Tag Archives: Dave Courvoisier

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.

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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.