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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.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Avoiding Damaging Background Noise

There are voiceover projects that will require you to spend weeks or even months in the recording studio.   But, even for the much shorter voiceover spots, there is nothing worse than realizing that all of the work has been ruined because of an excess of background noise.  That is why noise cancellation is such a big part of this job.  For many, this becomes a near-obsession, but that is because we begin to realize just how costly the background noise can be.  It can result in many extra hours of editing, or worse yet, the need to re-record the spot.  Time is money.  Background noise costs time and, therefore, money.  So, what can you do to prevent that?

An Isolated Studio Windows are wonderful for letting in light, but in this industry, they can also be a big job hazard, because they let in the sounds of the outdoors – lawnmowers, dogs barking, cars speeding down the street, birds chirping, etc.  That noise is fine when doing office work, but for recording purposes, you need to avoid it.  That’s why it is such a good idea to have a recording booth or, at very least, a room that is away from the windows and the chaos of the house.

Consider Soundproofing It is possible to invest in soundproof recording booths that can be set up within your home.  Or, you can look into soundproofing techniques for a designated area of your home.  This can be a very worthwhile investment as it will drastically cut down on background noise, which means less editing time, and fewer takes.

Get a High Quality Microphone Many of the nicer microphones on the market today offer noise cancellation.  They can actually reduce the background noise picked up by the recording software.

Consider the Noise of Your Technology The soundproofing efforts can block out the noise outside the space, but they can’t do anything to dampen the noise within.  If you have a noisy computer fan or you bring your cell phone in, then there is a good chance you are still going to be doing a good deal of editing.  Leave the phone outside (or switch off the ringer) the recording space, and remove whatever technology doesn’t absolutely have to be in the space.

Breathe Smarter As a final tip, consider breathing exercises.  There are special techniques that can help you take better control of your breathing, which means fewer gasps and breaths picked up by the recording software.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Creating Your Voiceover Brand

If you are going to break into the voiceover industry, then you are very likely going to spend a lot of time promoting yourself.  Even those fortunate enough to sign a contract with a very notable agent will still have to do self-promotion at times.  This can be an intimidating piece of information for those new to the industry.  The majority of voiceover actors and actresses are naturally introverted.  That innate shyness can make it difficult to network with others, which is essential to building a brand.  The good news is that much of your networking and many of your marketing efforts will take root online.  Introverts, it has been proven, actually find it easier to become a part of the online community than those who are more outgoing in a face-to-face situation.  That said, as you get started building your brand, there are a few things that you should be aware of.

Don’t Limit Your Community to Industry Folks It can be tempting to seek out only those who share your interest in voiceover work, but these connections aren’t always the ones that will lead to more paying work and better brand recognition.  They are important, but you shouldn’t limit yourself.  Gaining exposure online is all about building a community of like-minded individuals, but that includes people who are interested in your hobbies and passions outside of work, as well as the voiceover work.  The more people you interact with on a regular basis, the more your content will be seen, the more your name will be shared, and the more your brand will be recognized.

Have a Budget It may be small at the start.  That is totally understandable, but it is important to understand that there are some investments that are entirely worthwhile when you are working to build brand recognitions.  Paid advertisements and promoted posts, for instance, can put your name, your face, your brand before a much larger audience.

Have a Strategy in Place Before you start spending that budget and putting ample amounts of time to work on building brand recognition, take the time to create a plan.  If you know what you want to accomplish and how you intend to do it, you will have a much easier time gauging how well you are doing along the way.  Your plan should also include some direction regarding the type of content that you want to focus on.  Much of this will likely be voiceover related, but it doesn’t hurt to consider what other interests your audience may share – movies, music, various hobbies.  Broadening your topic range will make you appear better-rounded and likely increase the interactions that you have online.

With some effort, people will begin to connect your name and face to voiceover work.  Ultimately, that sort of recognition can open many doors to you.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5 Things You Should Know Before You Start Voiceover

Like many “work from home” careers, there has been a lot of interest in voiceover throughout the past decade or longer.  As people become aware of the perks of the job, they naturally express curiosity.  However, there is much that you should be aware of before you quit your job to become a fulltime voiceover talent.  With the perks, there are also frustrations that one must deal with.  That is the case in this- and every professional field.  You just have to be sure that you fully understand what you are getting into and make sure that the perks outweigh the frustrations for you.  Here are a few things that you should definitely be aware of:

#1. Not every voiceover job is a cartoon voiceover or video game gig.  In fact, the majority of the jobs that you will sign as a voiceover talent will likely be short, fairly boring spots.  These could be for training videos, commercials, online advertisements, or other such materials.  And, you’ll likely have to read the same lines multiple times, until it is to the liking of the client.  It can get monotonous at times.

#2.  The pay can be quite meager (or even non-existent) at times.  Especially in the early years of your work as a voiceover actor, you can expect that there will be financially difficult times.  There is a very good chance that you could make much more money by going to a typical 9-5:00 job instead.

#3. The challenge in the voiceover industry is not what most would expect.  Sure, there is a bit of acting involved, and you will have to show a bit of inspiration during auditions, but the real skill is running a business.  The actual voiceover work is like the cherry on top for many working in this industry.  The marketing and accounting are likely to claim more time and attention than the actual voiceover.

#4. Critiques can be nasty!  You’ll often hear famous actors and actresses say that they never read the reviews of their shows.  There is a reason for this.  It can be painful to receive negative feedback, whether it comes in person at auditions or online from your peers.

#5. You are an entrepreneur first and a voiceover talent second.  I already touched on this a bit above, but it should be known that running a business can be tough, and costly.  As you work to gain momentum and recognition in the industry, you will likely profit very little.  Many find that they run out of money.  Essentially, their businesses go bankrupt (even if it does not involve formal documentation) and they have to go get another job in order to support themselves.

This isn’t meant to discourage you from trying voiceover, but rather to be the voice of reality, so you know exactly what you are getting into.  You will work from home and some voiceover work can be a lot of fun.  There is great profit potential and little overhead.  But, there are downsides that you must be prepared to deal with.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hiring a Voiceover Agent?

Especially if you are just beginning your career as a voiceover talent, you may find yourself frustrated as you look at the meager list of work laid out ahead of you.  It does take time to make your name in this industry, and even then, there will be periods of time that see less work that you’d like.  If these times are arising too frequently, if you are struggling to maintain a consistent flow of work, or you have difficulty knowing when and where to audition, then you might consider hiring a voiceover agent.

It’s true that a great agent can do a great deal for your career as a voiceover actor or actress.  
However, there are a few things that you should be aware of:

#1. No all agents are created equally.  Not only are there some who are by far better at what they do than others, there are also a few who are all too willing to take advantage of a person unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the industry.  Be sure that you carefully vet potential agents before signing anything.  Talk to several, get a good idea of how such contracts are written, and be sure that you are entirely comfortable with the details contained within.

#2. Not all agents will take you on.  Most agents will work on a commission-like basis.  So, they get paid when their clients secure work.  That means that they want to have clients that are apt to get the paying jobs.  If they feel that you lack the skill or experience to do so, they may opt not to take you on.  Furthermore, some agents don’t have enough time in the day to handle any more talents, so they will refuse you out of necessity.  Don’t take it personally.  Just keep working toward your goal and keep looking around for the agent that is a perfect fit for you.

#3. Having an agent doesn’t guarantee you the job.  You will still have to audition and interview for potential jobs.  The agent just helps to open more doors for you, so you have the opportunity to audition.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Voiceover Narration: 4 Great Reasons for Film Makers to Consider It

It is more than likely you have watched a movie that had some voiceover narration.  This is not an entirely uncommon format for movies, but it is not as popular as it once was.  However, there are good reasons for film makers to consider the use of a voiceover talent for the purpose of narration.

Move the Story Along Perhaps the most popular reason for narration, whether in film or on stage, is to progress the storyline.  The narrator may offer bits of information that would not be gleaned otherwise.  He or she may create a smoother transition between scenes, or just explain how a character came to be at a new location.  Very common in theater, this type of narration is also very effective on screen.  Consider the hugely successful film, Shawshank Redemption.  Without the narration, it would have fallen short of its true brilliance. Some of my most interesting work has been done for film.

Setting the Scene Whether it is because the story takes place in another realm, another time, or at an otherwise unexpected location, writers can use narration for the purpose of explaining the setting. This can be done well, and it can also fall flat.  That is why it is very important for the writer to consider how much- and in what manner the voiceover talent speaks.

A Touch of Humor Snarky, witty language is beloved by modern audiences.  Handled in the correct manner, voiceover narration can provide a healthy dose of this.  It can be offered up to compliment humorous scenes in a film, or to lighten the mood after a heavy scene. The ‘all-knowing’ narrator can provide a great deal of information about the various characters in a funny way that will keep audiences riveted.

To Cause Internal Reflection It has not been done often, but we have certainly seen this done very successfully.  Consider the raving reviews of Clockwork Orange for instance.  With the right voiceover talent, the right script, and the right timing, narration can draw the viewer into the movie, making him or her question ethics, morality, how he or she might respond if presented with the situation in real life.

Voiceover artists can offer a great deal to movie makers.  Narration is most definitely worth consideration.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to Find a Voiceover Talent Agent

If you are breaking into the voiceover industry, or you have been making a go of it for a while with only moderate success, you might want to consider a talent agent.  There are many benefits that come with securing an agent.  The most notable of these is access to more potential jobs.  Good agencies are tied into work databases and have connections, so they find work that you wouldn’t have been privy to otherwise.

Of course, an agency isn’t just going to agree to represent you blindly.  At least, a legitimate agency wouldn’t do that, which means that, in order to get a good agent, you are going to have to do a bit of leg work.  This begins with putting together a very professional resume of sorts. An actual written resume is a good idea, as it can clearly and concisely lay out the experience, education, and training that you have to back you up.  However, you will also need to have a demo. For some, the demo is purely audio, but many voiceover talents are opting to make video demos these days.  It is a great way to put your face before your agent and potential clients.  People will naturally form a connection with video than with audio alone. Or put together and interesting demo with clips from various video jobs you've done.

It is based on this information, and sometimes an in-person interview that the agency will decide whether or not they want to represent you.  So, do be sure to put forth your very best presentation.  Once, you have this ‘resume’ put together, you can begin submitting to various agencies.  Today, it is easy to find the talent agencies.  A simple Google search will turn up many in your area.  Review them, and submit your resume to the two or three that appeal most to you.  You should not have to pay your agent up front. They make their money by collecting a percentage on the jobs that you are hired to complete.

Once you have been accepted by an agency, you may very well be asked to spend some time in the recording studio right away.  Most agencies put together a house reel, which is essentially a loop of voice samples from all of the talent represented within the agency.  This is something that they can provide potential clients, but also something that they can reference when trying to match talent with available positions.

They will also ask you, when work that matches your skill set comes available, to do a reading for the client.   You will likely be one of three or four individuals asked to do this.  In this way, the agency can provide a choice for the client. Remember, though, because the agent is paid only when you secure work, they have good reason to get your paying jobs.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Working in Voiceover: Overcoming Shyness

There is one personality trait that could really destroy your chances of becoming a major success as a voiceover talent.  Even with the smoothest voice in the industry, you could fail to make your break if you struggle with shyness. There are many times, along the path to creating a successful voiceover business when shyness can get in your way.  However, there are also ways that you can overcome it.

Introverts Marketing Ironically, in years past, there have been studies done, which revealed that introverts have had greater success on social media than their more boisterous counterparts.  While this may sound as if there was a mistake made on the part of the researchers, if you think a little more about it, it does make sense.  Introverts are not less likely to have inspired thoughts or even less likely to have an excellent sense of humor – they are simply shy compared to extroverts.  Social media provides a sort of protective barrier that introverts tend to appreciate, making it easier for them to converse freely, and to create excellent content.  So, while being shy isn’t going to make it easy to do interviews or to appear on camera, it doesn’t have to hinder your marketing campaigns, because social networks are excellent channels for these efforts.

Hiring an Agent If you are innately shy, it may be a very good idea to hire an agent.  Why?  Because, the agent can handle much of the upfront communication that could be uncomfortable for a shy individual.  This will greatly cut down on the time that you must spend conversing with potential clients.

Call In Favors Unlike extroverts, who tend to have large communities of friends, introverts tend to have just a handful at most.  However, those few friendships tend to be much closer.  That means that you likely, as a shy individual, have a very supportive group behind you.  Call on those friends and family members with whom you are close.  Ask them to support your new career path by helping to spread the word.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Voiceover Opening New Doors for Visually Impaired

Very often, voiceover work is done for companies looking to entertain-, appeal to-, or inform audiences.  But, occasionally, a voiceover artist is hired to complete a job with an even more significant purpose.

Not that long ago, a leading technology-related publication released a story of voiceover tech that was opening doors for the blind community.  Though a lack of vision is a hindrance, technology is making it possible for those suffering with vision loss to do more than ever before, and much of that is accomplished with voice recordings.

For a blind individual, breaking into the software engineering field was a major challenge, in large part because there was so a large visual component to the work.  However, with the help of voice talents, tech companies have been able to provide screen-reading technology to blind professionals, which has meant an a much more level playing field for those who want to brooch the tech sector, despite vision loss.

New coding education software offered by Apple, for instance, has been updated with this screen reading technology.  The software was designed to teach people – young and old – how to write code.  This isn’t just for those who are currently of an age to secure a career path.  The tech companies that are pushing this type of software are looking to inspire the younger generations.  These are the kids that have grown up with smartphones and tablets.  They knew how to navigate from app to app at two years old.  And, now, at as young as eight years old, some are trying to make their own apps, by writing their own code.  For the visually impaired, voiceover is a powerful tool.  It can give them the verbal information that they need so they can make the most of their own tech-related skills.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What Can a Voiceover Talent Learn From Marketing Trends

If you aren’t following along with some of the marketing news, while working as a voiceover actor or actress, then you are doing yourself a disfavor.  There is a lot to be learned from marketing news.  Above all else, you can figure out new tricks and tips for marketing your own services, and that could most definitely lead to a growth of your business.  Aside from that, though, a lot of voiceover work has a tie to the marketing industry.  Consider the marketing-related jobs that you could find yourself reading for:

·         App Creation
·         Commercials
·         Web Video or Audio for Business
·         Radio Spots

These are just a few of the examples of the way that businesses can make use of your skills as voiceover actor or actress.  With so much of our work coming from the marketing industry, it makes perfect sense that voiceover talents would want to know about the trends impacting that profession.
With the New Year came many reports of expected marketing trends for 2017.  Among those, there were many that could lead to changes in the voiceover industry as well.  For instance:

·         Cultural Diversity This is a big matter in marketing these days, for good reason.  More cultural diversity often means looking for voiceover talents who are able to speak multiple languages or who have experience with the practices of multiple cultures to draw on.

·         Video Content The benefits of great video content have been fully realized over the past couple of years, which means that businesses are now scurrying to make their own potentially-viral videos for online marketing purposes.  Often, that means a need for voiceover.

·         The Slow Death of Print Marketing With more and more of the marketing budgets moving to the web, there are far fewer ‘print’ advertisements and far more of video- or audio format.  All of that is helping to drive the continued growth of the voiceover industry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Do I Need a College Degree to Be a Voiceover Actor?

The short answer to this question, of course, is ‘no’.  Most voiceover talents are working on a freelance basis.  That means that they weren’t hired by a company, but rather reach out to clients on their own to secure work for themselves.  That means that there are not specific job requirements that come with breaking into the industry.  However, that is not to say that an education is entirely unnecessary.  Though you may not need to showcase that degree on your resume, there are many types of classes that can really prove very beneficial in this line of work.  Consider these various tasks that you will most likely have to complete and how the classes listed could help you along:

·         Auditioning If you want to be a voiceover actor or actress, then you will have to be comfortable showing off your voice in front of others.  That means that you are most definitely going to be asked to do public speaking.  It is pretty clear that public speaking classes could come in very handy.

·         Acting It’s in the title after all, so do be prepared to do some acting as part of your role as a voiceover talent.  Even if you don’t appear on stage or screen, you will have to use some of the same skills as stage actors and actresses to make your voice fit the character being portrayed. Thus, all sorts of acting classes can prove beneficial.

·         Marketing In order to get work, you are going to have to be able to sell your talents.  So, you may seriously want to consider signing up for a marketing class or two.

·         Accounting As the business is run by you, you’ll have to manage the invoicing, paying of debts, keeping of records, and others such matters.  Above all else, I highly recommend taking accounting or general business classes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How Your Voiceover Career is Improving Your Health and Wellbeing

Chances are, if you are a voiceover talent, then you are working on a freelance basis.  That means that the health insurance options offered by your company (and by ‘your company’, we mean you) are pretty horrible.  The good news, though, is that you may not need health insurance as badly as those poor souls who don’t know the joys of working in this industry.

According to research, a healthy mind can actually have a big impact on your physical health.  It has been found that an active mind can reduce the risk of these common medical conditions:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
How can this be the case?  The first couple are easier to understand.  If you are keeping your mind active, you are more likely to feel fulfilled, and therefore less likely to suffer from depression.  Even anxiety is less likely to claim an active brain.  Because you are succumbing to depression and you are feeling fulfilled, you are more likely to make healthy food- and exercise choices.  That means less risk of obesity, which, in turn, means less chance of obesity-related illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.  Additionally, it has been found that regularly challenging your brain can actually reduce the risk of falling victim to Alzheimer’s disease.

How does voiceover work help with all of that?  In this industry, you regularly challenge your brain.  You are forced to be a bit creative, to interact with others, and to complete a wide assortment of tasks related to voiceover and the running of the business.  Thus, you don’t give your brain time to get bored, and, if you love the work as I do, then you will most definitely feel fulfilled.  This type of work is sure to improve your vocabulary, your reading speed, your comprehension, and your listening skills.  It is wonderful for your mental health, and as demonstrated above, pretty fantastic for your physical health as well!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

You Never Know Who Your Voiceover Client Will Be

Once you have established yourself in this industry, you may be surprised to find that you get requests for voiceover work from the least expected places.  There have, of course, been very strange, unusual commercials that use voiceover to animate everything from plumbing fixtures to wall paper.  However, it is not just the object which your voice will represent, but also the person doing the hiring that can come as a shock. 

I thought it would be great to highlight a bit of fun voiceover work that a man recently did.  The person hiring him?  His teenage daughter.  Sounds funny, right?  Well, it was, but it was also quite a brilliant marketing move on the behalf of a pretty, talented, and intelligent young girl.

You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP6ZDMaVyVI

The truth is that voiceover is in much higher demand than many people would think.  While most attribute the work exclusively to books, film, and maybe the occasional commercial, in truth it has become a very big business that extends into many different facets.

While this dad undoubtedly didn’t charge his daughter for the work her did, it does go to show that even Youtube can be a source of income for voiceover artists.  Many music videos, tutorials, training videos, and other such materials are posted on Youtube every day.  A large portion of those will feature voiceover work.  The creators of these amateur films have good reason to pay for professional voiceover.  There have been many notable successes that rose in popularity purely because of their Youtube work.  The professional voiceover provides a more sophisticated feel to a video and, therefore, is often given more credit by audiences and critics.  So, as we face the start of a New Year, be sure that you are considering every possible avenue that you could travel, thanks to your voice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Dirty Word in the Voiceover Industry: Marketing

There are many aspects of running a voiceover business that are not at all related to your voice.  These include, of course, marketing.  You will have to get your name out there in order to be discovered and hired.  Marketing is, in fact, likely going to take up as much (if not more) time as the actual recording process.

Build a Brand The first thing that you must do as a business owner (which is essentially what you are when you decided to go into voiceover) is to begin to formulate your brand.  This will often include the mission statement and the business logo, but there is much more to it.  You need to have a clear picture what you are and what you hope to be.  Your figurative voice and your image should be consistent across all channels.  That is the most important aspect of building a brand – consistency.  In doing this, more and more people will begin to recognize your name, your face, and your talent, as they run across it on multiple channels. This will establish your signature sound or your money voice.

Get Social (online and in person) Social media is great and it is a wonderful way to start building the brand, but don’t believe that it has completely replaced the value of in-person conversation.  The more you talk to people about what you do – online and in person – the farther your name will spread and the more leads will come to you.

Search and Search Some More Though the leads much eventually begin to pour in, you will always have to do a bit of the leg work if you want to ensure a steady stream of paid work.  That means searching out opportunities to audition, seeking new platforms to advertise your brand, and taking advantage of chances to interact with potential clients.

Ask Others to Help Spread the Word As you build your brand and begin to break into the industry, be sure that you are taking advantage of all channels of communication. Don’t be afraid to ask others to speak up on your behalf.  Personal recommendations are extremely valuable in all areas of business.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Voiceover 101: What is a Pop Filter and Do You Need it?

Have you ever noticed, when you listen to an amateur recording of a person’s voice – maybe a poorly made podcast or a family video – that there is a lot of feedback that makes it difficult to make out the words clearly?  The breathing noise, the cracks and pops of lips moving, and other such noises can really destroy the professional image you are trying to portray with your voiceover work.

This was the problem that sound engineers were trying to alleviate when they developed something now known as the ‘pop filter’.  It is also known as a pop shield, but regardless of what you call it, the point is simply to filter out some (most) of that unwanted sound.

Those sounds, commonly referred to as ‘vocal pops’ in the voiceover industry are really just a result of the movement of the mouth when forming certain letter sounds.  This primary occurs with hard letter sounds, like ‘P’ and ‘B’.  They are very difficult to prevent in your speech and you don’t want to be focused on that, when you are trying to produce convincing monologue or dialog.  You recording will end up sounds too forced or fake, because you were concentrating on lip formation, instead of paying attention to the words, the content that you were meant to deliver to the listener.

The good news is that pop filters have become much more commonplace in recent years.  Once upon a time, you had to book professional studio time in order to enjoy the benefits of a pop shield.  Now, you can invest in one for your home studio, without paying an arm and a leg to get it.  In fact, according to some voiceover professionals, you don’t even have to buy one.  There are some instructional videos online that tell you how to use a nylon stocking to create the same sort of shield.  Nevertheless, given the fact that you can pick up an actual pop filter for $20 or less on Amazon, I shouldn’t think it was worth the effort of making your own.

Do you need it?  Yes.  Most professionals in the industry agree that the shields are well worth the minimal investment, because they can save everyone a lot of painful editing time.

Personally, I've experienced more trouble with breath sounds on "t" and "f" words. But with careful placement of the right pop filter and a little self control I've managed to work with that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

How to Study for Your Job as a Voiceover Artist

If you are breaking into the voiceover industry, then you likely have looked into many different aspects of the career. You might have assembled a home office, built yourself a website, and even applied for a job or two.  However, in order to keep progressing as a voice actor, you need to practice and study the craft.  This is true in most any profession, and particularly for those who are novices in their respective fields.  So, how do you study to hone your craft?

Listen Voiceover can be found in so many different arenas these days – commercials, television shows, movies, theater performances, how to videos, social media advertisements, and the list goes on from there.  So, you won’t be hard pressed at all to find examples that you can study and learn from.  Pick out voiceover performances that you really like.  But, also pick out some that you recognize as poorly done.  Try to figure out what you appreciate in the good, and what you’d want to avoid in the bad.

Experiment Once you have studied the works of others, play with your own voice.  Set up the recording studio and just go in to play once in a while.  No one has to hear the outcome of these sessions except you, but it is entirely worthwhile, because you may discover different approaches that would be valuable in prospective jobs.  This is also a great way to work on impressions, if you are hoping to use them to maximize your appeal.

Sign Up for Classes You may not find classes specifically catering to voice acting in your area, but chances are very good that you can find some general acting- and improvisation classes near you.  These can be very valuable for voice actors and actresses.  After all, we still must know how to ‘become the character’ for the sake of our work. Attend conferences set up by professional groups
like WoVo (World Voices Organization), Faffcon or VO Atlanta. 

Above all else, always try to learn from each and every job that you do, whether you read a single line or a three hundred page novel.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Voiceover 101: Negotiating Contracts

As a voiceover professional, you will, most likely, be in charge of securing your own work.  This is typically a very independent field of work, which means that, unless you have an agent or agency representing you, you will have to negotiate your pay on the jobs that come your way. 
Negotiation can be an uncomfortable proposition for most people.  So, if you are feeling nervous, anxious, or stressed about having to face this part of the job, know that you are not alone.  In fact, there is a very good chance that the person (or people) that you will negotiate with feels the same way.  There are several things that you can do, though, to make the process less anxiety-ridden.

Do Some Research First and foremost, be sure that you are well prepared before you pick up the phone or walk in the room to negotiate. You should be aware of an approximate- or average rate charged for the type of work proposed.  Charging too little can leave you little room for editing and revisions later on.  You don’t want to miss out on future paying work because you are bogged down and losing money on this one. 

Understand the Variables While knowing the typical average voiceover rate can be helpful, it is not a strict rule.  There is a reason that it is called the ‘average’, as some jobs will pay more and some will pay less. You have to consider the variables that could influence the acceptable rate for the job.  

For instance:

·         Some jobs pay more simply because of the location of the hiring company.  It is no secret that average wages can vary greatly from city to city, town to town. 

·         Start-up companies generally have less money to spend on voiceover work than well established, successful companies.  So, you have to consider the financial capabilities of the client.

·         Experience matters.  If you are brand new to voiceover, it is likely that you are being selected by the client, in part, because they expect that you will charge less than a professional who is well recognized in the business.

Consider Other Points of Negotiation While the company may not have a lot of leeway in the budget, there may be other perks that can be offered instead.  Perhaps they could offer preferential treatment for future voiceover work. Or, maybe, they can alter their timeline to suit your needs.  It is a good idea to consider what you value other than money, before entering the negotiations.

It may not be comfortable, but negotiation is part of the job description for most voiceover artists. If you are well prepared, it will be a much easier and, very likely, much more successful process.

If you are working with established talent agencies, coordinate with them on rates since they may be more aware than you are of rates and other considerations.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Creating a Voiceover Demo That Will Sell Your Talents

If you are hoping to break into the voiceover industry, or, as I have been discussing in recent blog posts, you want to get your child into the business, you will need to create an audio demo. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VOICEOVER DEMO The demo tape is truly the most important part of any application process you will go through from this point forward. Think of the demo as a resume of sorts.  Just as you want to ensure that your resume lists every possible highlight of your career -- including education, experience, awards, and certifications -- you want your demo to showcase every nuance of your voice talents.  Be sure that this recording showcases everything that makes you a great, unique, talented voiceover artist who is undeniably perfect for whatever job you may apply for.

THE TIMING OF THE DEMO As a general rule, you don’t have a lot of time to showcase your talents.  In this day and age, especially, people don’t have long attention spans.  If you can’t capture their attention within the first few seconds, then you have likely lost them.  Assuming you do pull the listener in, you will still have a minute or two to get across everything you are capable of.  Even the longest demos (and length is not necessarily a virtue, in this case) are just three minutes in length.  Your best bet is to create something that is approximately one minute long, but that delves into who you are as a voice actor and a real person.

KNOW THE NICHE Although it can be tempting to try to create a demo that appeals to every prospective client, it really is best to focus your efforts on a particular niche within the market.  So, your aim might be to do voiceover work for advertising firms – commercials – or you might want to aim for longer gigs, such as audiobook work.  There are a number of different directions you can go, but decide what you want before you begin to record the demo, because you will want to showcase different talents for different categories. Don't try to showcase all categories of voice over in one demo. It will takes several demos to establish that such as... Commercial Demo, Narration Demo, Character/Animation Demo, etc.

FORMATTING When the demo is complete and ready for release, be sure that it is saved in the MP3 format.  This is the most widely accepted format. 

Once this process is complete, you will be ready to apply and that is when things get really exciting!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Establishing Your Child as a Voiceover Actor

In the last blog post, I wrote a bit about the considerations that must be made before deciding whether or not the voiceover industry is the right fit for your child.  Once you have made that decision, however, you will have to take the right steps to get to the point where your child can sign his or her first contract.

The first step should be voice lessons.  Not only is it really important to have this sort of training before doing any recording work, it will also give you a good feel for how committed your child really is.  If he or she does struggles to find the motivation to go to the voice lessons, then it is very likely that he or she will get bored with voiceover work very quickly.  That could spell trouble when the first jobs come through the door.  Better to realize that it isn’t going to work now.  Assuming, though, that he or she continues to enjoy the lessons and is still excited about doing the job, then the training will help him or her understand how to properly control and care for his or her voice.  Good instructors will also be able to explain the concept of ‘getting into character’ even to very young children.

Once the training is at a point where everyone feels comfortable that the child is ready to take on some professional work, a studio will be required.  Even before the first job has come in, this is a must.  Why?  You will need to record a demo.  Most potential clients will ask for a copy of the demo tape.  The good news is that this is a great way for the child to become comfortable with the recording process.  It will also give a good indication of how well he or she will handle the editing phase.  But, first, you must have a recording space that will allow for audio to be captured without background noise.  A quiet space with a high quality microphone, headphones, and a computer loaded with good recording software.

When you have the studio set up, get to work on that demo.  Create a good one and your child will likely have work very soon after.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Should You Get Your Child into Voiceover?

If your child has a knack for acting, and a personality that instantly wins others over, but struggles with stage fright, then you may find that voiceover is a good option. This could, conceivably, provide your child the chance the showcase his or her talents to the world, without having the leave the privacy of your home. And of course, good actor training... on camera and off.

There are advantages to getting your kid involved in this business.  Though, perhaps business isn’t the right term.  There is a certain stigma that comes with placing a child in a paying role at a young age, even though we have all seen the success that youngsters can enjoy in the acting business, before they are even old enough to comprehend what fair wages are.  Nevertheless, if you are concerned that you are putting too much pressure on your child by considering voiceover work for him or her, then think about this as you would a community play, a dance class, or guitar lessons.  In reality, you are only supporting his or her interests in the performing arts, but doing so in a way that caters to his or her personality.

That said, be sure that this is something that your child really wants to do.  Unlike the dance classes and guitar lessons, it isn’t going to be easy to simply walk away if the mood strikes.  After all, there is a client at the other end expecting a finished product.  Often, it is not the first read-through that is the issue, but rather the multiple revisions requested by clients that taxes the child.

Furthermore, it is important to understand how this is going to impact your schedule.  Some of the work will undoubtedly have to be done on tight deadlines, which means that your free time will no longer be yours.  But, it’s not just that, you will likely have to act as your child’s agent – answering emails, sending off audition materials, filing taxes, setting up appointment times, and even ensuring that he or she has an active work permit (laws vary by state).

If you and your child are ready for the commitment, then you should definitely consider the possibilities that come with working in this industry.  It can be very rewarding for people of all ages.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Essentials of Voiceover: Time Management and Organization

There are many aspects of an individual’s personality that can make him- or her a good fit for a career in voiceover.  Obviously the tone, strength, and talents of voice are among those, but there is also the matter of running a business to consider.  Starting a career in voiceover means managing a small business (even if that business includes only one employee – the artist).  For that reason, organizational skills are very strongly desired within the voiceover industry.  A schedule can quickly become overwhelmed with the various voiceover work, business necessities and regular marketing objectives.  Staying organized in order to balance all of that is essential.

If you are struggling with time management, then now is the time to declutter your professional life and to start applying new organizational techniques to get things back on tract.  Decluttering does not mean letting go of work commitments, but rather truly and physically decluttering the world around you.  A neat and clean workspace will reduce stress levels, which means less time spent feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Lists are also a very important element of organization.  Knowing that you have a lot to do, you are likely to get bogged down trying to recall it all and make sense of it.  Writing it down can free up your mind, so you can focus on one thing at a time.

Once the list is made, it is time to prioritize.  Be sure that you list priorities based on what is best for the health of your business.  That undoubtedly means finishing work in a timely manner, but it also means setting aside time to take on the marketing tasks that will ensure you can continue to attain paying work.  Place emphasis on those activities that make money or will lead to future financial gains. 

With the tasks to be completed listed in order of priority, you can being to break down your day.  By specifying what each hour in the day will be used for, you will find that your days are much more productive, and items can be checked off the list much faster.  Just remember to write in time for this type of organizational activity at the start of each week!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How a Medical Appointment Could Improve Your Voiceover

If you are a voiceover artist, then you should have a very close and comfortable relationship with the doctors and other medical professionals in your life.  To be a great performing artist, you must avoid illness and impairments that could wreak havoc for your blossoming business.  Just consider these examples of how professionals in the medical field can make you a better voiceover artist:

1.    Vision Test: Poor vision makes it harder to follow a written script, which means more mistakes that must be edited at the end of each recording.  If you find that you have to squint, move the pages toward- or away from your face to make out the text, or you end each recording session with a headache, then it may be time to schedule a vision test.

2.    Hearing Test: The better you can hear the nuances in your audio recordings, the better the final product will be when you hand it off to the client.  High quality headphones can help with this, but they aren’t going to be enough if you are struggling with hearing loss.  This may not be as obvious as you would believe, so if you have any reason to suspect your hearing is waning, seek the opinion of a specialist.

3.    ENT: Sinus and nasal congestion can really change the tone of your voice.  It can also make it more difficult to breathe properly.  Getting winded will make it much more difficult to create good, clean audio.  While colds and allergies do happen, even to the healthiest individuals, if they linger or are frequent in your life, you may want to consider a conversation with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist, before your work is negatively impacted.

4.    Bloodwork: Certain vitamin deficiencies and medical conditions can cause voice weakness and general fatigue, both of which can be harmful in this line of work.  Regular physicals, including blood work, can help avoid the negative impacts of such deficiencies and conditions.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Could Improv Acting Classes Make You a Better Voiceover Actor?

Several years ago, the brilliance of improv acting was really brought to the attention of the main market thanks to a primetime reality show.  The show has sense ceased, but there is still great interest in improv acting.  For some, the draw is purely the entertainment factor, but for others, there is much to learn from the abrupt change of character.  This is especially true for voiceover actors and actresses.

How Improv Training Can Make Your Audition Stronger Before you can get paid, you have to get the job.  Before you get the job, you have to audition.  And, before you audition, you should take an improve class.  Why?  Improv training forces you to think- and to adjust in the moment.  Very often, during an audition, the casting director will ask you to alter your approach to the character or will give unexpected direction.  The ability to switch things up instantaneously will serve you very well, making those improve classes entirely worthwhile.

How Improv Training Can Make You Stronger on Radio It is not just in the audition that the training will prove handy, however.  Many spots, especially those written for a radio audience will allow for some personalization, some back and forth between the voiceover professionals.  Once again, that ability to adapt to the moment will be very much appreciated.

How Improv Training Can Make Donuts and Pretzels Jobs More Enjoyable Improv is about more than having the ability to change characters instantly.  It is also about being able to think fast.  In voiceover there are jobs referred to as ‘donuts’ or ‘pretzels’, which are those that require a voiceover artist to fit in audio script between musical lines or visual images.  Those small gaps allotted for the voiceover professional are referred to as the donut holes or pretzel holes (depending on if there is one- or multiple places where that occurs). You, as the artist, will have to react quickly, in order to fit natural voice into those brief holes, and that is where improve training will greatly benefit you.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The History of Emmys for Voiceover Artists

Voiceover has come a long way over the past few decades, and if you need evidence of that than you simply have to consider the fact that Emmys are now handed out to voiceover artists annually.  In 1992, the very first Primetime Emmy Award was presented for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.  That first was actually six awards, presented to several members of the cast of The Simpsons.

Of course, even as late as 2008, this was not an award treated in the same way as those presented for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actor in a Drama.  Instead of having a list of nominees, from which the winner was selected, it was a juried selection, and there was never a guarantee that anyone would receive the Emmy in voiceover, as some years came and went without anyone being awarded it.  Other years, as in 1992, there would be multiple recipients.

Times have changed though.  The competition in the voiceover profession has gotten much more intense.  There has been greater interest in animated film and television.  The technology has improved to make it easier to blend animation with voiceover for a highly convincing character.  As a result, even large, long-standing establishments, like the Television Academy took notice.  The juried award for voiceover was altered.  Instead of having a single category for voiceover work, there were to be two.  In 2014, the category was divided into Outstanding Narrator and Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance.  This led to voiceover artists being recognized for work in documentaries and educational programming, as well as for work in animated television shows.  The first winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Narrator was Jeremy Irons, who was the voice behind the Game of Lions, a show featured during Big Cat Week on National Geographic.  Meanwhile, The Simpsons claimed yet another Emmy that year.  In 2014, the Emmy Award for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance was awarded to Harry Shearer for his portrayal of Kent Brockman, Mr. Burns, and Smithers in the Four Regrettings and a Funeral episode of the popular animated show.

It is wonderful to see voiceover artists acknowledged in such a way, and a great thing for all of us choosing this as our profession.