audio’connell in charleston, wv

Charlie Cooper from Admix Broadcast Service, Amie Breedlove from Amie Breedlove Voice Talent and Peter K. O'Connell from audio'connell Voice-Over Talent

Charlie Cooper from Admix Broadcast Service, Amie Breedlove from Amie Breedlove Voice Talent and Peter K. O’Connell from audio’connell Voice-Over Talent

The Faffers are in Charleston, West Virginia tonight as I got to have dinner with Amie Breedlove and Charlie Cooper.

The dinner was quick but we didn’t stop talking shop until about 9:00 p.m. What fun this dinner was! It was like a mini-Charleston meet-up which would probably be a great idea for the voice talents in the city to do.

Biggest news was that Amie HAS A BLOG which you can check out HERE.

our meetup group can beat up your meetup group

Heard Around Buffalo is a monthly meetup group of Western New York-based professional voice-over talents

Heard Around Buffalo is a monthly meetup group of Western New York-based professional voice-over talents

In the spring of 2013, I made some phone calls that voice-over talents Dan Lenard and Leslie Diamond probably wished they wouldn’t have answered or at least would have let go to voice-mail. But they answered the call. They always do.

I wanted to put together a group of truly professional voice-over talents who were running voice-over businesses. There are some great performance-based voice-over classes in Western New York and I have attended them and learned plenty. But mixed with some pros in those fine groups are people who are honestly not working in the voice-over industry…they’re thinking about it, they’re toying with the idea or they’ve got a voice-over gig…once.

For me, I needed to get together with fellow professionals who not only faced voice-over performance challenges and were great to run scripts with but who ALSO could also focus on the other NINETY PERCENT of being a voice talent – the BUSINESS of voice-over.

With Leslie and Dan, I knew they would understand. They are past attendees of FaffCon, an unconference for professional voice talents who get together once or twice a year to talk about and share best practices on the complete spectrum of being a voice talent — normally a very individualistic business practice. They’ve each directly experienced the professional benefits of the FaffCon experience and could easily see the benefits of doing something somewhat similar (but not exactly the same) on a local level.

Leslie named us Heard Around Buffalo. Nobody owns it, nobody profits from it. It’s just a bunch of voice-over folks sharing the wealth together.

Well in a year, we’ve grown nicely with many great Western New York voice talents participating and we have welcomed to our group visiting voice talents from as far away as California, South Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and even Canada (or maybe especially Canada, since we all have so many friends there and they let us come up to their Meetup groups in Toronto as well).

In addition to myself, the other regulars include Dan, Leslie, Chris Nichter, Fred Filbrich, Alexis Williams, Glad Faith Klassen and Jen Deyo.

If you are a professional voice-over talent in Western New York and you want to check us out, look here.

i thought i quit already

Peter K. O'Connell Voices.com profile Sept 2013

Some months ago I requested that my free profile be taken down from Voices.com. I waffled on this idea for many reasons but came to the conclusion that the Voices.com business model and brand was harmful to my brand.

Last night, while doing some Googling, what do I come across but my Voices.com profile. Yikes! So I sent an email to customer service to request it be taken down. Again.

This morning comes confirmation that they’d be doing just that but also asking for feedback on why I was leaving. Now if there is one thing that Voices.com has become infamous for, it’s asking for feedback. They IGNORE the feedback but they always ask for it.

At first, I thought about just ignoring it because I know Voices.com (home of the very profitable – for Voices.com – and ethically questionable for voice talent SurePay program) will dismiss it like a gnat. The company didn’t seem to be this way when it started out but things evolve. They are not evil people but they interpret professional business practices and models differently than I do.

So after thinking about it, I thought, OK Voices.com, I will articulate my problems with your business, you will disagree with them and nothing will change.

I’ll let you grade me on whether I clarified my points well enough.

Hi Kelly,

You asked for feedback and I’ll provide it but I can assure you it will likely be quickly dismissed by your ownership.

Issue #1 would be customer service since I already requested my Voices.com free profile be taken down months ago.

Issue #2 – the P2P model, as it has evolved primarily through Voice 123 and Voices.com, has significantly devalued the Voice-Over Artist almost to the level of Fiver.com. While profitable for the P2P companies themselves, the flow of unprofessional work has hobbled the industry’s professional image in the eyes of many of our consumers.

#3 and most importantly, as Voices.com has evolved, it clearly today has as it’s sole mission the profitability and promotion of the company, which is a mission of most companies. The difference being that the execution of the Voices.com business model is completed at the expense and detriment of its members specifically and the voice-over industry generally.

There is absolutely no value for me in debating this with company officials – whom I’ve known for years – as the public and investor documentation for the company prove my point. Further, testimonials from my fellow voice-over professionals both directly and via social media, make it clear that – in spite of public corporate posturing to the contrary – such Voices.com consumer opining and discussion falls on deaf, disinterested company ears. The sweet sound of money is too overpowering.

Multiple reviews from attendees at last year’s Voices.com event in Toronto – how it was an extended commercial for Voices.com and how horribly the producers treated some of the event’s speakers – solidified for me that Voices.com was not a brand I could professional afford to be associated with going forward – even in a free way.

Every company, including Voices.com has the right to run their business as they see fit. And potential customers have the right to do business with the brands that suit them. We will simply agree to disagree on these issues and now part ways.

Thank you Kelly.

– Peter

a thoughtful branding change

An updated logo for Levi's Jeans

An updated logo for Levi’s Jeans

OK, so I like logos. Anyone who’s read this blog over the years knows that.

But beyond the art of it, to which I am drawn, there should also be some real thought put into a logo’s place in the complete branding of a product or service and some sound reasoning behind the change.

Often times when companies change their logo or publicly address their branding, they issue fluffy, non-sensical press releases usually written by their design agency team who have drunk their own Kool-Aid based on the content of their reasons for making the branding change (hint: the real but never stated reasons are usually about low sales, change in management or a self-inflicted catastrophe). They also craft cool videos (for which many times I am a sucker ) telling the story of the logo’s development.

In this case, Levi’s Jeans (to whom I have been a pretty loyal customer) really kinda came clean on their logo missteps over the years and laid out a very simple, straight forward case for the new branding going forward. I’m not sure there is any business category where branding is more important than clothing (maybe alcohol or perfume).

But I think when any business is thinking about how to explain the graphic part of their branding, this video shares a pretty thoughtful base upon which you might start a discussion about your own branding.

Otherwise just enjoy the pretty pictures.

you don’t replace a legend, you become one

The late Don Pardo, announcer on NBC's Saturday Night Live

The late Don Pardo, announcer on NBC’s Saturday Night Live

He’s not asking my advice but if Darrell Hammond did, those would be my words as he steps in to become Saturday Night Live’s new announcer following the death this past August of legendary NBC announcer Don Pardo.

He’ll create his own style and that’s as it should be.

He’s a wonderful choice (since they decided not to pick –or audition–me) and I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks so.

a quick note to my faffcon 7 friends

 FaffCon 7 'Faffers' Getting Ready for the Big Event!

FaffCon 7 ‘Faffers’ Getting Ready for the Big Event!

Hi there!

I think I am supposed to be sad because I’m not attending FaffCon 7. I’m not sad, maybe a very tiny bit wistful but that’s about all the negative emotion I can muster.

I have a very important birthday party to attend and I am more excited about that than sorry to not see you all. FaffCon has never been about one person anyway – it’s about the group…the wonderful group of past Faffers and new Faffers coming together to create a brand new experience.

I am so filled with excitement for each one of you…I see your social media posts and I feel your joy at coming together again for the professional renewal this event brings. The opportunity to talk at length with your fellow voice-over professionals. They get it. They get you.

And the learning. Oh the wonderful things you will learn at every step during the weekend.

Breathe deep.

Stop, look, listen and observe.

Sunday arrives quickly.

Absorb.

Have fun.

Say thank you alot. And mean it.

I know you will.

I won’t be there to share my annual reminder so I’ll end this happy send off with this reminder: FaffCon is not only a wonderful place to learn, it’s THE safest place for you to share new ideas, try new performance techniques or ask dumb questions that you don’t realize may be just that.

No worries.

FaffCon is your safe place if you happen to fall down because every Faffer is a pillow for you. They will confidently catch you, if needed, as you try new things, as you learn things you didn’t know and develop talents you didn’t think were within you. And you must be a pillow for them too.

FaffCon is unparalleled in that way (and many other ways too).

Failure is not even an option, simply because…you are there. What a gift!

Until next time…enjoy.

Best always,
-Peter