Recently, I had a wonderful e-mail exchange with up-and-coming voice artist Linda Velwest about creating a promotional video. Linda kindly gave me permission to repost her messages here on the blog so that others can benefit from this discussion.
Hi Karen,I’ve been following your blog and I’ve been voluteering at librivox. My name there is lindavw. I just finished recording my first solo project and I’m waiting for it to be PL’d. I saw the trailer you made for your Alaska book and it inspired me to think about doing one for the book I just did! I hope you don’t mind me stealing your idea! It’s a good one.The book I read is a short YA book from the 1930’s about these girls who are in college and their adventures during their sophomore year. I was going to make a video with me talking about the book, maybe taking some lines from the book, and having a slideshow of colleges and college students from that time as the visual on the video.I looked up on the internet and found a bunch of pictures of college students from that era. I found some great pictures from a variety of sources – some college handbooks that have pictures of their history, some pictures of movie starts of the time, some cool old pictures I also looked up the legality of using pictures in a video. And I’m kind of confused so I was hoping you could answer my questions or point me in the direction of sources that can.I am not a voice actress at this time. I’m taking classes, getting coaching and practicing all the time. But I’ve never actually been paid for anything. If I do make this video, I’ll post it around and use it as a way to promote myself and get my name out there. But I have no intention of getting paid anything for the book or the video.I think of it like a school project where I’m preparing to enter the workforce by dong things as similar to how a professional would do it as possible. I don’t want to do anything illegal or unethical and I don’t know what the boundaries are.Thanks for your inspiration and any help you can give me.Linda Velwest
Here’s my response, with some formatting and highlighting added for readability.
Greetings, Linda! Thanks so much for the nice note; you made my day! I love the line in your last paragraph about preparing to enter the workforce. So many people dash off the question to me “I have been told I have a nice voice. How do I get started in voiceover?” without any thought or perusal of the wealth of info on my web site. It’s so refreshing to hear from someone who is working at building her skills and taking a methodical — and wise — approach to starting a new career. Bravo!I’m delighted that you liked my book trailer and want to create one of your own. Not only do I not mind that you are using this idea, I expected and encouraged people to do so in this blog post.As you’ll read in the comments, one voice talent used the idea to create a trailer for a local art exhibit and landed inquiries about creating a similar one for pay. Video is a very effective marketing technique!Also, take some cues from that article about ways to spread the video, as well as publicize your book. My book has been in the catalog for 1 week and has already been downloaded more than 500 times because I have been promoting it.Think of the target audience for the book or how it might relate to a group of people, and you can figure out some places where those people hang out on-line. For instance, I posted the info and link to my book in the Alaska forum on CruiseCritic.com because it’s Alaska cruise season, and many people like to take audiobooks on a trip, particularly if it relates to their destination.I really don’t have a lot of specific info I can share about picture copyrights. Generally, pictures on the Internet or in magazines, books, and papers are protected by copyright. You wouldn’t be able to use them or a derivative of them legally without permission of the owner. In gaining permission, you might have to pay a usage fee or royalties.The same is true of music. You couldn’t use something from your own CD collection or off the web. I’ll come back to the music in a minute.Most of the pictures in my video were from the public domain book I narrated, along with 1-2 that my husband took on our Alaskan cruise. As the photographer, he owns the copyright to those pictures and kindly granted me usage of them.However, I also used some images from iStockPhoto.com, which is one of many on-line sites of stock images that you CAN use in your own work. Photographers and videographers upload their work to these sites. You purchase a picture or video clip, and a usage license comes with it. I’ve also bought and used these pictures in my blog.The music in my video was from a royalty-free collection of CDs that I have purchased. You can buy royalty-free music on-line by song, CD, or collection. As with the images, it may take some time to hunt down just the right thing.Since you’ve found images that you like, you can always write to those people and request their permission to use it. They may say yes or no, or they may ignore you completely.Sometimes the copyright owner will surprise and thrill you with their response. In chapter 12 of my book, the author included the chorus lyrics from a Stephen Foster song “Old Black Joe”, and she described the setting for it. I first planned to sing the song in the narration (I did that with another Victorian song in the book), but I didn’t know the melody.
In researching it, I found a rendition on iTunes that captured the scene to perfection. While the song is in the public domain, and therefore free of copyright restrictions, the performance of it is NOT public domain. The artist has the copyright on the performance.
It was so perfect, and I really wanted to use it in my book.I found the artist on Facebook and sent a message to him. Not only did he immediately grant me permission to use the snippet, but he offered to help me promote it with Facebook ads! He quite clearly told me that he didn’t care of someone lifted the song out of the book and used it for something else. His purpose in recording it was to reawaken interest in these old songs.[Important note: Since LibriVox dedicates all recordings to the public domain, anyone could lift your free book and sell it without sharing the revenue with you. See the excellent discussion on Some Audio Guy’s blog about this potential downside to volunteering on this or any other site that leaves your recordings in the public domain.]I hope these thoughts are helpful. Send me the link to your video when you finish it; I’d love to see it! Best wishes for your health, success, and prosperity!