I frequently state in my blog that voice-over is a business, yet people write things to me that indicate that they either are ignoring or don’t know about the business aspects of being a voice-over talent. Just last week, someone sent me an e-mail stating that
I believe I have a talent and I would love the freedom and independence that your job provides.You could do lots of things if you wanted to be free and independent. However, most of those things require some actual work to make them happen. Becoming a voice-over talent is no different. It requires you
My view of Times SquareOn my free day in the Big Apple (Wed., 30 May), I walked around and boosted the local economy as much as possible. Since Drew was unable to make the trip with me, I bought some presents for him. I first stopped at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue.
The big APPLE in the Big AppleI bought a Remote Radio for Drew to use with his iPod. He is delighted that he now can listen to FM radio while riding his motorcycle. I'm sure that Apple Store will be packed tomorrow with the first sale date of the iPhone. I'm going to get one....but not tomorrow! Love was in the air in New York, but it was also on the ground. Somewhere on my walk, I came upon a sculpture of the Love logo associated with the 1970 film Love Story. In a web search, I learned that the sculpture was created by Robert Indiana and located on the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan. Just like I give a different read when voicing scripts, I look for the unusual shot when taking pictures.
Love in New YorkThe Audio Publishers Association conference was held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on Thursday, 31 May. I like to attend sessions aimed at both audiobook publishers and their narrators, especially since I am planning to start my own audiobook production company. This year, I went to the sessions on alternatives to CDs, technology and a narrators' panel.
Earlier this week, as often occurs, I received more e-mails from people wishing to break into voice-over. I endeavor to respond personally to everyone who writes to me, but I rarely get an acknowledgement. I don't know whether the information I provided was helpful. I don't know if they received my reply since I send it from a different e-mail address than is shown on my web site. Sometimes I think people can't be bothered to say thank you to people who help them along the way. I'm honest and sometimes blunt; I tell people what they need to know, which may not be what they wanted to hear.
One of the e-mails this week was from a person who wrote lines typical of so many messages that I receive:
my entire life I've been told that I should do something with my voice....I can also emulate just about any language, dialect, or style in a very short amount of time. I'm getting more and more curious about doing voice over work.
The person wondered if I would be interested in working with him. While I'm flattered when people ask me this question, I don't teach or hire others to work with me. I'm a voice talent who is actvely marketing myself. Occasionally, I need to recommend a fellow voice artist for a role to work with me or as a contact for a job that I need to pass on. However, I have a short list of talent in that category.
At this time, I do not mentor anyoneoutside of any help they may receive from my blog entries and the Advice and Links section on my web site. Since voice-over is a business, you need to have a business plan consisting of education, demo, marketing, MORE marketing, gigs, on-going education and maybe an agent....in that order. I hope that people are using this blog as part of their education, so I refer newcomers to these particular posts:
I have been traveling recently and have been unable to update my blog for several weeks. One of my trips was to New York to attend the Audio Publishers Association conference and BookExpo. Since audiobooks and narrations are the main focus of my voice-over work, going to New York was mission-critical! I really enjoyed seeing many colleagues again, as well as meeting new audio and print publishers with whom I might develop a working relationship. I already am planning to attend the same events next year in Los Angeles.
It's a law of nature that things happen in threes. That law was proven again on
Wednesday 30 May as I prepared to leave for New York.
I was talking with a friend today. This friend Don has advanced degrees in multiple disciplines, yet he continues to attend grad school to earn more degrees. Barbara Sher, author of the life-changing book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, would say my friend is a scanner because he has varied interests and doesn't settle on one thing for too long. I also would say that Don doesn't want to commit to one thing. I'm convinced that he attends grad school so that he can postpone the inevitable time when he must finally make a choice of how he wants his life to proceed.
Today's conversation got around to my voice-over business. As I talked about recent successes and my plans for the future, Don said, as he has said more than once over the years, "maybe I should look into doing voice-overs." I tell anyone who asks me that they should explore any serious interest in voice-over work, sheep herding, Italian cooking or whatever. You don't want to get to the end of your life and wonder "how would my life have been if I had done that?".
As I have done in previous conversations, I recommended that Don start by reading books on my recommended list of voice-over books and taking some classes.
He asked how I would feel if he took a voice-over class and hit it big. Don is not someone in the incredible ** 81% ** of the Gen Y crowd (18-25 year-olds) who seems to expect fame and wealth as their birthright. Quite simply, Don is yet another person who thinks that making money in voice-over is an easy thing that can be done by anyone. Since he had a few spare hours in his schedule, Don was ready to sign up for the fortune and glory awaiting him as a voice-over actor.
I don't think he will actually follow through with any action. After all, he is the same person who could never be bothered to even listen to my demos.
Our discussion today reminded me how Don acted when I created my first demo. When you decide to go after your goals, your friends and family will change their attitudes about you. In many cases, that change won't be a positive one.
I've been working and traveling so much lately that I have neglected to update my blog. Happy anniversary to me! I've been writing blog entries for a year and hope that you have found some useful tidbits in them to help you live the life of your dreams, especially your dreams of a thriving voice-over career.
I recently bought the DVD and book of the best-selling work The Secret. I do believe in the Law of Attraction and attempt to live my life according to its principles. I have read many books on the topic and find something meaningful in each one. Since some of my writing on this blog relates to ideas and processes described in The Secret, I decided to add a category for The Secret to make those types of posts more readily identifiable.
My knowledge and application of the Law of Attraction are sort of like learning to use your microphone and editing program. At first, you don't know how to do it. Once you get comfortable with the principles, you practice and continue to learn. Even when you're competent or even at authority level, you still want to learn and apply more so that you will always improve.
I was on a cruise recently and had an epiphany. Drew and I were seated around some loud, obnoxious people. We looked at each other and said, as we have said in many similar past circumstances, "We must be magnets for this type of behavior." I realized at that moment that we were indeed MAGNETS! By constantly saying and reinforcing the idea that we would be seated next to rude, noisy people, it's like raising our hands to the Universe and saying "bring 'em on!" I now say that I am a magnet for peace and quiet, with respectful people around me. 🙂
Hurricane-ravaged Grenada was one of the islands we visited. While the country has rebuilt much destroyed in hurricanes of recent years, nature's damage was still very evident. Roofs were missing from the 3 churches that we saw. Some building still looked ramshackle and uninhabitable. Looking around and seeing the people scrambling for every dollar made me once again feel extreme gratitude for the bountiful blessings in my life.
However, my spriritual side was not the only part of me that had a boost in knowledge during the trip. I also noticed something that could apply to my voice-over career. Drew and I were about to cross a street in a narrow intersection at the top of the steep hill near the old fort. He started to walk, but I stopped him. A car was zooming up the hill, and the driver wasn't going to stop.
I saw a post on another blog a few minutes ago that compelled me to respond. Someone else had commented that they were wary of authors reading their own books for the audio version because reading aloud is hard to do properly. The podiobooks blog author asserted that reading aloud for audiobooks could not be difficult since that person’s mother read to him/her when s/he was a child. Before I answered, I guess I should have noticed that the post was filed under Rants. Anyway, I’m including my comments about the difficulty imposed by audiobook narration here on
A few weeks ago, Drew told me that he found himself critiquing the voice-over actors on local radio commercials. He said he could recognize voice talent who need more training because they haven't learned how to sound conversational in their reads. Among other things, he astutely detected that amateurs invariably let their voices trail off at the ends of sentences.
That same day, I called a major entertainment venue here in Atlanta to learn information about an upcoming event. I was rather shocked to hear a voice message in which the events and ticket prices were read in a choppy, uneven manner by someone with an accent. While some local commercials are produced by people with limited budgets, this complex has revenues in the millions each year. Its operations department unquestionably could afford to hire professional voice talent but has not.
In both cases, a professional voice-over artist like me could be tempted to offer her services to these businesses to fix their problems. However, both the people producing the commercials and those at the entertainment venue don't think that they have a problem. My efforts therefore would fall in the category of unsolicited advice and most likely anger the people that I most wanted to impress.
I learned this lesson the hard way. As I was beginning my voice-over career, I wrote an e-mail to a local car dealer who runs a lot of radio ads. With my infinite wisdom, I explained that the dealer's ads about Jenny in the office making a Bundt cake for all of the salesmen was offensive because it presented a very sexist and condescending attitude toward women. Mind you, I sent this message in the late 90s or early in this decade. The ad WAS sexist, but as a new voice talent who had no connection to this advertiser, it wasn't my place to point out that fact. Naturally, I happily identified myself as a voice-over talent and offered to assist the dealer with future commercials.
I have auditioned for that dealer's spots on numerous occasions but have never booked one. I have listened to my auditions against the ads that ran on the air. My vocal qualities and copy interpretation are eerily similar in many cases. Since I'm a positive person, I believe that maybe the producers knew the talent selected for the ads or perhaps never heard my auditions. I have to be honest, though, and acknowledge that an equally likely scenario is that my unsolicited advice was considered criticism and destroyed my chances of booking work with that advertiser.
A musical instrument can produce melodious notes in any key playable by the instrument and known by the musician. If my voice is my instrument, why should I limit myself only to the words available in one language?
The world view of an American is someone is only knows one language. Foreign languages are not required school subjects here, so many people do not choose to learn them. English has become the global language for business and computer systems.
In 1994, Drew and I took our first trip abroad. Our destination was Germany, with a weekend in Amsterdam on the end of the trip. I had studied German in high school and college, but I had forgotten much of it since I had not had an opportunity to practice it. Don't worry about the language was the advice of a friend. Everyone in Europe speaks English.
We discovered that the German people spoke German, at least on our first day in Munich. While our remembrances of that day now make for funny stories, the language barrier caused one of the most frustrating days of our entire marriage.
As a side note, I believe that the fear of the language barrier is one reason many people don't travel internationally. This post and several others have been inspired by some trips, but this blog is not about travel. However, I will point out that if you attempt to speak even a few words in the native tongue of the country where you're standing, you have just made a huge step forward in making your trip an enjoyable one.
In Germany, I found that I started remembering more of my German as I continued to hear it. I could speak sentences half in German and half in English to people. After the first day, more people started speaking English, even ein bisschen (a little) to us. When they said they could speak 'a little' English, they usually were fluent.
Two trips abroad this past year brought me in contact with students at language schools.In February, I went to Brazil for the fantastic Inner Game of Voice-Over Workshop taught by my voice-over coach Susan Berkley and her co-instructor Rich Jones, an award-winning voice talent from Canada who now lives in Brazil.
Susan and Rich both speak fluent Portuguese. The workshop participants certainly were grateful for their translation assistance when we were shopping in the small countryside towns where English was not widely spoken! One of the most memorable uses of language was our studio session in Sao Paulo. Susan directed the talent in English and immediately gave production instructions to the engineer in Portuguese.
Rich also teaches English at the Millennium Language School in Sao Paulo. I was delighted in recent months when Rich asked me to voice some tracks for an instructional CD to be used at the school.
When I was in Brazil, the Brazilian students loved to talk to the Americans as it gave them ample opportunity to practice their English. I loved talking with the students as I was able to interact with people in another country on a more personal level than I normally do when I travel. The Brazilian students were all adults in a wide spectrum of ages.