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in praise of recording studio rental

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell visits the historic Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, TX

The historic – especially if you’re a ZZ Top fan – Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, TX

Certainly if you look at any social media pages for voiceover (they are SO hard to find as there are SO few of them *sigh*) you’ll likely come across a discussion on voiceover travel rigs.

You know, which are the best travel microphones, mixers, mic stands, pillow forts, blah, blah, whatever.

Yes, travel rigs come in handy and certainly you want the best microphone for un-ideal conditions (hotel rooms and friend’s houses) or tricks for a quick studio fix (try a newer model car – sedan or higher for a really quiet environment).

Voice-Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell enjoys his 2015 traveling mic stand

But as one of the better-traveled voice talents in the business, I would like to present (or remind in the case of those I have spoken with about this) an old idea that works well for more than just one reason.

The idea is the renting of a local studio for recording of your unexpected VO job or vital audition.

You say: whoa, whoa, whoa, crazy man; I am not made of “the money”!!!!

I understand you are not made of “the money” but if a little homework is done in advance, you can get your recordings done, make a new business contact, possibly get on a studio roster and get some new business. This will make your studio rental more “the investment” than “the expense”.

Here’s what I do.

When I go to a city, I research recording studios and those that (hopefully) focus on or at least include voiceover as part of their business (versus just music recording). I make some calls to these folks to see about availability, general pricing, technical specs (ISDN, Source Connect et al), while also getting the correct contact person’s name at the studio.

If they seem like a legit studio (i.e., they actually answer the phone and the studio is not in the basement of their Mother’s home, etc.), whether I end up using them or not, their info goes into my database (ding!)

I let them know I am “on hold” for a VO recording or must record an audition and we settle on price, date and time.

At the appointed time, I get there, introduce myself and commence to audition, er, record.

Well actually, I am auditioning for the studio in a way, because engineers may pay attention to the meters but they are also listening to the performance and watching for professionalism. Most times I record at studios, I receive unsolicited and what appears to be sincere compliments. I have made positive impressions (ding!).

Before leaving the booth, I leave behind one of my logoed pencils I use to mark-up scripts. This is an idea I stole from a woman in Athens GA. Her name (Kelley Buttrick) escapes me at the moment. A semi-permanent marketing reminder has been left behind (ding!). I have also marked my territory. Check it! (ding!)

A post recording session conversation usually takes place with the engineer and/or the office manager-front desk receptionist about my work and my clients and my VO history. All very casual, all very conversation, nothing salesy about it. I ask about the studio’s roster and am (usually) enthusiastically invited to be added to said roster (ding!). I pay my studio fee (which may or may not impress them that I make enough money as an independent VO to rent a studio) and I leave behind a card at the front desk (ding!). Someone usually compliments me on the design and quality of my card (ding!).

My client or agents are happy with the professional sound I’ve surrounded my voice with on the job or audition (ding!).

I follow up with the studio via a hand written thank you note for their time and effort….it’s on my branded stationery (ding!).

If they remember me…I could get a new job. If they never call me again or remember me, I gave it a good shot. But we miss 100% of the shots we never take.

We are our best advertising for what we do.

That’s marketing.

Your mileage may vary.