Entries Tagged as 'voiceover'

Voice Talent Christi Bowen Launches Tennessee Voiceover Studio

Tennessee Voiceover Studio Now Open audioconnellIt’s likely you know about my friend and fellow (award-winning) female voiceover talent Christi Bowen. You’ve likely heard her voice on spots and narrations for Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, SportsClips Haircuts and Ritz-Carlton (yes, she’s THAT versatile.)

While keeping her thriving voiceover business, Christi has initiated another venture: the Tennessee Voiceover Studio. Headquartered in Nashville (in the same building as media producer Filmhouse), Tennessee Voiceover Studios’ purpose is to provide quality training and guidance that allows TNVO students to use their creative gifts and build a rewarding career in voiceover.

Christi and four associates do the teaching and training in their studio. If you need to simply record, you can do that too. And the web site is chalk full of helpful and insightful resources.

If you are anywhere near the area, I highly recommend you check it out.

40 years as a professional voiceover talent

Peter K. O'Connell 40th Anniversary Voiceover Collage

Aside from me having done a little math, few people will likely care that much that I’ve now been a professional voice talent for 40 years.

I’ve been in the voiceover business, getting paid, getting new and repeat clients for 4 decades.

And yes, for you trivia savvy, MTV and I launched in the same year. MTV has made much more money than I have.

But back to my 40th anniversary.

Sure, clients and prospects may like the idea that they are working with someone with 40 years of professional voiceover experience and coming with that, a plethora of voice acting skills. But as for the rest of the world, Peter K. O’Connell’s 40 years as a professional voice actor doesn’t really mean that much.

40th Voiceover Anniversary Peter K. O'Connell

The anniversary IS important to me but not because of longevity or being self- aggrandizing. The very slight marketing benefit I may enjoy really isn’t cause for celebration either.

What makes me proud to celebrate 40 years in the voiceover business is who got me here. Not me being in the business all this time.

It’s about the support of SO many people, not all of whom could be named here but none of whom are forgotten.

Their help is really the story I want to share here. My failures are mine (and plentiful) but my successes are because of their help.

Thank you God for all of them and all of this.

How did I get to 40rty years in voiceover?

My family first…my saintly wife and glorious kids today (and every day). Certainly my parents, who originally gave me the public speaking and broadcasting genes to start with and then the ability to attend Canisius High School (where I met my video production teacher, video company partner and groomsman at my wedding, Terry Fisher) and then the University of Dayton.

Foxy 93 WFXZ BuffaloKnowing my interest in broadcasting, my brother Michael connected a junior-in-high-school-me with local radio broadcaster Susan Hunt, who was the morning news anchor at WFXZ-FM. I was able to become an intern with Susan and the program director, Jeff Appleton. What a coup for a sixteen year old broadcasting novice!

I was probably more of a burden to Susan and Jeff than a help – but I was/am grateful for the opportunity. I am still embarrassed to think about how green I was at the time. But by doing the internship at that time, I established what I was told was the first broadcast internship at my high school. I guess that’s something…not sure what.

Let’s see where we go from here.

DAYTON, OH

UD Magazine Winter 2016-17 (not the real cover) Peter K. O'Connell WVUD-FM

No this is not the REAL cover of University of Dayton Magazine. The guy in the pink shirt just pasted himself on there. What a goof!

In 1982, when I started working at the University of Dayton’s student-run, carrier-current radio station, WDCR-AM (now WUDR) and a little while later at their professionally operated 50,000 watt station reaching three states, WVUD-FM (now WYDB), I simply didn’t know how much I didn’t know.

All I knew was that I wanted to work in radio. I still would work in radio if today it was even ½ the business now that it was then, but it’s not. I keep my hand in radio volunteering at an independent Catholic formatted radio station here in Raleigh (Divine Mercy Radio), which is just fine for me.

Before entering UD, I didn’t know John Luttrell who hired me at WDCR (who is now with Cumulus Media in Albany, GA) or Tracy Hurd who was my program director and who is not involved in broadcasting any more. I didn’t know the late Mike McMurray who was the PD at WVUD who hired me or Music Director Sandy Huff-White, who I have been friends with ever since we worked at Hitradio 100.

I had no idea there were other broadcast fanatic people my age until I move into a college apartment with Dan Suffoletto, Ron Alexander and Jeff Wagner. Oh what fun we had.

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How about props for my Dad and especially my Mom, who was attending a charity dinner in Buffalo while I was at college, sat with weekend TV sports anchor Clip Smith and, by the end of the dinner, had secured for me an internship at WKBW-TV my first summer back from college.

Back at Dayton, I was working as the afternoon news anchor, then weekday evening DJ, 6-9pm as well as morning host fill-in when the morning man went on vacation.

Speaking of vacations, I went on vacation from the station for a week one summer (we worked year round). While I was gone, there was a sort of melt down in the commercial production department and I came back to be made Production Manager…this is where the voiceover bug really started to brew.

Commercial production clients liked how I sounded, they pay me a little extra sometimes to do their spots that aired on other stations…and for much of that help, I owe thanks to the radio station account executives Gary, Lenny and Ruth.

Saturday Night Solid Gold with Peter O'Connell on WVUD Dayton 1984-86

Saturday Night Solid Gold with Peter O’Connell on WVUD Dayton 1984-86

So there I am at school studying (sometimes) working (a lot of the other times) and having a swell time. Unbeknownst to me, the host of our live local weekend oldies show failed out of school (he was more into radio than studying) and I get put in that slot (while continuing in the production department. I finished at WVUD in ’86 with the #1 rated Saturday show in the entire market, 7p-12a, against some really great programming. There’s luck, timing and a little talent included in all that craziness, as you might guess.

Oh, speaking of luck, I graduated college.

BUFFALO, NY

Buffalo NY Waterfront

Buffalo, New York waterfront

I mentioned earlier about the video production company I started with Terry after I graduated from the University of Dayton. Also at that time, I became the voice of Burnham’s Appliances in Buffalo, NY with the help of Kevin Brayer, who was a family friend and working in management at the local chain of stores. That was a nice break for me.

Peter K. O'Connell Buffalo Voiceover Clients

Talking Proud: Buffalo headquartered companies who have secured Peter K. O’Connell’s voiceover talents

When I recorded those spots, usually over at local radio stations, I met terrific local radio folks in Buffalo (and some others of whom did NOT hire me to work on the air as I wished they had 😉  One jock/production manager who was especially nice to me recording the Burnham’s spots was Keith Luke at WBUF, who had one of the deepest voices you’ve ever heard. I also met Chris Nichter when recording a few of those spots at WJYE.

Interestingly and again unbeknownst to me (cause I love saying unbeknownst) starting his radio career around that time and going on to be a long time production voice in Buffalo with Entercom radio (now Audacy) and local TV was my high school buddy Matt Young.

Actually, I came across many nice folks while I was recording voiceover and working other jobs over those years (“other jobs” because Buffalo has never been as busy as LA, the internet VO biz wasn’t yet a thing and recording studio technology was not yet as portable…but it WAS stupid expensive).

Voice Actors Peter K. O'Connell and Pat Fraley in Buffalo, NY

Voice Talent Peter K O’Connell with Voice Actor and Voice Acting Coach Pat Fraley

Those who I met who stand out the most in my Buffalo voiceover memories include Alan Baumgardner and Kim Ferullo over at Chameleon Communications, Shaun Mullins at Propellerhead Media,  John Ciglia and Dan Innes at Crosswater Digital Media, and maybe most importantly Toni Silveri, who just started All Coast Talent when I met her and she quickly signed me. We’ve been long time pals ever since…Toni also introduced me to the great character voice actor and teacher, Pat Fraley.

VOICEOVER AGENTS

I’ve had many voiceover agents over 4 decades, which reminded me of the old phrase ‘you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince’.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Sheppard Agency 19

Peter K. O’Connell has been on the voiceover roster of Sheppard Agency (formerly Voice Talent Productions) since it’s inception

While there are many frogs, who I decided to no longer work with, there are far more princes (and princesses) including Toni (who I mentioned) Erik Shepard of the Sheppard Agency, Kelly Wilkening at Big Mouth Talent, Laura Von Holle and the team at Heyman Talent, Cindi Davis-Andress and the team at Pastorini Bosby Talent, Stacey Siegert from Moxie Talent, Tanya Buchanan of Ta-Da Voiceworks in Toronto and Jeffrey Umberger (formerly of Umberger Agency) in Atlanta.

These folks do the work for their clients and I appreciate each of them even more because of business relationships with those former VO agents who did NOT do the work.

Live and learn.

Muhammad Ali’s said: “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

VO-BB.COM

VO-BB Microphone IconWhat I know now as a voice talent that I didn’t know then is that while this is among the most sole of sole proprietor businesses, I am happy to report that I found I was not in it alone.

The “there are others like me” moment became most apparent to me in 2005 right after the on-line voiceover world really kicked off around 2003-04. I was on an unmemorable VO bulletin board web site (mostly conversations in text) where a VO talent I knew from that board, the great Connie Terwilliger, posted about a different voiceover bulletin board website, VO-BB.com.

It’s hard to effectually put into words the world that opened up to me on February 2, 2005 when I joined VO-BB.com. Insightful information, humor, arguments and just friendships among people who knew my business, knew my challenges, shared my fears…just everything.

Phone calls, in person meet-ups and people who I can call on and who can call on me when they need my help…all sprang from this simple website. It’s like if one were alone on a journey, seemingly forever, to finally came upon a camp of delightful and insightful fellow travelers. DB Cooper (and now Bruce Miles) cannot be thanked enough for keeping this enterprise going.

Without this internet bulletin board, there could have never been a FaffCon or FaffCamp.

FAFFCON

Peter K.O'Connell on a panel at VOICE 2010 in Hollywood, CA

Peter K. O’Connell speaking on a voiceover panel at VOICE 2010 in Hollywood, CA

Some years before the first FaffCon, a bunch of VO-BB’ers were at the VOICE conference in Hollywood. It was a nice conference, I was invited to speak on one of the panels, and everyone had a nice time, especially seeing VO people in person. But following the event, those of us in attendance chatted on the VO-BB about the event. VOICE felt very corporate.

It seemed like the people presenting were, for the most part, trying to sell their services by giving you a little taste of their knowledge with a 45 minute presentation. Also, people with greater voiceover experience gained less there than those who were just starting out in the VO business.

Nothing wrong with all that but it was just like every other conference.

In any industry.

Ever.

FaffCon 8 2016 Minneapolis, Minnesota

FaffCon 8: The Happiest Voiceover Place On Earth

Amy Snively posed a question on the board about an idea she had for a different kind of voiceover conference strictly for experienced voiceover talents, based on a conference design that was developing at the time…something called an unconference.

Presenters at this unconference would be made up of attendees (versus pre-arranged, more well-known speakers), who presented their ideas for voiceover topics. The organizers would review the topics, chose the ones that made the most sense for the audience, merge the similar topic ideas and presenters together, create a daily schedule right there at the event and, alakazam, the conference content and schedule would be set.

Attendance at the conference would be limited in capacity and to those who were professional voice talents versus those who might have a lesser experience level. Later an event called FaffCamp would be created for voice talent at any level of the VO journey.

Bottom line and the point of difference: at this voiceover unconference, nobody would be trying to sell you a product or series of lessons. The 3-4 day event would just be about education and networking based on voiceover performance, voiceover business needs and voiceover technology…with everyone sharing as much as they were willing to share. It was a safe place to meet, share and learn.

Needless to say, the voiceover talent on the board thought it was a great idea…Amy created a team to help her and – in short order – she created and produced 9 FaffCons and I think 2 FaffCamps. Amy Snively did that and turned voiceover education on its ear in the best possible way.

Voiceover Emcee Peter K. O'Connell at FaffCon 8

FaffCon 8 Emcee and Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell

My participation was small compared to Amy and her co-producers (first Pam Tierney and later Lauren McCullough). Because of the birth of my son, I could not attend the first FaffCon; at the end, I attended all but two. I produced a promo video for the first unconference and got asked to help out selling sponsorships. I think it was at FaffCon 2 in Hershey that I was handed a microphone during the giveaways and asked last minute to MC it. It went well and I helped with the MC duties after that. Minor support that I was glad to offer in support of those doing the real work.

But the biggest impact on the attendees and the industry (including me) was the content offered, the people networks built, the enormous knowledge shared and fantastic individual revelations uncovered. You really had to be there to understand the intense impact FaffCon and FaffCamp had on many lives but it was unlike ANY other voiceover conference I have attended before or since. I remain grateful for FaffCon to this day…and there are hundreds more like me.

VOICEOVER MEET-UPS

Even before FaffCon, voiceover meet-ups are something that have sustained me professionally and personally for many years. These are simply a gathering of two or more voice talents – sometimes in in your area or when you’re traveling, in a fellow voice talents town. Nothing fancy, usually breakfast, lunch or dinner at a spot…the important thing was and is the conversation and fellowship.

Voice Talents Peter K OConnell and Bob Souer at a Pittsburgh Pirates game in Pittsburgh, PA

Voice Talents Peter K. O’Connell and Bob Souer at a Pittsburgh Pirates game in Pittsburgh, PA

In June of 2007 (according to my voxmarketising blog post) – before FaffCon or other conferences that I ever attended – it was everyone’s voiceover friend Bob Souer who called me up from his then home in Charlotte to say he would soon be in Western New York. Would I want to meet with him? At the time he was working in the Media Department of the Billy Graham Association in North Carolina and a Crusade was going to be in our region of the country.

Where had I originally met Bob? On the VO-BB.com of course (told you that was an impactful place).

This would not be the last meal, event, baseball game etc., that I would share with Bob or his wonderful family. But it would be the spring board for me to initiate many more meet ups when I would travel for my marketing business or when people would come to my town.

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate lot to travel a lot for business, having the option to call on friends (especially voiceover friends) in other cities makes such business travel more enjoyable and gives you something extra to look forward to than just the monotonous itinerary airport-hotel-quick dinner alone-hotel-meeting-airport-home. Plus information shared with smart voiceover people is great for my business too.

For me, it is truly humbling to realize how many great folks in voiceover blessed me with their time in these small meet-ups since 2007. Time is a great gift to share and for the scores of voice actors who have allowed me to spend time with them, I am really grateful. Thank you.

Voice Actor and Live Announcer Doug Turkel at a voiceover meetup in Miami, FL

One of the meet-ups that made quite an impact on me (which will surprise no one who has met the man I am about to mention) was when I was in Miami in 2009. Doug Turkel had assembled a group of local voiceover talents to create a kind of Mastermind group – voice talents meeting together at a scheduled time with the expressed purpose of mentoring each other, helping to solve VO business problem and share ideas. All through my future travels and my FaffCon experience, I kept thinking we needed to do this kind of meeting in Buffalo.

HEARD AROUND BUFFALO

Heard About Buffalo is a monthly meetup group of Western New York-based professional voice-over talents

With the success of the FaffCon, I was busier than ever because – for a while – the events were running on top of each other…plus VO business, marketing business, travel and a growing family….it was a lot.

But this local meet-up thing was gnawing at me…this would be good for me and for the local folks I knew OR didn’t know yet but would get a chance to meet. But time…and pressure and…and…I needed help.

I did something that – due to my awful pride or ego or both – I tried not to do too often. I asked for help to put together the local Buffalo meet-up group. It couldn’t just be on me to set up the group or it wouldn’t get done at that time.

Voice Talents Dan Lenard, Jodi Krangle & Leslie Diamond at VOICE 2010

Voice Talents Dan Lenard, Jodi Krangle & Leslie Diamond at VOICE 2010

So in the spring of 2013, I made two phone calls to (at the time) Buffalo-based voiceover friends I knew I could count on: Dan Lenard and Leslie Diamond. Loosely based on my experience with Doug’s group and FaffCon, we together created our Buffalo voiceover meet up group: Heard Around Buffalo (Leslie provided the creative name).

All volunteer, no profit just everyone who wants to be there and who should be there was there, with a focus on pro VOs. We tried for monthly meetings and we got pretty good at it. Very voiceover focused, lots of conversations about performance, marketing, technology…and life. Exactly what it needed to be. We were even blessed to have voiceover friends from the central part of New York state and Southern Ontario. These were special evenings indeed.

Buffalo Voiceover Meet-up at FaffCon 8

The Buffalo Voice-Over Meet-up Group “Heard Around Buffalo” at FaffCon 8. Front Row: Natalie Stanfield, Fran McClellan, Maria Pendolino; Middle Row: Fred Filbrich, Dan Lenard, Peter K. O’Connell, Bev Standing; Back Row: Patrick Sweeney

Even though Dan, Leslie and I moved out of Western New York, the group still gets together and I am very happy about that (though, selfishly, I miss our time together). Voiceover superstar Maria Pendolino oversees the group now. Local voiceover meet-ups are a very worthwhile use of time and it recharges one’s spirit to be around people who understand one’s profession. Again…very grateful to all who have joined me here.

RALEIGH DURHAM VOICEOVER MEET-UP

RDUVO Raleigh Durham Voiceover MeetupHad you asked me at any time in my 50+ year life in Buffalo, NY, “would you leave Buffalo?”, my answer would have been no. I couldn’t think of a reason to leave. Snow? It’s all I ever knew.

Well, a reason involving the health of a family member progressed to the point that my wife and I had to make a decision and not an easy one. But it was the RIGHT one.

We had to move south in 2016 due to this situation, but I got to pick the city because of travel schedule. I needed to be in a city that had a good airport. We wanted good schools for our kids. We wanted a good quality of life. My choice. No pressure.

Because I had been in the area many times before on business and it seemed very nice, I told my wife we should explore Raleigh, North Carolina first. What made Raleigh most immediately memorable for me was their beautiful airport that could get me anywhere. I said if they spend that kind of money on the design of their airport and expansion of its airline schedule, this is a town that cares about quality of life.

Well fast forward to today and we are very happy here and grateful for the friends we’ve made. We will always miss our home in Buffalo.

Voice Actors Peter K. O'Connell, Bonnie Marie Williams & Asif Samad At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Voice Actors and members of the Raleigh Durham Voiceover Meetup Peter K. O’Connell, Bonnie Marie Williams and Asif Samad recording together at Soundtrax Recording Studio In Raleigh NC

From a voiceover business perspective, I was fortunate to know a few voiceover friends in Raleigh-Durham already including Rowell Gormon, Deb Stamp and Wendy Zier. They, of course were, very welcoming and provided local insights that helped in our family’s move to Raleigh and my business transition to a new market.

But because of my experience with Heard About Buffalo, I knew I wanted…no, needed to start a voiceover meet up group here. I needed to grow my network, learn about the market and make new friends.

Voice Actor Rowell Gormon celebrating his casting at the voice of Colonel Sanders for the KFC app during a meeting of the RDUVO voiceover meet up at Soundtrax in Raleigh, NC

Voice Actor Rowell Gormon celebrating his casting at the voice of Colonel Sanders for the KFC app during a meeting of the RDUVO voiceover meet up at Soundtrax in Raleigh, NC

So was born the Raleigh Durham Voiceover Meet-up (RDUVO). With the help of Rowell, Deb and Wendy we had our first meeting in June of 2017, less than a year after moving here. Even through COVID, when we met virtually (like pretty much everyone else) we got together for organized meetings and sometimes just for coffee. Glad our group is going strong.

CATHOLIC RADIO VOLUNTEER

WETC_Catholic540AM StAnn Oct2019 Peter K. O'Connell

Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio Raleigh, NC, broadcasting live from St. Ann Catholic Church in Clayton October 2019 (l-r) Pastor of St. Ann’s Fr. Peter Grace; Catholic 540-AM Director of Programming & Production Peter K. O’Connell and Divine Mercy Radio Chief Engineer Keith Flanary

All my professional life, I’ve been involved in a variety of community activities – to better myself and to better the community I live in. I think this is true for just about everyone…we donate our time, talent and treasure to those organizations we feel drawn to help.

In Buffalo, my biggest commitment was to the Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives, which was formed in 1942. I joined because I felt I needed to learn more about sales and marketing, which I did. I was a member there for about 25 years, leaving BNSME a year or so before we moved to Raleigh.

I was also involved in supporting Catholic education, which helped me a lot in my life. I served on the alumni board of my high school, the board of trustees of my grammar school and finally on the Diocese of Buffalo’s Board of Catholic Education. There are other groups I served but this isn’t my resume and that’s not my point here.

My point is that when I moved to Raleigh, I told my wife that I was really done with trying to serve on multiple committees with multiple groups all while taking time away from my wife and children. Plus I also kind of felt like I’d been there, done that.

So what I said to her was I was going to pick one charity and that was going to be my sole community focus in Raleigh. And the charity I picked was actually selected before we had officially decided to move to Raleigh.

In Buffalo, I had done some volunteer announcing for the Station of The Cross Catholic Media Network, headquartered in Buffalo. To my knowledge almost all Catholic radio stations are non-profit 501 (c) (3) groups and many are run by volunteers. This particular group of stations in Buffalo didn’t have a roster of announcers so they would get volunteers to read the community announcements for their radio stations in the Northeast.

So when we were looking at Raleigh, while in my hotel room here one morning I looked to see if there was a Catholic radio station here.

There was, sort of.

Divine Mercy Radio was operating two low-power radio stations (where you could hear the signal within about 3 miles of the transmitter site) in both Cary, North Carolina and Wake Forest, North Carolina. They also broadcast on their web site. Their broadcast schedule was basically a retransmission of the EWTN radio network and a few local programs. So they were barely on the air but they had big plans.

Anyway, back in Raleigh at the hotel…while we still hadn’t decided where we would move to, I called the phone number on the Divine Mercy Radio web site and ended up speaking to the wife of the couple running the radio stations. I introduced myself, said my family was thinking of moving to Raleigh, had experience working in Catholic radio and I would be glad to volunteer my announcing services if they might need them.

Cecelia Flanary and her husband Keith could not have been more excited to receive my unexpected call. Cecelia had just been to Church that day — praying for help to get an announcer for a script that had to be recorded — because none of their volunteers were announcers.

Peter K. O'Connell, Volunteer Catholic Radio Announcer, Divine Mercy Radio

Volunteer Director of Programming & Production Peter K. O’Connell accepts the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Award for Best Affiliate Top of the Hour ID for Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio, WETC-AM Raleigh, NC

Then she gets my call out of the blue. And why did I pick that moment to call? I just thought I should do it while I was thinking about it. Mysterious ways indeed.

So I have been volunteering my radio programming, production skills and live announcing abilities with them ever since I moved here. On February 4, 2019, the station powered up it’s 10,000 watt AM station (bye-bye low power) and about a year later we got our own app. Today, we have a pretty great assortment of local programming. In our first year as an AM station, our production work received one of only a few national awards from EWTN for excellence. Very blessed.

IT’S NOT ABOUT ME

The smartest and most effective voiceover talents in the business have all learned one important lesson about their performance in voiceover.

It’s not about me.

That means that, as a voice actor, you completely serve at the vocal pleasure of your director. Whether you think a script should be performed a certain way matters not a wit. Your acting skills need to serve the objectives of the director…not your performance preferences. Don’t like the professional direction you are given for the voiceover job you accepted to do? Tough, do what you are told…you were not hired for your opinion (in most cases).

Leave your ego and opinions at the recording studio’s door.

It’s the same for me as I reflect on my 40 years in voiceover. I was the vessel but any success I have enjoyed came on the shoulders of the family, friends, clients and contacts with whom I have interacted with.

As I hope these stories have proven, it’s not about me.

It’s about those who have taken the time to befriend me, mentor me, berate me, ask me, listen to me, accept my apology, tolerate me, love me, hate me, respect me, help me, disregard me, pray for me, marry me and certainly give birth to me. And importantly, vice versa.

40 years as a professional voiceover talent is NOT a reflection on me but a testament to those people, helpful and awful, who showed me direction, red flags or even disrespect in my life.

What I did with the sum total of all those interactions is how I ended up here today.

If I stumbled (which I did, many times), that’s on me. But if I succeeded, it was because of all the people (named and unnamed) who did what they could with the developing lump of clay that is me.

More to come…God willing.

Disagreeing with the One Voice Awards

This week the U.S. nominations for the One Voice Awards were released. The company Gravy for the Brain produces the One Voice Conference and One Voice Awards. The conference and awards programs have both a US and UK version. The award show describes itself as “an awards ceremony which celebrates talent in the industry at all levels.”

One Voice Awards 2021 Voice Job Site of the Year

A few days ago, while happily reviewing the list of 2021 US nominees, many of whom are my personal friends (congrats!!), I noted that at the end of the list is an award for “Best Voice Job Site of the Year”. The nominees for this award are selected and nominated by One Voice itself and is open to a public vote from those participants in this year’s One Voice program (I believe that means that those outside the conference cannot just randomly vote on the category).

Included in the nominees chosen by One Voice for a possible award (depending on the voting) for “Best Voice Job Site of the Year” was a notorious voiceover pay-to-play (P2P) services from Canada, voices (dot) com.

Some background for those unaware or new to the voiceover industry.

Some years ago it was publicly uncovered and proven that this specific Canadian P2P voiceover web site – that charges voice talent a sliding scale of fees for access to auditions (the more you pay, the better the access) – intentionally redirects hiring client fees (originally meant for voice talents) into that specific Canadian P2P company’s own corporate pockets. In short, the Canadian P2P company has intentionally taken money meant for voice talents AWAY from voice talents.

This Canadian P2P voiceover company calculatedly works to provide its paying voiceover talents with SMALLER fees so that this same Canadian P2P voiceover company can enjoy greater profits. At best, this is an egregious double dip by this Canadian P2P company against the voiceover talents who pay them access fees. That’s how I see it.

Some voice actors, even knowing this truth but seemingly anxious for any revenue, work with the P2P company anyway. For those seeking my professional advice, stay far away from this Canadian P2P voiceover company.

The Canadian P2P company can run their company as they wish and voice talent can engage any vendor they want…in spite of the ill effects both inflict on the entire voiceover industry.

Back to the One Voice Awards and how they tie in with this Canadian P2P voiceover company.

Because the One Voice Awards DIRECTLY CHOOSES the nominees for “Best Voice Job Site of the Year”, I was gobsmacked that One Voice willingly wanted (not “needed” nor was in some way “mandated” or “obliged”) to positively and publicly recognize this Canadian P2P company whose identified business practice hurts the very industry and practitioners the One Voice’s awards program seems to want to honor.

It seems extremely clear to me that to choose to offer such a public recognition of a dishonorable P2P company by One Voice is a very poor reflection on the Awards program, it’s producers and sponsors. How can you build up an industry by honoring and possibly awarding a company whose policies and actions HURT that industry.

And should the Canadian P2P company win the vote, in my opinion that would severely damage the brand and credibility of the One Voice Awards, the One Voice Conference,  Gravy for The Brain and all associated with them. I feel quite sure this Canadian P2P will promote the heck out of such a win, leaving other award winners not affiliated with the Canadian P2P forever and inextricably linked and as similar tarnished (in my opinion) to the Canadian P2P as the One Voice brand would be.

facebook iconAnd I said as much in a Facebook post on my personal page.

As with anything P2P related on Facebook, it got lots of attention. Including from Hugh Edwards, the CEO of the conference.

His opinion on my post should be shared in fairness, so I will offer my initial Facebook post, Hugh’s response and finally my response (all as of 7/14/21).

None of the content herein is likely change the opinions of the posters (or maybe your opinion either) but at least opinions were shared.

O’CONNELL: Was happy for many of my friends who were nominated today for a One Voice award —-but the award took a big credibility hit with me when I saw One Voice and it’s sponsors would allow a disreputable company like v dot com receive any sort of recognition.

That specific P2P company has been proven to intentionally reduce fees intended for voice talents and line their own company pockets. This illicit practice is well known in the voiceover industry and the operators of One Voice know this fact too. Yet there sits the nomination.

The excuses on behalf of this corrupt P2P service may fly from those voice talents who claim success from it. Their paid membership to that dishonorable P2P is an individual and associational choice – a risk to their reputation that they are free to take.

It’s also desperate justification, in my opinion.

Further, such excuses allow and encourage bad corporate behavior.

As does this nomination.

EDWARDS: Hey Everyone.

OK, this was always going to be an inflammatory topic and I apologise if it upsets people, but everything has been thought through and nothing done on a whim. I’ll deal with this in three sections. Firstly, the public vote mechanics, secondly the moralistic/ethical issue, and lastly why we need awards at all.

The One Voice Awards are a brand new way of doing awards in the USA in our industry, and it’s not surprising that you are used to what you are used to, and so don’t understand our ethical and moralistic standpoints.

I should also say just to preface this that at the actual awards ceremony, we have an intro video that shows the process end-to-end and illustrates exactly the approach we take – which everyone in the UK knows, but clearly the USA doesn’t so it is relevant that I comment now due to the confusion involved.

Firstly then, the public vote mechanics. If you make the votes for this kind of award *actually* public then what happens is the companies go to their databases and ask for votes. This isn’t fair as the size of the database is clearly the important thing. What you want is the people who work in the industry, who are likely to be using the services, actually being the only voters. So the mechanics are that it’s the people who are submitting awards who are allowed to vote – i.e., the voice artists themselves. You sign up for a free submission account and before you upload your own submissions, you vote on the two public categories. We also automatically check for any accounts created that do not have submissions attached so that this can’t be faked, and these discounted (not that we’ve ever had any). This means that the companies involved cannot game the system and it’s the people who use the services who are voting – which again is anonymous, so they can vote genuinely how they feel. I can tell you that in the UK this has been won for the past three years by bodalgo. People vote with their feet.

Secondly then, the ethical or moral dilemma.

– Do you include companies who are not popular or who seemingly make bad choices, or shareholder-style decisions regardless of the people who use the service? Should we then not recognise Apple as a tech giant (who take 33% of every piece of music sold from any source), or Uber as an international player (who have decimated the taxi industry and are now doing the same to the catering industries)? The answer of course has to be no we don’t do that. Not recognising such companies in their industries would be stupid.

– Should we make a choice about who we like and who we don’t like, and then only let the people that we do like into our event? No – I’m afraid that is the cornerstone of bigotry and even racism and I’m afraid our company doesn’t stand for that. Not withstanding the fact that organisations like the Competitions and Markets Authority would not look kindly on it as influencing markets anyway.

Now: Before you get too carried away with slamming us for allowing these companies in, consider this:

It’s extremely easy as a voiceover artist to take what you think is the moral high-ground and slate the P2P’s…..

But it’s a much more difficult thing to take a step back and ask what is truly fair, industry-wide, and then let people vote with their feet.

So many VO’s joined the bandwagon of hate in the early days – and don’t forget, I was the second person to interview David Ciccerelli [sic] live, and didn’t let him get away with anything in the interview – but there is also a huge and growing swathe of VO’s who hate the fact that they are chastised about where they choose to work, by people in the industry. I personally know many VO’s who are popular in the industry who work on fiverr under pseudonyms – Because they *choose* to.

Should we discount their opinions, or all those people who choose to use and make a living from their services because we don’t agree with them? Of course not! Should we not allow republicans or democrats on, because we disagree with some of the heavy political ads they do, and hate what they stand for? No? Is there any difference here? Of course not!

You have to draw the line somewhere.

The final point on the ethics then, and actually this is the one that means we have made our choice as a company:

*****It is a literal dichotomy to claim fairness and impartiality – which is what we do at the One Voice Awards as you will see in the ceremony – and intentionally exclude any parties, regardless of how ‘popular’ some may see them. ******

The voiceover artists have voted – anonymously – and these are the results. To the person who said “Shame on them” meaning me for allowing this – I sleep very well at night knowing that I am being fair to everyone in the industry. And by way of example, The Voice Realm were also included as was *every single other P2P site* and the public did not vote for them. They did vote for Fiverr and they did vote for VDC – and now the industry will need to choose what it does with that information.

Lastly then, as to why we need awards at all. I am not a huge fan of awards in general. I think they are so easily corrupted, money making machines that favour their friends, and exist solely to aid the people who are putting them on. And that’s precisely why Peter and I started the One Voice Awards – to fix what is broken. FYI we have never made a profit on the awards during the last 3 years, but do at GFTB – and so it’s our way of giving back and helping the industry. The process is absolutely locked down, and aside from being free, the entries are anonymous, the judges are not revealed, the judges do not know who the other judges are, the judges scores are always hidden from each other and so all judging is done purely on the merit of the clip and that it can’t be corrupted. Hell, we even hide the names of demo producers on the demo category so that people can’t be swayed. Because of this, in the UK it’s gained a reputation for actually meaning something and genuinely helps careers – because everyone knows it’s not just another lie – it’s actually been earned.

Anyway, I hope that helps and clears matters up as to why we have made these choices. I guarantee you that none of these decisions haven’t been taken lightly and….

….just because no one has been brave enough to stand up for fairness and equality before in this way – even if it might not be popular with everyone – does not mean that it’s not the right thing to do.

Happy to speak to anyone individually if you’d like more info. ?

O’CONNELL: Hugh, Thanks for taking the time to offer your explanation for why you and your company would choose to include v dot com as a chosen nominee in your awards program.

First and foremost, it IS your awards program and that decision is yours.

You get to choose who you want to consider to honor. That’s an important point.

No one NEEDS to have these companies possibly recognized. You WANT to honor them and you WANT to include v dot com as a nominee and possible winner. You have the right to do that.

You would evidently be fine with that specific P2P brand likely promoting its association with your organization if it won — in what you have outlined as a fair, just and anonymous voting process.

It IS your awards program and that decision is yours.

And while the P2P industry is not a category I choose to work, I don’t begrudge those who do. It’s an individual choice. The industry category is not what I find problematic in this instance.

Rather, I find it astounding that your organization would, by your choice, promote and possibly honor a specific P2P company whose business practices included (and may still include) intentionally redirecting client fees – originally meant for voice talents — into that specific P2P company’s own corporate pockets. In short, taking money meant for voice talents AWAY from voice talents.

Is that “truly fair”? I say no, regardless of how anyone may try to justify it.

In my opinion One Voice is recognizing, with its choice of award nominee, a P2P company whose business practice hurts the very industry and practitioners One Voice’s awards program seems to want to honor.

Why would you or anyone want to positively recognizing a company – in any industry – for doing a wrong thing?

What this P2P company has done IS wrong and everyone knows it.

Does the fact that some voice talents know this ugly truth and still do business with this P2P company mean that it should be OK to act like the company is a worthy nominee or honoree for an industry award? I say no.

People know cigarettes are deadly but they justify away their reasons for smoking…they have the right to do so. But the honors for the cigarette companies aren’t pouring in either, as far as I know.

I’m not sure how I or anyone else who opposes such an unethical business practice – like those this P2P company has employed – has a corner on any ‘moral high ground’ by opposing such a practice and calling it out as bad…rather than honoring it. While there is plenty of gray in the world, some things ARE right and wrong…the business practice of this specific P2P company is wrong.

As for your efforts in your explanation to tie any of this voiceover nomination discussion into the modern day insanity of Republican vs. Democrats or the horrible problems of bigotry and racism…the most polite thing I can say about such pandering analogies is that they are wrong and completely out of place among this specific content.

As I said at the beginning, it IS your awards program.

Who you nominate and what you honor is your decision, whether I or anyone else like it or not.
Opinions were exchanged here but likely none were changed…social media at its finest?

And the industry moves ahead, with or without us.

Thanks Hugh.

 

People, Voiceover People Who Need People – Post-COVID Edition

Chief Engineer Cameron Fitzpatrick At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Soundtrax Chief Engineer Cameron Fitzpatrick overseeing another successful voiceover recording session in Raleigh, NC (July 2021)

What a great treat recently to get back into SOMEONE ELSE’S voiceover studio with other real voiceover people.

Look, it’s always nice to be cast in any voiceover project because….money.

But this recording session was even MORE fun because it involved not just going to somebody else’s studio but it was a GROUP session with anywhere from 2 to 5 people safely recording TOGETHER in the studio!!!

Voice Actors Peter K. O'Connell, Bonnie Marie Williams & Asif Samad At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Voice Actors Peter K. O’Connell, Bonnie Marie Williams & Asif Samad at Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Now, if you’re reading this and not very familiar with voiceover, all this excitement may seem rather silly. I get that.

But if you’ll remember back some weeks and months ago…when maybe you went back to work or celebrated a holiday with people you hadn’t seen IN PERSON in months or a year…you were excited and happy.

It’s like that.

Voice Actor and Soundtrax General Manager Becket McGough

Voice Actor and Soundtrax General Manager Becket McGough in session

It was great to see my VO pals again, in person.

Even better, I didn’t know all the voice talents I was working with. Some of them were new to me. New friends, yay!

One of them I had worked with remotely….they were in one studio and I was Source-Connected in from my voiceover studio. When I heard her voice today in person right next to me, I thought “where have I heard that voice?” 🙂

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell And Male Voice Talent Chadd Pierce At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell and Male Voice Talent Chadd Pierce At Soundtrax Recording Studio In Raleigh NC

Look, whether pre-COVID or post-COVID, often there are not that many group voiceover sessions outside of NY and LA (and those are becoming less frequent too). It was great fun to see, visit with and work with my voice acting peers again  – in person!!!

Voiceover people are FAR from normal under the best of circumstances 😉 but this voiceover session was a taste of normalcy for us.

The way life used to be.

I’m thankful.

Learning from Kim Handysides

Learning from Kim HandysidesIn spite of my vast voiceover knowledge, expertise in all things broadcasting, immense superiority in marketing and tremendous humility (tongue firmly implanted in cheek) there ARE other people who know some stuff about the business of voiceover besides me.

You’re shocked, I know. 😉

Truth be told, in spite of my actual experience I am always learning from other voiceover talents, most of whom are brighter than I am.

So while it was a pleasant discovery, it was not a surprise to come across some very concise yet encompassing voiceover advice and helpful links in two blog posts by Canadian voiceover artist Kim Handysides.

I agree with most all of the suggestions and references she offers* and think the read would be worth your time.

*I disagreed with the note that said short, fat, Irish voiceover talents are less useful than poutine…I happen to know we have a value EQUAL to poutine. How dare she!!! 😉

From a blogging perspective, I will also compliment her on her smart links to her own past blog posts about the topics she is advising readers about. That’s just SEO goodness right there. Well done.

Oh…you probably want the links, don’t you. Man, you are demanding!

35 Ways to Really Help You Crush It As A Voiceover Actor

37 More Ways to Really Help You Crush It As A Voiceover Actor

 

7 tips for marking up your voiceover script

VO Script Markup Peter K. O'Connell

I was playing substitute teacher last week for one of my voiceover friends who teachers a regular class for voiceover beginners.

We talked about a lot of different ideas that are involved in voiceover performance but one that seemed to resonate the most with them was marking up your voiceover script.

Because I have been doing voiceover for nearly 40 years, knowing that you can and should markup your voiceover script is second nature to me. But working with this class, it reminded me that it is NOT second nature for everyone.

So for any poor soul (who is not a bot – do bots have souls? I think not) who has fallen down the Google rabbit hole of voiceover searches and come upon this lowly blog, I share with you now some of my voiceover script marking up pointers.

1. YES mark up your script. You can and should do it It’s a pro move and more importantly it is a smart move

These Peter K. O’Connell Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent pencils can be found in recording studios across the country.

2. Use pencil not pen – the reason I have Peter K. O’Connell Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent logoed PENCILS is for marking up voiceover scripts….it’s also a nice leave behind in recording studios so that remember that they worked with me. 🙂

3. Whether it’s in a studio or remote from your studio, write somewhere on the script the names of everyone on the session (client, engineers, etc)…people find it both professional and satisfying when they are called by their name — which leads to my next point

4. Almost always, note the first time in the script the client’s name is mentioned….hit that vocally with whatever emphasis the script allows; clients love to hear their name/brand in scripts; also the first time it’s listed, it also establishes the brand within the script

5. Hopefully you have a little time before the session – with that time, read the script out loud; that’s one of the ways I find the script’s “voice” and then MY voice for the script – the client may send me in another direction in the session (and I will that direction without fail as that’s my job) but give yourself a starting place

6. Are there specific markings I should use (like proofreader markings)? Use whatever works to you, your thought process, your creative process that lets you understand whatever shorthand you noted to be able to convey that in the read – you will not get to re-type this stuff so make it clear for yourself…try not to rush your notes

7. Especially when you are at an outside recording studio – don’t take the script with you; scripts often contain promotional or operational details companies do not want shared before publication or even externally…leave the scripts behind or destroy them after you’re done with them

Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover Script Markup Breathe Mark

8. BONUS TIP (no extra charge): Besides an underline on key words or points, my favorite voiceover script mark is the upside down “T” that I use to tell me where to take a proper breath when periods are nowhere to be found. It also helps me pause and slow down…unless I actually write “pause” or “slow down” on the script.

Happy marking up!