Monthly Archives: July 2012

Defining Your Success

 

Our Director of Operations Heather Costa shares a few ideas to help voice-over talent achieve the successful results they are looking for. In this short video, along with the provided worksheet, you will find ideas to help organize your schedule and set realistic goals for yourself. Click here to watch!

Online Voice-Over Auditions- Where do I Begin?

As a Voice-Over Artist, mastering the art of auditioning should be high on your to-do list because you will undoubtedly audition plenty! Plan to audition a great deal more than you actually record jobs, as that is the nature of the industry. Thanks to today’s technology and the internet, voice-over auditions have never been easier to find. One of the best means to audition online are through various “pay to play” audition sites, such as voices.com and voice123.com. While there is a fee to be able to audition through these sites, you can practice this skill by auditioning 24/7 if you wish!

Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin this chapter in your career:

– Select the auditions that are best suited for your voice and niche. Focus on those for the best use of your time.

– If the client provides a script, record exactly what they ask for. If the product name is xxx out, replace it with another name so the read still flows correctly.

-If a script is not provided, research the client and use a published material related to their product as your script. Paul Strikwerda recently published an article on VoiceOverXtra discussing this very topic!

– Don’t under-price yourself. Quality is worth the money so if you accept a very low price for the work, serious undercutting can hurt your reputation, not to mention the industry in general. If you’re just looking to build your resume, you’re better off offering services for free to family and friends or non-profits rather than accepting a ridiculously low paying job. Donate your time, not your money!

Another method for auditioning virtually is emailing an mp3 of an audition to a client. This may occur if a potential client contacts you directly, perhaps in response to your initial reach out to them, or finding you online or having received a referral of your work. This may also occur if a regular client wants to hear you read something in a slightly different style than what you’ve done for them in the past. In this scenario you will also want to be sure to record the script they provide. If a script is not provided, ask what they’d like to hear and record that. Don’t just assume that your demo is enough! In most cases it is, but in some cases something custom created is what it will take to seal the deal. You should also try to keep auditions and price quotes in separate conversations. Ideally it would be great to have a sense of their budget before spending time auditioning, but don’t overlook the possibility that if they love your voice and realize the value and quality, they may be willing to pay more than the initial amount they had in mind. Always ask for a budget first (if you can) before offering up your rates.

Lastly, remember that this is just a part of your job, and don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed with the amount of other people auditioning for the same job. You never know if they are more or less experienced than you- so just let all of those thoughts go and enjoy the process! Do your best and submit your audition. Once you do- put it behind you. Don’t think about it any more, don’t stress over the results, or keep track of those that you have submitted. Just move forward and take what you can learn from each experience with you. You will never win every audition you submit, but you will definitely improve your auditioning skills with time, and undoubtedly book more jobs as a result.

What’s the [Back] Story, Morning Glory?

When working with a short commercial script, you don’t have time as a voice talent to “develop” the character as you go along. Part of your pre-recording practice involves breaking down the script to figure out things, like: Who is your character? What is the point of the script? Who is the demographic you’re trying to reach?

Whether you ascribe to method acting or not when it comes to voice overs, asking yourself what was going on the moment before the script begins can be a valuable tool to helping you get into character. Short scripts usually fall into two groups: 

1) The character is easy to relate to and the problem or situation tends to be boiler-plate. If these voice jobs are your niche, you usually know what to do with it.

2) The script is so short or vague that you’re not sure what to do with it! Sometimes copywriters don’t flesh out their vision as well as they think do, and you’re left wondering what they’re looking for.

In either scenario, imagining a back story can help you get into character and sound more natural.

Figure out where the script takes place, what your character was doing right before the script picks up, and who he/she is talking to. Pick a scenario and commit to it. Then match your pitch, attitude, volume and energy to fit that situation. Your performance will likely become very natural after that.

Keep in mind that when you play it back, you may find your interpretation didn’t actually make sense at all. That’s OK! Tweak the back story and your character, but make sure to be specific with your interpretation. Fleshing out the character can make the difference between someone with a nice voice reading a script and a professional voice actor acting the script.

Optimize Your Sick Days

For voice actors, getting sick is a particular inconvenience. Working freelance has many perks, but paid sick leave sure isn’t one of them!

As tempting as it is to work through your flu-like symptoms, complete a big project for that important client, and tell yourself that you can edit out the stuffy nose sound in post — your efforts are better spent on other areas of your voice over business!

When you get sick, do yourself a favor and simply let your clients know that you may not be able to complete the project by the agreed upon deadline. Send them a sample of their script with your current sound and give them the option, so they don’t think that you’re just using it as an excuse to extend the deadline. Giving your clients as much notice as possible will let them decide whether to hire someone else for the voice job or extend the deadline. Sure, it’s a bummer to pass up a gig, but you should never send your clients less than your best. If you have to pass up on a job that can’t wait for you to get better, keep other VO talents in mind and share the love. If you recommend them for a job, most likely they’ll do the same for you someday!

Don’t despair! Sick days needn’t be wasted on your couch when there are so many creative things to do in your studio.

  • Editing work
  • Search for new royalty free music and/or SFX for your library
  • Marketing – researching clients, sending emails, writing postcards
  • Most importantly, however, if you have any vocal strain you should go on vocal rest and only speak when absolutely necessary! Work on the silent VO items instead, such as invoicing, email marketing, social networking, etc.

Use your sick time to catch up on social media posts/tweets/blogs/comments within the voiceover community, make sure your website is up-to-date with a list of projects you are most proud of, work on your newsletters, check out new products for your studio, and check out what your fellow voice talent are up to.

Even if your vocal abilities are temporarily impaired, your ability to organize isn’t! Clean out old files, tidy up your in-box, and balance your work account.

If you’re really under the weather, then surrendering to your jammies and daytime TV for a day or two won’t hurt you either.

SAV Director of Operations Heather Costa, Records Hundreds of Radio & TV Spots for Carrier and Cub Cadet Quarterly!

By Heather Costa

I have been very fortunate that each quarter, for the past two years, I have been hired to record hundreds of radio and TV spots for Carrier AC & Heating and Cub Cadet, a lawn and garden manufacturer. These spots air all throughout the United States. Back in May 2010 I was approached by a Florida based production company who had found my website while doing an online search. The relationship started out with just a few commercials here and there. Then within a month, they sent me the first large project requesting 44 radio spots and 133 commercial spots for Carrier AC & Heating! I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I was very excited for the opportunity and provided my best work possible with a quick turnaround. With each project since, the number of spots have increased.

I record commercials with this production company on a regular basis (ranging from 5 second tags to 60 second spots,) however, I can always count on receiving those big bulk projects for both Carrier & Cub Cadet once a quarter as the seasons change and it’s time to revamp their marketing!

Carrier uses this production company to create commercials for many of their distributors, such as Mike Morello, Air Pro Services, Baxter Oil Company and more! Cub Cadet does the same, so the projects I record are again for distributors such as Hoyt’s AG Supply, Clermont County Equipment and Gossett Farm Equipment, among others.

I’ve also had the opportunity to record numerous car dealership commercials for them and believe it or not, motorcycles too! I never would have pegged this as a niche for myself, but the client apparently did! It’s wonderful having outstanding relationships with production companies that rely on you and you on them as well. It’s also a great opportunity to share the jobs with other VO talents. I’ll occasionally be asked for referral recommendations for different types of voices that I obviously can’t provide, such as male, Spanish, etc. After all, VO success doesn’t just include booking jobs, it’s also about building relationships.

Click here for some Carrier & Cub Cadet spots that Heather recently voiced:

SAV Student Andrea Burnette Lands VO Job for Health First New York!

Andrea Burnette is the perfect example of someone who has managed to turn a life-long passion for reading aloud into an actual career move. As it turns out, her years of “practice” have suited her well- having shaped her ability to embody the character in each read she does. Andrea always knew she wanted to pursue voice-overs, so when she took her first class with Such A Voice, she knew by the end of it that it was time to make the move!

Andrea decided to take every minute of her studies with SAV coach Michelle Falzon very seriously, (actually asking her to nit pick!) to make sure she would get the most out of her training. “Michelle is an excellent fit for me because she’s a fantastic teacher. Her knowledge includes not only voice technique, but recording and the technical aspects of producing a marketable product, as well as starting and sustaining a viable voiceover business,” she says of her training. There is no doubt that Andrea’s intense devotion to do her personal best has served her very well, as she has now booked 2 radio commercial spots for a client in the incredibly competitive market of New York City!

She says of the experience, “I booked that first job this month via Voice123.com, two 60-second radio commercials to air in New York City for Health First New York. The client and the agency arranged to phone me to provide direction during the recording session. That was quite an experience! Since I booked that job, voice seekers have begun to send me invitations, which is very encouraging.”

Just like every artist, Andrea’s prior experiences are what truly helped her to nail these spots, “I attended a workshop titled ‘People Who Hire’ and had an opportunity to read for a local ad agency executive and a room full of fellow VO talents. I was very nervous, but got through the read and received good feedback from the exec and my peers. It turned out to be just the preparation I needed for my first vo job.” Combining this experience with her natural ability to be resilient and face new challenges daily, Andrea was ready for the job and is now a paid VO professional!

Are you dreaming of following in Andrea’s foot steps? To do so she recommends that you, “Listen to your coach, listen to voiceovers on web sites, TV, radio, in elevators and malls, wherever they occur. Practice, practice, practice! Keep listening, learning, improving and don’t give up!” Take your education seriously as she did with Such A Voice, finding that “the training itself was a great foundation on which to build; it also really helped to have someone to guide me through the process and help avoid the pitfalls. I understand the VO lingo and understand what’s expected of me so that I can deliver what the client expects.”

Congratulations Andrea, with your natural talents and drive to succeed, we are sure that we will be hearing much more of your voice in the coming months and years!

The Importance of Time Management & Organization as a Voice-Over Artist

Being a voice-over talent is being an entrepreneur, which in turn requires dedication and self-direction in order to succeed. We all know how hard it can be to get yourself to do the important things in life, such as eating properly or turning off the TV to get some exercise… So what is the secret to always making the right choice each day for your professional success? The answer lies in both managing your time and organizing yourself! Here is some advice you will find helpful in creating your own path to success:

Set a time commitment within your weekly schedule – why?

1. Hold yourself accountable for the goals that you’re setting!

2. Keep yourself organized to make the most of your time. More organization = more productivity.

3. Keep yourself from getting frustrated – already having the time set aside will make it easier to fit it into your life than trying to “fit in VO work whenever you can…”

What specific time commitment should you make?

1. VOs can be done any day of week, any time of day!

2. If you’re worried about meeting your time commitment, plan for less time and then if you surpass it, great! Otherwise if you do not, you won’t feel that you have let yourself down.

3. Try to set aside time that you know you won’t be interrupted or have other obligations to deal with.
How to fit it all in:

1. Figure out an amount of time per week that you want to spend on VOs (in general.)

2. Then look at that week’s schedule Monday-Sunday and figure out how to fit in those hours.

3. Break down the time into 4 categories: research, auditioning, initial contacts, and follow-ups.

4. Then the 5th category that you would not necessarily allot time for – actually recording VO jobs! That trumps all of the other categories!

5. Keep track of your success rate at the end of each week.

6. Feel free to switch up each week the time that you’re spending on each category.

7. At the end of the month look back at your success rate per week to see if you can draw conclusions of which break down of time (per category) is the most effective for you.

8. Certain things have to be done in a specific time frame. For example, phone calls usually have to be done during business hours, or auditions and jobs with a deadline would require you to fit your schedule around that, but other than those things, you can do it 24/7 – and fit it around your life!
What If…

1. If you’re not meeting the allotted time per week, reduce the time so you’re not overextending yourself – keeping realistic expectations and goals will help your overall confidence and productivity.

2. If you’re finding you have more time to spend, extend your time frame!

3. If you’re not seeing success, switch up your formula. Take a step back and figure out how you can better utilize your time for categories that you may have been neglecting.
Creating more organization gives you something to hold yourself accountable for. After all, you are your own boss, and you only get paid if you show up to work!

Three Different Projects – Three Different Feels!

By Such A Voice Coach/Producer Jillian Nielsen

Three projects I have completed recently each have a very different emotional feel to them – I was so glad that my demos show my vocal range, as I was contacted directly from the client after they heard my demos on Voice123.com.

The first is for a company called Run My Process. It is a tour of the workflow apps and integration in the cloud that they provide… something I know nothing about. The director was great to work with and I finally had the “quirky” read that they wanted after 8 takes – whew!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRVSmPr4Vbg 

The second is DP Slider an inventor who had a product that he needed a VO to match his video. He wanted a “sexy” read. I would not characterize my voice as “sexy” – but apparently he did and when you see it in conjunction with his video – it is definitely sexy!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK0oba3tGFk

As he continues to invent new “sliders” he has asked me to voice those videos as well!

The final project is for Right Dental Group – they are a company that uses Groupon to market their dental products and services. The tutorial leads people in how to redeem their vouchers. When contacting me, they said they liked my voice, but wanted it to be “more friendly”… my first thought was, “My voice is nothing if not friendly!” but then I stepped back and realized that what they really wanted was for my pace to speed up, and my smile to be bigger. So here’s the result – click on the play button by the “See How Right Dental Group Works!” title: http://rightdentalgroup.com/index.php 

They liked my work so much that they hired me to do all of their voicemail work as well! They have 18 dental services and products, so that translated into quite a lot of work!!!

Professional singer Larry Beier finds Voice-Overs as another professional use of his voice!

Larry Beier always knew he had a very pleasing and versatile sounding voice, but what he didn’t know was that voice-overs would be an exciting job to utilize his natural talents…. Until one day in a recording studio for his music work, he had the opportunity to listen to Joe Namath record one of his Flex-all 454 commercials. Thinking to himself, “Man, that would be a cool job to have!” Larry decided to pursue adding voice-overs to his resume!

As his first step, Larry signed up with Such A Voice to begin his one-on-one coaching with Michelle Falzon. He quickly learned that although he had quite an advantage in being a singer and having recording experience, there is a lot more to becoming a successful voice-over talent than just having a great voice! Larry applied himself and took all of his lessons with Michelle very seriously, saying about the program, “The truth is that no matter how nice your voice stands, there is a lot more to the VO business that needs to be learned. Things like script analysis, inflection techniques, how to market yourself, and information on how to set up and run your own legal production company. Such A Voice gives you the tools and resources you need.  All you need to do is apply them.”

Upon completing his voice-over training program, Larry launched his own production company called “Voice Force One Productions LLC” and within only three months he landed his first paying gig! “It was a radio commercial in the LA area for LA Boxing,” he informed us. “I played the male caller role. We did a skype session and I was coached by the director. A lot of fun!” Thrilled with this early piece of success Larry continues to line up work with new businesses and has also donated his voice services to the Red Cross. Larry continues to aspire with dreams of becoming a national talent and voicing movie trailers one day. Keep us posted Larry, we know you will see those dreams come to fruition!

You can’t voice act with your hands in your pockets!

Think back to when you just started voiceover classes. When you stepped up to the mic, what did you do with your body?

Many students who are practicing to become professional voice actors have subconscious mannerisms that actually inhibit their ability to perform. One bad behavior pattern to break early on is putting your hands in your pockets.

When you put your hands in your pockets, it is nearly impossible to get into character. “If you look happy, you sound happy. If you look like your hands are in your pockets, you sound like your hands are in your pockets,” says Brendan Coyle, Post Engineer.

Not putting your hands in your pockets is part of a greater lesson to learn to relax when you step behind the mic. As soon as you get your home recording studio put together, make sure to spend all of your practice time in it.

The more you practice in front of the mic, the more comfortable you will become. When you feel comfortable behind the mic, you will look and sound comfortable. Your body gestures will sync up with the character and the voiceover job and you will sound like the professional voice actor you want to be!

Go The Extra Mile: How To Impress Your Voice-Over Clients

In a competitive industry like voice overs, it is important to go the extra mile to impress your clients. The more icing you put on the cake, the better chance you’ll have of landing another gig with them or be recommended to another potential client. There are tons of ways you can add that extra special something to really impress them, and here are just a few!

1. Make sure that you are able to deliver the services you offer, but if you can’t, recommend someone in your network who can! Recommending someone else for a voice job you landed shows integrity and respect for the client’s needs. They will probably come back to you because they trust your intentions.

2. Serve your clients not just with your talent, but build a relationship with them that could potentially get you more work. Be sensitive to their needs and be aware of their work ethic.

3. A speedy turnaround is also very important. As soon as your client asks for a spot, record it as soon as possible and send it to them. Same-day delivery shows dedication and really sets you above the rest. If you’re not confident that you can do a fast turnaround, don’t commit that you can, it could end up backfiring. If you think you can do it within 12 hours, but you’re not positive, say 24 hours and impress them by sending it back early. Don’t stress it if a 24 hour turnaround would be difficult for you, not every job has that urgency.

4. Show that you value your clients. The relationship with your client is a two-way street. Just as you would hope your client would refer business to you, be on the lookout for opportunities or contacts they might want to network with. If you hear of an opportunity that will benefit their business, share it with them! They’ll appreciate your interest in their business even if it doesn’t directly benefit you.

5. Send your clients a note during the holidays, even if you haven’t worked with them in a while. The note or card should wish them a happy holiday, and it will also remind them that you would like to continue doing business with them.

SAV Coach/Producer Talia Gonzalez recently booked a regional radio spot for Connecticut tourism!


 

 

Sometimes you get to be a part of a project that feels a little more special than just another commercial. I recently booked a radio spot for Connecticut tourism. When I got to the recording studio I learned that CT was the only state to not have had a tourism budget in three years! They were very excited about launching their new 27 million dollar campaign and rebranding CT with the slogan “Still Revolutionary” with an original song recorded alongside the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Just my luck, a week later I was called back to record additional spots for other local CT businesses too!  

Click here to listen to the :30 radio spot

Click here to listen to the :60 radio spot

SAV Student Leigh Laird Books 6 Jobs through Voices.com!

Leigh Laird has found a multitude of success since her initial decision back in late 2010 to pursue a voice-over career! Now having booked several jobs local to her as well as 6 jobs through Voices.com, Leigh is enjoying these beginning stages of fulfilling her dream to work from home – while still having the time to focus on her three children! In fact, it was that desire which originally inspired her to pursue voice-overs. Having an extensive background in radio, Leigh thought back to those years and recalled the incidents where people recommended that she voice commercials…. after doing her homework on the voice-over industry, she then decided that this was the right opportunity, at the right time! Leigh chose to study with Such A Voice and several months later began to market herself with her demo.

While Leigh attributes much of her success to the beautiful, natural and conversational tone her voice carries, she also gives a great deal of credit to her training. She continues to work with her Such A Voice Coach Lisa Foster today and raves about her experience, “I LOVE working with Lisa! She is such an encourager and I thrive on that!  She has a wealth of resources and knowledge in all things voiceover and is always willing to share that…. Plus, she keeps it fun!”

Leigh followed a direct path to her success and hopes to help other aspiring talent to follow in her footsteps with a bit of advice, “1) Find a company, like SAV, that provides good training and a good demo. Your product needs to be showcased well.  2) Know your VO strengths and pursue jobs, initially, that play to those strengths. As you win jobs, that will give you the confidence to branch out later.”

We are so proud of you and all your success Leigh! We hope you continue to dazzle the ears of listeners with your lovely voice for years to come.

Accountabilibuddy…say what?

An accountabilibuddy is a term coined by the South Park cartoon to describe someone who is assigned to you to keep you accountable. This term was introduced to me at VOICE 2012 (since I don’t watch South Park) when I attended Tom Dheere’s session titled: Goals & Action Plans: Putting it All Together.

While the term accountabilibuddy is new to me, the concept of an accountability partner is not. I have had several in my life and they have always kept me on top of the things that are important and in helping me reach my goals. I have attended and read many books on reaching goals. Being accountable to someone is without a doubt a great way to achieve success. It helps keep you from slacking off or worse yet let a year or two go by without reaching your goals.

Tom’s session was the first on accountability, that I had attended in the context of voice-overs. It was great to be reminded of the importance of having a mission statement, weekly, monthly and yearly goals along with an action plan to reach those but of course it all stems from your mission statement. Your accountabilibuddy is someone you share these things with so they know what to hold you accountable for week after week.

Tom challenged us to go out and find one while we were at VOICE and not to leave without one. Seeing how there were over 400 VO talents there it wasn’t hard to find one. In fact, my accountabilibuddy is someone that I just met at VOICE but we hit it off really well and she approached me and I said YES!

Since then we have met three times. We are meeting on a bi-weekly basis to start off with since we are both pretty busy but it has already helped us to stay focused on the things we want to implement that we learned at VOICE.

So how about you? Ready to find yourself an accountabilibuddy? I hope so. Here are my recommendations on finding one:

  • Find someone who lives close to you if at all possible. This will help you foster a strong relationship. If this is not possible don’t fret, the phone or skype work just as good. The only downside is you can’t share a meal together to celebrate reaching big milestones.
  • Find someone who you connect well with and won’t be offended, hurt or defensive when they call you out on your excuses or anything of the sort. Of course, the person should also be encouraging but sometimes we need to hear the hard stuff or else we won’t grow or change.
  • Find someone who is at the same level as you are or a bit ahead. Otherwise, if the person is significantly ahead of you then it’s more of a mentoring relationship not an accountabilibuddy. Although having a mentor is another great way to learn and achieve your goals. View our mentor program called Career Advisory if you want to add this level to your success as well.
  • Be ready to implement not just talk about what you like to do.
  • Have fun! Having accountability isn’t all about deadlines and work. It’s work but it should also be fun except when you need a kick in the hiney to get moving : ).

These are just ideas, if nothing else it helps you to think through who can be your accountabilibuddy. Mine doesn’t live close in fact she lives in another state, I just met her so we are not only growing our voice-over business but also building a new relationship, which is fun.

To Your Voice-Over Succes,

Such A Voice Coach/Producer Steven Wahlberg books a narration job for this years golf course for the US Open!

By: Steven Wahlberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received an audition request from Voice123.com for a project that required a narrator to voice copy that would be running underneath a video of aerial shots of a golf course where the US Open is being played this year. After receiving some positive feedback on my audition, I was informed that the client had selected someone else for the job but that they liked my voice enough to consider me for future projects. I’ve only heard that about a gazillion times before so I really didn’t think any more about it. Well, about a month later I received an e-mail from the agency that produced the previous golf video asking if I would be interested in reading a few scripts that outlined the rules of golf for a DVD. I agreed and was fortunate to be hired on the spot. This was the outcome!