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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Voiceover Professional

There is a great deal of value that can be added when you employ the right voice for your voiceover work.  The right talent can infuse life into your videos, website, social posts, commercials, correspondences and more.  The wrong voice, though, can be costly, in many ways. 

Why is it dangerous to select a voiceover talent at random?

ü  Inexperienced, unprofessional voice over artists can drastically slow your production time.  That means it takes longer to get your message to the customer, client, or employee. 

ü  There are some voices, whether because of a monotone nature, because of tone, or pitch, that are perceived as unattractive to many listeners.  You can imagine how quickly such a voice would cause a person to stop listening.

It’s not just about avoiding the wrong voice, it is also about finding the right one.  So, here are some questions that you should be asking before you hire anyone for the job.

?         What sort of message am I trying to get across to my audience?  There are certain voices that are better for certain types of messages.  For instance, most people believe that male voices better evoke force.  On the other hand, a female voice may be the better option if trying to sell a feeling of comfort, as they tend to be perceived as more soothing.

?         Who is your intended target? Obviously, the message is going to be different if directed at a new employee than if you are reaching out to a potential customer.  However, you should be even more specific than that.  If you are speaking, for instance, to a region of the country that has a noted accent, then you may want to consider a voiceover artist who shares that accent.

?         What do you know about the voiceover artist’s background? It can be tempting, when hearing a voice that sounds perfect for your intended message, to hire as soon as the demo has finished playing.  However, there are a few things that you should know about the artist before hiring.  How long has this person been working as a voiceover artist?  How many jobs of this nature has he or she done?  How long does he or she expect it to take to put together a great, finished recording?

Ask the right questions and you are much more apt to get the finished product that you desire, complete with excellent voice over.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How to Turn Daily Transactions into Voiceover Work

Most days, the majority of people will have some level of interaction with another person.  This could be the unexpected cold call on a lazy day around the house, or it could be the numerous people doing a multitude of tasks related to the errands that you run on an average day.  Any one of these interactions could lead to a new professional connection, but you’ll never know the possibility unless you actively pursue it.  Am I saying that you should introduce yourself and talk about your choice of profession with every person you come across on a given day?  No.  Of course not.  However, there are many opportunities to boost business that entrepreneurs, like you (and me), miss out on every day.  So, before you start your day, consider your objectives and how they may double as business building prospects.

Running into an Old Friend You run out of the recording studio to grab a quick bite to eat, you make your way to the grocery story to pick up a few things needed around the house, or you stop to check your mail.  These are all normal activities that people do on a regular basis, and they often lead to small-talk-situations.  You may come across an old neighbor in the aisle of the grocery store.  A former high school classmate may be managing the restaurant where you stop to have lunch.  Or, you may run into your prior colleague in the post office.  The best question to ask?  “Where are you working these days?”  “How’s work treating you?”  Questions like these can be easy transitions into talk about your own profession, which is exactly the aim should be.

Going to the Doctor Appointments are one of the best times to grow your business.  As soon as you leave the office, check the website of the practice (doctor, dentist, masseuse, chiropractor, physical therapist, etc.) and look for areas that could benefit from voiceover work.  Then, simply write a note to the office, suggesting that you had a recent visit that went really well, that you followed this up with a look at the website, and that you would be willing to offer your voiceover services if they wanted to add some script to their existing videos.

Establishing New Friendships on Social Media Perhaps because there are computer- (or handheld device) screens between you, social media is often the easiest place to share info about your profession and to offer up your services.  Just don’t forget, when you make a new connection on a social network, invite that person to like your professional page as well.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tips for Voiceover Actors Trying to Master Dialects

There is a measure of advantage that comes with being able to offer a variety of services as a voiceover artist, so learning a new dialect is a great idea.  It can open up new doors for you, which is a great thing, but it can also require a great deal of dedication.  It is not overly easy to really master a new dialect, however with these few tips, you may just be able to accomplish this goal and sign some new voiceover work in the near future.

1.    Pronunciation is Just One Piece of the Puzzle The first thing that most people will do when trying to learn a new dialect is to mimic the accent of those they hear speaking it.  That is perfectly understandable, and not an altogether wrong approach to learning.   You must understand, though, that mastering the pronunciation isn’t all that goes into mastering the dialect.  Focusing too much on the pronunciation can make your voiceover sound stiff and forced.  You must maintain that human element, the rise and fall of natural speech.

2.    Learning a Dialect is Not the Same as Learning an Accent A dialect, according to most dictionaries, is a form of speech that is unique to an area, region or particular segment of the population.  Accent generally refers only to the pronunciation of the words, while learning a dialect means learning the distinctive phrases and slang terms used within that area, region, or social group.

3.    Immerse Yourself Perhaps you can’t travel to England, in order to learn the British dialect, or to Ireland to speak with an authentic Irish Brogue, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t immerse yourself.  There is a seemingly endless supply of music, video, television, and movies available on the internet today.  Find everything you can featuring the dialect that you hope to master, then watch and listen as often as possible.

I     I learned a Scottish dialect to be eligible to get a great part in the play "1776." Another in the play was actually Scottish and he recorded all my lines with his dialect. I practiced very carefully repeating each line many time... I got the part in an incredible musical play!


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Why Many Actors and Actresses Like Voiceover Work at Certain Ages

In recent years, I have read many articles related to the entertainment industry, which all suggest ideas for those actors and actresses looking to find work in their ‘gap years’.  What are the gap years?  They vary for different artists, depending upon when those individuals break into the industry.  For those who start very young, the gap years can occur multiple times.  There are some ages at which there are simply more casting calls.  Generally, it is the “between generations” span that can be difficult.  Consider that most shows and movies feature people that can fit into the stereotypical roles of “grandparent”, “parent”, “young adult/teen”, or “child”.  While an actor or actresses is of an age that doesn’t allow him or her to clearly fit into one of those categories, he or she may find it difficult to find work.

These are the gap years that the previously mentioned advice-articles refer to.  There are many suggestions given for those in their gap years, including getting a side job, taking more acting classes, or stepping outside one’s comfort area.  However, there is something else – or perhaps a combination of these tips – that many actors and actresses have found success with.

Voiceover work allows for all of those well-honed acting skills to be put to use, but without the pressure of “looking” the part.  Therefore, the gap years can be filled with paying work that allows the person to continue growing within the industry.  It also keeps him or her involved with others working in the entertainment field, which means more doors may open, and fewer are shut while he or she passed from one age category to another.

There are, of course, a few differences between the type of acting done for stage or screen, versus that done before a microphone.  Therefore, it is worth taking some classes or practicing voiceover acting before trying to make the jump.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Should You Hire One- or More Voiceover Talents for Audiobooks?

There are a lot of audiobooks on the market, but not all are frequent downloads.  In fact, only a small percentage of authors will see real success in the audio book market.  The rest will be lucky to make a little money after paying for the related expenses.  There are a number of factors that can determine whether or not an audio book is successful.  These include, of course, the status of the author, the topic of the book, and the marketing skills of the author and those working for him or her.  There is one other, big factor to consider though – the quality of the voiceover work. 

Many, many times, customers will completely pass by an audio book or buy it only to immediately “return” it because the voiceover work is not appealing to them. Most people know what it is like to listen to awkward audio.  It could be just the tone or the pitch of the voice that is troubling to the listener.  It could be that the voiceover artist has a tendency to sound monotone after reading for a period of time.  Or, it could be that the story is too hard to follow before there is only one voice and multiple characters in the book.

All of these situations can be very frustrating for the author, but all are preventable.  For the sake of this article, let us consider the latter – the need for multiple voices.  This can be managed in two ways:

#1. Hiring Multiple Voiceover Artists: They can work together in the same recording studio or all make their recordings separately, to have them digitally combined later.  Either way, you wind up with a distinct voice for each character.  For novels that feature many characters, this can be a good way to go, because it really can be difficult for a single voice actor to manage all of the voices while ensuring that the lister can discern one from another.

#2. Have One Artist that Can Speak in Many Voices There are many voiceover talents that can seemly transition from one style of speaking to another, allowing them to give a distinct voice to each of the characters in the book.

It is also possible to combine these methods.  For instance, some authors choose to hire both a female- and a male voiceover artist.  The female speaks for all female characters, while the male manages all masculine parts.  So, the answer to the initial question is “no” because there are multiple methods of managing the problem.  You don’t have to hire more than one voiceover talent, but you may want to consider it, if you think it will provide a more enjoyable listening experience for the consumer.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Get Customers Talking to Build Corporate Voiceover Business

Have you ever been to an art opening with just one or two people walking around the space?  Have you ever witnessed a free concert that had almost no one in attendance?  Such failures don't just occur in the art world.  On a regular basis, in this country, and surely in other areas of the world, businesses face disappointment when sales, promotions, and other marketing schemes fall flat.  In the voice over industry, a failed attempt to reach potential clients can be very costly.  The good news is that many of those failures suffered by artists, musicians, retailers, and voiceover artists in the past were likely preventable.  How do you avoid such a disappointment?  You rely on the longest standing marketing principle – word of mouth.

The era of social media has made word of mouth more powerful than ever before.  People have greater reach when they want to share their reviews of businesses and performers.  They can spread the word without even leaving their own homes.  But, how do you get your former clients, friends, and others talking about your brand?

Encourage Reviews Often, all you have to do is ask, and a former client or customer will happily write up a review that can be shared on your website, as well as on your social media feeds.

Get Chatty The best way to get a conversation going about your business is to be the one to start the conversation.  Don’t forget that the primary purpose of social media is to be social.  Really take the time to speak with former customers as well as potential future clients.  Above all else, always take the time to respond to comments or messages from others.  Not only can this turn a simple comment into an actual conversation, it will also showcase your professional nature, and make that person more likely to say a kind word about you to others.

Offer Up a Reward When someone has done you the kindness of referring you to potential customers or clients, take the time to return the kindness.  Send a thank you note, provide a small gift, or offer a reasonable discount on his or her next project.  You can be sure that this will increase the likelihood that they refer your services again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Getting Your Talented Child into the Voiceover Studio

If you have a child who has shown a lot of interest in acting, then you might be considering getting him or her into voiceover work.  While it certainly differs from stage acting, many young, creative children have done very well in the recording studio.  There are a few things that you should consider if you are trying to break into the industry on behalf of your child.

Age Though personality and maturity will be gauged above all else, many casting directors will have an age cut-off (on both ends).  Although there is an awareness that working with children is not quite the same as working with adults, the client is most concerned with getting a good recording, and will, therefore, stipulate an age range most likely to fulfill those needs while in the studio.

Training It is not impossible to land a voiceover job without professional training, but your child is going to be much better off if he has something to put on his resume.  Stage experience is great, professional training is even better.  Acting classes are offered all over the country, many devoted to young children.  There are also professional voiceover coaches, although these professionals are more commonly found in large cities (where live auditions are most likely to take place).

Making the Transition A voice over coach will be able to provide additional input on where to look for audition and casting opportunities.  There are also websites devoted to voiceover work, where you can upload your child’s resume and demo reel.  Another option is to seek the assistance of a talent agent.  You, as the parent, will also have to take responsibility for the other end of the voiceover business – the marketing, accounting, and time management concerns, for instance. And check online for other opportunities.

With a bit of luck and the investment of some of your time, your children can start a voiceover career at a very young age.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Many Misconceptions About Voiceover

If you are new to the voiceover industry, or you are considering changing career paths in order to give your voice the chance to shine, you will want to be very careful to avoid the many myths and misconceptions related to this field.  There are many of them, but here we will touch on a few that could be very misleading and cause your new career to fail in no time.

It’s Not About the Imitations There are so many people who come into this industry who believe that the name of the game is to be able to mimic the stars and cartoon characters well known to people throughout the country.  They create entire demo reels showcasing their ability to mimic others.  This is not what voiceover is about and, in fact, that sort of demo reel can actually hurt your chances to sign with potential clients.  Why?  In most cases, the casting directors want to hear your voice, not someone else’s.  A little bit of imitation work can be beneficial, but the majority of your work will be done in your own voice.

It’s More Than Audiobooks and Cartoons While it is true that audiobooks and animation have been a source of income for many voiceover artists, they are not the only forms of voiceover work.  In fact, they don’t even represent the majority of the work.  Be sure that you aren’t limiting yourself as a VO professional.  There is work to be had recording for commercials, internet spots, video games, narration, training videos, introduction videos, and other corporate work.

Not Everyone Can Do Voiceover Anyone with a voice can be recorded, right?  While that may be true, it doesn’t mean that the recording will be worth anything.  And, more importantly, there is much more involved with working as a voiceover artist than speaking into a microphone.  You will be operating your own business, which means marketing, accounting, time management, and much more.  Not everyone can make it as a voiceover artist.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

5 Things That Make Voiceover Script Great

Just as not all voiceover artists are created equally, not all voiceover scripts are of the same caliber.  Whether you are a VO artist or you are preparing a script, there are a few things that you should be considering to determine whether it is a script worth reading.  These are the five things that you should be seeking as you do a first read through:

1.    A Consistent Message Whether it is a training video, a commercial, or an audio book, there should be a consistency to the writing.  No one is going to be happy with the recording – especially the intended audience – if the message isn’t clear or the script is difficult to follow.  Be sure, as the writer, that you know what you want to convey and keep to that theme throughout.  As a VO artist, avoid scripts that are confusing or difficult to understand, if possible. At least seek clarification before recording.

2.    Proper Formatting This is especially important if there is dialogue occurring within the script.  Whether there is one VO artist or multiple readers, the ability of the voiceover talents will be greatly hindered if the formatting is wrong or inconsistent.

3.    Easy Reading We’ve touched on this a little, but it is worth saying again.  When doing a final readthrough, as the writer, or an initial readthrough, as the VO artist, be sure that you read aloud.  This can help you pick out tricky spots.  If you can’t comfortably read the majority of script clearly the first time, it is probably not worth taking into the studio. And DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS! All caps are "visually" hard on the eyes! They also don't allow room for emphasis to be placed on any particular words or phrases. So, use upper and lower case in complete sentences.

4.    No Slashes, but Many Contractions Unless this is an extremely formal script, chances are that the VO artist and the client are going to be happier if contractions are used in voicing the script.  It will sound more natural and pleasant that way, so write the contractions in, rather than expecting the VO artist to mentally make those changes in the studio.  Similarly, avoid confusion created with symbols like a slash (i.e. he/she).  The script should be written as it is to be read (i.e. he or she).  These may seem like little issues, but when they come up many times throughout the script, they can make the recording process a much bigger challenge for the VO artist.

5.    Client Notes There should be notes included with all scripts.  Undoubtedly, there will be words, names, or concepts that must be explained.  As a VO artist, you should be carefully considering those notes (or lack thereof).  For instance, if, when reading the script, you come across multiple names that are difficult to pronounce, but there are no notes provided offering pronunciation, that should send up a mental red flag.  You certainly don’t want to have your pronunciation corrected after you have spent hours in the recording studio.