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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Voiceover? There’s an App for That!

Actually, there are a lot of apps for that.  Voiceover professionals are just as impacted by technology as every other sector in the world.  We are deeply entrenched in the technology revolution, and whether you hate it or love it, you must admit that smart devices and their apps really do offer a great number of conveniences.  Here are just two of the amazing apps designed to make voiceover professionals’ lives easier.

Need to Warm up Your Voice on the Way to an Audition?

It is a very good idea to get your voice working well before you walk into the auditioning space.  There are many exercises that you can do all on your own, but it’s nicer to have a coach to walk you through these things.  Of course, most of us can’t afford to bring along a professional voice coach with us to every audition.  This is where the Voice Tutor app comes in handy.  It can help you with those pre-audition warm-ups while you are on the go.  It will even adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of your voice.  The Apple Store version costs $4.99, but is likely well worth the investment.

Need to Record an Audition Tape, But Can’t Be at Your Studio?

This does happen to a lot of voiceover actors and actresses.  While on the road to audition for one role, another spur-of-the-moment opportunity arises.  With deadlines for audition tapes often being very tight, it may not be possible to wait until you can get back to the studio.  For that reason, a team worked together to develop an app that would make it possible to record and edit a professional audition tape while on the road.  Of course, the high quality equipment in the studio would be preferable, but when it isn’t possible to be there, this four-dollar app can be your savior.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How to Hone Your Skills as a Voiceover Professional

Congratulations!  You’ve started on what can be a very fulfilling career path, and maybe you have even been hired for a voiceover job or two.  However, the work is only just beginning.  In order to remain successful in this line of work, you have to continue to hone your skills, so you can continue to get the paying work.  There are many things that a voiceover professional should do in order to get the most out of his or her voice.

Stay Healthy Both physical and mental health are extremely important in this line of work.  Therefore, it is truly essential for voiceover professionals to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  This should include a diet rich in the important vitamins and nutrients that defend against illness.  It should also involve physical activity that keeps the lungs strong, builds stamina, and clears the mind of everyday stresses.  The stronger you are mentally and physically, the better equipped you will be to handle the stresses and rigors of this line of work.

Educate Yourself  Most professionals agree that the learning process does not end at the graduation ceremony.  There is much that you can gain by continuing your education.  This includes acting classes, which can keep your approach to voiceover fresh and modern.  But, it also includes business classes – marketing, accounting, etc. – which can greatly enhance your ability to handle the backend up your voiceover business.

Be a Member of Community Both in the physical- and the virtual sense, you should embrace the chance to be an active member of your community. Whether you are conversing with people in your town or city, or via social media, the opportunity to network is always a benefit to your career.  Those benefits may not be immediately clear, but as you grown as a voiceover artist, you will likely find that all of the connections you made along the line have led to doors that you might never have discovered otherwise.

Treat Every Job as the First and the Last Each and every time you enter the recording space, try to harness the excitement that you felt when you recorded your very first voiceover job.  But, also give each and every job your very best effort as if it will be the last you ever record – your legacy as a voiceover artist. That passion will be appreciated and is likely to win over casting directors in the future.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Learning Accents: Four Helpful Hints

If you want to open more doors for yourself as a voiceover actor or actress, then you might want to consider learning how to mimic accents from around the country and the world.  For many projects, casting directors desire a particular accent or dialect.  If you can’t make it sound convincing, then you are immediately ruled out.  So, it is most definitely worth learning to master this skill.  So, here are four helpful hints to get you started:

#1. Take Advantage of Training Videos There are many training videos available.  Some cost money and some can be found on Youtube for no cost.  It is recommended that you opt for the videos versus the audio training options.  It is often easier to mimic accents when you can see the movements of the lips and facial muscles.  By copying both the movements and the sound, you can often master the accent faster. You can get good practice while auditioning for jobs that require accents.

#2. Watch, Listen, Practice, Repeat Load up on as many films and videos as you can find that feature the accent that you are attempting to learn, and just keep watching and listening.  Between films, take time to practice reading aloud in the accent.  Record those practice sessions and listen to them, so you can pick out weak spots to work on later.  The more you watch, listen, and practice, the more natural it will feel.

#3. Know the Character It is always important to understand the role that you are trying to fill with your voiceover readings.  It can help you develop a consistent voice.  This is even more essential when trying out a new accent. 

#4. Practice with a Pro By this, I don’t mean that you should look for another voiceover professional with experience mimicking accents.  I mean that you should find someone who genuinely knows the accent (because he or she lives with it and speaks with it daily).  The beauty of the internet and social media is that it can be quite easy to meet people from other corners of the world.  Reach out and attempt to find a practice partner who will critique your attempt at the accent in a way that only a native speaker could.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Using Twitter to Grow Your Voiceover Business

Social media marketing is a very powerful way to build brand recognition these days.  It is a great way to organically interact with some of the influencers in the business, and even makes it possible to network with casting directors.  However, there are a few golden rules of using Twitter to accomplish these tasks as a voiceover artist.

Always Treat Others With Respect If you don’t agree with something that someone else tweeted, and you can’t respond in a positive, respectful manner, then don’t respond.  That sort of negative interaction will do nothing for your business, except possibly lose you some of your followers who don’t agree with your argument.

Understand the Power of the Tweet It may be just 140 characters, a sentence or two at most, but it can carry great weight.  Remember that for each tweet you could be producing something upon which others will form a first impression.  As we have learned through the years, first impressions are very powerful and often difficult to overcome.  Be sure that you understand that many of those who interact with you online do not know you, other than by the content you share on that platform.

Do For Others More than You Do For You It is true that Twitter can be a great platform for advertising your product or service – in this case, your demo tape – but before you ask others to listen to it or to share it, consider what you have done for others on Twitter.  A good rule is to provide value 75% of the time, and promote yourself the other 25%.  That means that the majority of your time on Twitter should be spent liking, sharing, and commenting on others’ content, or providing content that has value for your audience.  Then, every so often, you can work in information about your demo, or your most recent project, asking others to interact with those announcements.

Do Not Be Impatient Consider all of the people you have met in your life.  Consider how many friends you have made and the people who have entered your family through marriage, birth, or adoption.  That didn’t all happen in a day, a week, or even in a month.  It takes time to build a network.  The same is true when you are building that network online.  Be patient and you can steadily grow a following, which may just help you score that next big voiceover gig.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Three Things You Should Never Do in the Casting Room

If you have to go in for an audition for a role as a voiceover actress or actor, then you definitely want to make a great first impression.  Unfortunately, it is very easy to let our nerves take hold, and that can lead to us saying and doing things that ruin the professional image that we are trying to portray.  So, as you prepare for your next audition, here are a few mistakes that you should aim to avoid:

Making Excuses There are times in life, for nearly everyone, when nerves cause us to apologize – often before we have done anything wrong.  This is a common occurrence in casting rooms, according to stories told by the casting directors.  Avoid this at all costs.  Don’t tell those preparing to hear your audition that you “only got the script that day” or that “your voice is a bit hoarse today”.  And, definitely, don’t ever say something like, “I’m sorry if I don’t do very well.  I’m really nervous.”  Walk into the room with confidence.   Let your audition speak for itself.  Fight the urge to explain yourself, to cast judgement on your own audition, or to make excuses.  You very well may do better than you expect.

Make Faces Remember, you are a voiceover actor or actress.  Don’t make faces that you wouldn’t make in the recording studio.  They are judging your ability to act the part with your voice, not your face.  But, even more importantly, if you make a mistake, don’t let it show in your face.  Keep your calm and overcome the issue.  You’ll win more points for maintaining your composure.

Ask to Read it Again There are exceptions to this rule.  But, as a general principle, the people hearing your audition are also going to hear many other voiceover actors and actresses read the same spot, so they don’t have time in their schedule to let everyone do a second reading.  If the opportunity is offered, then take it, but your goal should really be to do your very best reading the first time.  That also means that you should practice reading it aloud in front of others before you enter that room, which will help you avoid some of the discomfort of auditioning.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How to Increase Your Chances of Being Found by a Casting Director

If you are a voiceover talent trying to be discovered, you would definitely appreciate the notice of a casting director.  I was reading an article that involved an interview with a leading casting director in the voiceover industry, and I noticed something that seemed to be repeated over and over again – too many voiceover artists are making very costly mistakes without realizing it. So, here are a few simple tips that can help you avoid them.

Showcase Your Talents in Your Demo Obviously, if your demo tape is going to be the first thing the casting director sees of you, then you want it to be as impressive as possible. So, take the time to make it as good as you can.

ü  Do showcase your strengths as a voiceover artist, whether that is the ability to work humor into a script, the ability to speak with a real depth of emotion, or a skill for impersonating celebrities.
Ø  Don’t accept the first take.  Spend some time in the recording booth trying different things with your voice.  Consider working in audio from previous projects, if you are allowed to do so.  And, then take a lot of time editing what you have to get the best possible finished product.
ü  Do invest in this project.  Whether you opt to do just audio or to include video, you should consider hiring studio time to get the most professional product possible.  The investment will pay off, when you get more work as a result of your extremely impressive demo.

Actively Network Be online and be busy online.  In this day and age, taking time out of the day to chat with friends, co-workers, and associates is considered part of the job.  And, it is the best way to be discovered.  The more active you are online – creating content, developing a following, interacting with others, commenting on industry-related content, etc. – the more easy it will be for a casting director to happen upon your profile.

Follow Directions If you are submitting your demo tape to a casting director, be sure that you follow all of the directions.  The instructions are written for a purpose.  Don’t assume that all casting directors want things submitted in the same way.  Each has his or her own method of cataloguing demos, so when one appeals to him or her, contact can be made immediately with the voiceover talent.  Don’t miss out on that call by failing to submit your demo in the right.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Filing Taxes as an Voiceover Artist and Independent Contractor

It’s tax season.  It’s like a curse for many small business owners.  Doing your taxes is rarely fun.  Of course, for some there is the reward of a tax return at the end, which makes it easier to contend with the stress and anxiety.  But, whether you get a return or you don’t, you don’t have to panic just because it’s time to schedule an appointment with the accountant.  There are many advantages that come with living and working in this day and age, which begins with a much easier tax return filing process.

Consider the Free- and Low Cost Tax Assistant Sites Going to an account for the preparation of your tax return certainly comes with its own advantages, but today, the website-based services are very used-friendly, fast, and can often point to deductions that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.  In fact, in some states, people earning under a certain amount annually can file for free using government websites.  But, even if you are going to opt to see an accountant, it is worth doing a bit of research on the educational sites.  You can find a great deal of information about write-offs and other deductions available to independent contractors, which is exactly what most voiceover artists are.

File Electronically Unless there is an unavoidable reason why you must file by mail, definitely opt to file electronically.  Doing so greatly reduces the chances of an error, and it can get you your refund money much faster (if you are among the lucky 100+ million people in this country who will receive a refund this year).

Opt for Direct Deposit If you are getting a refund, definitely opt for direct deposit rather than a check.  The money will be in your account much faster, and that means that you’ll be able to invest in new voiceover equipment, a new marketing campaign, or other such items of value sooner.

Check the Status If you are concerned that it has taken too long for the tax return to be processed, rather than panicking or thinking the worst, go online and use the tools available to you.  You can check the status of your return, including the estimated date of delivery of your refund.