What follows is not a religious story, it’s a voiceover business story written thousands of years ago.
Most who know me won’t be surprised that I was in Church the other day but you might be surprised to hear I was paying attention while I was there.
And what I heard didn’t so much speak immediately to my spiritual side as to my voiceover side.
Yes, our all-knowing God wrote a kind of parable about the voiceover business.
Long before there was a voiceover business.
I told you, this is a voiceover business story.
The quote from reading was this:
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” ~ Mt 13: 57
The context of the quote depicted the disrespect and disbelief shown to Jesus in his hometown as he began his adult work spreading the word of God to those he had grown up around and who knew him as a child. The locals.
Let me be clear at the outset: I do not think I or anybody else is like Jesus nor do I believe that voice talents should be treated like prophets. This is a business story!
The quote IMMEDIATELY took me back to Buffalo, NY and the years I spent working to get voiceover work locally, especially from advertising agencies.
I remember one instance in particular that illustrates the issue well.
There was an owner of a boutique (read: small) ad agency in Buffalo who seemed generally quite proud of herself (even featured herself in her own commercials for her agency). Some friends at a networking mixer had introduced me to her. She asked me what I did and I told her I was a voiceover talent — this got her attention.
“Oh you are? We get all our voice talents from New York City.” I was about to say something like ‘that’s nice’ when one of the people in the circle (who was a client of mine) jumped right over me (incensed by the rudeness and tone of this agency person) and said “Oh Peter is really quite good, you should use him!” Love that client!
But that story reflects a truth in voiceover that I know personally and I have found (talking with VO’s around the country) is pretty universal. Local voice talents, no matter how qualified and no matter how many national brands they have voiced for, just don’t seem to be good enough for some of the producers in their own region.
What is the VO’s fault? They are a local voice. To some media producers, a voice talent from their own area is perceived to be less talented versus a voiceover from another market, further away.
It was a problem for Jesus and it’s still a problem for voice talents. Sometimes the local folks don’t see our value just because we are local.
This doesn’t mean that voice talents don’t get ANY local voice work and, to be sure, some voice talents are very popular around where they live. I have a very good relationship with many WNY producers and really enjoy working them. But there is a kind bias against local talent by some local producers…everywhere in the country.
I’m fortunate having moved into a new area. I am now the ‘new’ guy, a fresh voice! ‘Let’s try the new guy!’ Yes, I say, lets!
And maybe having moved away from my hometown, I’ll be some WNY media producers’ ‘out of town’ voice guy. That would be a hoot.
I offer this story for some of you who I just know are experiencing the same issue in your voiceover business. Burdened wit the same confused frustration I used to have. I want you to know not to feel bad about it and just move on.
If Jesus had to deal with it too, then we ‘local’ voice talents are in pretty good company.