Entries Tagged as 'voiceover'

a taste of radio makes you hungry for it again

audioconnell radio production studioIn the past when I traveled, I used to bring my portable rig, build a pillow fort, hook everything up and try and make a good recording in a crap environment. For the most part, it worked out OK.

The best result was that it would sound OK. That’s pretty much it.

Folks who don’t travel alot, like I do, think it’s kinda fun to put all that stuff together. After years of doing all that, you find out it’s monotonous. From the actual fort building and jerry-rigging to getting a shot-gun microphone through airport security without TSA pooping their collective pants (reasonably so as a Sennheiser 416 mic looks very suspicious under the x-ray machine) it gets to be a pain.

Bottom line, if I don’t HAVE to bring a travel rig, I won’t.

Instead, I use recording studios in the cities I visit. You meet new people, make new contacts and generally enjoy much better recording conditions. Except for that recording session outside of Dayton, OH that got postponed because there was a drug-related murder that took place across the street just before I was set to arrive.

And by postponed I mean I cancelled it. Just to avoid the possibility of me getting eternally cancelled.

So recent on one of my trips, I was in need of a studio for a rush audition. It was inside a large radio station and being in the station’s production room was like a joyful time warp for me.

From the board to the desk to the Electro-voice RE-20 microphone (the same type I used in the 80’s when I worked in radio) it was a wonderful place to be.

People who used to work in radio (and there are tens of thousands of us) will rightly complain that we were poorly paid, over worked and undervalued. People of work in radio now may say the same thing.

But pay and some lousy bosses (and/or owners) aside, it brings most of us real broadcasters to our happy place. Playing the music, mixing the stop sets, the radio station jingles, banter, callers, on-location events – it was all so fun and yet professional. There were and are many very good people in radio. We were serious about doing a good job, being creative, working to make sponsors happy….it could be a good business to be in.

This isn’t a gauzy, romanticized remembrance for me…radio had many good parts to it.

But by the time I finished with it, the bad parts outweighed the good parts. That’s just how life goes.

I completely understand why people stay in the radio business (even for less than stellar wages) and why even a few of my VO friends have gone back into it.

Being in that radio studio for my recent recording, it was my brief happy place. And all we all want is to be happy.

proof that following your voiceover instincts can work

Trust Your Instinct audioconnellOne of the biggest challenges to ANY small business owner (in voiceover or elsewhere) is knowing when to make an important decision.

Sometimes circumstances are clear and the business decision seems easy. Most times it’s not. That’s when business owners need to look at as many facts as possible and make the call, decision time.

Often, when circumstances and facts don’t seem as clear cut, a decision comes down to the business owner’s instincts. Their gut feeling.

So it was some years ago when I was reviewing the voiceover agents I work with.

I had many of them but more than a few were agents in name only. I never saw a lead for a new voiceover job from these few, never got a phone call from these few nor had I had my phone calls to these few returned. Most of my agents did all these things. Not these few.

Looking back it on my emails from these few, it had been multiple years since I received any communication from them. Any. That should have been reason enough.

Yet, I was hesitant…could this hurt my career if I decided to cut ties with these unproductive voiceover agents? Even though it seemed like they were not doing anything on my behalf, that they weren’t responsive to my communication, maybe (I briefly thought) they had a big job in the offing…maybe I should keep them on for just a little while longer.

My gut said no. My instincts told me I had reached out to them enough (and got little to no response) and also that if I met them in person they would not be able to pick me out of an audio or video lineup.

So I sent them a professional letter and advised them their “services” were no longer required.

I hadn’t thought about that time for a while until I received this advisement email from the Lori Lins Ltd. Talent Agency in Milwaukee, one of the few.

It read:

To: Kalah Spaude
Subject: New political commercial demo for Peter O’Connell
Sent: Monday, June 4, 2007 10:21:42 PM (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

was deleted without being read on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 12:13:55 PM (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).

I had sent the agency a political voiceover demo in 2007. TWELVE years later, the agency deleted the demo email WITHOUT IT BEING READ.

Now maybe there is a technical reason for this…maybe a legitimate email went into a spam folder or maybe it got rerouted to a computer that went unused and they just cleared the system. Maybe somebody read it and forwarded it on to a technical person to post on a web site who ignored the email – with the person who emailed it not following up.

Or maybe no agent at my agency read the email. Maybe they just ignored it. Based on the service I experienced there (and with the other few), I tend to believe it was the latter.

In my opinion, my gut was right to part ways with this agent (and I cut the cord with them after 2007). This recent email notice was one of those “signs” we get in life. I have little doubt they even noticed my departure.

I’ve been successful without those few, and hopefully they have been successful without me. It’s not personal, it’s strictly business. I bear them no ill will.

But I am reminded by this email notice: go with your gut. Trust your instinct.

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.

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.