Friday, April 25, 2014

I Suck at Marketing

I'm a professional voice artist and have been doing it for all of my adult life, I'm a pretty good cook and quite accomplished at baking artisan breads, if I do say so. I take decent photographs, specializing in nature photography. But I SUCK AT MARKETING my voiceover business. There I admit it. That's the first step right?
Image of Jerry Reed - Voice Talent
Jerry Reed - Voice Talent
I know I am not alone in this business of voiceover. Others have the same problem. No matter how hard we try, the marketing skills are not easily mastered. It's just something we don't very well. That's what agents are for right? Oh, but agents aren't interested until you have a proven success record. Here they come the chicken/egg, horse/carriage arguments. The pay to play sites position themselves as voiceover marketplaces but do little to promote the talents that have paid to be on their roster. It's not enough just to give talent an opportunity to audtion and fend for themselves. What is needed as a team of professional marketers that will go to bat for specific voice talent, promoting them to companies for projects where a voice is needed. There's a whole world that exists outside the casting call arena, a world that hasn't a clue what a casting call is or how they work. It's a world that's just finding out about explainer videos, a world that still uses the secretary to voice the power point or the company phone system. These people just know they need a voice for a project but don't know where to to turn to get one. Often they try the P2P sites and come away frustrated having to listen to a whole bunch of auditions. All they know is they need a voice and 90% of the time don't even know what they are looking for.
So here's an opportunity for someone to be not only an agent but a promotion/marketing specialist. Why don't these exist in our industry? For it to be worthwhile, the commission would have to be quite generous. Agents don't get a very high commission, in my opinion - usually 10-15%. But what if that person was offered a higher commission rate to actually promote a specific talent? I'd be first in line if I didn't have to do the marketing. Not only do I not like doing it. I SUCK AT MARKETING.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Voiceover Wisdom from a 150 Year Old Book

Years ago I picked up an old book at a used book sale, out of curiosity, and filed it away on the book shelf. The book, Sanders' High School Reader by Charles Walton Sanders was first published in 1856. So it is long out of copyright. I often look to old books that are in the public domain for practice material and stories to record as a storyteller. This particular book has a great deal of prose and poetry and includes material from leaders and teachers of that time period. For some reason I pulled the book off the shelf early this week looking for something else and stumbled on some wonderfully helpful material for voice actors. The very first chapter of the book caught my eye and contains six sections in a total of 44 pages:
Sanders' High School Reader - Spline View Elocution
Accent and Emphasis
The Rhetorical Pause

This is the kind of stuff they don't teach in school anymore and so valuable for voice actors. I found the section of inflection to be most useful, especially for the copy mark-up symbols that I will be using in the future to help me use the correct tone when delivering copy:
Sanders' High School Reader - Title Page Horizontal Line - Monotone
/   Right Leaning Slash – Rising Inflection
\   Left Leaning Slash – Falling Inflection
The curve or open U – denotes Circumflex where the first part of the word rises and second half falls or the opposite. An example might be: “If he is going to roME than I'm going to PARis. 
There's also a section of mark-up symbols for making notes on your copy for modulation. 
 This is good stuff, not only for the mark-up symbols but especially for the voice lessons within.
Language changes over time and many of the examples used in the book might be a bit dated. But, I found these forty-four pages to be some very valuable tools for me as a voice actor. Perhaps you will too. You can download the entire book for free from Barnes and Noble as a Nook book or as an eReader/PDF from Google Play-Google Books.

Google Play Store/Google Books
Barnes and Noble also has a copy for free.

Check out Sanders' High School Reader by Charles Walton Sanders. Great material that has stood the test of time.