Entries Tagged as 'agents'

voiceover agent advice: ready, aim, stop!

Gabby Nistico Guide VO Agents_audioconnell

If you have read this blog for any amount of time (and, I know, why would you?) you know that I am late to the party on almost everything.

For example, there’s this new thing called a flip phone…

Anyway, while perusing Instagram today, I came across post from Gabby Nistico about agents. This may have been around for awhile – I don’t know…remember…late to the party on everything.

What caught my attention was the tag line: “Submit to Agents with Care”. Well I have shared that sentiment with talents for decades (as have others), so I thought ‘this was a good start’.

I had to sign into something, probably a mailing list, to get to what the page was about…a fairly long list of voiceover agents.

For some of you reading this, that’s going to get you all excited. That list, however, is NOT the meat on the bone.

It’s a nice list…full of some great representatives and some completely useless agents (and to be fair, a similar list could be compiled of voice talents). Worry not, the reps are not labeled as such on the list and shouldn’t be…everyone’s mileage varies and opinions are like…well never mind what opinions are like, they all stink.

But again, the list isn’t the thing.

It’s the DIRECTIONS that accompany the list that contain the best advice you’ll receive this month. They are simple, almost basic. Likely you’ve heard what Gabby has written before, from others.

But now it’s in writing…there on the printed (web) page in black and white (well actually blue and white but whatever).

You know why she says it, and I say it and other pro VO’s say it and agents say it? Because it’s true.

‘Bull in a china shop’ does NOT work when trying to get an voiceover agent. But so few folks, especially newbies, listen.

So many folks are so anxious, so excited, so blinded by the concept of getting an agent or a new agent that the common sense gene is shut down and overrun by their stupid gland and they end up making a terrible first impression and lose an opportunity at professional voiceover representation.

Gabby Nistico Female Voiceover Talent

Female Voice Talent Gabby Nistico

So instead of ‘stop, drop and roll’, please now ‘stop, read and thoughtfully execute’ your approach to professional voiceover representation. Look at Gabby’s agent list, sure, but follow her directions that are right there! If you’re NOT ready to check all the boxes, wait to approach an agent until you are.

One last thought about this….the agency world is changing and, like voice talents, agents are dropping out of the business by choice or necessity. Now more than ever.

This means fewer agencies and yet the same or more voice talents who need/want representation.

So you, voice talent person, must now REALLY come across with your most professional work and demeanor and attitude and all of it…. super important! Yes, VO agents still need voiceover talents to have a business but voice talents need quality business partners…don’t confuse Gabby’s long list for a 100% quality list. That’s true in EVERY industry.

Check before you leap…talk to other voice talents about whether they feel their agents are representing them well. You look for referrals on plumbers, why not agents? Not to make too fine a point of it, but five of my agents are in the VO Agent Alliance. I’ve known these people for years. I am thrilled to be in partnership with them because of who they are as people and professionals) Their participation in the Alliance adds great credibility to it in my eyes.

I think it’s a great place to start when beginning the agency search…but they aren’t all taking everyone. Nobody said this agent search would be fast or easy.

Then, what are your expectations for your agents? Are you expecting them to bring you buckets of VO jobs? Re-think.

Agents, in my opinion, should be viewed as presenting opportunity for talents…not necessarily actual work. Yes,  work can/does come from agents (and that’s awesome) but it mostly comes FROM US…in our demos and in our auditions when we have the opportunity presented to us.

Securing the work is ultimately up to us. Hard fact. Deal with it or get out of the business.

Partnership also means that when a gig arises – that an agent did not bring to you but where their insight could be really helpful – give the agent the gig to manage. Yes give them the commission…bring it to them. If they are good, they will help you more than you know.

If you don’t trust them enough to do that or don’t want to share in the gig, I would ask you two questions:

• Why are they your agent?
• What kind of business partner are you? (Short answer, probably not a good one)

get your voiceover auditions reviewed at vo review

Some may think July 1st is strictly an approved day for Canadians to buy an extra case of Molson’s.

Sheppard AgencyWhile you are not wrong in that thinking (it may even be written in the Canadian constitution), today marks another birthday (of sorts) in voiceover land.

Today my friends and agents from The Sheppard Agency unveiled a very unique website that will allow voice talents to submit their auditions for a critique before the voice actor submits the audition – allowing the talent to get audition feedback from professional agents. While other people and groups have offered this sort of service on more of a one-off submission, this new venture feels more organized for handling more submissions, faster.

VO Review voreview.comThe service is called VO Review (at voreview.com). For $10 per submission, your audition will be vetted and reviewed in about 30-40 categories mainly focusing on technical sound, performance and following the directions of the auditions. The feedback is valuable because voiceover agents hear scores of auditions daily and they get attuned to what performance styles have the best chance of booking.

This service doesn’t mean you’ll get the job but on those auditions that might be or feel more important, now you can get some valuable feedback from smart industry veterans.

favor for a voiceover friend (celia siegel edition)

I Stand Up For Celia SiegelI’m going to ask you for a favor and it’s not for me.

For as many decades as I have written this blog, or have just been writing – before blogs were a thing, I’ve been very blessed with people who would read what I wrote. I greatly appreciate that.

Celia SiegelMost of my blog readers are in the voiceover industry either as voiceover talent, recording studio engineers, creative service directors, advertising agency pros, voiceover agents, business owners and the like. To all you folks, I’d like to take a minute to share someone ELSE’S blessings.

Her name is Celia Siegel.

If you’ve been in the voiceover industry for more than five minutes, you either know or at least have heard of Celia Siegel. You’ve likely heard about her company, Celia Siegel Management. Her company is known for creating strong personal brands for voice talent and marketing those brands to the max-in a way that’s authentic to each voice actor.

Now if you’ve met Celia, you know she actually more than a company or an accomplished author or even Mom…all challenging jobs in themselves and blessings, all. She is also a Cancer survivor. She has achieved a lot. She’s a strong broad.

Yet into each life, a little rain must fall.

Among the most unpleasant of all unwanted surprises, in mid-June of this year Celia was diagnosed with a completely different and advanced form of Cancer that she now must battle. We all know how stupid Cancer is but thinking it could successfully mess with Celia a 2nd time is super stupid. Cancer will fail.

It will, of course, be a fight for Celia…mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially.

On our road trip this weekend, my family prayed the rosary as we were driving for Celia. We prayed that Celia gain all the stamina and blessings she needs to beat this latest Cancer battle. We also made a donation to Celia’s GoFund Me page.

I’m asking you also to offer prayers of healing and strength for Celia’s battle…and also to please DONATE to her GoFund Me page.

Bills do not stop just because someone gets Cancer. They actually can get a lot worse.

We all want to give more for something like this and maybe we’re embarrassed because we think the donation we can afford right now is too small. But giving SOMETHING is best if it’s from the heart. Please do what you can to help my friend and one of our industry’s biggest advocates.

Thanks for your consideration and thanks for reading.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Ta-Da Voiceworks in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Ta-Da Voiceworks 19

I had to go all the way to Los Angeles to get an agent in Toronto, even though I lived in Buffalo, NY at the time.

Confused? Well, that’s just good story telling!

When I first met Tanya Buchanan, the owner and head agent at Ta-Da Voiceworks….she wasn’t the owner of an agency. She wasn’t even an agent. She was (and still is) a voice talent.

From my records, it looks like I first met Tanya in person on June 1, 2008 as a Toronto voiceover seminar hosted by Debbie Munroe. I believe Jodi Krangle was at the seminar and possibly also Elaine Singer. I knew Elaine and Jody virtually via VO-BB.com and I think I knew Tanya via there too.

But Tanya was a pistol right out of the gate and she was a presence in the room…in a good way.

Fast forward 4 years later in Ventura, CA, about an hour northeast of LA where Amy Snively was hosting FaffCon 4. Amy had brought some agents into the event and one of them was…Tanya Buchanan?!

Clearly I was Captain Oblivious (yet again) because I had no idea Tanya had started a boutique voiceover agency in Toronto. I was flummoxed mostly because I had no idea she harbored such aspirations (when we first met, she might not have…but we all evolve).

Starting a creative…anything in Toronto is NOT for the faint of heart because that’s akin to an American business person trying to start a boutique voiceover agency in New York or LA. But Tanya is a doer and she was making it happen in the biggest city in Canada. That impressed me.

During FaffCon, I wanted to talk with Tanya about her voiceover agency and whether it would be a fit for us to work together. I had spoken previously with the only other reputable non-union agency in Toronto and he wanted nothing to do with me…the American thing threw him.

Back in Ventura, Tanya and I were both kinda surrounded by VO’s and it wasn’t the perfect space for that kind of one on one business discussion. But my dislike of vegetables offered a solution.

One day during FaffCon, Amy had scheduled a salad lunch…salad….no sandwiches, no soups….just vegetables. In the Peoples Republic of California, a visitor sometimes feel like they are encountering the Borg (think like we, think, act like we act, eat what we eat, join the collective…assimilate!) ?

I knew I would need to find something else to eat. Fortunately, right across the street from the hotel was the west coast’s iconic In & Out Burger restaurant. So I asked Tanya if I could buy her lunch. She agreed. Some how Graeme Spicer ended up joining us for lunch too because I think he wanted to try this burger that was so famous.

Ta-Da Voiceworks 2014 Holiday Party (l-r) Tanya Buchanan, Darryl Hogan, Peter K. O’Connell, Bill Hunt, Graeme Spicer and Debra Scott

Ta-Da Voiceworks 2014 Holiday Party (l-r) Tanya Buchanan, Ta-Da Owner/Senior Agent, Darryl Hogan former Agent and Ta-Da Voiceworks Roster Voice Talents Peter K. O’Connell, Bill Hunt, Graeme Spicer and Debra Scott

Well good news, bad news. Bad news was the food was passable at best. I’ve no idea what all the fuss was about In & Out Burgers. McDonalds is a thousand times better. And yet anything was better to me than a salad bar lunch. Note to Amy: do not pull that again! ?

Good news was between the milkshakes and fries, Tanya figured we should be able to work together, especially since I was in Buffalo and that’s all of two hours away from Toronto. In TO, they still like VO’s to record in person there so if I had to go up, I could make that work.

So I guess 7 years, some voiceover jobs, some FaffCons and even some voiceover conference panels later, Tanya must have forgiven me for subjecting her to a greasy fast-food lunch by the ocean. We’re still working together and I’m glad for that.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with the Sheppard Agency in Austin, TX

Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Sheppard Agency 19It is my personal opinion that Erik Sheppard of The Sheppard Agency (formerly Voice Talent Productions) was a grumpy old man by his early teens. Young as he is today, he still has that hilarious grumpy old man persona.

VO Agent Alliance_tall_audioconnellHe, of course, is a perfectly nice, smart guy, a family man (lovely wife -also a voice talent– , son and now a toddler daughter), a business owner (Sheppard Agency) and an advocate for the voiceover industry (VO Agent Alliance).

In my professional voiceover career, Erik is one of those people who seem like they have always been a part of it. I was trying to figure out exactly what year he called (or maybe emailed, I really can’t remember) to ask me to be a voice talent on Voice Talent Productions. I do recall him saying something about it just getting started and would I join etc. That maybe 2006 or 2007. The first email I could find from him (of easily over 600 emails) was 2008.

Point being, we’ve been together in this business a long time. I also believe him to be one of the hardest working agents I know of…auditions coming through to me constantly…on top of bookings and all over payments. The total package you want in a voiceover agent.

His Voice Talent Productions holiday parties were the stuff of legend…so much fun. All the VO talent from around the country would fly into New York City for the weekend and the parties were a blast. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones…all voice talents. Erik and Lindsay even got engaged at one of the parties.

I remember at the after-party for one VTP Holiday Party — it was a cold December night. Erik and I were talking outside because he was having another cigarette. We were talking about the voice acting talent at the party and I said that he really needed to take a listen to a somewhat (at that time) known female voice talent named Mara Junot. I think I had met Mara previously at a FaffCon – but her voice then as now was uh-mazing.

I said Erik, ‘you’ve got to sign her’. He said ‘you’re like the fifth person who has said that to me tonight’. I said ‘that’s part of the point of this party…discovering new voice actors…they show up, the other talents know them, hear them and make an introduction for them.’ Not because of me, but Erik did sign her and I think the Sheppards bought a boat, three cars and a summer home in Nantucket off commissions from the work Mara has booked.

From my commissions, the Sheppards’ were able to buy not one but two boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Thin Mints, no less. So there’s that.

However, the greatest part of working with Erik are his audition notes…specifically when the rates or usage were ridiculously stupid. None of these note are printable (expletives deleted..and then there’s not much else to read) but trust me they are laugh out loud hysterical… day makers, when you read them.

He is iconic in his VO persona and legendary in his work ethic on behalf of his voice actors. Erik Sheppard is the guy you want in your corner when the VO battles rage.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Heyman Talent in Cincinnati, OH

Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Heyman 19 It is my recollection that an initial conversation I had with Lynne Heyman going back to at least 2007 (maybe 2006) was the discussion that was the foundation of my 12 year voiceover talent – voiceover agency relationship with Heyman Talent.

The call was me calling her about voiceover representation. She didn’t know who I was. I’m not sure I knew who I was…a question still pondered today 🙂

I was focused on Cincinnati for no better reason than it was about an hour away from Dayton, OH, where I had spent my formative college years at the University of Dayton in the mid-80’s. I had been to Cincinnati a few times and like it there. Also, I grew up a Reds fan of the Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan era. The Big Red Machine.

Lynne was one of those folks who you immediately trusted when you were on the phone with her. She liked my demos and enjoyed talking about my perspective about the voiceover industry…she’d seen my social media posts, read my blog and could tell I was very involved and knew many folks in and around the voiceover business nationally. We talked then and later about women in VO, foreign voice talents and how to access them as well as the state of the industry.

Some years ago, Lynne wanted Laura VonHolle to take a lead role in the agency…which I think was a very smart business succession decision.

Laura VonHolle Heyman Talent audioconnellLaura, like her predecessor, was/is very talent centered, doing all she can for the talent but also holding the talent accountable. I’ve enjoyed a few conversations with Laura about how the business has changed in the past 5 years and it was great to get an agent’s in-depth perspective. Heyman handles print and on-camera – even more than VO – but listening to how the changes to the VO landscape impacted the agency side of the business was sobering. Of course, they have weathered it masterfully- and I am glad to be on the same team.

Athough I don’t think Laura ever forgave me for coming into to visit the agency on my way to a Reds game a few years back (the Red’s stadium is right down the street from the Heyman offices). I was going to the game and I didn’t have tickets for her (a big Reds fan). I briefly got the girlfriend/wife/mother stink eye from my agent. I now know that if I show up again at the agency on game day/night, I better have tickets for her.

And I will.