only 12 more states to go!!!!!

Oregon FlagLest you think I had given up on my challenge to stay over night in all 50 states, I have not!

As you’ll recall, my rule is I cannot just drive through the state, I must stay over night.

As I write this from 30,000 feet, I am returning from Oregon (Portland and Eugene)!!!

So here’s the updated count of the states I have officially visited in my life:

1. Arizona
2. Arkansas
3. California
4. Colorado
5. Connecticut
6. Florida
7. Georgia
8. Illinois
9. Indiana
10. Iowa
11. Kansas
12. Kentucky
13. Louisiana
14. Maine
15. Massachusetts
16. Maryland
17. Michigan
18. Minnesota
19. Missouri
20. Nebraska
21. Nevada
22. New Jersey
23. New York
24. North Carolina
25. North Dakota
26. Ohio
27. Oregon!!!!!!
28. Pennsylvania
29. South Carolina
30. South Dakota
31. Tennessee
32. Texas
33. Utah
34. Vermont
35. Virginia
36. Washington
37. West Virginia
38. Wisconsin

Thus, I am left with only these 12 American states still to visit (don’t they say the last dozen are the hardest?):

39. Alabama
40. Alaska
41. Delaware
42. Hawaii
43. Idaho
44. Mississippi
45. Montana
46. New Hampshire
47. New Mexico
48. Oklahoma
49. Rhode Island
50. Wyoming

If you’re going to travel, you might as well make it fun!

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

ear blowing audio in durham, nc

Erik Romanowski Peter K OConnell 2018It’s always nice when people come to visit me, especially since I visit so many folks all year.

But having a native BUFFALONIAN come visit – one that works in voiceover – well that just doesn’t happen very often.

So it was a very nice treat to get to have lunch demo producing supah-staaaah Eric Romanowski.

Eric is the proud owner of hot voiceover demo shop Ear Blowing Audio. He was driving through Durham, NC (about a 1/2 hour away from my studio) coming from his studio in Virginia Beach, VA, on his way to Charlotte, NC. He is presenting at the Voxy Summit, a voiceover conference for women.

We talked about most things VO, like demo producers who aren’t really demo producers (Eric is the real deal) and work-life balance (which is tough sometimes working from home) but the conversation really got going when we started reminiscing about Buffalo and, of course sports.

I’ve been gone from Buffalo almost two years but Eric left about twelve years ago. And while he’s followed the Bills somewhat, he has totally lost touch with the Sabres.

I explained to him in great detail why that was completely unacceptable. Somewhere in my rant, he escaped and I assume he made it down to Charlotte. 😉

It was great to see him. If you need a great demo, give him a call. But make it quick, cause he’s booked out for at least 45 days with the demo production work he has right now.

 

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.

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.