I got to play a baby owl (who spoke English – yeah, animation), this afternoon a16-year-old girl for an audiobook, and then a medical expert who could explain fibromyalgia. That is a blast. Continue reading

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