5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent – Dan Friedman

Dan Friedman Voiceover Talent

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Dan Friedman, a professional voice over talent based in Asheville, NC.

1. The beginning: When did you know you wanted to be a voiceover talent; how did your career begin (please include what year it started) and then when did your passion for voiceover develop into something professional?

I will always consider the beginning of my career to be the day I was asked if I wanted to learn how to run live sound. The year was 1994, I was working with a band doing photography, graphics and artwork, as well as writing and developing promotional materials. We had a house gig at a club that had a full 24 channel front of house system and separate 6 way monitor system. The house engineer, Josh, was leaving for vacation and couldn’t find anyone to fill in during the time he was going to be away. I was there all of the time with the band and would run the lights during shows (this largely consisted of tapping a button to the beat of the music and occasionally pushing a few faders up or down). I got to know Josh really well and he asked me if I wanted to learn how to run sound and take over for him while he was away. Without hesitation I answered… “hell yes!” Six months later I stopped bouncing from college to college and major to major and went to recording school. I then started working in radio and in a recording studio and ran live sound for bands all over Tampa. I continued to do live sound work in Atlanta and Asheville. In total, I did that regularly for about 10 years.

The voiceover bug bit me while I was working in radio in Atlanta. I was co-host of the local music show for about a year and then left radio for a job at a company specializing in recording voiceovers for telephony. It was there that I met a number of great voiceover talent including Pete Turbiville (who built my custom U47 microphone) and Paul Armbruster who became my coach. After taking his class, Paul said that I needed at least a year of solid practice before I could get into voiceover as a career. About five years later… I actually did my first paid gig. 🙂 It was in Paul’s class where I learned most everything I needed to learn to become a VO producer and director as well as become a talent. It was during his class when I felt that feeling for the first time, that almost out-of-body-experience you feel, when you’ve delivered the copy exactly right. After that, I was truly hooked.

2. What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first started out in voiceover?

That the audition to actual jobs ratio would be so big. Seriously, I had no idea.

3. What do you see as the biggest professional or personal obstacle you face that impacts your voiceover business and how are you working to overcome it?

I don’t see just one big obstacle, I see many small obstacles. Obstacles always exist, but they often change from day to day and they also change in size and scope. Some of these obstacles are my own creation, such as impatience and frustration and some are simply other people’s perceptions. For example, It is possible to be both an audio engineer AND a voice talent. Some people see you as one and it is hard for them to wrap their head around the idea that you can also do the other.

I don’t think anything is impossible. I’m always interested in finding solutions to problems and not letting anything prevent me from achieving my goals. When I was just a kid, I wanted to meet and work with rock stars. I wasn’t a musician, so I discovered ways to use my strengths and abilities to get where I wanted to go. By the time I was in my early thirties, I had met, hung out, or worked with hundreds of rock stars and musicians; everyone from Van Halen to the Steep Canyon Rangers.

While obstacles exist, by always viewing them as small nuisances rather than big problems, they are far easier to overcome. Keep it positive. Don’t panic. Have fun. Make it happen. Those are my mottos.

4. What personal trait or professional tool has helped you succeed the most in your career so far?

The short answer is… my ears. Being an audio engineer has helped. I have no fear of the gear. But even more than that, listening to so many voice talent over so many years has enabled me to connect what I hear in my head with what comes out of my mouth.

Which brings me to the most important thing of all, working at ProComm Voices has been the greatest asset to my career in every way. From being able to listen and learn from hundreds of voice talent and thousands of recording sessions, to being allowed to spread my wings and work as a voice talent both on the ProComm roster and through outside agents, I wouldn’t have had any of the success I’ve had without ProComm Voices and everyone on the staff. I’m so grateful to all of them and especially to our owner John Brooks, who has created such an awesome work environment in one of the prettiest cities in the United States… Asheville, North Carolina.

5. In your development as a voice over performer, who has been the one particular individual or what has been the one piece of performance advice (maybe a key performance trick, etc.) that you felt has had the most impact on your actual voice over performance and why?

I think many people (myself included when I’m advising talent) say, “relax and be yourself.” The truth is that people who are trying to be voice talent and just aren’t very good at it, are usually very obvious to everyone. But when comparing good talent, it all comes down to the ears of one decision maker. When you win… you win. When you lose it isn’t necessarily because someone didn’t like you or because you didn’t deliver the copy well, they just liked someone else more or felt someone else represented their brand better.

As far as who has had the greatest impact…? This is a very difficult question because there are so many people who have been so helpful and supportive. Everyone I’ve mentioned in this article as well as those I’ve mentioned in articles I’ve written for my blog have all played important roles in my performance as well as in my personal and professional development. Being a voice talent takes life experience. You have to experience emotion to be able to deliver it. Looking at it that way, everyone who has ever made me happy, sad, angry, jealous, enthusiastic, proud or feel any other emotion has played a part.

But… okay, okay…. if I have to pick just one individual, I’ll say… Peter O’Connell. Thanks for asking me to be a part of your series. 😉

8 Responses to “5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent – Dan Friedman”

  1. Love these stories Peter – it reiterates the “no bread crumbs” method of getting into voiceover. And Dan, yes – the ears! What a great observation!

  2. …Dan’s ears have helped both my voice and my system sound better. I’m always baffled by people who think all you need is the latest software or most expensive gear and anyone can create great audio. What you can’t buy down at the computer store is what Dan’s talking about…the ability to hear. (…and I’ll gratefully second his praise of the “family” at Procomm!)

  3. Hear, hear!

    Dan understands the art of seeing with his ears, and he shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with great enthusiasm. He’s a patient teacher and a tremendously supportive colleague.

    Thanks for sharing, Dan!

  4. Agreed Paul, Dan also has the gift of not needing to act like he’s the smartest guy in the room even when he is.

    Unless of course I’M in the room and then I’m the smartest guy in the room – which everyone knows because I have a sign on a string wound my neck.

    Thanks for visiting.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  5. Hi Rowell,

    Best Buy just called and they are revoking your Best Buy card for giving away the hidden secret. 😉

    Best always,
    – Peter

  6. Thanks Connie.

    These stories also illustrate how important it is to also NOT have bread crumbs in the studio, which is something Dan failed to mention but I’ll clarify here.

    Studio + bread crumbs = bad.

    That’s like a voice over studio theorem.

    Best always,

  7. You are a credit to this industry, Dan!
    Can’t wait to see you NEXT WEEK!!!!! 🙂

  8. Liz don’t forget you owe me that drink because the Devils beat the Sabres and you said the Sabres were going to win.

    Tsk, tsk, never bet against the Devils. 😉

    Best always,
    – Peter