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looks like we CAN all get along

James Lorenz posted this video on his blog. I’m just passing along the viral goodness as it’s a wonderous piece.


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

MEDIA RELEASE – Texas Electricity Provider Selects audio’connell to Provide Campaign Voice Talent

audio'connell Media Release

BUFFALO, New York, June 23, 2008 – – One of the Lone Star state’s largest energy providers lassoed audio’connell Voice Over Talent president Peter K. O’Connell as the voice talent for its most recent radio advertising campaign.

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Irving, Texas-based First Choice Power secured O’Connell to provide the voice over for a series of commercials that highlighted the company’s price protection options to combat rising energy costs. The campaign included :15, :30 and :60 second radio commercials.

First Choice Power is a Texas electricity provider with ties to a 70-year heritage of serving the state. The company is one of the Texas’ largest retail electricity providers, offering competitive pricing and a variety of customer plans.

A professional voice over talent and audio producer for over 25 years, Peter O’Connell is president of audio’connell Voice Over Talent, a worldwide, English language-based voice talent company. He also operates International Voice Talents, featuring foreign language male and female voice actors.

Both organizations provide professional voice talent for commercials, animation, corporate narrations, documentaries, broadcast voice imaging, audio books, podcasts and messaging on-hold (MOH). Industries served by the two companies include advertising agencies, media and broadcast production companies as well as both large and small businesses around the world.

Mr. O’Connell also owns Voice Over Workshop, which provides professional voice over training to novice and experienced voice talent around the world.

The three businesses are all a part of O’Connell Companies.
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NOTES TO EDITORS

Company Media Releases ON LINE:
http://www.audioconnell.com/media

Company Name Pronunciation:
au·dio·o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-oh-kah-nel) or au·di-o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-kah-nel)

Company Name Spelling:
Use lower case letters- audio’connell or audio’connell Voice Over Talent

Company Web:
http://www.audioconnell.com

Company Blog:
http://www.voxmarketising.com

O’Connell Voice-Over Resume:
See resume here

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letter to brokaw


Buffalo, NY

June 16, 2008

Tom Brokaw
NBC Nightly News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Room 1420
New York, NY 10112

Dear Tom:

I hope you will convey to Betsy Fischer and everyone at Meet the Press what a great broadcast you all put together to remember Tim Russert on June 15th. I know you also did a special and there were countless other quality remembrances from NBC News, MSNBC and competing news outlets but the MTP show was the one that had to soar above all others and it did.

In our internet age, I actually saw the special report of the Russert announcement Friday on MSNBC.com and was momentarily surprised to see you breaking the sad news. I kept thinking how uniquely difficult this particular bulletin must have been for you to deliver compared to the many incidents you have had to report over the years.

Surely all the subsequent broadcasts up to and including Sunday’s show were equally as taxing for everyone in the news division. You all lost a great friend, a respected colleague and via both his political passion and personal joie de vivre– a real force of nature at the network. A positive force but a force none the less.

Our city lost a great friend too. I didn’t really know Tim at all except for a couple of brief introductions at some local functions here (we attended the same high school albeit 14 years apart). But I think his wonderful everyman demeanor for me clouded the great impact he was having on the national stage. It was “Buffalo’s Tim Russert” simply doing a bang-up job. And maybe like all of us, I assumed I’d have lots more time to reflect on his influence.

Just know that all the efforts NBC News put forth on behalf of your colleague and friend was likely appreciated deeply by his family, certainly by his hometown and absolutely by this writer.

Sincerely,

{signed}

Peter K. O’Connell
President

dipping a toe into the performers’ unions discussions

I am a non-union voice over talent.

I have never been a member of a performer’s union like the Screen Actor’s Guild (with an estimated 120,000 members) or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (with an estimated 70,000 members).

Both unions are negotiating their new contracts with the studios via the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Normally, the two unions negotiate together. This time they are not. They are at war and they will both lose. AFTRA is voting on their contract with the producers and SAG is angry about it (there’s a lot more to it and you can read more details, starting here.)

I feel so badly for all the performers affected by this as they are simply trying to work within the system that’s been established. It has to be terribly frustrating. Adding my voice to the discussion won’t mean much but its been weighing on my mind for so long because of various discussion I have has with my fellow voice talents that I finally figured I should get it off my chest so that it can be summarily ignored.

WHY NON-UNION?
As a potential member, I am not against these unions but rather their features and benefits have never outweighed the features and benefits of being non-union. It’s a personal choice for every performer. It does not mean I wouldn’t consider union membership at another point in my career…if it were worth it.

As I have stated before, if I lived in New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago, I would likely have joined a union there, as most of the work up until recently has been primarily union. (Yes, the italics indicate where we should insert the dramatic music of a soap opera organ.)

CREATED FOR GOOD, CORRUPTED BY GREED
The foundation for these two unions (the primary unions for television, radio, movie and yes, voice over performers) was as necessary for the entertainment industry as it was for most other unions in other industries…management abused and neglected workers and wasn’t going to stop doing that unless they were forced to stop.

The creation of unions within many industries developed that force. Wages became equitable, working conditions improved, health benefits were established to name just a few of the benefits unions provided. Further, union membership was also meant to imply that the quality of worker was better (sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn’t). But as some unions gained prestige, they seemed to have become somewhat drunk with the abusive power that necessitated their inception. Power was abused, laws were broken and some union necessitated costs sky rocketed.

THE WHOLE IS STRONGER THAN THE HALF
The fiscal reality that surrounds any business is that two entities that are bashing their brains out trying to go after the same customers, spending good money after bad to do so, might be better served by merging. Airlines do it; banks do it…all business does it. If it doesn’t cannibalize the market, merge – the businesses will be more successful.

AFTRA and SAG have been discussing merging for a while now and recently decided not to merge. 44,000 AFTRA members are paying two union dues by also being members of SAG…that a lot of crossover and in my opinion wasted money.

I don’t know the specific reasons each party had for walking away from the deal but in such matters I have sixth sense that, if it kicks in hard enough, always assures me I’m right. I call this sense the “Logic Sense”. It’s when an answer appears so blatantly obvious to everyone that it’s clearly the course to follow. Having over 50% of AFTRA members also paying dues to SAG (securing union services that overlap significantly) simply because there are two union contracts in place is to me crazy. One union would have been the smarter way to go.

But I also get the sense (maybe it’s my “seventh” sense) that ego, selfishness and pride (an ailment affecting all of us that may be slightly magnified in Hollywood and New York) is what was at the heart of the merger breakdown. But I wasn’t there so I don’t know for sure.

NEGOTIATING FROM A POSITION OF WEAKNESS
I’m not much of a protester. Carrying placards and signs at a rally or in front of a building is not my style.

One, I would find it embarrassing and that’s not an easy thing to do.

Two, I think a picket’s effectiveness to embarrass the people you have to negotiate with is really minor. After a few days and barring violence (never a good idea) the protest becomes blasé.

Three, I think the public ultimately sees it today as a nuisance; people don’t want the interruption in their lives (“You’re protesting to help provide for your family is getting in the way of me providing for my family and if I have to pick between the two, I pick my family over yours!”). There’s less “us against them” thinking (like in the unions early days) and more “me, me, me!’ thinking today. Yes that may seem selfish but I think it’s where we are today, like it or not, and again this is my opinion based on what I have observed and heard. And because it devalues a good part of what a union does (certainly visually) I think it puts the very foundation of all unions at terrible risk.

So while protesting and picketing has served the unions well in the past, watching the SAG members protest yesterday and reading about it just gave me the feeling that this whole negotiation isn’t going to end well for the members or for the union’s perception among the public.

Here was yesterday’s protest challenge as I understand it: SAG has to sway the opinions of 44,000 overlapping AFTRA members not to ratify the new AFTRA deal and then SAG has to go negotiate a new deal with producers. Yikes. Negotiating a new deal is tough enough but trying to get people to vote against a deal that would let them get back to their business and their lives for a few years too?! A two fold problem rather than being able to focus time, talent and treasure on one problem puts SAG in a position of weakness at the negotiating table. Maybe they can win both…good for them.

HOW’S THE NEW UNION MEMBER RECRUITMENT GOING?
So if you’re the Vice President for New Union Member Recruitment for either SAG or AFTRA, (if there even is such a job), do you like your job right now?

Sure, studio contracts say performers have to be in a union to work so you’ve got a good chance of getting a certain amount of new recruits every year….if you are in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.

But there a lot of performance work that goes on outside those markets and the union’s regional recruiters I’m guessing are having a tougher time selling the value of union membership while watching all these goings on in L.A.

Then, in addition to the strike malaise a recruiter has to deal with, consider:

• The growing fondness producers have for working with non-union performers (especially in commercial work and voice over)
• The growth of non-union performers
• The dirty little secret of union performers working non-union jobs under pseudonyms or entirely un-credited.

I could mention financial core union membership as a tool to recruit new members, but from what I have been told, Fi-Core members are not looked fondly upon by the unions or its full boat members. Fi-Core may be legal but you’ll likely be as welcomed as the First Kazooist at the Philharmonic.

A SINGLE, UNIFIED PERFORMANCE UNION IS NEEDED
While I am sadly watching the performance unions self-destruct (in my opinion) I am not an advocate for non-union work either. Especially in voice over, the market is inundated with unprofessional, talentless voices that are bringing down the quality of work and the fees that are paid…it’s hurting the industry. Management who hire these less than stellar talents aren’t so worried about their sound as their wallets.

Sort of sounds like a place where a union might come in handy, doesn’t it?

There have been many non-union voice talents like me who have charged a fair wage that was either at slightly less than union scale. We also work primarily via full buyout rather than the residuals system that union performers enjoy. Many clients in the American market also cannot or will not support union fees for work in their projects. These are the prime value factors of working with a non-union talent. For the talent, in summation, we are not subjected to the various requirements and rules that restrain union talent from taking work nor do we have to share our revenues with the unions in the form of dues or fees. So non-union work is a quality option, as it should be.

But non-union work has its challenges too.

Technology, which has been a prime negotiating topic for many performing unions, has also become a problem for non-union talent as well. With technology so abundant, there are people now calling themselves professional performers and charging vulgarly low fees which adversely affect the perceived value of the voice over market. It’s becoming a garage sale at times (especially on some pay-for-play sites), which is bad.

If someone could show me a unified performance union, that controlled one contract with studios, agencies etc., kept all fees reasonable (for members and clients) and operated with as little politics as possible (certainly no political leanings or strong arming) I would be very willing to discuss membership. I think it could happen and I think the benefits for everyone would be significant.

But I don’t think it will happen and I think performance unions as we know them today will be significantly different, smaller and less effective than they ever have been or certainly were originally meant to be. And that’s probably not good for any of us.

is this what social media has turned you into?

Pick any of the social media networks you’ve joined (or I’ve joined…they’re in the column on the right.

Then watch the video.

Laugh.

Then double check that we’re not as bad off as this guy.

Great animation and voice work.

Thanks for reading.

If you haven’t already, we’d be honored if you subscribe to voxmarketising – the audio’connell blog and podcast by clicking the “subscribe” button on this blog.

If you really like this post (of course we hope you do), please feel free to bookmark and or promote it by clicking the buttons below on your preferred services.

we await your further comments

Managing the technical side of blogs can be a major pain in the ass you well know. There are always new plug-ins to add or features that one forgot to install. These are small thrombosis-inducing matters to be sure but they agitate me sometimes.

Well part of that stress has been reduced today with the long-overdue installation (my fault) of a comment box subscription check box for anyone who makes a comment on the blog.

Too often, if you wanted to follow the dialogue on the blog here, you’d have to remember to check back. If you’re like me, you can’t remember what you had for lunch let alone which blogs I commented on in the past 24 hours. Now you don’t have to.

Simply check the box at the bottom of the normal comment box that says: “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” after you’ve finsihed making your comment and….you will be.

This ought to keep the conversations going!

Thanks for reading.

If you haven’t already, we’d be honored if you subscribe to voxmarketising – the audio’connell blog and podcast by clicking the “subscribe” button on this blog.

If you really like this post (of course we hope you do), please feel free to bookmark and or promote it by clicking the buttons below on your preferred services.