Category Archives: Voice Over

Finding the Courage…


For anyone trying to make it in the entertainment business or professional sports, you are constantly under barrage from people telling you that you can’t do it. You are aren’t good enough, you don’t have what it takes or there is no money in it so go get a real job (like there is any security in that anymore anyway). You deal people who let you down, who don’t do anything at all after the big long speech of how good they are, how hard they work or what they can do for you.

You have haters and trolls on the internet, other people in your genre constantly tearing you doing or taking jabs at you. It get’s lonely, harder and often times you feel like giving up. Well you can’t. No matter what anyone says or does to you, only you can keep pushing, proving them wrong and only you know who you really are. Anyone who would tear you down is the insecure one, the one who if full of it, the jealous one who really has no idea what they are doing. You can’t let them affect you or stop you.

No matter what life throws at you, you have to keep pushing on with your dream. In today’s entertainment scene you have more control than ever and more often than not, that means you are doing it on your own because now the money is gone. You can’t afford to pay for professional help and you are facing this wave of overwhelming obstacles and people who have no life so they try and tear you down.

So let me offer this to you for some inspiration. No matter what you are facing in life, business or if you are someone who is trying to help someone you care about get through something, do it with the strength and focus that Garrett shows in this video. If he can over come what he is going through, we can over come what we are going through.

 

I wish you all the best and the strength to get through it.

Good luck!

 

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Keeping The Pace: Surviving VO Technology


KEEPING THE PACE:  Surviving VO Technology

by Dave Courvoisier, The Lowry Agency Voice Over Talent

Ever since the worm turned and the “old way” of doing voiceovers became the “new” way of doing VO business, it’s been tough to keep up with the march of technology.

For decades, talent living in major metro areas reported to various professional studios, auditioning in person, and surviving on an agent/union paradigm.  This still happens to some extent today, mostly in NYC and LA.

ISDN survives too, although people have long been predicting its demise.  Such will be the case for many years, while the business of voice overs moves through its fits and starts, ever-changing with the times and the technologies.

In the meantime, an emerging wave that comprises the lion’s share of voice over work in the 21st century occurs in private studios all over America.  These are studios typically built by the talent themselves, and populated by equipment cobbled together using whatever knowledge and resources they have.

In addition to the process of recording and sending sound files, much of the rest of the business of voice overs is also conducted online, or at least on a computer, often by one person – the voice over talent.

That means the process of marketing, promoting, advertising, accounting, bookkeeping, mailing, invoicing, editing, and follow-up all occurs in a digital world.  That’s not necessarily a problem, but that world keeps changing and developing at a break-neck pace.

So, the question:  how to keep abreast of the changes that will make up the new paradigm of VO, and what changes are those?

Clearly, Social media is not only one of those new technologies, but also the one that helps you understand the OTHER changes taking place in the industry.  Why?  Because Social Media sites that cater to voice-over business people personify the stream-of-consciousness that keeps you in-the-know.

FaceBook, Twitter, online forums, LinkedIn, YouTube, and ning sites like VoiceOverUniverse now make up the new (and continuous) Town Hall Meeting where people share, engage in Q&A, comment off-the-cuff, and create conversations and relationships.

Those online sites are typically where you will first see notice of new equipment, where to buy, how much it costs, and how to use it.  Consider, for instance, the weekly EWABS online video webinar conducted by George Whittam and Dan Lenard.  EWABS stands for East-West Audio Body Shop, and the hour-long Sunday evening event is free, and can be viewed on UStream effortlessly.

Newsletters, blogs, and teleseminars on equipment and services abound in the VO world these days (see http://courvo.biz, for instance).  LinkedIn VO Groups have thousands of subscribers (see:  Working Voice Actor Group administered by Ed Victor), and FaceBook has a number of extremely active VO Groups (see: Voice-over Friends, administered by Dave Courvoisier, Voice-Over Pros, administered by Terry Daniel, and Voice Artists United , administered by Chris Kendall – among others).

While many of these sites could be termed “niche”, they are also welcoming and inclusive.  ‘No such thing as a “dumb question”, and newbie concerns are encouraged. J

Even more so, a Yahoo Group that caters to VO professionals has been going strong for years, and has an active, and highly-regarded membership that knocks around issues that range from equipment to software, marketing, demos, and freelance rates.

So how do you keep up?  Join. Belong. Engage in the conversation.  Pay-it-forward, and you will receive in return.  Ask questions.  Provide answers.  Be a part of the community, and enjoy the benefits of association with like-minded souls.  Everybody has something to give in the milieu of online discourse.


Picking The Right Professional or Team for your Career


Picking The Right Professional or Team for your Career

 

The power of social media has its pros and cons. The pros obviously are the ability to network and get your message out there. The cons are you don’t know whom you can trust. With so many people out there saying how great they are and making huge promises you have to be very careful about whom you choose to share your info with and put your hopes and dreams in the hands of. In the entertainment world it’s a crap shoot to begin with, so make sure you spend the time necessary researching the people who are offering their services to you or making huge claims about what they are going to do for you in the “industry”. Also make sure you research exactly what they do or the services they offer so you can decide if it’s really what you need as an artist.

I recently did some research on a person who claims to be in the music industry. For the past year, this person has been making huge claims about how they are going to “change” the industry with a new platform. First of all, from what I understand, a platform like the one they hope to “change the industry” with already exists. I believe in practicing what I preach, and began to research this person.  I contacted a well-known, reputable friend who has been doing business on Music Row here in Nashville for more than 20 years, asking if they have ever heard of this person, their company or their work.  My friend is in the same area of the business as the person who is making the claims, and my friend sent an email out to all contacts. The result is that no one had ever heard of this person who claims to be “revolutionizing the industry”. There is no bio on them, no track record, no website, no clients, no proof of anything showing that they can do what they say they can do. Even worse, they are not listed on ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Harry Fox or Music Row as what they say they are. Now you have to be listed with at least one of the following ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or Harry Fox to be what they say they are, so this leaves you with either (a) they are a fraud, (b) they don’t know what they are doing, or (c) they are possibly operating under a different name, which also means their online presence is a lie. They have been putting together a team of people who, like them, seem to have no real track record. You can see that in how they promote themselves on the web. Don’t work for a person, or hire a person who doesn’t have their own business together with proper imaging, websites, photos, content and most important – actual proof of their work. This is the entertainment industry. Image and proof of solid work is everything for everyone, not just the artists.

When picking out people you want to work with, please review and research them in detail. Never trust an online profile that doesn’t list any information about themselves, their company or who they work for. Ask their clients if they are happy with their service and make sure they have legitimate things happening for their clients. Make sure there is a proven track record for the service they claim to provide. If they don’t have anything to show for their success then it’s a big risk. Especially pay attention to how they behave online with their twitter and other social media accounts. If they behave unprofessionally – flirt, make huge promises, offer a special free of charge opportunity to a hundred different people for months on end, make false claims against another with no proof or get involved in mud slinging then run and run fast. That is not professional behavior and they will treat anyone like that, including you. It will hurt the chances for your career to be involved with someone who behaves improperly, especially in the music industry, where the reality is that the odds are already stacked against you. If their followers or fans grow at a very slow rate, that is also a sign. It means they have nothing to offer content wise. They aren’t adding value to the industry, so know one is paying attention. It takes more than listing followers and saying nice things.

Not everyone is a huge success or a huge business, that’s not the most important issue; making things happen is what’s important, proof of work. Finding a professional or a team that is hungry and works very hard is what matters the most. Never fall for promises that are huge; this business is too hard to make any kind of claims and promises – that is the reality.  When evaluating a person or company, let their work speak for them instead.

Please read our blog “It’s All About The Team Baby” by Sass Jordan, a Juno and Billboard award winning artist and former host of Canadian Idol for more on picking the right team! https://lowryagency.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/183/

Good Luck!


Filling the VO Void – 5 Tips for Taking Advantage of Downtime


Filling the VO Void
5 Tips for Taking Advantage of Downtime

By Dave Courvoisier, The Lowry Agency Voice Over Talent

What happened?
Every freelancer hits that wall.  The work…just…stops.  Nothing’s coming in.  Leads are long gone, and clients are clamming up.  Hopefully it’s just a day or two…a week or two at the most.

You’d go crazy trying to figure out why.  Sure, there may be some legitimate reasons: you’ve been slacking in your marketing, lead-generation, or referral “asks”…but sometimes you’re doing all that stuff – diligently – and still the work stops.

These moments are actually opportunities.  Remember all the things you put on the back burner when you were crazy-busy with that big narration project and six auditions/day?  Well, now’s the time to drag it out…now you have the time.

Since 80% of your VO business is marketing, and 20% is voicing anyway, this should not be a big surprise.  In fact this may be one of the reasons the work stopped coming in – while you were busy voicing projects, the lead-generating activity stopped.  It’s a nice predicament to be in, but the key is to be able to find the time to do both.

Take Advantage of the “Free” Time
Here’s a quick list of suggestions that will keep you “working” while you prepare for the next wave of paid gigs:

1)   Practice. In VO terms: audition.  Pick up what leads you can from pay-to-play sites, your agents, and web-searches.  That’s right, do a Google search for “VO jobs” or “voiceover needed”.  You’ll be surprised what comes up.  When those sources dry up, just read.  Practice on copy from Voices.com or Edge Studio.  They have reams of legitimate copy for practicing.  Record it.  Edit it.  Listen to it.  Send it to someone for a critique.  Play like it’s real, ‘cause it is.

2)   Listen to ads. I’m serious.  You’re already watching TV or driving your car with the radio on.  Don’t skip past the commercial spots!  Somebody voiced that spot.  Why wasn’t’ it you?  Listen to the nuances of the spot.  The writing.  The author’s intent.  How the talent handled the juxtaposition of the video and the copy.  Sometimes it even helps to transcribe the copy, and voice it yourself in your studio.  Can you approximate the read that got someone the job?  So you don’t have HIS/HER pipes…fine, play to your strengths.  How would you read it?  Record it.  Send it to a friend for an honest opinion.

3)   Visit VoiceBank.net and listen to all the demos you can stand.  These are people represented by agents.  They got on VoiceBank by no mistake.  The demos you hear there are representative of the talent who are getting work today.  How long is the demo?  What was the first thing you heard?  How many elements did the demo have?  How many different reads did you hear in the demo?  Does your current demo stack up?  If not, (3) could just as well be Redo your demo (the subject of a whole ‘nother blog!)

4)   Spruce up your marketing activity. Maybe you like to send postcards to prospects or regular clients to let them know you’re still alive. Maybe you’re an email maven.  Maybe your approach is to camp out on the social networks.  How’s your FaceBook profile looking?  Does it have lots of trigger words that the bots will find?  When’s the last time you tweeted ANYTHING, or contributed to a discussion on LinkedIn?  All those seemingly mundane actions spread your name out on the internet. Maybe you’ve forgotten your promise to make at least 10 calls/week to prospects.  WHATEVER your marketing duties are – get going!  The stuff you do today will bring work tomorrow or next week.

5)   Re-examine your audio chain and your studio.  This could be the time to make that re-arrangement in your physical space that will absolutely remove a mental roadblock to recording.  That strange crackling that pops up in your recordings?  Track it down.  When’s the last time you checked for an update on your software…or for that matter, this may be an opportunity to finally dig into the manual and find out what is the software keyboard shortcut you need for long-format narrations that will save you hours in the booth.

Get the drift?

There’s actually more…much more.  Like prospecting for a good agent…asking your steady clients for a referral to another possible client… doing good research on the internet to find your next “warm”-call target.

See? These are things that get lost in the shuffle when you’ve got your head in a big voice project.  ‘LOVE to have work.  But that job was not a “gimme”.  You did something right somewhere sometime to earn that job.  Now’s the time – when you have the time – to get back to the basics and make it happen again.


Do Yourself and Us a Favor


Do Yourself and Us a Favor

As many of my blogs, I am writing this in response to an interesting email I got a few days ago from someone shopping me as a booking agent. Now anybody who does their research and reads my website about our services (this email was submitted through my website) will notice a distinct lack of any reference of booking as a service. That would be because we are not a booking agency. We are a management firm, which is plainly spelled out in the “about us” section of the site.  If you follow us on twitter you will see a few booking tweets as we do try and help our clients book shows, but like all true management firms, we try and find real booking agencies for our clients.

 

Anyway, the people who were emailing me sent no information about themselves for review. No press kit, no websites, not a thing. Now anybody in any form of the entertainment business knows that you always have to SUBMIT something to be considered for ANYTHING. A generic email is the worst thing you can possibly do to try and get professional help.  I was nice and replied back, saying thank you for the inquiry but please submit the appropriate information as listed on our website and explained that we are a management firm and not a booking agency.  The person emailed back saying “I am one of the most well-known (popular – whatever you wish to call it) independent authors on the market today and one of the most powerful female Horror authors in history.” So obviously they were this big deal and didn’t need help with their business. They only needed help booking because they were so busy with engagements they couldn’t handle the booking aspect anymore and needed help keeping it up. Now mind you, I was perplexed at the thought that someone didn’t actually need help with their business (because we all do). I looked at the one link they sent back — now I was really confused.  This was a MySpace page, and a very poorly done one at that, with no scheduled bookings on it at all.

 

So to reiterate, no press kit, no websites, no proper submissions, no visible bookings, no way to corroborate the “awards” and “incredible popularity” this person was purporting, I was shocked at the arrogance portrayed in their email that they didn’t need help and were too big for that and obviously knew better than my agency did. Evidently the importance of branding, image, professionalism, marketing, social networking, how to approach industry professionals wasn’t important to them and they didn’t realize the power of being the best your business can be in all areas to increase whatever current success your are presently enjoying.

 

So the moral to the story is . . . please don’t waste any professional’s time if you aren’t going to do the research about their firm first before approaching them.  If you think you know more than the people you are approaching, don’t approach. Don’t ever send a generic email. If you don’t see submission policies, ask for them politely.  Then when you do submit your information, describe what kind of services you are looking for. The agencies don’t take the time to answer people who aren’t respectful and submit properly. Those who don’t submit properly are showing that they aren’t ready for the professional service anyway because they haven’t taken the time to be professional themselves.

 

Good Luck and do your homework!


The Comfort Zone


The Comfort Zone

 

Often times when trying to make a career happen or anything else for that matter, we tend to stay in a safe place. We do only what we are strong in and never work on our weaknesses. You see this a lot with musicians practice routines where they only practice what they know and avoid what they don’t.  We are scared to reach out and try something new.  It might be technology, social media, new venues, new band members or numerous other things that make us nervous.  We are scared of change in general, as is human nature.  We shy away from what we don’t understand or from the unknown.

Unfortunately, we never know what is coming tomorrow and security is usually just an illusion.  How many times have you experienced or watch someone loose a secure job, or a relationship that seemed secure and perfect only to find out it was far from the truth.  It catches us by surprise and it’s a major shock to the system.  It makes us nervous and scared to try new things, but in order to move forward, we need to step out of the comfort zone in order to grow.

A very popular quote from Albert Einstein is “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results”.  In your artistic career, if you aren’t getting the results you need or desire, then you need to try something new.  You need to do things that you don’t like or may not be comfortable with. You are responsible for making it happen especially since you are most likely doing this all on your own with out a team of people to help you.  Another popular quote is “Successful people do what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do”.

As an example everyone knows that social media is the future and most are already late getting to it.  I have heard countless times from artists/entertainers that they don’t like doing social media. They don’t like twitter because it’s seems so trivial.  “What do I say?”, What can you put in 140 characters?” or “I just don’t get it, it isn’t my thing.”  These are the reasons or excuses that I hear for people not doing what is necessary for their careers.  Let me tell you as an artist and business owner, there are a lot of things that aren’t “my” thing.  I still have to do them to be visible and stay competitive.

In a world where the same big paying opportunities to be signed by a major label aren’t there, the artist has to find ways to get their product out there.  There is none cheaper than social media and since most artists are always saying they aren’t making any money gigging, they have no reason to not use social media.

I am encouraging you to step out of your “comfort zone” and put together a plan that will help you get to your goals.  Do the things you don’t like to do and you will be way ahead of those who aren’t and are at the same time setting yourself apart from the pack of mediocrity that is out there.

Good Luck!


Self Promotion – Why It’s a Must


Self Promotion – Why It’s a Must

As I work with entertainers of all kinds, it amazes me how they have all this stuff going on and they don’t tell anyone.  I have them on my radio show and instead of creating a buzz and letting people know ahead of time, they maybe put one tweet out or do it just before they actually call in to the show.  The fans most likely missed the notification and couldn’t attend or listen because they weren’t forewarned and didn’t have enough time to tell their friends or plan to listen in. In this situation, the artist loses an opportunity to engage with the fans, and the fans lose out on hearing the latest and greatest from their favorite artist.

Part of growing your fan base is keeping on top of the updates regarding what you are up to.  The buzz is critically important to get people interested in you. This is especially true if you are looking for your big break.  The artist needs to find the time to take advantage of promoting any opportunities that come and promote it before AND after the event scheduled.  Be sure to send updates after the show so that people who missed it can get a chance to check it out.  This should be done for weeks before and after the scheduled event.  This not only makes you look busy which is key, but it also helps the people who are promoting you on their show, interview or magazine.  It boosts their ratings and numbers as well.  This is a win-win for both parties.  If you get good numbers for the people who showcase you, then they will be more than happy to work with you again.

Artists/entertainers need to seriously manage their PR opportunities and use it to the maximum advantage. You are only as relevant as the buzz around you.  Get your act together and promote what you have going on to the fullest extent!

Take note entertainers, if you aren’t paying someone to do this for you, it’s your responsibility to keep the buzz alive.  It’s a responsibility to your career and the fans who love you.