Friday, September 27, 2019

Pay to Play voice over sites

There certainly is a lot of discussion these days about the value, or lack of it, in being on a Pay to Play website to win voice over jobs. And in visiting voice over forums, I see there tends to be a good amount of differing opinions. So, I'll offer mine here and speak to my own experiences.
About 14 years ago when I was moving out of radio and into voice over full-time, I joined Voices.com. The subscription fee back then was reasonable and I won enough jobs to more than cover the cost of signing up. Fast forward to now. The amount of negative feedback Voices.com is getting is off the charts. And the couple that started the company got their hands caught in the cookie jar doing some really shady things to the voice talent and fees charged. (Insert "ripoff" here). There are many articles online about this written by voice actors, so I won't go there. (Just Google "Voices.com reviews"). A few years ago, I decided to no longer subscribe to their service. And just before I left them, unlike when I first joined, the good paying job auditions I received were few and far between. I also never liked how Voices.com does not allow the voice talent to directly interact with the client while the job is being done. Everything has to go through them. I've been on Voices123 and Bodalgo out of Germany and won jobs on both. But more and more, I'm seeing auditions submitted for a job are not even being listened to by the voice seeker. And it's not just me. It's what I'm reading from other voice talents on forums. So, while I am not a fan of Pay to Play sites, there are some voice talents who will tell you they make good money using them. Most of my business comes from repeat customers, word of mouth, and marketing emails I send out to video/media production companies with a link back to my website demos.  Things are changing quickly in the voice over industry. Tread carefully when considering joining a Pay to Play site. Sharks abound. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Perhaps my most favorite voice over job...ever

I was tipped off by a good client of many years that his company was filming at locations around the world for a new, inspirational TV show called "In Pursuit of Passion." And, much to my delight, the lady who was hosting the show (Tracy) was looking for someone to narrate it. So, I emailed her and told her of my interest. She agreed to email me a script for a short audition. I did not see any film of the show beforehand so I was a bit in the dark as to the energy needed on the narration. I went with a slightly upbeat take and emailed her a link to download the MP3 audition. She got back to me and said it was a bit too cheery and upbeat. With that direction in mind ( for which I was very grateful), I recorded a second audition and sent that to her. I was happy to receive an email from her saying the second take was solid and we would go with that. There  were a total of six episodes to be narrated from places like Africa and Greece. It was a fun but somewhat challenging narration as the scripts contained quite a few proper names. And of course, those needed to be said correctly. I was often able to go to Forvo.com for pronunciations. (One of my favorite sites). I was delighted when she sent me a link to see the completed episodes. The show airs in select markets here and abroad.

A funny aside. A brother of mine in Ohio called me on a weekend and said he and his lady friend were watching a show on TV and at the end in the credits my name "John Miles" came on screen. He asked if it was me.  I scratched my head and told him I didn't think so. After he described a few parts of the episode he watched, it dawned on me it was me! I had recorded the narrations for the episodes the prior year and had sort of forgotten about them. Here's a link to one of the episodes from Africa. I must say, this is in my top 5 of all-time favorite voice over jobs I have done...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvIt9sqIcCM&list=PLV56C9OZ6lwyLeUgJu5743OC4BkDxnz7p&index=4&t=0s

"Don't touch that microphone!"

Let me say up front that this post is for beginning voice over talents as more experienced ones will know this. There is a thing called "studio etiquette." It's sort of the "code of conduct" when you go outside your home studio to record.

When in the recording booth, never EVER touch or move in any way the microphone. That will get you a solid scolding from the audio engineer who is there to set up the session. It's the audio engineer's job to reposition the microphone, if necessary. While recording the script and being directed should you flub a word or sentence, don't whine on and on and beat yourself up verbally. That makes you look like a beginner. And you won't win any points with the director(s). Simply listen to the direction as to where they want you to do the re-take.  This is called a "pick up." Typically, you'll go back to the beginning of the sentence where you made the flub and read the line again.

After the recording session, come out of the booth, sign any necessary paper work, thank them, and LEAVE. Don't linger with endless chatter. These folks are busy and that's bound to be very annoying to them. It's all about carrying yourself like a pro. It'll go a long way in your voice over career. The business is tough enough as it is. Don't shoot yourself in the foot and look like an amateur.  

Monday, September 16, 2019

Magical Mornings

I totally enjoy getting out of bed early and getting at the day. I was raised in a small country house in Ohio with one bathroom. I have quite a few siblings (8) and mornings were very hectic. There was no such thing as "sleeping in." My Dad, who was a fantastic drywall and  plaster man, made sure that we got our outside chores done-raking the apple orchard, cleaning the barn stalls where we kept a few horses, weeding the garden, and so on. And yes, he made a list of chores in the morning before he left for work and would check to see how well we had done when he came home. He was a taskmaster for sure, and as a young boy, I sometimes resented it. Later in life, I came to realize it was a good thing as I was held accountable. My Dad's motto was the familiar refrain, "If you're gonna do something, do it right, or don't do it at all."

I learned to enjoy waking up early and starting the day. That motivation has stuck with me to this day. As mentioned in another post on this blog, Dad and I would often play early Sunday morning golf. As in, still kind of dark outside and dew on the grass.  My brother and I slept in a bunk bed. I remember Dad coming in early Sunday morning and shaking me and telling me to get up as we were going golfing. It was a special ritual.

And today, as I do voice overs from my home studio, I find mornings to be very special as there is the promise of a new day and the expectation of getting things done and accomplished. Not to mention, it's quiet. And every voice over artist who records can appreciate that. Some of my most productive work has occurred at 4 or 5 AM. But don't worry, if you hire me to do a voice over and you want to listen in as I record, we don't have to go with "crack of dawn" times. I realize early mornings aren't for everyone!