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straight talk for voice-over talent

Bob Bergen, Lisa Marber-Rich and Tim Walsh at The Business of Voiceover in New York City. Photo Courtesy of Invision/AP

Bob Bergen, Lisa Marber-Rich and Tim Walsh at The Business of Voiceover in New York City. Photo Courtesy of Invision/AP

Melissa Exelberth (also know as ‘X’) posted a video of a voice-over panel she recently attended in New York City that was hosted by the Television Academy.

On the panel was a voice-over talent, two agents, a casting director and a voice-coach, all with names you’ve likely heard of if you’ve been doing voice-over for any length of time.

You don’t need any more build up for this other than to say you should watch this. Watch the whole thing.

And you’re welcome. 😉

voice-over mastery & friends

Voice-Over Talents Jaye Delai, Peter K. O'Connell, Dan Friedman, Faith Coons & Doug Turkel at Randy Thomas' Voice-Over Mastery Event in Ft. Meyers, FL

Voice-Over Talents Jaye Delai, Peter K. O’Connell, Dan Friedman, Faith Coons & Doug Turkel at Randy Thomas’ Voice-Over Mastery Event in Ft. Meyers, FL

There had never before been a Voice-Over Mastery Event and I’m not sure even its producer and well-respected voice talent Randy Thomas knew how her event would turn out. But I think it was better than even she expected.

Randy brought together speakers including Joe Cipriano, Melissa Disney, Chris Corley, Anne Ganguzza, David Goldberg & Graeme Spicer among others to have them offer their insights and experience. If I was going to pick my favorite part, it would definitely be the networking with…everybody.

I’ll be very interested to see who Randy brings together next year. Thanks Randy.

voicing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh

 A Winter Storm Whips Across Lake Erie South of Buffalo, NY

A Winter Storm Whips Across Lake Erie South of Buffalo, NY

Saturday, I willingly left the 75 degrees and Sunny skies of Ft. Meyers, FL to come back to all this. Oy.

Some of you may have come across a little item in your local newspaper about some snow that’s currently surrounding Buffalo, NY, where I have my voice-over studio. My voice-over business has been more impacted by some brief laryngitis than the crazy snowfall, fortunately.

We’re all fine here inside audio’connell’s Studio A as the City of Buffalo and everything North has not been bothered by much snow (we had about 4 inches come down in a few hours this AM ((11/19/14)), then bright sunshine). The audio’connell-ettes are enjoying Snow Days off from school and Mrs. audio’connell would just like to get out of the house for a little while. My VO pal Leslie Diamond who lives about 25 minutes north of me in Clarence, New York was in a Google Hangout with me last night and reported no real weather issues either.

The majority of this storm has dramatically and adversely impacted areas SOUTH of Buffalo, NY (know here as the Southern Tier Snowbelt). Over 70 inches of snow has covered some (not all areas), leaving some cars, trucks and buses stranded on highways and, to date, 4 storm related deaths have been reported (which is 4 too many).

But, these hardy, resourceful folks in the Southern Tier know well what the winters are like there (this is not their first winter rodeo) so most are well equipped to deal with snow. Probably not 70 inches of snow, I’ll grant you but I believe they will get through this…it’s a the City of Good Neighbors, we help each other out.

Tonight, things will get interesting again. The Southern Tier has been given today off by Mother Nature with their storm system moving off to the North (hence our morning snowfall today at Studio A) so Southern Tier can try and dig out. However a new band of snow trouble will start in the North (my neck of the woods) during the overnight Thursday and then (sorry to say) head South again to the same area that got walloped Tuesday.

Snow storms aren’t fun but I’ll take them any day over hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and tsunamis. Now back to the voice-over recording, already in progress.

who cares?!

voice over workshop kick in the pants

Too much free time. That’s the problem I think plagues many voice talents.

As busy as I am, some days I pay too much attention to social media silliness and my “likes”, “comments” and “retweets” take up more of my day than it should. Like other small business owners, voice talent get sidetracked. But I think it’s a bigger problem for voice talents.

Voice talents love to post and debate – for example ANYthing that has to do with Pay To Play sites and how frustrating those sites are. I see the start of a P2P rant thread and I think ‘do what I did, dump them and move on’ but for some, the topic continues to fester. While I respect that Pay To Plays do have some impact on a voice talent’s bottom line – it is NOT as important as the continuously recycled debate online would make it seem.

But the most recent discussion involving a blog post from my voice – over colleague Paul Strikwerda really brought this “too much time on voice talents hands” thought home to me.

It had to do with the recent Voice Arts awards. Paul wrote a very well thought out post about the awards with his opinion on their value. My take away as the reader (these are my words not his) was that the first year awards, while possibly noble in intent, do seem more like a cash grab in some ways, judged by a bunch of folks who in a few cases seemed to have served as both judge and nominee.

Discussions ensued on line (some thoughtful, some humorous, some vitriolic) about the awards, their merit, their prospective longevity and whether or not Annette Funicello really was the prettiest Mouseketeer.

To all this I say: who cares?

Not that people are not free to express their opinions. Sure they can. Paul’s points are well taken and the people who are behind the Voice Arts awards should at the very least be commended for trying to be innovative with a new idea for an awards show. Being the first to do anything is fraught with peril, financial risk and ridicule. My point isn’t to indict a blog post or an awards show.

My point IS an indictment of voice talents who continually get caught up in excessive online nonsense, preferring a social media time suck to actually taking care of business. And I see it ALL. THE. TIME!

This particular Voice Arts debate is a very good example of social media as a worthless distraction. And I believe voice talent fall prey to it waaay too often.

For example, what part of any of this Voice Arts discussion (or any other voice-over related discussion on any other social media forum) vitally impacts the daily life and bottom line of a workaday voice actor?

The answer is honestly none of it. Nor does it end up changing much.

‘But Peter, it’s FUN!’ Sure, we all enjoy the sense of community that social media affords us and I am not trying to squash that.

But it’s a business problem for voice talents when social media becomes (as it does so often) a distraction – the overactive back and forth online does not truly matter (except to boost or damage certain egos) and only serves to take our minds off of managing our businesses.

So my solution is to have voice talents do a pre-post test of what they are about to put up on any social media channel.

If you as a voice talent find yourself in an on-line debate about some voice over matter – before you hit send, even before you post or like or retweet, ask yourself if being online at that very moment the best prioritization of your time and talent.

Note, all this is about more than the occasional “like” or “comment” or “retweet”. It’s about willingly getting caught up in a time suck and focusing on that in the name of branding and marketing. And YOU do it. You can lie to me but you cannot lie to yourself.

Too much attention paid to social media is neither marketing nor branding but you, as the CEO of your voice-over business have no one above you to give you a kick in the ass and tell you to get off Twitter and get back to work.

Consider your ass kicked (mine too).