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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Voiceover? There’s an App for That!

Actually, there are a lot of apps for that.  Voiceover professionals are just as impacted by technology as every other sector in the world.  We are deeply entrenched in the technology revolution, and whether you hate it or love it, you must admit that smart devices and their apps really do offer a great number of conveniences.  Here are just two of the amazing apps designed to make voiceover professionals’ lives easier.

Need to Warm up Your Voice on the Way to an Audition?

It is a very good idea to get your voice working well before you walk into the auditioning space.  There are many exercises that you can do all on your own, but it’s nicer to have a coach to walk you through these things.  Of course, most of us can’t afford to bring along a professional voice coach with us to every audition.  This is where the Voice Tutor app comes in handy.  It can help you with those pre-audition warm-ups while you are on the go.  It will even adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of your voice.  The Apple Store version costs $4.99, but is likely well worth the investment.

Need to Record an Audition Tape, But Can’t Be at Your Studio?

This does happen to a lot of voiceover actors and actresses.  While on the road to audition for one role, another spur-of-the-moment opportunity arises.  With deadlines for audition tapes often being very tight, it may not be possible to wait until you can get back to the studio.  For that reason, a team worked together to develop an app that would make it possible to record and edit a professional audition tape while on the road.  Of course, the high quality equipment in the studio would be preferable, but when it isn’t possible to be there, this four-dollar app can be your savior.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How to Hone Your Skills as a Voiceover Professional

Congratulations!  You’ve started on what can be a very fulfilling career path, and maybe you have even been hired for a voiceover job or two.  However, the work is only just beginning.  In order to remain successful in this line of work, you have to continue to hone your skills, so you can continue to get the paying work.  There are many things that a voiceover professional should do in order to get the most out of his or her voice.

Stay Healthy Both physical and mental health are extremely important in this line of work.  Therefore, it is truly essential for voiceover professionals to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  This should include a diet rich in the important vitamins and nutrients that defend against illness.  It should also involve physical activity that keeps the lungs strong, builds stamina, and clears the mind of everyday stresses.  The stronger you are mentally and physically, the better equipped you will be to handle the stresses and rigors of this line of work.

Educate Yourself  Most professionals agree that the learning process does not end at the graduation ceremony.  There is much that you can gain by continuing your education.  This includes acting classes, which can keep your approach to voiceover fresh and modern.  But, it also includes business classes – marketing, accounting, etc. – which can greatly enhance your ability to handle the backend up your voiceover business.

Be a Member of Community Both in the physical- and the virtual sense, you should embrace the chance to be an active member of your community. Whether you are conversing with people in your town or city, or via social media, the opportunity to network is always a benefit to your career.  Those benefits may not be immediately clear, but as you grown as a voiceover artist, you will likely find that all of the connections you made along the line have led to doors that you might never have discovered otherwise.

Treat Every Job as the First and the Last Each and every time you enter the recording space, try to harness the excitement that you felt when you recorded your very first voiceover job.  But, also give each and every job your very best effort as if it will be the last you ever record – your legacy as a voiceover artist. That passion will be appreciated and is likely to win over casting directors in the future.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Learning Accents: Four Helpful Hints

If you want to open more doors for yourself as a voiceover actor or actress, then you might want to consider learning how to mimic accents from around the country and the world.  For many projects, casting directors desire a particular accent or dialect.  If you can’t make it sound convincing, then you are immediately ruled out.  So, it is most definitely worth learning to master this skill.  So, here are four helpful hints to get you started:

#1. Take Advantage of Training Videos There are many training videos available.  Some cost money and some can be found on Youtube for no cost.  It is recommended that you opt for the videos versus the audio training options.  It is often easier to mimic accents when you can see the movements of the lips and facial muscles.  By copying both the movements and the sound, you can often master the accent faster. You can get good practice while auditioning for jobs that require accents.

#2. Watch, Listen, Practice, Repeat Load up on as many films and videos as you can find that feature the accent that you are attempting to learn, and just keep watching and listening.  Between films, take time to practice reading aloud in the accent.  Record those practice sessions and listen to them, so you can pick out weak spots to work on later.  The more you watch, listen, and practice, the more natural it will feel.

#3. Know the Character It is always important to understand the role that you are trying to fill with your voiceover readings.  It can help you develop a consistent voice.  This is even more essential when trying out a new accent. 

#4. Practice with a Pro By this, I don’t mean that you should look for another voiceover professional with experience mimicking accents.  I mean that you should find someone who genuinely knows the accent (because he or she lives with it and speaks with it daily).  The beauty of the internet and social media is that it can be quite easy to meet people from other corners of the world.  Reach out and attempt to find a practice partner who will critique your attempt at the accent in a way that only a native speaker could.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Using Twitter to Grow Your Voiceover Business

Social media marketing is a very powerful way to build brand recognition these days.  It is a great way to organically interact with some of the influencers in the business, and even makes it possible to network with casting directors.  However, there are a few golden rules of using Twitter to accomplish these tasks as a voiceover artist.

Always Treat Others With Respect If you don’t agree with something that someone else tweeted, and you can’t respond in a positive, respectful manner, then don’t respond.  That sort of negative interaction will do nothing for your business, except possibly lose you some of your followers who don’t agree with your argument.

Understand the Power of the Tweet It may be just 140 characters, a sentence or two at most, but it can carry great weight.  Remember that for each tweet you could be producing something upon which others will form a first impression.  As we have learned through the years, first impressions are very powerful and often difficult to overcome.  Be sure that you understand that many of those who interact with you online do not know you, other than by the content you share on that platform.

Do For Others More than You Do For You It is true that Twitter can be a great platform for advertising your product or service – in this case, your demo tape – but before you ask others to listen to it or to share it, consider what you have done for others on Twitter.  A good rule is to provide value 75% of the time, and promote yourself the other 25%.  That means that the majority of your time on Twitter should be spent liking, sharing, and commenting on others’ content, or providing content that has value for your audience.  Then, every so often, you can work in information about your demo, or your most recent project, asking others to interact with those announcements.

Do Not Be Impatient Consider all of the people you have met in your life.  Consider how many friends you have made and the people who have entered your family through marriage, birth, or adoption.  That didn’t all happen in a day, a week, or even in a month.  It takes time to build a network.  The same is true when you are building that network online.  Be patient and you can steadily grow a following, which may just help you score that next big voiceover gig.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Three Things You Should Never Do in the Casting Room

If you have to go in for an audition for a role as a voiceover actress or actor, then you definitely want to make a great first impression.  Unfortunately, it is very easy to let our nerves take hold, and that can lead to us saying and doing things that ruin the professional image that we are trying to portray.  So, as you prepare for your next audition, here are a few mistakes that you should aim to avoid:

Making Excuses There are times in life, for nearly everyone, when nerves cause us to apologize – often before we have done anything wrong.  This is a common occurrence in casting rooms, according to stories told by the casting directors.  Avoid this at all costs.  Don’t tell those preparing to hear your audition that you “only got the script that day” or that “your voice is a bit hoarse today”.  And, definitely, don’t ever say something like, “I’m sorry if I don’t do very well.  I’m really nervous.”  Walk into the room with confidence.   Let your audition speak for itself.  Fight the urge to explain yourself, to cast judgement on your own audition, or to make excuses.  You very well may do better than you expect.

Make Faces Remember, you are a voiceover actor or actress.  Don’t make faces that you wouldn’t make in the recording studio.  They are judging your ability to act the part with your voice, not your face.  But, even more importantly, if you make a mistake, don’t let it show in your face.  Keep your calm and overcome the issue.  You’ll win more points for maintaining your composure.

Ask to Read it Again There are exceptions to this rule.  But, as a general principle, the people hearing your audition are also going to hear many other voiceover actors and actresses read the same spot, so they don’t have time in their schedule to let everyone do a second reading.  If the opportunity is offered, then take it, but your goal should really be to do your very best reading the first time.  That also means that you should practice reading it aloud in front of others before you enter that room, which will help you avoid some of the discomfort of auditioning.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How to Increase Your Chances of Being Found by a Casting Director

If you are a voiceover talent trying to be discovered, you would definitely appreciate the notice of a casting director.  I was reading an article that involved an interview with a leading casting director in the voiceover industry, and I noticed something that seemed to be repeated over and over again – too many voiceover artists are making very costly mistakes without realizing it. So, here are a few simple tips that can help you avoid them.

Showcase Your Talents in Your Demo Obviously, if your demo tape is going to be the first thing the casting director sees of you, then you want it to be as impressive as possible. So, take the time to make it as good as you can.

ü  Do showcase your strengths as a voiceover artist, whether that is the ability to work humor into a script, the ability to speak with a real depth of emotion, or a skill for impersonating celebrities.
Ø  Don’t accept the first take.  Spend some time in the recording booth trying different things with your voice.  Consider working in audio from previous projects, if you are allowed to do so.  And, then take a lot of time editing what you have to get the best possible finished product.
ü  Do invest in this project.  Whether you opt to do just audio or to include video, you should consider hiring studio time to get the most professional product possible.  The investment will pay off, when you get more work as a result of your extremely impressive demo.

Actively Network Be online and be busy online.  In this day and age, taking time out of the day to chat with friends, co-workers, and associates is considered part of the job.  And, it is the best way to be discovered.  The more active you are online – creating content, developing a following, interacting with others, commenting on industry-related content, etc. – the more easy it will be for a casting director to happen upon your profile.

Follow Directions If you are submitting your demo tape to a casting director, be sure that you follow all of the directions.  The instructions are written for a purpose.  Don’t assume that all casting directors want things submitted in the same way.  Each has his or her own method of cataloguing demos, so when one appeals to him or her, contact can be made immediately with the voiceover talent.  Don’t miss out on that call by failing to submit your demo in the right.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Filing Taxes as an Voiceover Artist and Independent Contractor

It’s tax season.  It’s like a curse for many small business owners.  Doing your taxes is rarely fun.  Of course, for some there is the reward of a tax return at the end, which makes it easier to contend with the stress and anxiety.  But, whether you get a return or you don’t, you don’t have to panic just because it’s time to schedule an appointment with the accountant.  There are many advantages that come with living and working in this day and age, which begins with a much easier tax return filing process.

Consider the Free- and Low Cost Tax Assistant Sites Going to an account for the preparation of your tax return certainly comes with its own advantages, but today, the website-based services are very used-friendly, fast, and can often point to deductions that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.  In fact, in some states, people earning under a certain amount annually can file for free using government websites.  But, even if you are going to opt to see an accountant, it is worth doing a bit of research on the educational sites.  You can find a great deal of information about write-offs and other deductions available to independent contractors, which is exactly what most voiceover artists are.

File Electronically Unless there is an unavoidable reason why you must file by mail, definitely opt to file electronically.  Doing so greatly reduces the chances of an error, and it can get you your refund money much faster (if you are among the lucky 100+ million people in this country who will receive a refund this year).

Opt for Direct Deposit If you are getting a refund, definitely opt for direct deposit rather than a check.  The money will be in your account much faster, and that means that you’ll be able to invest in new voiceover equipment, a new marketing campaign, or other such items of value sooner.

Check the Status If you are concerned that it has taken too long for the tax return to be processed, rather than panicking or thinking the worst, go online and use the tools available to you.  You can check the status of your return, including the estimated date of delivery of your refund.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Avoiding Damaging Background Noise

There are voiceover projects that will require you to spend weeks or even months in the recording studio.   But, even for the much shorter voiceover spots, there is nothing worse than realizing that all of the work has been ruined because of an excess of background noise.  That is why noise cancellation is such a big part of this job.  For many, this becomes a near-obsession, but that is because we begin to realize just how costly the background noise can be.  It can result in many extra hours of editing, or worse yet, the need to re-record the spot.  Time is money.  Background noise costs time and, therefore, money.  So, what can you do to prevent that?

An Isolated Studio Windows are wonderful for letting in light, but in this industry, they can also be a big job hazard, because they let in the sounds of the outdoors – lawnmowers, dogs barking, cars speeding down the street, birds chirping, etc.  That noise is fine when doing office work, but for recording purposes, you need to avoid it.  That’s why it is such a good idea to have a recording booth or, at very least, a room that is away from the windows and the chaos of the house.

Consider Soundproofing It is possible to invest in soundproof recording booths that can be set up within your home.  Or, you can look into soundproofing techniques for a designated area of your home.  This can be a very worthwhile investment as it will drastically cut down on background noise, which means less editing time, and fewer takes.

Get a High Quality Microphone Many of the nicer microphones on the market today offer noise cancellation.  They can actually reduce the background noise picked up by the recording software.

Consider the Noise of Your Technology The soundproofing efforts can block out the noise outside the space, but they can’t do anything to dampen the noise within.  If you have a noisy computer fan or you bring your cell phone in, then there is a good chance you are still going to be doing a good deal of editing.  Leave the phone outside (or switch off the ringer) the recording space, and remove whatever technology doesn’t absolutely have to be in the space.

Breathe Smarter As a final tip, consider breathing exercises.  There are special techniques that can help you take better control of your breathing, which means fewer gasps and breaths picked up by the recording software.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Creating Your Voiceover Brand

If you are going to break into the voiceover industry, then you are very likely going to spend a lot of time promoting yourself.  Even those fortunate enough to sign a contract with a very notable agent will still have to do self-promotion at times.  This can be an intimidating piece of information for those new to the industry.  The majority of voiceover actors and actresses are naturally introverted.  That innate shyness can make it difficult to network with others, which is essential to building a brand.  The good news is that much of your networking and many of your marketing efforts will take root online.  Introverts, it has been proven, actually find it easier to become a part of the online community than those who are more outgoing in a face-to-face situation.  That said, as you get started building your brand, there are a few things that you should be aware of.

Don’t Limit Your Community to Industry Folks It can be tempting to seek out only those who share your interest in voiceover work, but these connections aren’t always the ones that will lead to more paying work and better brand recognition.  They are important, but you shouldn’t limit yourself.  Gaining exposure online is all about building a community of like-minded individuals, but that includes people who are interested in your hobbies and passions outside of work, as well as the voiceover work.  The more people you interact with on a regular basis, the more your content will be seen, the more your name will be shared, and the more your brand will be recognized.

Have a Budget It may be small at the start.  That is totally understandable, but it is important to understand that there are some investments that are entirely worthwhile when you are working to build brand recognitions.  Paid advertisements and promoted posts, for instance, can put your name, your face, your brand before a much larger audience.

Have a Strategy in Place Before you start spending that budget and putting ample amounts of time to work on building brand recognition, take the time to create a plan.  If you know what you want to accomplish and how you intend to do it, you will have a much easier time gauging how well you are doing along the way.  Your plan should also include some direction regarding the type of content that you want to focus on.  Much of this will likely be voiceover related, but it doesn’t hurt to consider what other interests your audience may share – movies, music, various hobbies.  Broadening your topic range will make you appear better-rounded and likely increase the interactions that you have online.

With some effort, people will begin to connect your name and face to voiceover work.  Ultimately, that sort of recognition can open many doors to you.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5 Things You Should Know Before You Start Voiceover

Like many “work from home” careers, there has been a lot of interest in voiceover throughout the past decade or longer.  As people become aware of the perks of the job, they naturally express curiosity.  However, there is much that you should be aware of before you quit your job to become a fulltime voiceover talent.  With the perks, there are also frustrations that one must deal with.  That is the case in this- and every professional field.  You just have to be sure that you fully understand what you are getting into and make sure that the perks outweigh the frustrations for you.  Here are a few things that you should definitely be aware of:

#1. Not every voiceover job is a cartoon voiceover or video game gig.  In fact, the majority of the jobs that you will sign as a voiceover talent will likely be short, fairly boring spots.  These could be for training videos, commercials, online advertisements, or other such materials.  And, you’ll likely have to read the same lines multiple times, until it is to the liking of the client.  It can get monotonous at times.

#2.  The pay can be quite meager (or even non-existent) at times.  Especially in the early years of your work as a voiceover actor, you can expect that there will be financially difficult times.  There is a very good chance that you could make much more money by going to a typical 9-5:00 job instead.

#3. The challenge in the voiceover industry is not what most would expect.  Sure, there is a bit of acting involved, and you will have to show a bit of inspiration during auditions, but the real skill is running a business.  The actual voiceover work is like the cherry on top for many working in this industry.  The marketing and accounting are likely to claim more time and attention than the actual voiceover.

#4. Critiques can be nasty!  You’ll often hear famous actors and actresses say that they never read the reviews of their shows.  There is a reason for this.  It can be painful to receive negative feedback, whether it comes in person at auditions or online from your peers.

#5. You are an entrepreneur first and a voiceover talent second.  I already touched on this a bit above, but it should be known that running a business can be tough, and costly.  As you work to gain momentum and recognition in the industry, you will likely profit very little.  Many find that they run out of money.  Essentially, their businesses go bankrupt (even if it does not involve formal documentation) and they have to go get another job in order to support themselves.

This isn’t meant to discourage you from trying voiceover, but rather to be the voice of reality, so you know exactly what you are getting into.  You will work from home and some voiceover work can be a lot of fun.  There is great profit potential and little overhead.  But, there are downsides that you must be prepared to deal with.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hiring a Voiceover Agent?

Especially if you are just beginning your career as a voiceover talent, you may find yourself frustrated as you look at the meager list of work laid out ahead of you.  It does take time to make your name in this industry, and even then, there will be periods of time that see less work that you’d like.  If these times are arising too frequently, if you are struggling to maintain a consistent flow of work, or you have difficulty knowing when and where to audition, then you might consider hiring a voiceover agent.

It’s true that a great agent can do a great deal for your career as a voiceover actor or actress.  
However, there are a few things that you should be aware of:

#1. No all agents are created equally.  Not only are there some who are by far better at what they do than others, there are also a few who are all too willing to take advantage of a person unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the industry.  Be sure that you carefully vet potential agents before signing anything.  Talk to several, get a good idea of how such contracts are written, and be sure that you are entirely comfortable with the details contained within.

#2. Not all agents will take you on.  Most agents will work on a commission-like basis.  So, they get paid when their clients secure work.  That means that they want to have clients that are apt to get the paying jobs.  If they feel that you lack the skill or experience to do so, they may opt not to take you on.  Furthermore, some agents don’t have enough time in the day to handle any more talents, so they will refuse you out of necessity.  Don’t take it personally.  Just keep working toward your goal and keep looking around for the agent that is a perfect fit for you.

#3. Having an agent doesn’t guarantee you the job.  You will still have to audition and interview for potential jobs.  The agent just helps to open more doors for you, so you have the opportunity to audition.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Voiceover Narration: 4 Great Reasons for Film Makers to Consider It

It is more than likely you have watched a movie that had some voiceover narration.  This is not an entirely uncommon format for movies, but it is not as popular as it once was.  However, there are good reasons for film makers to consider the use of a voiceover talent for the purpose of narration.

Move the Story Along Perhaps the most popular reason for narration, whether in film or on stage, is to progress the storyline.  The narrator may offer bits of information that would not be gleaned otherwise.  He or she may create a smoother transition between scenes, or just explain how a character came to be at a new location.  Very common in theater, this type of narration is also very effective on screen.  Consider the hugely successful film, Shawshank Redemption.  Without the narration, it would have fallen short of its true brilliance. Some of my most interesting work has been done for film.

Setting the Scene Whether it is because the story takes place in another realm, another time, or at an otherwise unexpected location, writers can use narration for the purpose of explaining the setting. This can be done well, and it can also fall flat.  That is why it is very important for the writer to consider how much- and in what manner the voiceover talent speaks.

A Touch of Humor Snarky, witty language is beloved by modern audiences.  Handled in the correct manner, voiceover narration can provide a healthy dose of this.  It can be offered up to compliment humorous scenes in a film, or to lighten the mood after a heavy scene. The ‘all-knowing’ narrator can provide a great deal of information about the various characters in a funny way that will keep audiences riveted.

To Cause Internal Reflection It has not been done often, but we have certainly seen this done very successfully.  Consider the raving reviews of Clockwork Orange for instance.  With the right voiceover talent, the right script, and the right timing, narration can draw the viewer into the movie, making him or her question ethics, morality, how he or she might respond if presented with the situation in real life.

Voiceover artists can offer a great deal to movie makers.  Narration is most definitely worth consideration.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to Find a Voiceover Talent Agent

If you are breaking into the voiceover industry, or you have been making a go of it for a while with only moderate success, you might want to consider a talent agent.  There are many benefits that come with securing an agent.  The most notable of these is access to more potential jobs.  Good agencies are tied into work databases and have connections, so they find work that you wouldn’t have been privy to otherwise.

Of course, an agency isn’t just going to agree to represent you blindly.  At least, a legitimate agency wouldn’t do that, which means that, in order to get a good agent, you are going to have to do a bit of leg work.  This begins with putting together a very professional resume of sorts. An actual written resume is a good idea, as it can clearly and concisely lay out the experience, education, and training that you have to back you up.  However, you will also need to have a demo. For some, the demo is purely audio, but many voiceover talents are opting to make video demos these days.  It is a great way to put your face before your agent and potential clients.  People will naturally form a connection with video than with audio alone. Or put together and interesting demo with clips from various video jobs you've done.

It is based on this information, and sometimes an in-person interview that the agency will decide whether or not they want to represent you.  So, do be sure to put forth your very best presentation.  Once, you have this ‘resume’ put together, you can begin submitting to various agencies.  Today, it is easy to find the talent agencies.  A simple Google search will turn up many in your area.  Review them, and submit your resume to the two or three that appeal most to you.  You should not have to pay your agent up front. They make their money by collecting a percentage on the jobs that you are hired to complete.

Once you have been accepted by an agency, you may very well be asked to spend some time in the recording studio right away.  Most agencies put together a house reel, which is essentially a loop of voice samples from all of the talent represented within the agency.  This is something that they can provide potential clients, but also something that they can reference when trying to match talent with available positions.

They will also ask you, when work that matches your skill set comes available, to do a reading for the client.   You will likely be one of three or four individuals asked to do this.  In this way, the agency can provide a choice for the client. Remember, though, because the agent is paid only when you secure work, they have good reason to get your paying jobs.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Working in Voiceover: Overcoming Shyness

There is one personality trait that could really destroy your chances of becoming a major success as a voiceover talent.  Even with the smoothest voice in the industry, you could fail to make your break if you struggle with shyness. There are many times, along the path to creating a successful voiceover business when shyness can get in your way.  However, there are also ways that you can overcome it.

Introverts Marketing Ironically, in years past, there have been studies done, which revealed that introverts have had greater success on social media than their more boisterous counterparts.  While this may sound as if there was a mistake made on the part of the researchers, if you think a little more about it, it does make sense.  Introverts are not less likely to have inspired thoughts or even less likely to have an excellent sense of humor – they are simply shy compared to extroverts.  Social media provides a sort of protective barrier that introverts tend to appreciate, making it easier for them to converse freely, and to create excellent content.  So, while being shy isn’t going to make it easy to do interviews or to appear on camera, it doesn’t have to hinder your marketing campaigns, because social networks are excellent channels for these efforts.

Hiring an Agent If you are innately shy, it may be a very good idea to hire an agent.  Why?  Because, the agent can handle much of the upfront communication that could be uncomfortable for a shy individual.  This will greatly cut down on the time that you must spend conversing with potential clients.

Call In Favors Unlike extroverts, who tend to have large communities of friends, introverts tend to have just a handful at most.  However, those few friendships tend to be much closer.  That means that you likely, as a shy individual, have a very supportive group behind you.  Call on those friends and family members with whom you are close.  Ask them to support your new career path by helping to spread the word.