Entries Tagged as 'voiceover'

welcoming the new kid to the neighborhood

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell recording voiceover scripts at Soundtrax Recording Studios in Raleigh, NCGetting acclimated to any new city is not always easy.

Moving to Raleigh in August of 2016 was certainly an adventure.

But while we miss our friends and family in Buffalo, NY, we have family and new friends here in Raleigh and Cary. People here are generally very nice.

And while my voiceover business has continued to expand, I haven’t had all that much voiceover business in the Raleigh Durham area since moving here.

I think that is to be expected as local producers and recording studios aren’t nearly as excited that a new voice talent has moved into the area as the voice talent is to now be the new kid on the block.

But remember how I said people here are generally very nice? Well I have found that to be exceptionally true in the voiceover community. When I floated the idea of a new RDU voiceover meet-up group, I wasn’t sure how that would go over.

But local folks I’ve known for years like Rowell Gormon, Debbie Stamp and Wendy Zier introduced me to other Raleigh voice talents like Mike Urben, Bill Jordan, and Kevin Silva among many others. The meet-up has gone well (but I have to schedule the next one, thanks for the reminder).

These fellow voiceover talents also introduced me to some great recording studio producers including Tom Guild and Becket McGough (who are also great voice talents) over at Soundtrax Recording Studios in Raleigh. The studio is generous enough to play host to our voiceover meet-ups.

Becket especially has been working to get me into record.

This week I was hired for my first major local project. At Soundtrax!

The work, while terrific, isn’t nearly as impressive to me as the kindness Tom and Becket have offered this “new” voiceover kid.

Thank you very much.

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

new year, fresh commercial demo

Peter K. O'Connell New Voiceover DemoMedia producers who are on top of their game know that they need to be hiring professional voiceover talents who can offer the most current, bookable voice styles.

Those sound styles that advertising agencies or clients hear elsewhere on TV, radio or the web and want for their audio branding. Or unique vocal styles that actually aren’t heard everywhere and are very new but stand out and break through the audio branding clutter.

For me as a voice talent, I share those bookable and unique vocal styles with my voice demos and in this case, my new commercial voiceover demo for 2018.

LISTEN TO PETER K. O’CONNELL’S NEW COMMERCIAL DEMO BELOW

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Right click on this link to download the demo here

Combining voiceover work I’ve done with vocal styles and reads recommended by my Los Angeles-based voiceover coach, Mary Lynn Wissner, as well as the legendary demo producing skills of Dan Friedman, my new commercial demo highlights all of those bookable and unique sounds producers are looking for right now.

If I were to tell you my new commercial voiceover demo sounds great, that would be egotistical and self-serving – which would be embarrassing and soooo beneath me.

So I’ll just tell you my 2018 commercial voiceover demo sounds really awesome, which of course is a very different description from great. Right? OK, I’ll just go with that. Awesome. 😉

Hope you enjoy it.

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.

“tranquility base, studiobricks has landed!”

Peter K Oconnell Studio Bricks Logo 171229 350When my wife and I decided in June of 2016 to pack up and move from Buffalo, New York to Raleigh, NC (well, as it turns out, Cary, NC right next door to Raleigh), I told her that I was going to get a proper sound booth as part of the deal and she agreed.

Living in an apartment for the first year we got here, I was content (as were my clients) with my temporary studio (sound engineer-approved) that may or may not have looked a lot like a walk-in closet full of clothes.

When we closed on our new house in late summer, early fall this year, though, my job was clear and I sat down to compare the features and pricing of all the voiceover booths out in the market.

Quality being fairly equal across the spectrum, I was surprised to find that based on features, price, upgrades and shipping (from Spain, no less) Studiobricks was the best deal at the best price.

So in October, I placed my order for my Studiobricks One Plus, VO edition.

It arrived in early December.

Now I hope you’re not like me but if you ARE like me, you might start to imagine what your new arrival will look like in the studio, all assembled and pretty…completely ignoring the effort required to assemble your new voiceover home.

Peter K. O'Connell Studiobricks The Crate

The crate containing Peter’s new Studiobricks voiceover booth…it’s LARGE! (All construction photos courtesy of Bill Jordan)

You awake from your haze about the same time you see an 18-wheeler backing up in your driveway. Well, I should clarify. My house is on a little hill so the truck stopped at the bottom of the driveway and was going to unload the 1,200 POUND, 9 FOOT HIGH tightly packed wood crate right there.

Oh dear Lord.

I was blessed with a driver who could see the panic in my face as I was trying to process how all this was going to happen (delivery, unloading, assembly). He took pity on me as he lowered the crate (perched on his hydraulic dollie) on the truck’s elevator. Together, he pulled the dollie holding the crate and I pushed that dollie with the enormous crate to the top of the driveway.

There were a few feet in that uphill move where I was not sure we were going to make it (and boy THAT would have ended badly). We did make it up the driveway, however, safe and sound. Yes, always tip your driver.

I at least had the good sense the day before the scheduled delivery to call my local friend, fellow voice talent and fellow Faffer Bill Jordan to see if he would help me put this bad boy together.

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo glad Bill said yes.

He came over to the house with a crow bar (mighty handy) and we started to undo the crate, neither of us having any idea what kind of unpacking was before us.

So first and foremost, kudos to the packers of these Studiobricks booths – it is quite an art to pack all that together. Amazing really.

Peter K. O'Connell Studiobricks Directions

Evidently one is supposed to read the Studiobricks’ assembly directions BEFORE assembly. I believe that takes away the challenge.

The directions for booth assembly came over via email and they were pretty good, save for a few omissions. They weren’t quite as idiot-proof as I needed but, fortunately, my wife showed up to tell Bill and I what to do when we got confused.

It turns out you’re supposed to read directions which Bill and I, being men, didn’t understand. Again, helpful to have the wife there to direct us.

Two people are good to help put a booth together (mine is about 3’ x 5’) but three strong people would have been better. Maybe I just need to lift more weights.

Also there are videos that show the assembly of a Studiobricks booth in about 3 minutes. That particular sized booth, in those videos, seems to be the size of a standing match-stick. My assembly took a little longer (see the part about reading the directions).

Knowing the total weight of my booth ahead of time, I had a carpenter reinforce the floor under the house some weeks earlier to avoid any possible floor/weight issues. That might be something you’d want to consider too, depending on where you would put your Studiobricks booth and which size you buy.

Here’s another piece of information that you’ll find helpful because Bill and I (and other Studiobricks owners) had to figure it out on our own. The roof and floor of the booth come together as one piece that you need to pull apart. And it takes quite a bit of tugging to pull them apart.

We figured this out early enough that it wasn’t a problem, although we did move the floor and roof together out of the crate, which was oh-my-gosh heavy. I do know some other voice talents who erroneously proceeded with their assembly before realizing their mistake. Score one for Bill and Peter and Peter’s Mrs.

Peter K. O'Connell Studiobricks Assembly 1

Inserting a corner batten into the Studiobricks that helps keep the walls very secure

The assembly of the majority of booth is much like assembling Legos and it is an impressive feat of architecture and engineering when you see it come together. Everything fits tightly, as it should.

Some of my interior booth foam was torn when it arrived, which was very unfortunate, but what can you do?

I did have a couple of assemble questions (cause I’m stupid about this kind of stuff) but the Studiobricks team got on Facetime with me and we got it worked out. They were helpful.

Peter K. O'Connell Studiobricks Assembly 2

There may or may not have been 1 or 2 pieces leftover when the Studiobricks was “allegedly” all assembled

Because the voiceover booth was designed and constructed in a European country, some of the optional electronic parts that I ordered were sourced from European countries and thereby use the European electric standard…so you’ll receive an electrical converter with your booth. Not a big deal but just something to be aware of.

If you get the optional VO package with your Studiobricks, which includes a table, a mic boom and script stand/monitor holder, you’ll be putting that together with a handbook of only pictures.

Honestly, for me, this VO package assembly was the most stressful part of the whole booth assembly. The pictures on the directions (and they were ONLY pictures, no words) were not as clear as you would think (hope) and I was concerned I would break something. Luckily I did not.

No, I did not bother to put together a time lapsed assembly video because that’s been done to death. Assembling the booth is heavy work but not hard, but it’s not easy either. It’s a bit like work for some hours and voice talents abhor work, as you likely know.

And we are whiners too.

Bottom line: if I can do it (with help) you can do it (with probably less help).

Peter K. O'Connell #cans4cans 2017

Besides, what matters is NOT the construction so much as the sound inside the booth. The sound exactly what I expected and I am very pleased (as is my sound engineer friend and fellow voice talent Dan Friedman).

I’ve been recording spots, promos and auditions and everyone is very pleased with the sound. And it’s a really nice environment to work within.

Glad I have The Bricks (or if you are from Chicago…da Bricks).

a braggadocios dust collector

audioconnell trophyI was talking today with a fella who submitted to The Voice Arts Awards and came home with an award.

I was congratulating him, he said thanks and he asked “where do you stand on this whole award thing for voiceovers?”

Laughing, I said my thoughts don’t really matter.

But he pressed me for an answer, saying he was a little self conscious about the whole thing of talents having to pay for an entry, pay for the travel to get to the awards if nominated, food, lodging, tuxes et al. It can be an expensive trip. Oh and you have to pay for the trophy.

All of these statements are true for most award shows, by the way, big or small.

Then he noted how people in the industry can rightly or wrongly perceive someone who participates in such an awards program as a ‘tool’. Are they doing it for ego, praise and recognition? Are they using the possible nomination and award for marketing purposes? A little of both?

First thing I said was to knock off feeling self-conscious about the whole thing. Enjoy the win and enjoy the recognition. I knew this guy wasn’t an egotistical schmuck like some in the voiceover industry are.

It's all about meWait, like ALL in our voiceover industry are. We’re actors…we want to pretend, we crave praise for our pretending, we want applause for our pretending and then we want to be paid…for our pretending. Then we want publicity for all that again, confirming for the world how great we are at pretending.

‘But enough talk from me about how great I am, why don’t YOU tell me how great I am!’

Actors are among the most needy of the needy. That’s in our DNA as performers. You’re not above it as an actor and neither am I.

Sure, some folks go too far with the neediness because there are extremes in every business. But there isn’t a voice, stage or screen actor on the planet without an oversized ego. (Except me of course…have you read my bio? Have a bucket nearby, you’ll get queasy. Search engines love it, though).

When these VAA’s first came out (it was crazy expensive to participate back then, it’s gotten more reasonable since I’ve been told), I was like ‘this is the dumbest thing ever, what idiot is going to pay for this stuff?’ Turns out, by year four, there are plenty of idiots.

But they are not idiots…they are doing what they need to do for themselves and/or for their business. It’s OK to want to submit to be nominated for awards (and by submit, I mean like 2-3 submissions — if you’re an individual submitting more than that ((way more than that by some counts)), I am not buying the ‘marketing’ excuse….you ARE just an egotistical schmuck and not in a good way).

I’ve submitted and won for other awards. Such participation had a marketing benefit, which I executed and the award ultimately helped my business.

Other folks, as I have read on social media, get indignant and self-righteous about not ‘paying to play’ for award. I don’t have that kind of free time nor the energy to enter into such a useless debate. I’ve got work to do.

I have chosen not to participate in the VoiceArts awards because I don’t see it having much marketing benefit for me. It may as time passes, who knows. That is the beginning, middle and end of that story.

But just because it doesn’t work for me does not mean The Voice Arts Awards (or any other awards you pay into for consideration) are necessarily bad. Awards are basically a business tool, a means to a marketing end.

audioconnell award winner's marketing plan

What IS bad is if you submit yourself for nomination, get nominated, travel and party, come home with the hardware and then DON’T have your marketing plan ready for how you plan to squeeze every ounce of marketing juice outta that gold foil tin cup you just paid how ever many dollars it cost you.

Major news organizations will NOT be reporting on The Voice Arts Awards. Networks were not on the red carpet asking who you were wearing. Any media push or public relations benefit that you might get from such an award has to come from YOU, the winner. YOU, the nominee. You, my friend are the publicist on this gig.

What’s your plan???

The award was just the beginning of the work ahead. My guess is, from a marketing perspective, the trophy is going to be nothing more than a braggadocios dust collector for some of Sunday’s winners.

Those folks simply wasted their money on a nice party because they don’t have a focused marketing plan to back up their award investment. That’s a missed opportunity and a senseless waste of money.

Don’t be like those folks.