Tag Archives: Voice Acting

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.

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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.


Voice Talent Finding Jobs on Twitter


Voice Talent Finding Jobs on Twitter

by The Lowry Agency voice over talent Trish Basanyi

The social networking giant, Twitter, continues to mystify some and make money for others.

Heck, even the money-makers are mystified. (Try saying THAT three times fast.)

Yet the ones who have tackled the site head-on continue to bring in revenue in their desired fields – and voice-over talent is no exception.

Are you on Twitter? Have you signed up and then abandoned the account after two “tweets” citing an excuse of something like, “I just don’t get it” or “it’s a waste of time”?

STOP.

The Internet is an amazing thing, and some still don’t grasp the plethora of knowledge just waiting to be found …when you ask the right questions.

All of the social networking sites are connected. We’re only going to talk about Twitter in this article, but by using one you will learn how to use the others!

For instance, there are thousands of two- to three-minute videos on YouTube, which show you how to use Twitter. All you need to do is search for them. The same goes for Facebook.

These videos explain how to use these sites and make the most of them. And they’re yours for the viewing, absolutely free.

There are hundreds of applications for Twitter, which maximize Twitter’s search potential for you, and streamline the process of finding voice-over work.

Trust me, the work is out there.

I could make recommendations about the applications, but everyone I know uses something different – kind of like the path of every voice talent on their way to success. Different things work for different people.

One of the more popular desktop applications is Hootsuite, but if you’ll search online you’ll find dozens more.

Spend just one hour on Twitter and you’ll begin to see the enormous potential.

Don’t know what to talk about? Just be yourself!

Make jokes, ask questions, and talk about your everyday life – both personal and business.

As voice talent, we’re not always selling our voices – we’re selling ourselves, as people. When we’re real and interactive, people will respond, and will want to “follow” you in the Twitter world.

Even if you don’t have a lot of followers, you can still find jobs – again, just use the search engine for the site!

If you’re searching for VO jobs anywhere else, you already know how to use a search engine.

Step outside your comfort zone for one hour and see what happens.

Maybe you’re on Facebook but only using it for personal connections. That’s great! But if you use Facebook already, you’re 10 steps ahead of the learning curve when it comes to using Twitter.

Twitter is an easier site to navigate than Facebook – in fact, the confusion most people express for Twitter seems to be the concept rather than the actual functionality of the site.

Once you understand the concept, using the site is a breeze.

Twitter is responsible for about 20% of my income in the past year. I have:

  • Landed several high-dollar jobs through clients I’ve connected with there originally,
  • Acquired roughly 20 new clients that now hire me on a regular basis, and we continue to have a great relationship both online and in the VO booth.

It didn’t happen overnight, but the process has been fun and a huge learning experience.


Branding – Have You Thought of Everything?


Branding – Have You Thought of Everything?

A couple weeks back I called a voice over artist that was approaching our agency as representation for them.  I called the number provided and got a cell phone with a plain as day message saying “You have reached {insert first name here}, I am not around, but leave a message and I’ll get back to you!” It was a very casual message with very bad audio left on the business phone of a voice over artist.  This is a perfect example of not taking an inventory of all the opportunities to showcase yourself and your abilities.  It is always amazing to me to see the opportunities we miss and sometimes the most obvious things that get by us!  Who would think a voice over artist didn’t think of doing a voice over for their own business phone, which in many cases is the first thing a prospective client hears.  This happens all the time in some way shape or form. I know I have certainly been guilty of missing something.

Everything, and I mean everything is a billboard for your professionalism and competence in your craft.  Every business/entertainer needs to take an inventory of everything they have put out to represent themselves and every possible opportunity to show their professionalism and capabilities.  Make sure you take the time and really evaluate where you are at and where you need to go and set the marketing/branding plan to get there. Leave no stone unturned.

Once you have done this, take the time to go through and enhance, correct or plan what needs to be done in the future. Make sure that you are showcasing yourself in the best light possible.  Does your branding campaign hurt your or help you?  Success takes time and a lot of effort. If you want to be successful, be diligent, detailed and surround yourself with a team of experts that can help you build your brand and help you make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Good Luck!


When Do You Need a Voice Over?


When Do You Need a Voice Over?

Guest blog by The Lowry Agency voice talent Dave Courvoisier

My barber gets it.

My barber… a small businessman…an entrepreneur, a guy who runs a tight ship when it comes to comes to finances.  He understands running a quality operation, and putting forth a successful brand at all levels, means professionalism at all levels.  That’s why, with scissors and comb in hand, me sitting in his chair, he asks, “would you be willing to voice my phone answering system?”

I was willing to do that and we even worked out a barter for the transaction.

I’m regularly shocked at some of the presentations I see explaining the virtues of almost anything — new software and hardware, videos on sales proposals, presentations on the advantages of social networking, informational YouTube videos — and how they can appear so bush league because they chose to use the voice of someone — anyone — rather than spending a few dollars more to hire a professional voice talent.

Much like you would spend a lot of money to do a professional-looking graphics representation of your product or to set up an elaborate website for your services, you should also think about hiring a professional voice talent to complete the package.

I challenge you to think of any business or industry… any marketing or branding campaign… any website, that wouldn’t benefit from the services of a professional voice actor to polish up the presentation.

The following is a list of genres that regularly fall into the realm of voice acting jobs almost any voice actor would love to get.  No specific order of importance:

Radio and TV spots (yes, many of us do on-cam too!)
website welcome messages
instructional videos

How-To videos
product demonstrations
phone menu-on-hold messages
client/customer role-playing
Power Point presentations
employee manual narrations
website sales pitches
white-paper narrations
informational documentaries
online catalog descriptions
movie theatre listings
restaurant menus (online or on the phone)
iPhone apps
Camtasia screen captures
software explainers
automated help menu systems
political phone messages
appliance installation DVD’s
self-help videos
videogames
inspirational readings
exercise videos
audio-books
store overhead announcements
radio promotional campaigns
public service announcements for charitable organizations
assembly instructions for military hardware
Homeland security training lessons
slide shows
employee safety videos
human resources explainers
Christmas party spoof tapes
animated-graphics productions
convention exhibit-booth looping displays
Video memoirs for funerals
Gala fund-raiser videos honoring the awardee
Entryway messages at conventions and conferences
website animations
Do I need to say more?

The applications of a trained human voice are only limited by your imagination.  I’ve even seen voice actors lend their services to party audio that plays in a limousine while it carts a birthday-girl around town with friends.

Voice-actors love the challenge.  They like to be treated as serious professionals as much as you do.  But that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to get into the spirit of whatever project you have in mind.  I once narrated a 5-minute eulogy for a friend at his father’s funeral, ‘cause he knew he couldn’t get through it himself.

The next time you want to demonstrate the latest fishing lure guaranteed to catch large-mouth bass at Lake Wappapello, consider how much more effective it would be with the capabilities of a professional explainer: a voice-actor.

Too embarrassed to deliver the litany of accomplishments your sales team made during a recession?  The trained human voice is a powerful, compelling instrument…use it.