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faffcon 3 is september 23-25, 2011 in hershey, pa


Yes, Faffcon 2 just closed today and no I haven’t yet posted about it because, well its a long story (short answer: faffcon 2 was amazing) but Faffcon 3 has been announced for September 23-25, 2011 in Hershey, PA.

Yes, that Hershey, PA.

Thank you Amy Snivley.

getting to faffcon for $2.50 in 8 easy steps

It just so happens that Sunday, February 20th, I arrived in Atlanta, GA and am staying the Westin Peachtree Plaza, site of Faffcon 2 from February 25-27, 2011.

To answer your questions: no I did not screw up the dates on my calendar and no I am not arriving super early. I am here on other business and will be leaving mid-week only to return Friday for Faffcon 2. Uh, yeah, I know, just don’t ask.

But being the intrepid guide that I am, I will offer my fellow fliers to Faffcon a fun travel tidbit that could save you about $20-30 depending on traffic when you arrive in Atlanta. Unless its against your religion, consider not taking a cab or a shuttle to the airport, take the MARTA subway system.

The MARTA subway station starts at one end of the system right at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and runs a train that gets off 8 stops later (with no changes) at Peachtree Center, about a block and a half away from the Westin Hotel.

Total one way fare: $2.50

Here’s how you do it:

Step 1. At baggage claim, look and follow the signs for MARTA station.

Step 2. Once you enter the MARTA station, go over to the automatic ticket machines and buy a one way ticket (or pick one of the other ticket options if you’re going to be using the MARTA to travel around alot, your call).

There are helpful MARTA employees there to guide you through the ticket buying process. You can use your credit card and don’t forget to get a receipt as this is a business expense.

Step 3. Go through the turnstiles and up the escalators to the platform. You’ll see lots of your fellow travelers with their suitcases there. Wait for the train. As its the beginning (or end of the line depending on how you view such things) it’s only going to go one way. When the train comes get on it.

Step 4. Get off at Peachtree Center.

Step 5. Go up a crazy long escalator.

Step 6. Go to your RIGHT and up a smaller escalator.

Step 7. Walk outside, face the street and look to your right, down about a block and a half.

Step 8. Commence Faffing.

audio follow friday, faffcon and me

So I’m standing in Detroit airport Wednesday evening when I get a call from Tim Keenan of Creative Media Recording.

He said that he produces a podcast called “Audio Follow Friday” and he wants to do an interview with me about Faffcon because everybody else he really wanted to interview about Faffcon said no and he knew I was too narcissistic to turn him down.

Well I never!…turn down an interview so we recorded it today and here it is. Thanks Tim!

anatomy of a successful cold call by maxine dunn

Maxine Dunn- voice-over artist and on-camera spokesperson

Today I came across an article by Maxine Dunn regarding cold calling that I think is worth your time to read (thanks to Perry Norton for the link).

The only addendum I would add is that more valuable than a cold call is a warm call – having sent some correspondence to your prospect 2-3 days prior and then calling them up.

But in either case, the most important outcome is to get on the phone. Thanks Maxine.

a recent review of the voice over business

David Ciccarelli from Voices.com sent along to me a summary of his company’s past year in business, including how many voice over jobs were awarded, average payments, highest payments and total voice over earnings for voice talent who secured business all through Voices.com.

A couple of disclaimers here: I consider David and his wife Stephanie to be my friends and that both are highly ethical in their company’s operations. I trust what they say to be true and I think they run an above board operation. I have said in the past that if I subscribed to any pay to play (P2P) service, I would immediately subscribe to Voices.com based on their credibility alone. I respect the owners and their company.

I am not a paying member of Voices.com. I do have a free profile page. There is another service in the P2P industry where I had a free listing but I had it removed because I believed that group’s credibility to be so suspect that I didn’t want my name or brand associated with them in any manner. And there are other companies in this category whose reputation also precedes them and also not in a good way.

In short, the “pay to play” voice over business model does not work for me. I don’t believe or financially support any service in which voice talent “pays to play” i.e. pays a subscription to receive auditions. I believe such services lower the rate expectations of potential clients because so many voice talents who swim in the pay to play pool low ball their rates out of what I feel is a kind of sad desperation for revenue of any kind.

The pay to play model negatively impacts the voice over business and its practitioners, in my opinion.

While each individual has the right to run their business has they see fit (even or especially in desperate times), that low balling adversely affects my business and is degrading to my industry. I choose to play elsewhere.

The results of the Voices.com survey are:

  • $39,290,580 in Total Earnings by Voice Talent at Voices.com
  • 155,915 Voice Over Jobs – This figure represents the total number of public, private and direct message job opportunities that have been awarded to voice talent at Voices.com.
  • The Highest Paying Voice Over Job awarded via Voices.com that the company is aware of was $37,000
  • $252.97 Average Payment for a Voice Over Job (among all possible VO job categories): David noted that projects posted at Voices.com range between $100 and $500, thus resulting in average payments of $252.97.

This last figure illustrates my point better than anything else I might say regarding how ALL pay to play services lower the rate expectations of potential clients. I also have a sense that at other services, that average fee might even be lower.

Taking the Voices.com figure ($252.97) though, as a P2P industry average – that figure, I believe, doesn’t reflect what the voice over customer market “dictates”.

I believe it reflects what the voice over customer market “can get away with” with the help of the pay to play (P2P) business model.

There is no filter of voice over quality or talent abilities within the P2P model – legally I don’t think there can be and as a business model I don’t know why the P2P owners would want there to be. Anyone can sign up, pay the subscription fee and audition with P2P companies. It’s assumed that if someone has no talent, that fact will be reflected in their audition submissions and therefore the talentless won’t get the work (survival of the fittest).

But the nasty truth is, regardless of any supposed audition filter or cut off limit a P2P service may ascribe to, the sheer volume of auditions combined with lower average quality of the combined auditioners (note: they ARE talented and highly compensated voice talents in the P2P mix…somewhere…I guess) means that all the power is in the client’s hands – they can smell the desperation in the auditioning herd and they capitalize on it…to the detriment of the voice over industry as a whole.

Think about not just the local or regional radio commercialsâ…but the 10-20 minute narrations, e-learning projects, sales and marketing videos. These long form pieces are a vital part of the industry. Take a minute to do some average calculations on what those fees should be in addition to the local and regional spots.

Then add national commercials, TV promos, radio imaging fees, bigger message on hold projects.

By my calculations, $252.97 is well below what I would expect an overall average fee to be. And for those who would say that’s on par with “my” fee structure or that “I’d” be lucky to get that for a fee, I guess I’d ask you to take a long hard look at your business model. And even dare to say – self worth as a voice over talent.

To mis-quote the old hair commercial, I’d say, “You’re ‘not’ worth it. You’re worth more.”

And for those who’d say it’s none of my damn business – I’d say on that count, you’re probably right. We all have to choose our own paths and mine may not be right for you.

quick tips on successfully interpreting and voicing a commercial script in under 7 minutes

Here’s a scenario: you get a call from a commercial client and it’s a rush deal, they need the spot done yesterday. You will have very little time to digest the copy before you have to record it and send it back. What are you going to do?

For many folks, they will scan the script and hit record. After all, the client needs it NOW and they are in panic mode, not quality mode so it won’t reflect on you if the read isn’t perfect.

Stop. Don’t do it. Back away from the script and the microphone. Breath.

You can still get the spot done quickly but also get it done right.

Step 1. Grab a pen or pencil

Step 2. Read silently. Mouth CLOSED, no lip movement. Read only with your eyes…don’t speak a word of that script….not one word.

“What?! That’s crazy, I need to practice how this will sound!!!!”

I told you to be quiet when you read the script for a reason. You need to dissect the script as you read.

So read this :30 second script 3 times – this will take you about 2:30 all totaled.

On the 1st read: Read for comprehension – this is vital. VITAL! You need to grasp the copy writer’s intent going beyond script direction (cause often you won’t even get that!) Are they going for humor? Drama? Silly Sublime? Are you a character or just an announcer? What kind of character or announcer? What kind of sell are they going for? Knocking them in the head with a sledge hammer kind of sell (“Sunday! SUNday! SUNDAY!!!”). Is it a scare tactic script (“is your computer data backed up or could you lose it all with one power surge?!”). All these things and more you need to be able to identify after the first read through. Take/make notes on your script.

On the 2nd read: Is there a change in tone or intensity from one part of the script to the next? Does it start softly and build in intensity? Is it suble all the way through? Is it hard sell all the way through? Where is the critical sales message (you likely found that in the first pass but you should confirm your assumption here).

One the 3rd read: Start reading the script out loud, making your announcer marks as you go. Check the copy for time (notice – this is NOT something I advise in the first two read throughs – to do it earlier would take your mind away from critical interpretation notes.) Now your natural voice over abilities and acting talents can take shape and make the script your own.

By now you understand the script a lot more than you would if you just started reading. You’ll have a better chance of properly conveying the message the client needs the listener to hear. You’ll have a comfort level with the copy, intent, sales message and pacing of the script so that not only will you cognitively understand the script, your mouth will have wrapped itself around the words and give you a better shot of cutting the spot in a shorter amount of time…maybe even in one take.