Entries Tagged as 'commentary'

another way voiceover has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic

Ta-Da Voiceworks Toronto Voiceover Town HallEvery business, every industry and everyone of us has changed either a small or large part of our lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That includes voiceover.

When the pandemic first started, advertising trailed off for a while, brands and corporations shifted from a marketing attitude to a survival attitude. Consumers seemed more focused on toilet paper than a new car or going to the movies…which they couldn’t do cause anyway because all the movie theaters shut down.

We did get more telephony work (those of us that do that kind of voiceover work) for businesses that wanted to talk to consumers in their on-hold messaging about how their business WAS going to work with customers during the crisis – new protocols etc. Or for business that needed to shut down — their message on-hold addressed how to best communicate with now work-from-home employees.

Voice talents too changed the way they communicated with clients and prospects, I think. I know I found myself calling to check on the people more than checking on new business opportunities. Recording studios and ad agencies were among many industries who suffered a round-house economic punch from COVID-19 and I’ve worked with many of these folks for a long time.

It feels now like we are rebounding, day by day, little by little. How we move forward and what is ahead is not certain but as Churchill said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” So we keep going, us people folk.

There ARE some positives for the voiceover business that have come from the pandemic. One of them is that we have been forced to be better communicators – in how we talk to our peers, our vendors and our customers.

One big way I saw this was with one of my voiceover agents, Tanya Buchanan of Ta-Da Voiceworks in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Ta-Da Voiceworks 19Some weeks ago, she called a town hall of all her talent – the majority of which are Toronto-based or living in and around the GTA (Greater Toronto area). She does have some American talent on her roster as well and I am one.

This online meeting was more than just a Zoom voiceover meet-up.

The focus of that first meeting was to help many of the Toronto talent figure out how they were going to record either auditions or jobs during the pandemic. Toronto is a unique voiceover market in that many media producers there much preferred voice actors to record at local studios versus recording in home studios.

In the U.S. many voice actors record from their home studios regularly, but trust me, we LOVE going to outside studios to record. There, we just record the voice and don’t have to do any post-production….it’s heaven! Plus those recording studios have free snacks!!!!!!

With the pandemic, many of the voice actors in Canada’s largest media market immediately had to learn about building home studios, having Source-Connect, buying the best types of microphones etc. It was a lot for any group of people to learn and digest in short order.

Tanya wanted to help ease the stress for her talent, provide resources for them and ultimately serve as the calm voice of reason. She was.

In short, Tanya smartly managed her voice actors…who ARE her business. Questions were answered, apprehensions were calmed and some of the more experience VO’s on the call (who have home studios, etc.) could share their knowledge with their voiceover peers who were less experienced this particular area. She further built her team.

From that first COVID-19 town hall, Tanya has smartly grown these Zoom meetings into monthly, lunchtime Ta-Da Voiceworks talent meetings where trends are discussed, agency policies are updated, local knowledge is shared among talent all while Tanya further cements her credibility as a top Toronto agent who has her talent’s back.

Her communication is solid and her roster clearly appreciates it.

All that, created from the ashes of the pandemic, has bred a significant amount of loyalty from her talent. I can assure you, after almost 40 years as a professional voiceover talent, that kind of loyalty to an agent is not always a given.

using a professional voiceover recording studio DOES matter

Professional Voiceover Recording Studio Peter K. O'ConnellAs as a voiceover business owner, there is always the question of how much capital to invest into one’s business.

One wants have very good audio technology that allows for the best voiceover audio quality.

One also want to have enough money to pay the mortgage and eat.

I get it.

A voiceover CLIENT, on the other hand, wants everything to sound perfect, they want no technology problems and they want all that broadcast quality sound and more right now.

Only the client’s wants and needs matter, by the way. That’s just a fact.

Occassionally, voice talent (who are new or relatively new to the voiceover business) focus their budgets on microphones and not so much on their recording environment. Goodness knows there are low-cost, short-term tricks to making an audio recording environment “workable”. We’ve all been there…especially when trying to record voiceovers while traveling.

This discussion isn’t about traveling.

This is about home voiceover recording studios.

(Note: I am NOT a home studio expert, nor have I played one on TV. But after nearly 40 years in the business, I have learned a thing or two <hundred> about audio recording).

One’s home voiceover recording environment is critical…short term fixes (closets, blankets etc.) can work but also have significant limitations that reveal themselves at really inopportune times (usually with a client on the line, a deadline looming and one of your biggest paydays hanging in the balance….no problem!!)

Outside noises in your studio will negatively disrupt a recording session, upset a client, make re-takes a nightmare and basically ding the “professionalism” of a talent’s reputation – at least in the opinion of a voiceover client (and really, is there any other opinion that matters?)

This video (below) shows one way to address your recording environment professionally. It is NOT the only way and it doesn’t have to be pretty (unless clients will be coming TO your voiceover recording studio). My non-home voiceover recording studio expert but significantly experienced advice is to find a good, strong recording space solution to ensure, more often than not, that the quality of your home voiceover recording environment is as dependable and reliable as you are as a voice actor.

It ALL really matters. Hope this helps.

“One New Lead” The Voiceover Workshop with Peter K. O’Connell

EP 1 Voiceover Workshop with Peter K. O'ConnellSometimes the simplest tricks are the ones that get ignored.

Nonetheless, I will to and share with you one really great voiceover business idea.

This video is called One New Lead.

For your business….you need to find one new voiceover lead per day.

The leads are everywhere, it’s like fishing in a freshly stocked pond.

Think about it… 5 new leads a week times 52 weeks…that’s 260 new voiceover leads.

It’s up to you.

Hope it helps.

what will happen to my voiceover business?

Free Voiceover Marketing Seminar Peter K. O'ConnellIt’s a question voiceover business owners are urgently asking right now. Communicating with your clients and prospects is vital….but what to say and how (and when) to say it…that’s a big question.

Tuesday, March 24th at Noon ET, I’ll host a Zoom Room, offer my thoughts and answer your questions about marketing plans, messaging, execution and anything else related to marketing your VO business.

So if you have more voiceover marketing questions than answers or just want to get some ideas and input on your plans…or just listen in, join us. It’s free.

Panic is not an option… thoughtful communication is an action…this will be all about taking action!

Here’s the LINK.

 

Requiescat in pace Frank Tavares

Frank Tavares NPRUnderwritingVO

Frank Tavares, underwriting voiceover talent of NPR for over 30 years, died in late December 2019.

You and I didn’t know Frank Tavares yet we both knew him.

Tavares, who died this week from complications resulting from ALS, was the underwriting (also known as the funding credits) voice of National Public Radio for about 30 years.  NPR fired Tavares in 2013, likely for the sake of change (just my opinion, I have no inside info).

Tavares’ opening line was usually “Support for NPR comes from…”.

His delivery was clear, attention getting and steady…just what you need in that kind of role.

Seven years later, it seems NPR is still trying to steady it’s underwriting voice ship, as you might expect when someone replaces a 30-year legend. As you may recall from my 2015 post, the first announcer brought into replace Tavares didn’t work out.

Subsequent to that, the then interim voice has become the regular underwriting voice….except I often hear a male voice now doing the support reads. So maybe there are two voices…maybe more?

I think NPR can’t quite decide who the network wants to sound like on these funding credits anymore.

In order to appeal to all their various, likely hyper-sensitive  demographics, I believe they’ll be the first network to hire a computerized voice for promos. A voice that appeals to no one but also offends no one.

Here is a link to NPR’s story about Tavares passing.

movies give out sound awards for a good reason

I was never going to use my Radio and Television degree in college for anything to do with movies. I liked movies but the production process is too slow for me.

But with my production knowledge and awareness, I respect the work that everyone in the film making process performs.

I bring up movies because this week is a bit of a movie production milestone (a real one, not an advertised one). The 9th and final episode completing the original Star Wars story will premiere on December 20th.

Yes there will be future episodes that will no doubt tie in bits of these past 9 stories and some of the past actors but this 9th movie really is a fork in the cinematic road for this franchise.

Huge history, huge budget, huge pressure. Editor’s note: I really enjoy Star Wars and have seen them all (even the bad ones). I am NOT , however, what you would call a Star Wars fanatic. I know some, not all, of the characters and some of the movie’s back stories but hardly all of them. I am not Star Wars obsessed but I enjoy the movie making spectacle that it brings. In other words, I like the movies but I do not live the movies.

I was watching the final The Rise of Skywalker trailer which was masterfully produced in all aspects. I’m thinking as I watched it that even if you are somehow new to Star Wars (maybe based on your age), should you know nothing about the series, you’d probably see this movie just based on this trailer.

Of course the visuals are vital to this trailer, the graphics smartly guide this short story…but the sound and the trailer sound design really actually grabbed me more than the visuals the first time I saw this trailer. And yes, it IS only a trailer but I think THIS is trailer is exceptionally well done.

Certainly there is the iconic Star Wars theme played in the second half of the trailer (the part of the trailer I like the most)…and the orchestral arrangement for this trailer I thought was especially moving.

But the sound mix with scene sound bites, sound effects and music are so good, this trailer could almost be a stand alone radio spot as is.

Listen here to the audio part of the trailer that I think could be a radio spot FIRST.

 

SECOND, watch the full trailer here. Then let me know what you think.