Entries Tagged as 'voiceover advice'

‘hell no’ to the voiceover exposure offer

-Source: NEW YORK POST August 21, 2019

I was – all at once – shocked and not at all surprised to read an exclusive story this morning in the New York Post about a major business organization completely disrespecting a well-respected, very well-known and honored performer.

The organization wanted to offer the artist “exposure” (i.e. no fees or expense payment). Not even a car ride.

According to the story, with accompanying confirming quotes from the performer – the great singer Darlene Love was recently asked by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to perform her iconic song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” at the NYSE’s 96th annual Christmas tree lighting, coming up in December.

Everybody with a brain in the music industry knows and respects who Darlene Love is…but the NYSE thinks after 60 years as a professional, Darlene Love needs exposure.

Exposure, not payment. From the world’s largest stock exchange, an organization profiting from trading billions of dollars daily.

Exposure not payment. For a singer, actress and music industry legend since 1959 to sing one of her biggest hits, an iconic song, live at – what I feel very sure is – a fairly expensive Christmas event.

Exposure, not payment. At Christmas!

To the offer, Love ultimately said not no, but hell no.

As a voice actor, you need to say the same thing to an “exposure” offer – whether it be a grossly low fee or no fee at all.

If you’ve been in this business for more than a minute, some jackass (man or woman) has come to you with a voiceover job that couldn’t offer you a fee but could offer you “great exposure” and that “might lead to more business down the road”.

Unless the offer is a charity you would otherwise support (so, without the “jackass”), the offer is baloney and will lead to nothing more than you devaluing your own business worth, while also being taken advantage of in a very public way by an unscrupulous business person you shouldn’t be working with in the first place.

Even those who are just starting out, who feel they need the exposure – if you don’t see your true value as a VO artist (and thus being willing to work for free where other ARE being paid) —then don’t be a VO artist! You not only disrespect yourself but you disrespect the rest of us in the voiceover industry. I am personally very not OK with that.

To the exposure offer in any industry – but especially voiceover – don’t just say no, say hell no.

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)

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 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.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Umberger Agency in Atlanta, GA

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 Umberger 19 Because of a voiceover car trip from Ventura Beach, California to Los Angeles, I joined the voiceover talent agency roster of Umberger Agency in Atlanta, GA.

Yes, I would agree, that is some wacked out geographic math on the way to securing voiceover representation but my voiceover journey has never included a lot of straight lines. In fact, if my heritage were Indian instead of Irish, I feel strongly my Indian voiceover name would have been Circuitous.

I had a rental car that I had driven from LAX to the Marriott in Ventura where Amy Snively was hosting FaffCon 4. This was the infamous FaffCon where we all went out on a three-hour whale watching expedition — where people saw ZERO whales but did see dozens of people from the conference throwing up over the side of the boat.

‘Oh, you’re prone to sea sickness? You should definetly go on a three hour ocean cruise. What could possibly go wrong??’ 🙂

The event itself was awesome (I had a great time on the boat but I don’t get sea sick. And I met Lauren McCullough (winning!)!!!).

As I was leaving at the end of FaffCon 4, I asked if anybody else needed a lift to LAX as it was just me in the car. I was leaving the next day and was staying overnight at LAX to catch an early morning flight.

Why, yes, there were some folks who needed a ride. If memory serves, it was Doug Turkel, Sean Caldwell (who I met for the first time –I think– at this FaffCon), Amanda Fellows and Kelley Buttrick.

Now normally, you might think a car ride from Ventura to LAX with these fine folks would be a plenty good story in and of itself. Or you might say that a highway trip that involved these folks and then also driving behind a trailer filled with port-a-potties with yards of toilet paper spewing out from inside them and unspooling across the highway — for miles —- would be story enough!

But no, there was more to this 2012 story.

As happens when you get 5 voice talents in a car for an hour coming from a terrific voiceover conference — voiceover will be discussed. Often multiple conversations as once.

During the discussion, we were speaking about our agents and Atlanta’s Jeffrey Umberger came up. I believe Doug and Kelley were on his agency roster already.

I was on the roster of another voiceover agent in Atlanta – who I’ve long since fired – and who I believe may be a voiceover agent part time between selling Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway and picking up children from school. This guy was not terribly focused on the voiceover agency business, which not surprisingly, there wasn’t much of for him.

Peter K. O'Connell and Jeffrey Umberger

Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell and Voiceover Agent Jeffrey Umberger in Atlanta, 2016

As Kelley and Doug were singing Jeffrey’s praises, I said I would have to introduce myself to him. To which Kelley responded “Oh you HAVE to be on Jeffrey’s roster! I will call him this week!” Which I thought was very kind of her, yet I remember thinking ‘well…people get busy and forget’.

Not Buttrick!

BOOM! She’s on the phone to Umberger. BOOM! (well a little later Boom, but still a Boom) Umberger calls me and says ‘If you don’t join my voiceover agency’s roster, Kelley Buttrick has threatened to slash my tires and I just bought a whole new set of really expensive tires!!’

No she never really made that threat (it’s a joke!).

But Jeffrey did ask me to join his VO roster and we have been partners in voiceover…and friends…ever since.


the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with All Coast Talent in Buffalo, NY

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell All Coast Talent 19Editor’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”.

For as long as I lived in Buffalo, NY, for a long while I wasn’t really part of the voiceover scene. I would occassionally do some local spots but I was mostly doing stuff elsewhere. Buffalo also suffers (current tense because it hasn’t stopped) from that fairly common media/advertising producer’s attitude prevalent around the country that ‘if you’re from here, you can’t be any good’.

But Buffalo did have a smaller voiceover community – outside of the radio people often called upon to do spots (and some of those radio people were/are amazing voice talents).

I think the real boom of voice talents in Western New York took off, however, when Toni Silveri and her family came back to Buffalo from LA.

Toni was a Smurf.

That’s right, she was one of the original voice talents on the NBC Saturday morning Smurfs. Of course she did other stuff as well while in LA. A long time singer and actress, she has been performing across the U.S. But Buffalo was home and so she returned when she had had enough of LA.

However, Toni brought back with her a new perspective — in addition to her new Hollywood contacts and friends. Many things made an impression on Toni while in LA. One big thing, I think anyway, was attending the voiceover classes held over at Daws Butler’s house.

Daws was to Hanna-Barbera animation what Mel Blanc was to Warner Bros. animation. In other words…holy cow talented. To say Daws was only a character voice actor would be unfair…but he WAS an uncommonly talented character voice actor. He used to host VO workshops at his house for working LA voice actors and Toni often attended them…with Daws soon becoming a Silveri family friend.

Toni Silveri All Coast Talent / WNY Voice Actors Workshop

I say this made a big impression because when Toni came back from LA, SHE started hosting these same kinds of workshops in her home. The Western New York Voice Actors Workshop was born.

My inculcation within the Workshop was not immediate. I knew of it but didn’t get involved until one weekend when Toni hosted among the first of her many Pat Fraley workshops at her house (and then later at local recording studios). Pat is a well known and beloved voice actor in his own right but also, in my opinion,  Pat is one of the best straight out teachers of voiceover – especially character voice – in the world. His handouts alone are worth the price of admission because he is so well thought out in his presentation, so organized and so engaging. Oh, and Pat was also a Smurf which I believe is where he really got to know Toni.

So I show up at this Fraley workshop in Toni’s backyard, fairly unknown to these folks. Pat of course is amazing. I guess I made a good impression with my work there because Toni pulls me aside and says “I’m starting up a voiceover agency and I would like to represent you.”

This was not a blanket offer to all workshop participants.

I couldn’t see how it would hurt as up to that point and even today, there isn’t another VO agent in Buffalo.

But she quickly went from local to national and hasn’t stopped. She’s the real deal. All Coast Talent was born and I’ve been there since the beginning.

It was a unique position for this local boy when my voiceover friends from around the country would call me and ask about this voiceover agent in Buffalo. ‘Buffalo, really?’ they would say. ‘Oh yes really,’ I would answer.

‘Can you help get me on her roster?’ I would just smile.

Proving yet again, it’s NOT the address that matters, it’s all about the person who lives there.