Entries Tagged as 'voice talent'

recording with robin hood

Robin Hood Studios Tyler Tx audioconnell voiceover talentAs I have mentioned in the past, I am a big proponent of finding local studios to record in when you are traveling. You meet new people and your recording environment is likely a thousand times better.

Well this week while in Tyler, Texas, I had some recording to do. I have been to Tyler before but hadn’t actually needed to record. This time, there was voiceover work to be done.

Off I went to Google. Immediately, I was drawn to one of the studios on the list. Robin Hood Studios. Great name, right?

Well more than a name, a cool history.

ZZ Top Platinum Album Robin Hood Studios audioconnell Voiceover Talent May 19

One of the platinum ZZ Top Albums at Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, TX

So Robin Hood Brians is the owner and chief engineer at the studio – which you wouldn’t know was a full recording studio just by looking at the building. The building WAS his parent’s house but since 1963 (and with additions built on) it is home to his historic, full service recording studio. For example, do you remember those platinum Z.Z. Top albums in the 70’s and 80’s? Several of them were recorded in the same studio I recorded in…I even had to wear a super long clip-on beard to record there (just kidding).

Voice Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell recording at the historic Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, TX, May 2019

The sound was great and studio was perfect in it’s eclectic-ness.

Robin himself is, as you might imagine, a font of rock and roll and broadcast commercial factoids and stories. He’s been doing this since the 60’s for goodness sakes! I think I was there longer talking to him than I was recording…which was fine with me as we shared great stories.

So if you are anywhere near Tyler and need to do some VO recording (or certainly music recording) I’ve got a place for you! Thanks Robin.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Rockstar Entertainment in Los Angeles, CA

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell Rockstar EntertainmentEditor’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”.

If you haven’t met Scott Burns, Seattle, WA voice talent extraordinaire, well you’re kinda missing out.

As with many voice talents, including yours truly, Scott started out in radio and just has the most creative mind for broadcasting and voiceover scripts that you’ll find anywhere. He co-hosted a very successful radio show in the NW for many years and it is radio’s loss that they don’t have him waking people up in some amazing city somewhere.

I don’t know how many years I’ve known Scott but I do recall meeting him for the first time in Amy Snively’s bedroom at Faffcon.

I should explain that last sentence…but I don’t think I will. Though nothing even remotely improper took place, I want to be included in a salacious rumor that something naughty did take place and that I was somehow a part of it.

Yes, my life IS that boring! 🙂

Anyway, it was some years after the naughtiness that was not at Faffcon (around 2014) that Scott and I were speaking on the phone. I can’t remember the specifics of the call – because between meetings and phone calls, we’ve chatted a fair amount over the years.

Lena Morgan_Rockstar EntertainmentBut at some point in the conversation he mentioned Lena Morgan, the owner/agent at Rockstar Entertainment. Well, he didn’t mention her so much as he shouted her name from the rooftops (as Scott is sometimes wont to do). He couldn’t be more effusive about Lena, how she was at IDIOM Agency and went out on her own and how great she was at getting her work and managing each deal and on and on. Summing it up, Scott adores Lena as an agent and a person.

But then again, Scott likes me too, so his judgement is clearly askew.

Nonetheless, I took Scott at his word and after our call, I sent a quick email to Lena letting her know how beloved by Scott she was. Then SHE starts in on how great Scott is and his talent and on and on. Meanwhile I’m trying to figure out what kind of vortex of sincere, happy compliments I’ve suddenly dropped into. It was a surprisingly pleasant place.

Then, in the email, she asked for my demos. I sent. She liked. We partnered. Simple as that. I’ve been on Lena’s voiceover roster ever since.

sometimes you do it just cause it makes you happy

IN VOICEOVER and in many other industries, our websites are our store fronts.

peter k o'connell voiceover agent cities 2019

Because most of us work out of our homes, we don’t see much street traffic – although clients do come over to the house to record from time to time. It’s a great way to force yourself (or my children in my case) to clean the house.

So we as voice actors try to make sure we make the web site SEO friendly, make sure the menus flow well, make sure the content is informative, timely and fits our branding message. Of course, we want it to be attractive and inviting as well.

Some more obsessive website owners (whomever they might be and they might have an apostrophe in their name…or not) are always looking for unique and sometimes very subtle ways to gain a viewers attention or peek their creative interest by showing something visually (as well as ‘audiolly’) cool.

And then sometimes you include something in your voiceover web site just because it makes you happy.

Truth be told, THAT’s the reason I included the above graphics on my voiceover agent page on my web site.

Some will look at the page and this blog post as a way for me to be bragging about my agents…I can only tell you this post is sincerely not meant that way. I wanted to share with you the creative process I went through to create this in hopes that maybe it will spur you on to create something new and unique to your own web site, something unique and specially that you hadn’t thought about adding until reading this. Onward, then.

The idea started thusly…

I was looking at other voice talent web sites for a completely different reason and noticed a voiceover agent page that featured logos of that’s talent’s agents. Many of us try to include our agents on our web sites to give them recognition and possibly leads for those folks who prefer to book voice talents not directly via the talent but rather by an agent. Fine by me!

In a previous incarnation of this page, I had included a graphic of agency logos but I thought it got too busy and for a long time, I have just listed text.

Well today I went back to the idea of trying to squeeze in small logos from each agent next to their text listing. But it ended up looking forced and some of the logos were…well let’s just say some agents aren’t graphic designers and leave it at that (yes I am a snob about such things — with no credibility to judge anyone). Oh and many agents have very nice logos as well. Bottom line with my agents, they are good business partners and that’s what I sincerely care about.

But I wanted to create a way for the agent page to stand out a little more and be visually interesting to the reader.

airport bag tagSince logos weren’t going to work, I had to consider a unique, common theme. I thought about geography, then cities, then how people know cities, then how cities have nicknames, cities have abbreviations and then…..codes! Airport codes!! Of course!!!

As you know, I am in airports all the time and I often refer to cities by their airport codes. It annoys my family sometimes but I come by it genetically because my frequent flyer Da did the same thing. So there is that memory fueling this idea too.

Most of my clients are business owners and many of them travel so there should be an immediate familiarity with this look and feel as well.

So keeping with a generic format, I used no unique colors rather just a simple, understated, functional and a bit elegant look…at least in my head.

Maybe nobody will notice this except me…and now you because you read this (thanks for that, BTW).

But it’s kind of like those studio knickknacks we all have or that special picture or piece of children’s art you keep.

It just makes you happy to have them and that’s reason enough to keep them.

Until my next idea, anyway.

 

female voice talent natasha marchewka published in backstage magazine

It is always nice to be invited to a party.

It means people enjoy your company, you usually have interesting or funny things to say and people generally like having you around.

Voice Talent Natasha Marchewka published in Backstage MagazineSo I was honored yet surprised when I got an email from my friend, fellow Faffer and female voiceover talent Natasha Marchewka a few weeks ago. She was writing an article for Backstage Magazine about the best ways for voiceover talents to secure new business and she wanted to interview me.

Naturally, I requested a private plane to NYC, a suite at a 5-star hotel in mid-town Manhattan for 7 days, 24-hour chauffeur, clothing and food allowance (no more than $5,000 per day, as I am not greedy). I also said the 10 tickets I would need for Hamilton on Broadway could be within the theatre’s  first 10 rows. Only divas demand front row. I am hardly a diva.

Plus sometimes the actor’s spit when they talk and if you’re in the front row…ewww!

So Natasha emailed me the questions and said IF (and only if) my answers were any good, she might include them in the article.

Oh well, you miss 100% of the shots you never take. 🙂

Somehow I made the cut. Natasha was very kind to include me at all and the editors of Backstage were also kind not to hit the delete key after seeing my name in the article….sometimes my life can feel like one long edit with a dull blade (old time radio people will get that reference).

Here is the link to the Backstage article HERE.

Requiescat in pace Patrick Sweeney

Requiescat in pace Pat SweeneyOh Canada. Today you lost a great one.

In the 8+ years that I have been friends with Pat Sweeney, he had become one of those rare fellows of whom I only heard positive, kind words said.

Marking his passing from Cancer this morning, those kind words are being reiterated and certainly shouted from the roof tops. As they should.

Family was first and foremost to Pat, as he would often speak of his wife and sons. They were his everything.

But second, I think, was his love of the voiceover industry and of the community that Patrick Sweeney helped foster in Toronto and pretty much everywhere else he went.

Before I moved to Raleigh, NC, I lived most of my life in Buffalo, NY, nearby to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where Pat and his family live. My affinity for Canada is well known (my Grandmother was born there and I spent my summers in Fort Erie, Ontario for decades). So I was especially happy to hear many years ago that a pair of my voiceover friends had gotten together in Toronto to create a local Voiceover Meetup Group called VO in TO.

One of the group’s founders was female voice talent Jodi Krangle. The other (and to hear Jodi tell it, a driving force behind the group) was Pat Sweeney.

To watch Pat navigate the room at a VO in TO meetup was a thing of beauty. If you didn’t know Pat before you walked through the door, you would know him by the time you left. And he would introduce you to one or two other people there who he thought you should know, so you could have someone to say hi to at the next meeting. Pat was a wonderful community builder.

Another voiceover group where we shared many happy times together was at an annual event called FaffCon. This is a wonderful group of talents from all over the world who would come together to share best practices in a very inclusive and welcoming format. It was an event tailor made for Pat, who certainly learned a great deal from his fellow voice talents but possibly shared even more, especially in one on one conversations. Pat’s supportive and encouraging spirit, attitude and actions positively impacted more people than he may have ever realized.

All of this ignores when Pat and I would chat about his visits to Buffalo or mine to TO. Or when we worked together as part of a voiceover marketing collective called MVO: The Voice-Over Guys. Or when he would commiserate with me on the phone about my (usually losing) Buffalo sports teams.

You always left a conversation with Pat feeling better.

All of this kindness and help from Pat made it so challenging for us (his VO pals) when Pat got sick and we couldn’t help the guy who had always helped us. There wasn’t much we could do but support and pray for Pat and his family.

Hard as we’d pray, it never felt like enough of a repayment for a gentleman who so positively impacted so many people. We are deeply sorry for his family’s loss but are grateful for their many family memories and for Pat’s final peace.

Me? I’m selfish. I will miss my friend.

Eternal rest grant to your servant Patrick, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

in praise of recording studio rental

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell visits the historic Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, TX

The historic – especially if you’re a ZZ Top fan – Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, TX

Certainly if you look at any social media pages for voiceover (they are SO hard to find as there are SO few of them *sigh*) you’ll likely come across a discussion on voiceover travel rigs.

You know, which are the best travel microphones, mixers, mic stands, pillow forts, blah, blah, whatever.

Yes, travel rigs come in handy and certainly you want the best microphone for un-ideal conditions (hotel rooms and friend’s houses) or tricks for a quick studio fix (try a newer model car – sedan or higher for a really quiet environment).

Voice-Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell enjoys his 2015 traveling mic stand

But as one of the better-traveled voice talents in the business, I would like to present (or remind in the case of those I have spoken with about this) an old idea that works well for more than just one reason.

The idea is the renting of a local studio for recording of your unexpected VO job or vital audition.

You say: whoa, whoa, whoa, crazy man; I am not made of “the money”!!!!

I understand you are not made of “the money” but if a little homework is done in advance, you can get your recordings done, make a new business contact, possibly get on a studio roster and get some new business. This will make your studio rental more “the investment” than “the expense”.

Here’s what I do.

When I go to a city, I research recording studios and those that (hopefully) focus on or at least include voiceover as part of their business (versus just music recording). I make some calls to these folks to see about availability, general pricing, technical specs (ISDN, Source Connect et al), while also getting the correct contact person’s name at the studio.

If they seem like a legit studio (i.e., they actually answer the phone and the studio is not in the basement of their Mother’s home, etc.), whether I end up using them or not, their info goes into my database (ding!)

I let them know I am “on hold” for a VO recording or must record an audition and we settle on price, date and time.

At the appointed time, I get there, introduce myself and commence to audition, er, record.

Well actually, I am auditioning for the studio in a way, because engineers may pay attention to the meters but they are also listening to the performance and watching for professionalism. Most times I record at studios, I receive unsolicited and what appears to be sincere compliments. I have made positive impressions (ding!).

Before leaving the booth, I leave behind one of my logoed pencils I use to mark-up scripts. This is an idea I stole from a woman in Athens GA. Her name (Kelley Buttrick) escapes me at the moment. A semi-permanent marketing reminder has been left behind (ding!). I have also marked my territory. Check it! (ding!)

A post recording session conversation usually takes place with the engineer and/or the office manager-front desk receptionist about my work and my clients and my VO history. All very casual, all very conversation, nothing salesy about it. I ask about the studio’s roster and am (usually) enthusiastically invited to be added to said roster (ding!). I pay my studio fee (which may or may not impress them that I make enough money as an independent VO to rent a studio) and I leave behind a card at the front desk (ding!). Someone usually compliments me on the design and quality of my card (ding!).

My client or agents are happy with the professional sound I’ve surrounded my voice with on the job or audition (ding!).

I follow up with the studio via a hand written thank you note for their time and effort….it’s on my branded stationery (ding!).

If they remember me…I could get a new job. If they never call me again or remember me, I gave it a good shot. But we miss 100% of the shots we never take.

We are our best advertising for what we do.

That’s marketing.

Your mileage may vary.