Entries Tagged as 'voiceover advice'

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.

you are here – voiceover geography

where are you_audioconnellSo where are you?

Geographically, where do you land on the map?

Sure, you know the answer to that but the next question is: do your voiceover customers know?

The next question after that is: do you want them to know.

For some folks the answer may be a cut and dried yes or no.

For others it’s not so clear.

I came to this thought by looking, as we all do and should, at other voice talents’ web sites and in some cases trying to figure out where they are located.

Before cell phones and internet phone numbers, one could guess location by area code with a posted phone number. That doesn’t work any more.

For example, I kept my Buffalo, NY 716 area code phone number even though I’m in Raleigh. I have a LOT of contacts to who have that number, it’s a good number and I’m keeping it. I could get a 919 number and maybe someday I will.

So while one can question, because of the internet and phones, whether it matters that one makes clear their geographic location on their web site, I think a discussion is worth while.

What would be the questions in such a discussion?

1. What’s wrong with local or regional work

I’ll start out with my bias – I let people know where I am geographically. I made a point of featuring my Buffalo geography in the past and I am clear that I am now living in Raleigh/Durham.

My reason is simple, the opportunity for regional work is attractive enough for me that I want those local agencies and producers to know that I am available. Part of my marketing plan focuses on those regional folks.

My feeling is that if you like regional work and positioning yourself as a leading talent in your region, you need to be pretty clear where you are located.

Not everyone thinks that way.

2. ‘I don’t want to be pigeon holed by geography’

I’ve heard a couple of schools of thought on this one.

Live in Des Moines, IA but get a Google phone number with a 212 (NY) area code ‘so agents and producers will think I’m….(insert some amazing adjective here).’

But don’t talk about Des Moines.

I’ve always questioned this as setting yourself up to be caught in a lie. If producers like you and then think you’re in their big city market (where they will want to work and meet with you!) but you’re not physically there, they might feel cheated. That seems like a bad way to begin a (likely very short) business relationship. Some people do it…it must work for them, I guess.

The other thought is: I do work around the country and locally without telling people where I am…those that need to know my location, know.

Certainly, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And if you are absolutely sure that every viable regional producer and advertising agency around your actual location knows where you are, then carry on.

But if you aren’t absolutely sure…then you have a task to add to your marketing to-do list. Quickly. And yearly.

3. ‘My area is not geographically sexy’

That’s my way of addressing people who say they live in the middle of nowhere. It’s not that they live at the end of the world, but they can see it from their porch.

I respect the challenge. Some folks may live in paradise but on a map, it’s a long ways from even a big village. Many voice talents do and they still work.

A couple of ideas on this and, not surprisingly, they require some marketing efforts.

One idea is to make your geographic area seem sexy to a reader.

Now I understand you may be looking it outside your window and thinking that there is no way in h-e-double hockey sticks…

But hear me out.

Just grab a pencil and write down positive words that might describe your area: peaceful, natural or picturesque, maybe? What are some features of the area: lush forests, clear lakes and streams, imposing mountains? What about friendly neighbors and a strong sense of community? Certainly you can think of more.

Now how might the attributes you think of possibly tie into your voiceover branding?

Trust me when I note that big city producers sometimes dream of getting out of the city so your descriptions may entice them to read more about you just based on a well written description.

Plus if you can tie in the positive attributes of your remote location with your VO styles – that works. Just reiterate in that same branding that, technologically, you are an A+. You may live in Mayberry but let media producers you’ve got all the voiceover bells and whistles. Don’t fib on that.

The other idea if you’re living more remotely is borrow the some ideas from regional marketing development organizations.

Your local government may be like bumpkinville, but know that someone in regional or state government is marketing even your remote region, in someway, to developers. You just have to surf some websites to see what they are saying and HOW they are saying it. Don’t worry about using their regional names and information…that’s what it’s there for!

Quick example, in Buffalo (when it was less successful) it was hard to get the attention of regional site developers. Buffalo may have been New York State’s Queen City before the St. Lawrence Seaway opened but from the 50’s through the turn of the century, it was depressed.

Then somebody did the math and thought if they tied in the world renowned Niagara Falls area (only 30 minutes away for the New York and Ontario, Canada sides of the Falls) into the regional branding, the city could gain some traction.

Hence, Buffalo has been marketed as the Buffalo-Niagara region. The airport, as an example, is called the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Your area may have some regional branding tricks too…check it out.

Look at regionally within your state and also at other surrounding states.

4. Safety

This is not last because it is least important.

I totally get the safety issue.

Some people not only don’t want to publish their home address (where their studio is located), they would prefer not even to talk about a city…possibly even state.

If that is a true concern, then keep yourself geographically anonymous. And don’t give it a second thought. Seriously. Period. End of story. Market yourself in other ways.

If your safety concern maybe isn’t as severe but it is still a bit of an issue, I have some ideas.

Focus your geographic branding only on your state, if you’re comfortable with that. Again, focus on the positive marketing attributes of your state and stop there.

I could easily talk about so many positive benefits of being in “The Carolinas” (two states for the price of one!), or living in Central North Carolina. Both give producers a general sense of whether or not I might be close enough to work with them without saying I’m a voice talent in Raleigh/Durham or Raleigh, NC or Cary, NC.

Otherwise, and this is something I do, just feature a P.O. Box as your address. If somebody you trust needs to come to your studio, you can talk on the phone (or via email) and give them your studio address.

That’s all I’ve got for now on this one.

Hopefully this discussion and the ideas I’ve presented can help you a bit.

If you have other ideas, please feel free to share in the comments below.

Hope this helped.

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

Celia Siegel has a new book – Voiceover Achiever

It is with great pleasure that I share with you that a friend of mine — and a friend to voice talents everywhere — Celia Siegel, is now one of those fancy, pipe-smoking, ascot-wearing author types!!

Celia has just released her new book, entitled Voiceover Achiever – Brand Your VO Career. Change Your Life.

As it’s so new, I have not yet read it. But here is where you might want to grab your copy here.

That’s where I just bought my copy.

Celia Siegel

You may have heard of Celia’s company, Celia Siegel Management, which has been working on establishing brands for voiceover talents for many years.

You might not know that before that, Celia worked as a talent agent with agencies like CESD, JE and Wehmann. She has a great deal of experience in the voiceover business.

In addition to her branding work, Celia is a certified life and business coach, success strategist and talent manager

In this, her first book, Celia shares her winning formula for creating standout brands that ignite standout careers.

 

VO Agent Alliance Shows What They Are All About

Anyone who reads this blog regularly (which mathematically is equal to 100 x 0) knows that I love great marketing and even more, great graphic design that supports that marketing.

All new organizations fully understand how important it is to make sure your target audience knows who you are, what your name is and what you can do for them.

Marketing people in those new companies know you should never stop doing that. Ever.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Sadly, you don’t see that combination of great marketing and graphic design a lot in the voiceover industry…until recently.

The 15 voiceover agencies who comprise the VO Agent Alliance, a new collective of vetted professional voiceover talent agencies operating individually but committed as a group to the highest standards the industry has to offer, understands the importance of audio AND visual marketing

If you haven’t seen their posts on their social media pages like Facebook, you missed some pretty great examples of how to get a voiceover branding message across to your audience in a visually memorable way.

GOING TO WAR

A little background – the VO Agent Alliance was formed after a disreputable Canadian voiceover pay-to-play company secured venture capital money to, among other things, acquire a major California-based voiceover lead generation service in August 2017. The lead generation service was a significant marketing tool for voiceover agents but now with new owners, who have been found to skim money from voice talents to keep for the company coffers as part of their P2P division, Alliance agents did not want to be associated in any way with the voiceover lead generation service’s new owners.

Thus, the VO Agent Alliance was formed bringing together long time voiceover agency owners, smart business professionals, who were not going to take an attack from a disreputable Canadian voiceover pay-to-play company on their voiceover agency businesses sitting down. Well that’s my view on the situation, anyway.

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Together we can do it

“VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Together we can do it”

So the war poster motif (a design style most popular in the states during World War II) now seen in these graphics seem really apropos for the VO Agent Alliance. Plus, I just think they are super fun, creative and memorable.

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Support Them

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Support Them

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Quote Correct

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Quote Correct

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Double Submitted

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Double Submitted

The only critique I have about these WWII-era-like posters is that there should have been some kind of tag or logo tie in either with the #Voicestrong movement or with the VO Agent Alliance wordmark or website address.

For example, I grabbed one of their posters and branded it just a little more and it looks like this.

VO AGENT ALLIANCE The Good Guys

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE The Good Guys

Just a little extra branding to make the purpose of these posters a little clearer. But again, great overall work on the creative by the VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE .

IT’S THE 1950’s ALL OVER AGAIN

Most of us have seen the memes with the mid-Century looking clip art. It’s been done, right?

But the reason it’s been done and gets done again is because it gets people’s attention. People look. People read. People react. All of which is a marketer’s and new business owner’s dream.

VO AGENT ALLIANCE No junk auditions

These particular pieces from the VO Agent Alliance score high with me because they tie in the group’s brand and web address, giving people who are unfamiliar with the new group place to search and learn

VO AGENT ALLIANCE Get paid properly

VOICEOVER AGENT ALLIANCE Get paid properly

INFOGRAPHICS

I’m sure most folks understand the purpose of infographics but just by way of brief explanation for those who do not, infographics are a way to share fairly involved messages in a more interesting way than just paragraphs. Inforgraphics help tell the story of message (often times complex but not always) through the creative use of words, typography, graphics and color.

These information style seems to have really become popular in the last 5 years…but that’s just my novice opinion — someone smarter (anyone smarter) can give you better details than me.

VO AGENT ALLIANCE Diminishing Returns

VO AGENT ALLIANCE Diminishing Returns

Be that as it may, my friends at the VO Agent Alliance have also used infographics as a way to break down their messages and service in a more understandable way. While a bit of creative whimsy may be taken by the reader in the first two sets of graphic examples, like it’s genre, the VO Agent Alliance infographics are pretty much all business.

VO AGENT ALLIANCE Voiceover Pain Scale

VO AGENT ALLIANCE Voiceover Pain Scale

VO AGENT ALLIANCE Voiceover Choices

VO AGENT ALLIANCE Voiceover Choices

There are some others that are also swell, but I just wanted to share some of my favorites as a way to maybe help you rethink some of your visual branding. Not so much to steal any ideas here but maybe as an inspiration for an idea to help you convey your voiceover business messages to your clients across a spectrum of marketing channels.

Hope this helps.

A Dirty Word for Voiceover Talents – CANAFORNIA

Canafornia Bad For Voiceover #voicestrongThe headline making the social media rounds today was that 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 is now (as expected…by me anyway) smashing the two companies together under the Mothership’s brand.

No word on whether the California part of the company (specifically those ‘pesky, profit sucking employees’ – some of whom I know to be quite talented and nice people) will still have jobs following this smashing.

The key to today’s announcement involved adding all the high profile union talent (SAG-AFTRA) and agencies to the Mothership’s brand. Metaphorically, the stars will now swim with the swine. To be clear, were I involved with the disreputable Canadian pay to play company (and I am very much not), I would be part of the swine.

Since the two companies now being smashed together are in Canada and California, for the purposes of this blog, I will hereafter reference the two companies (now under one banner) by one smashed name: CANAFORNIA.

PROFIT WITH GRAVE MALICE

The announcement today by Canafornia’s Mothership was written in a manner that, in my reading, attempted to make many of the union voiceover agencies and their union agents feel like the corporate smashing would be a good thing.

On-line voiceover sites who may skim from voice talents and agentsMost agents of any size will see through Canafornia’s anticipated deceit, I believe. The company’s owner has been caught in too many falsehoods and most everybody in the voiceover industry seems to know about them.

In their pronouncement, Canafornia made no mention of their past skimming of funds from the budgets of their “clients’” voiceover projects, skimming that left significantly fewer dollars for those whom these funds were intended — the voice talents.

This disreputable business practice of skimming is evidently what Canafornia has been doing for sometime now on many non-union voiceover jobs. Caught red-handed on more than one occasion, they were! Denied wrong doing on more than one occasion, they did!

Now, adding union talent and union voiceover agencies into the mix with this latest smelly venture, Canafornia seems positioned to make sure there will likely be less funds for union talents AND their union agents.

‘THIS ISN’T MY PROBLEM’

Maybe Canafornia is the least of your concerns as a voiceover business owner, you think.

Well, if your concerns for your voiceover business involve a troubling downward pricing trend for VO jobs, as well as people with significantly less VO talent than you posing as voiceover professionals and disrupting the market while these same talentless reprobates also devalue what you do for a living, then Canafornia really is a bigger concern for you.

There are some voice talents who either do not believe the facts uncovered about Canafornia or are too afraid to leave a source of revenue (dwindling though it may be). For reasons I have previously articulated on these pages, that is their right as business people —whether I agree or not.

But what if you want to do something about this situation? Can anything be done?

All is not lost. As a voice talent, you can take a number of proactive steps to protect your business and support your industry.

ISSUE A PINK SLIP

You're Fired Signed #VoicestrongThe first thing I would recommend to any voice talent committed to a better and more profitable future in voiceover is either not to start or now end their business relationship with Canafornia’s pay to play side of the business.

To be fair, I’m not a huge fan of the voiceover pay to play industry generally as I think it continues to devalue the voiceover marketplace. I do not invest my marketing dollars in those channels. Your mileage may vary.

But Canafornia’s operation is the specific company I would directly avoid doing any business with at all. As always, just my opinion.

TALK WITH YOUR CURRENT VOICEOVER AGENTS…NOW

Second, I would recommend communicating with your current agents about the topic of Canafornia.

Why?

audioconnell payphone

Because some voiceover agencies, which are professionally operated and wonderfully focused on serving the voiceover community, are still working with Canafornia’s west coast service.

Yes, there are many voiceover agencies that have left Canafornia’s west coast service after the disreputable Canadian pay to play company bought it and I’ll talk about those agents in a moment.

For those agents still working with Canafornia’s west coast service, you as a talent and their client need to have a pro-active business conversation.

You’re agent could be sending you auditions for jobs where, should you land the gig, you could receive significantly less pay than was intended for you by the producer. Likewise, the agency will end up making less money for themselves in the process.

In my case, I have had and continue to have conversations with those agents representing me who still disseminate voiceover project leads from Canafornia’s west coast service. I’ve also had the good fortune to speak with many other agents (some who represent me and others who do not) about this unique crossroad we are all migrating together.

In a brief summary of all those agency communications: no perfect answers have been found but with the community working together, some clearer direction offers a better road ahead. More on that in a moment

Why do I stay with agents who are presently still on the Canafornia’s west coast service site? Why not just cut ties if I don’t want to be involved with Canafornia?

I have known these agents for a long time. I understand the challenge they (and we as VO’s) face. I respect these agents as business people, otherwise I wouldn’t have signed with them in the first place.

Like voice talents working with pay to plays, there is no foolproof answer for everyone. Agents are traveling the same bumpy industry road as talents are and we are each trying to determine how to proceed for the good of our own businesses.

While I have made clear to these Canafornia-involved agents that I would like to continue our representation agreements (remember not all leads come from Canafornia’s west coast service), I have told them I do not want receive auditions from Canafornia’s west coast service’s web site. Nor do I want my demos listed on their agency page on the Canafornia’s west coast service’s web site (which will be merged with the mothership’s site in late February 2018, as was announced today).

I have to manage my business so I can sleep well at night. Canafornia is not an organization I wish to be even tangentially associated with.

The conversations have been very positive. Agents need constructive feedback too. Plus, when is it ever a bad thing to have a meaningful business conversation with your agents? Answer: never.

THE ALLIANCE

I mentioned earlier that many voiceover agencies had left Canafornia’s west coast service almost as soon as Canafornia announced the acquisition.

VO AGENT ALLIANCE The Good GuysThe reason, by way of brief explanation, is that these agents are well aware of the Canafornia pay to play questionable business practices and absolutely did not trust the company would be any more responsible with Canafornia’s west coast addition.

But they didn’t just sit around and lick their wounds after they fired Canafornia’s latest acquistion. While the #voicestrong movement was growing, these voiceover talent agents spent a few months talking amongst each other (which was fairly unprecedented in and of itself) and decided that they wanted to create a voiceover related organization, centered on the agency side of the business, that would have the exact opposite business code of conduct of Canafornia.

The group, called the VO Agent Alliance, resolves to implement the industry’s highest ethical standards for the benefit of talent, their representatives and their valued clients. The vetted voiceover agency members across North America include: In Both Ears, Go Voices, Sheppard Agency, Play Talent, Umberger Agency, DeSanti Talent Agency, Rockstar Entertainment, The Actors Group, Ta-Da Voiceworks, Big Mouth, The Atherton Group, Central Voice Group, Heyman Talent, Alexander White Agency and Collier Talent Agency.

So what does that mean for a voice talent’s career? That’s my third piece of advice.

If one or more of your agents are part of the VO Agent Alliance already, you’re in better than average shape, because these folks are working hard for you as they always have. I’m fortunate to have five of my longtime agents in this group.

If you are not represented by one of the Alliance agencies, you might make it a priority to scout them all out and see if you may be a fit with one or more of them. I know most of the principles at each agency and you will be well served to have them on your voiceover business team.

A HUB OF OPPORTUNITY

Voice Casting Hub logoI’m not sure if this is a matter of strong business planning or great luck but just about the time Canafornia was releasing its most recent plans to destroy the ethical and business landscape of voiceover, an internet executive with 20 years in the web business named Matt Dubois was working on a new online agency casting platform.

Voice Casting Hub is the name of the platform, which is intended to replace the site acquired by Canafornia with the distinct difference that Voice Casting Hub wouldn’t be skimming off the top, as is the concern with Canafornia’s site.

A fourth piece of advice would be to check this site out and register yourself as a talent. It’s free to register. The site is, as of this writing, less than a month old so it’s too early to judge its performance but it is awesome that the marketplace is responding so swiftly to this Canafornia challenge with a viable option. Monitor this, as I think it could be a great opportunity for all of us.

IT BEGINS AND ENDS WITH YOU

With all the online gnashing on teeth, nothing that Canafornia or voiceover agents or alliances or hubs do can ultimately take the place of good old fashioned individual business marketing.

Nothing.

Your primary focus as a voiceover business owner is to beat the bushes trying to get new business…YOU, not a web site or a representative.

Sure, they are all part of the plan…but just A part. The rest is up to you. It is a constant, daily effort that only you can lead. Think, create, plan and do.

You’ve got this.

But if you don’t have a plan, you don’t have a chance.

Hope this helps.