Entries Tagged as 'commentary'

west virginia i was in you again

Charlie Cooper, Peter K. O'Connell & Amie Breedlove in Charleston, WV

Voice Talent and Admix Broadcast Service Owner Charlie Cooper with Voiceover Talents Peter K. O’Connell & Amie Breedlove in Charleston, WV

Traveling is not as exciting as people who don’t travel think it is.

But if you are a traveler and you’re on planes as much as I am…you learn the tricks that save you time and aggravation.

One of my tricks is to try and get together with people I know in the city I am traveling to…for a couple of reasons.

It gives you something to look forward to when you visit a city where you otherwise would not know a soul.

From a voiceover perspective, it also gives you insights and introductions to recording studios that are good to record at (as opposed to studios that are….not so much).

I’ve been heading over to Charleston, WV and the surrounding areas for years now and fortunately sometime ago I connected with voice talent Amie Breedlove. She introduced me to Admix Broadcast Recording Studio owner and voice talent Charlie Cooper. We all became fast friends.

So it was again this week that we all got together to solve the world’s voiceover problems. We handled some world problems too but those, as you can imagine, were pretty simple to solve compared to the complexities of script interpretation and microphone positioning.

If you get a chance to work with either of these two fine, talented folks (where ever you are in the world) I hope you will do so…very worthwhile and very fun. Plus Amie’s got a new Jaguar (see the picture)!!!!!

free answers on “how-to” voiceover

No Voiceover Demo MillsSo I was on Facebook today and I saw that voiceover coaching/demo mill Voice Coaches is coming to Raleigh to present their seminar “Get Paid To Talk”.

The first thing I thought to myself was: ‘Oh great, try and make money off the voiceover industry by insulting said industry with one of the great slurs against it!” (That slur being: ‘how hard can voiceover be, it’s just talking!’).

However, the ad that I was presented with was kind enough to include the topics this $40+ seminar will cover over at some area hotel.

I don’t begrudge people teaching others about VO. There are maybe 10 really talented voiceover coaches out there who I have studied with or about whom I have heard raves that I would easily recommend to folks at any level. These folks will teach you AND inspire you.

My personal bias is that, except in very certain circumstances, I generally don’t like the idea of coaches also producing demos. Voiceover coaches should coach and demo producers should produce. The grey area is when coaches direct the recording talent, sometimes that works. Sometimes.

And coaching companies – companies that have a bigger staff, don’t make their money on coaching – they make their big money on producing demos…many times whether or not the person is actually ready to make a voiceover demo (sometimes they really are not ready).

It should be noted that Voice Coaches isn’t the only company that does this…they are just the only ones who (by now, regrettably, in their minds) advertised on my social media feed this morning.

I will save you the forty bucks and possible half-truths about your VO future as well as the 4-5 mortgage payments this company might like you to replace with their demo production fee and answer all those burning VO questions this seminar will cover right here in this blog.

So ignore the hype of “this workshop tends to sell out” or getting a “behind-the-scenes look at how people make money every day with their voices” or receiving the “opportunity to record a short script under the direction of your instructor” let’s go right to the MEAT of the hotel presentation (which will take place in the meeting room right next to the Starving Artists Painting Show – another “don’t miss event”).

“What a voice-over is…”

Voiceover is an acting or performance career specifically involving the human voice.

A voiceover talent is a person who spends about 80-90% running a business and the balance recording auditions and VO jobs…unless you’re doing audiobooks which keep you recording a lot but not often getting paid as much as other VO work.

People who record audiobooks love it. Personally, I like money better. But there is a true art to recording audiobooks and if you can read to me like Edward Herrmann, I will listen to everything you record.

I digress.

Voiceover involves running a small business more than it’s recording with your voice. It’s sales, marketing, accounting, training and taxes. If running a small business is something you would loathe or makes you break out in hives, do not start a voiceover business.

You know what it is not? Voiceover is not getting paid to talk. Pithy title, bullshit message. If a company has that much disrespect for the industry it’s introducing you too, that to me is a RED flag.

“What it is like on the job…”

This is where a seminar like this I believe would sell the sizzle. I’ve not been to the seminar so I don’t know for sure.  I’m thinking this is where one talks about walking into a recording studio, seeing the big mixing board, meeting the engineer, talking with producers or directors and then heading into the booth. What the voiceover booth sounds like, what it smells like, what kind of microphones they use, headphones too. Squuuueeeeeal!!!! Thrilling!

“Which voice types are most in demand…”

They say in their promotion “sincerity wins the job”.

Um, no.

I hear many sincere voice talents every single day who don’t get the job. Good, hard working voice talents who go days without recording.

Everything that makes any small business successful: business plans, marketing plans, networking, hard work – all that and more gets you the opportunity in most cases to compete for the job, get an audition and maybe win it. Harder work will allow you to establish multiple client relationships directly that you nurture and foster and result in repeat clients or even retainer clients.

You better be able to produce more than one voice “type”, by the way. The more versatile you are, the better.

“What a professional voice demo sounds like… “

“You get one chance to make a first impression”, their ad says.

Their ad doesn’t say “so pay us scads of money and we will make your demo sound passable but you personally may or may not have the real voice over talent to perform in a studio the way we made you sound for 7 seconds on the demo we produced for you.”

Here’s a nasty, sad voiceover truth: even the most untalented voiceover talent can be made to sound ok, even good for sixty seconds among 7-8 different cuts on a commercial voiceover demo. BUT (and this is a big, enormous but) once that talent gets on mic in a new studio for a job, they likely won’t remember how to recreate and hold that sound they had on the demo nor will they be able to show any versatility in their voice because they haven’t developed any.

How’s THAT for a first impression?

The problem demo mills often set these unsuspecting voiceover newbies up for is either they haven’t given them an honest voiceover assessment (like maybe some shouldn’t pursue their VO dream) or that the newbies haven’t received the best possible training.

Sometimes it’s both.

There is a difference between training someone new to record a voiceover demo and training someone new to be a professional voiceover talent.

Training to a demo is quick…you only need 7 seconds of good audio per track. Training to be a voiceover talent can easily take months…assuming the coach is honest enough early on to tell a person who sucks at VO that they suck at VO and not to follow that career path and keep their money.

“Where to look for work opportunities…”

It’s only a guess, but I’m picturing a power point slide (just one) that lists places that might use voiceover. Wowee! A real voiceover MBA there.

Suffice it to say there is a lot of work that goes into prospecting, marketing and developing business relationships. I hope some hard truths are shared here but I am skeptical.

“How to avoid common mistakes…”

 One might be to not spend $40 for an introduction to voiceover class.

audio’connell in portland, oregon

Portland Voiceover Meetup February 2018

The February 2018 Portland Voiceover Meet-Up included Clockwise: Cindy McGean, Doug Rank, Peter K. O’Connell, Kim Fuller, Roberta Solomon, Kevin Cooke, Dan Nachtrab, Ulf Bjorklund, Emma Miles, Jen Gosnell, Sam A. Mowry. — with Cindy McGean and Emma Miles.

Flying to Oregon for the first time was a pretty great way to kickoff February as I am now down to only 12 states I have not stayed overnight in.

Even better was the fact that the Portland Voiceover Meet-up was getting together while I was there and they very graciously included me in the event.

Voice actors and spouses Kim Fuller and Ulf Bjorklund put together this meeting to celebrate Ulf’s birthday!

Of course getting to sit next to and visit with pal Bruce Miles at dinner was swell (he’s not in the picture because he took the picture) as was visiting with Dan Nachtrab (formerly of THE Dayton, Ohio). Jen Gosnell was there as was Sam Mowry who I feel like I’ve known for a decade or more but whom I really only knew virtually via the VO-BB.com.

Roberta Solomon I had also never met – she told some great Dan Hurst stories because they used to compete in Kansas City radio (but are great pals). Kevin Cooke I had also not met – a nice guy! But chatting with shy, reserved, almost quiet to a fault Emma Miles (Mrs. Bruce….and she’s actually about as shy and reserved as I am…thus not much) was a super treat.

I was really very, very pleased to be included in the evening. Equally, I was pleased to also grab a meal with my friend Nikki Lu Lowe – lots of marketing talk and laughs.

Great people, great trip.

only 12 more states to go!!!!!

Oregon FlagLest you think I had given up on my challenge to stay over night in all 50 states, I have not!

As you’ll recall, my rule is I cannot just drive through the state, I must stay over night.

As I write this from 30,000 feet, I am returning from Oregon (Portland and Eugene)!!!

So here’s the updated count of the states I have officially visited in my life:

1. Arizona
2. Arkansas
3. California
4. Colorado
5. Connecticut
6. Florida
7. Georgia
8. Illinois
9. Indiana
10. Iowa
11. Kansas
12. Kentucky
13. Louisiana
14. Maine
15. Massachusetts
16. Maryland
17. Michigan
18. Minnesota
19. Missouri
20. Nebraska
21. Nevada
22. New Jersey
23. New York
24. North Carolina
25. North Dakota
26. Ohio
27. Oregon!!!!!!
28. Pennsylvania
29. South Carolina
30. South Dakota
31. Tennessee
32. Texas
33. Utah
34. Vermont
35. Virginia
36. Washington
37. West Virginia
38. Wisconsin

Thus, I am left with only these 12 American states still to visit (don’t they say the last dozen are the hardest?):

39. Alabama
40. Alaska
41. Delaware
42. Hawaii
43. Idaho
44. Mississippi
45. Montana
46. New Hampshire
47. New Mexico
48. Oklahoma
49. Rhode Island
50. Wyoming

If you’re going to travel, you might as well make it fun!

another example of voiceover pay-2-play skimming

Canafornia Bad For Voiceover #voicestrongAs a voiceover talent, you are no doubt aware of the discussion regarding the disreputable Canadian pay to play company based in the province of Ontario that bought a major California based voiceover lead generation service in August 2017. The voiceover lead generation service has since taken the name of the disreputable Canadian pay to play company. I’ve dubbed it CANAFORNIA.

For reasons that I can comprehend but (to me) fail the business logic sniff test, there are voice talents who understand the disreputable Canadian pay to play company is skimming money (keeping it for itself) that producers had dedicated to pay male and female voice talents.

These talents also understand that in some other cases, the disreputable Canadian pay to play company is taking the voice talent’s quote and adding a substantial fee (sometimes 3 to 4 times the talent’s asking price).

Talents would NOT know this because the disreputable Canadian pay to play company does not allow ANY communication between talent and client. That’s how the disreputable Canadian pay to play company takes extra money without the talent knowing it.

Yet knowing all these truths, these same voice over talents continue to pay an annual fee to the disreputable Canadian pay to play company and audition (maybe occasionally book) jobs at a lesser fee.

It appears to me these talents (some of whom are my friends and are talented, smart people) are shooting themselves in the foot to pay for a service that might book them a voice job at what promises to be a rate less than what their client thinks they are paying them.

In short, the voice actors working with the disreputable Canadian pay to play company are making less money than they should be.

But it’s their business to manage as they want. They may think I’m nuts (and who is to say they’re wrong!)

Just a quick note, a great way to avoid working with voiceover P2P companies that will scam you is to work with agents in the VO Agent Alliance. That’s my opinion and I get nothing for it.

Are all these discussions just rumors and innuendos against the disreputable Canadian pay to play company by disgruntled voice talents?

Well, no.

The reason so many voice talents and voice agencies will NOT work with the disreputable Canadian pay to play company is because the company’s unethical behavior has been well documented.

But this week, voice talent Rick Riley shared his story about the disreputable Canadian pay to play company on social media.

Facts are facts and the facts indict the disreputable Canadian pay to play company directly.

What follows is Rick’s September 2016 account of what happened. Since that time he notes he has not done any business with “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company”.

Rather feature the company name or initials as Rick did in post, I share replace it with “the disreputable Canadian .pay to play company”.

Here are Rick’s words….

Right now, “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” is an extremely heated subject, and rightfully so. I recently replied to Bob Bergen’s post regarding “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company”. With that, I feel I should reveal my involvement with “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” and their practices.

I contacted someone in the industry who was compiling a case against “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company”. She asked me to relate my experiences. This is the email I wrote to her with names redacted by (_______) lines.

The first case was in regards to an IVR session I was asked to do. As a rule, that’s not what I do, but I have done a lot of commercial work for this company and they wanted me to be on their phone when people called.

“The disreputable Canadian pay to play company” contacted me and asked if I would do the job. I quoted and “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” came back a couple days later saying that my rate was too high, and they would look someplace else. When you read the emails below, you will see that “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” was willing to ace me out of a job if they couldn’t have their exorbitant commission. Below is the email I provided the person doing the research.
—————-
Hi ______,

Bullet points for your records:

A “disreputable Canadian pay to play company” managed project in which the client wanted me but didn’t have the budget so they contacted me directly. The following is an email exchange with a client who happened to have my contact information.

Hi Rick,

I just wanted to reach out to apologize of the back and forth on this latest ____ phone tree job, my client(the agency) is not making any progress with their client on the budget and at the current rate i will not be making any money on this job.

We talked last time about going to you directly and i mentioned that i felt it was only fair that i stay loyal to “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company”, but now i may back track on this if the price changes so that i can make some money. What would be the cost of this project if i dont go through “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company”?

To which I replied…

Just out of curiosity, what is “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” charging you?

And they replied…

$425.00

And I replied…

You see, that is a bunch of crap. I told them $250, which is my session minimum. I had a feeling they were charging way beyond what an agent would charge. THIS is why they are getting a bad rap and why they won’t allow communication between the client and the talent. “A different pay to play company” charges a subscription fee just like “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company”, however “a different pay to play company”, once the client and the talent make a connection, steps out of the equation.

And they replied…

Well that settles it then. I will reach out to you directly from now on.

When are you available between today and monday? ____ at “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” mentioned tomorrow, is that still the case?

And how would you like to set up payment?
(end of email exchange)

A 70% commission and “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” was willing to let the client go and ace me out of a job because they couldn’t get it!
———————–

NOW, today’s story…

A job booked through “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” that kept getting revisions. I did the second minor revision at a low rate for goodwill towards the client.

The latest revision, before I quoted for it, had me calling the client because I wanted to make sure they were getting the benefit of my goodwill. Turns out “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company’” greed did not let me down.

For the original 30 sec spots for a Canadian company I quoted $1,000.

First round of revisions I quoted $500.

Second round of revisions I quoted $100 as a goodwill effort.

When “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” contacted me for a quote on this latest minor revision, before I gave it to them I decided to call the company and find out what they were paying “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” on what I had quoted them.

When I quoted $1,000 for the original spots, “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” charged $1800.

When I quoted $500 for the revisions, “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” charge $795.

When I quoted $100, “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” charged $155.

80% commission, 60% commission and 55% commission respectively to  “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company”.

THAT is “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” in a nutshell!

Now THIS company will be working with me directly as well.

Thanks ______!


That’s my exchange with the person doing research. Knowledge is key in all aspects of life. Hopefully this knowledge about one person’s experience with “the disreputable Canadian pay to play company” will help you make decisions in your own personal endeavors.

Thanks for reading!

Rick

ear blowing audio in durham, nc

Erik Romanowski Peter K OConnell 2018It’s always nice when people come to visit me, especially since I visit so many folks all year.

But having a native BUFFALONIAN come visit – one that works in voiceover – well that just doesn’t happen very often.

So it was a very nice treat to get to have lunch demo producing supah-staaaah Eric Romanowski.

Eric is the proud owner of hot voiceover demo shop Ear Blowing Audio. He was driving through Durham, NC (about a 1/2 hour away from my studio) coming from his studio in Virginia Beach, VA, on his way to Charlotte, NC. He is presenting at the Voxy Summit, a voiceover conference for women.

We talked about most things VO, like demo producers who aren’t really demo producers (Eric is the real deal) and work-life balance (which is tough sometimes working from home) but the conversation really got going when we started reminiscing about Buffalo and, of course sports.

I’ve been gone from Buffalo almost two years but Eric left about twelve years ago. And while he’s followed the Bills somewhat, he has totally lost touch with the Sabres.

I explained to him in great detail why that was completely unacceptable. Somewhere in my rant, he escaped and I assume he made it down to Charlotte. 😉

It was great to see him. If you need a great demo, give him a call. But make it quick, cause he’s booked out for at least 45 days with the demo production work he has right now.