Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Who is that lady's voice you hear overhead in the airport?

 As more and more folks begin again taking to the sky, they'll be moving through airports to get to their destination on time. In the background, they're likely to hear a female voice making all kinds of announcements to travelers. She does it in such a nice way and has to have one of the best jobs in the world! Literally. Her voice can be heard in about 200 airports globally. She records the announcements from her cozy home studio. Through good luck and timing, she landed this unique job many years ago. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!  Imagine introducing yourself at a party and someone asks you, "So what do you do for a living?" You reply,"I make airport announcements. I LOVE working from home and the pay's pretty good too." CBS News did a cool feature on her. It's  brief and fun. Take a look.  She has a great laugh to boot. 


Friday, December 2, 2022

It's like show business. If you don't take care of business, there'll be nothing to show!

 As Woody Allen said years ago, "Just showing up is half the battle." 

If you want to find a terrific way to never get hired again to do an in studio voice over session... show up late. You MUST show up on time. The people who have hired you to do the voice over are paying good money to use the studio. If you show up late, you're costing them money. They won't be pleased. Instead of greeting you with a friendly smile and hello as you stumble in, you'll be met with a smirk of displeasure. It will be very easy to see they are not happy with you. And chances are, they've heard all the excuses before. "I got stuck waiting for a train to go by." "Oh, traffic was awful coming into the city...backed up for miles." "My alarm didn't go off." "My dog was out of control." Um, you're not fooling anybody. If you're chronically late to your recording sessions, you'll come off as unprofessional; maybe even a bit disrespectful of everyone's time. Playing the diva role and thinking it's cool to be late, well, you better think again. Divas are a dime a dozen. "Next!"

I once did a morning radio show with a co-host in West Palm Beach. When I was hired, our show started at 6 AM. I'm a morning person by nature and getting up early was no big deal. Later, our program director told us we needed to start the morning show at 5 AM. Again, for me, no big deal. (Not sure how my co-host felt, but I'm pretty sure she was not an early bird.) Now going on the air at 5 AM meant me getting up at 3:30 or so. I didn't have an overly long drive to the station. Patting myself on my back a bit; in the four years we did the show, I was never late to go on the air. Not once. And I had a few late nights out on the town. OK, maybe more than a few.

I was hired to voice a number of learning projects at a studio in San Francisco. I would take BART (rapid transit) from my town in the East Bay, to the city. It took about 30 minutes or so to land at Powell and Market in the city. I would always leave my place early and had about a half hour to kill before the recording session at the studio. That was fine. I was able to grab a snack before walking down to the studio; about a 10 minute walk. It was all very comfortable for me. If you get off BART with minimal time to get to the session, you'll be racing not to be late and perhaps anxiety will creep in. Not especially good for your nerves and voice over efforts. You want to have time to chill out front near the receptionist in the lobby and gather yourself. You might need to use their bathroom. Grab some water. Whatever. I say show up to your session 10-15 minutes early and you'll have enough time to focus and relax a bit. Showing up an hour early is not recommended.

Back to that radio station where I did that morning show. Our on-air time was from 5 AM to 10 AM. The lady deejay who followed us was ALWAYS late to go on the air. Instead of her going on at 10, she'd be late and take over the control board at 10:10 or 10:15. And this was almost EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! My patience was wearing thin. I heard all the excuses. One day she was 20 minutes late to go on the air as I covered for her and kept the music playing. She casually walked in and said "I'm sorry John. I'm always late." "Yep, I see that," I said. (even Mr. Magoo could see that).  She was an otherwise nice person with a pleasant on-air style, but showing up on time was a major challenge for her. And the problem was her showing up late all the time came off as very inconsiderate and unprofessional. The station was not asking her to be there by 5 AM. She needed to show up at 10 AM and ready to go! 10 AM!  Apparently, it was too much to ask.

Veterans of the voice over world know how important it is to be dependable and show up on time. Actually, that goes for everything in life; not just voice over sessions. SHOW UP ON TIME and be the pro that they expect. If you're always late, you better figure out a way to fix that if you want to work in this very competitive voice over industry. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

"Thanks for calling! One of our customer service representatives will be with you in a moment."

 When I lived in North Carolina a number of years ago, I use to drive over the border three times a week to Muzak headquarters in Ft. Mill, South Carolina and voice countless on hold messages. Yes, Muzak (now Mood Media) does a lot more than just produce elevator music. I was one of many voice talents who would drop in throughout the week to voice from a VO booth. We had an audio engineer down the hallway who would roll scripts on a monitor in front of us and capture the on hold messages for editing and formatting later. As voice talents, our role was to come in and voice as many two-three paragraph scripts as we could in an hour. This required very good "cold reading" ability. That is to say, we didn't have a chance to see the scripts before the session, so you had to be good at voicing on the fly. If you made a mistake, you'd simply revoice the line and move on;the fix would be done in editing. There was a HUGE premium put on voice talents who could whiz through the scripts and voice say, 35-45 separate messages in an hour.  We were paid a decent hourly rate and the work was relatively stress free with nominal direction. 


Phrases like, "You're call  is important to us," "Thanks for holding...we'll be with you in a minute," and "While you're waiting, did you know...?" have been the norm for many years with little change. Of course, many folks hate to be put on hold or get caught up in an on hold hell of sorts as they feverishly push buttons to be connected to a live, breathing, human being.

I've had a few funny experiences over the years when calling businesses. Here in California, I called an online auto parts supplier to follow up on an order I had placed through their website. It was very early morning and I received an hours of operation, on hold message. "We're currently closed, but our hours of operation are from...". I heard the voice and thought, "Boy, that guy sounds a lot like me," when it dawned on me, it WAS me! Having voiced many on hold messages it's easy to lose track and some can run for quite a while before needing to be updated.

Another time, a producer/client friend of mine emailed to tell me he was with friends in the middle of a California desert getting some gas when he heard my voice overhead at the gas pump beckoning customers to come in the convenience store to get a Slurpee or cup of freshly brewed coffee. He said it kind of freaked him out as my voice came out of nowhere and he told his friends, "Hey, that's John Miles. I hired him to voice for me." This type of messaging is what is known as "overhead." You hear these messages in stores all the time.

  Many voice talents stay away from on hold work. I still enjoy it. Part of the challenge is to combine a conversational read with some enthusiasm without sounding cheesy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

"Duck! Here comes another piece of wedding cake!"

I'm reposting this because it happens to be one of the most popular on this blog. (I'm able to log in and see how many views it has.) Seems that folks like a good wedding fight! Just like the WWE!

 I once co-owned a mobile deejay business with a partner when I was on radio in South Florida.  It was called "Hot Summer Nights." A fitting name for a Florida entertainment company we thought. We would book company Christmas parties, birthdays, weddings, you name it.  Pretty much any occasion where music was needed to light up the crowd for a good time. Coming from my radio background, mobile deejaying was extra fun, as I could actually see my "audience"...unlike radio.  

Weddings were a challenge as the guests in attendance at the reception were everyone from the bride and groom to little children, teens, and in most cases, Mom and Dad and Grandpa and Grandma. So you were playing music to a wide age range. You had to have  something for everyone and keep them all happy. And by all means, DON'T play any unfamiliar music that folks didn't know. That would make the dance floor empty quickly. And you might get a dissatisfied look from the bride or groom. For the most part, I played the hits and kept the good vibe going.

Before the wedding, I would always meet with the bride and groom (and sometimes their parents) to discuss exactly what song selections they wanted played... or didn't want played. Which brings me to what this post is all about. 

By far, a particular Italian wedding was one of, if not thee most, bizarre weddings I ever deejayed. I met beforehand with the bride and her Mom. Right off the bat, I knew this event was going to have its "unique challenges." The mother said, "My creepy ex-husband is going to be at the reception. If he comes up to make a request, DON'T play it!" Alrighty then. "Also," she went on to say, "An uncle and nephew have very bad blood and they'll be at the reception . Hopefully, there won't be any problems." After Mom gave me a 50%  cash deposit to deejay the event, I left our meeting driving home with all kinds of weird scenes playing out in my head; most of them not good. 

Fast forward to the wedding reception. It was your typical hot Summer, South Florida day. The couple had rented out a large party room at a West Palm Beach golf course on a Saturday. My assistant for the day helped me set up my deejay equipment. Soon, guests started filing in. It was a very large and lively crowd. I fired up some music and things got rolling. The dance floor was filling up nicely. That was always good to see. Just trying to keep everyone happy. Drinks were flowing freely as the crowd loosened up. Midway through the reception, the bride's Mom came up to me and handed me the balance due in cash and walked away. I told my helper/assistant to play the music as I wanted to step into the men's room and count the cash to make sure all was paid. Upon exiting, I saw fists flying from all corners and utter mayhem breaking loose, as the nephew and uncle I had been warned about had gotten into a push and shove match, with others stepping in to take a few swipes at the nephew, who apparently had a history of run-ins with the law and stirring up issues with the family. A chef came out of the kitchen and tried to get things under control. But the free for all fight kept rolling. I honestly thought someone might pull a knife or gun. I think I even saw Grandma  trying to get in a punch or two at the nephew, people yelling  and taking sides.  And at one point, I feared for my deejay equipment as a tidal wave of people was moving in my direction with little regard for my set-up. Things got so out of hand, someone called the police. The first cop that showed up looked like Barney Fife from the old Mayberry TV show. He looked like he weighed just shy of 130 pounds! I thought, "There's no way this guy is going to be able to get this angry crowd under control." Soon, more officers arrived in the parking lot before running into the reception area. I stepped out to the lot to see a middle aged man punching one of the guests who fell to the pavement. It was all very surreal. Like out of a movie. Or the phony WWE with all their staged wrestling fights on TV. And sadly, the bride had taken a seat in the limo with an open door and was sobbing hysterically, saying, "They've ruined my day!"  I truly felt badly for her. Eventually, things settled down and my assistant and I broke down our deejay equipment and left the "festivities." I was relieved to be on the road. Time to get home for a cold beer. Or maybe a couple.

Later that evening, my business partner called and asked me how the wedding went. I told him he would be deejaying the next wedding we booked. I needed a short "vacation."

                                                                         


                            

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Halloween fun and Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

 It has always fascinated me that Vincent Price supposedly recorded his haunting narration for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in just one take. WOW!

Having him on that recording was pure genius. Who better to do the narration than the late king of horror movies-Vincent Price. I know some of you reading this are young and have no clue who Vincent Price is. Go on You Tube and search his name. His voice was perfect for spooky movies and he was quite in demand. 

Vincent apparently got paid a flat $20,000 to add his voice to this monster classic. But as an option, he was offered a percentage of the album sales, which he turned down. Ouch! That cost him millions. He was on a TV talk show and the host asked him why he didn't take the percentage deal and he humorously said he was doing well with his acting career at the time and didn't need the money.

Here's a link to the recording session with Michael and Vincent. It sounds like they had a lot of fun. Listen for Vincent's eerie laugh at the very end.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Set up your You Tube channel (It's a good idea for business!)

 There are many ways to promote your voice over business. I'm on Linked In, have my own website with my voice over demos and customer testimonials, email marketing, and this blog, to name a few.

My You Tube channel allows me to showcase work I have done for others needing a pro voice over for their videos. It's a great way to show your versatility. The channel is free. You can log in once you set up your account and rearrange your videos. Mine begins with a voice over I did for a San Antonio engineering firm. From there, I picked other videos that show another style of read from me. 

Here's a list of some of the video types I have on my You Tube channel...

A video showcasing a pressure washer (They wanted a "gritty, masculine" voice for this.)

One about a Palm Beach golf resort. I used a very quiet voice for this one. Relaxing feel

A TV commercial for "Think Like a Cat." One of four I voiced that aired on Game Show Network. Amusing voice. Light and happy. Fun.

A mysterious book trailer voice over

A  narration I did for "In Pursuit of Passion," an inspirational TV series

A learning voice over for a video about plagiarism ("Salami Slicing")

A car TV spot for a Texas dealership

A narration I voiced for an episode of"Grand Theft Auto." This one is mob/guns/shoot 'em up.

A playful voice over for a kid's charity

And a number of other videos with my voice;about 25 videos I provided voice over for.

The whole goal is to show you're versatile and not a "One note Johnny."

Set up your You Tube channel so you can showcase actual jobs you've been hired to do.

Here's a link to my You Tube channel. You'll see and hear the videos I have listed up above.



Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Communication is gold ("Tell me what you want... pretty please.")

 I've been recording voice overs for quite some time and have recorded for many different types of projects. If you're working with a first time client/customer, it's really important to chat a bit and ask them what type of read they want for their copy; corporate voice, casual/conversational, instructional tone, etc.. And you do this BEFORE you step to the microphone. Certainly, as you look at their copy, you can take cues from the way it's written. But remember, there are almost always multiple ways to voice the copy. And neither may be wrong. Try and save yourself a headache or two and ask before you record. Some clients will be very specific with their direction and take away the guessing factor on your part. Some will give you initial direction and then change their minds midstream after they hear a take or two from you. And some will have no clue as to what they want. I try to never assume anything. ASK!

I once recorded a script for an engineering firm out of San Antonio. My voice over would be used for a video promoting their services; a marketing video. Copy was emailed to me and I recorded here in my home studio. I asked the producer from the agency who was working for the firm how he heard the voice over. Did we want to go with a professional corporate tone of voice or a more casual read? He indicated he wanted a corporate tone of voice. So, I recorded a take with that in mind and emailed the voice over to him with a download link. As a voice over talent, there's usually a waiting period to hear back from them with their feedback. Sometimes within the hour... or sometimes next day. Don't be paranoid if it takes them some time to give you feedback. There can be a number of "chiefs" behind the scene weighing in. The producer got back to me and said it sounded good but asked if I could make it  more local.  I'm thinking, "More local? What's that suppose to mean?" In all my years of taking direction, I've never heard "more local." I thought maybe he wants it less corporate voice and kind of less polished sounding. I went with that in mind. Eventually, he liked what he heard on the third or fourth take. But he was having a bit of trouble conveying to me exactly what he wanted from me. No doubt, it can be frustrating. Keep your cool. It becomes a bit of a guessing game on your part. Then you'll have the client who has no idea what he/she wants and will tell you something like, "Oh, I'll know it when I hear it." This type of non-direction can mean multiple takes, and frankly, can drive you nuts. Your time is valuable and you likely have other jobs to record. "I'll know it when I hear it" is really not acceptable direction at all. ALWAYS ask before you record. Communication is key. Never assume!


Monday, September 26, 2022

Common Errors with Word Usage. ("I told you you were saying it wrong!")

 Here's a really terrific guide to word usage that I think is fascinating. Don't be surprised if you find that you have made (or are making), some of these same mistakes. I know I have.

WARNING: Once you click on one word and explore, you'll want to keep clicking on one word after another. That could take all day! It's a very long list.

ATM machine

“ATM” means “Automated Teller Machine,” so if you say “ATM machine” you are really saying, “Automated Teller Machine Machine.” 

Thanks given to Paul Brians for posting the lengthy list and sharing. Credit to Nancy P. McKee and George P. Kennedy, who wrote "Correcting Common Errors in Writing," published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Money, money EVERYWHERE! Spending freely, not a care! Mega Millions Mania has Materialized

 UPDATE to this post.

 The jackpot was won by 2 winners in partnership who agreed before they bought the tickets that they would split the money. They've chosen the lump sum of 780 million dollars. 

In Illinois, where they purchased the ticket, you are not required to come forward on camera and reveal who you are. So, we'll never see who they are as they've chosen to stay private. 

Happy spending, whoever you are! Send a little bit of your good luck my way.


As I write this post, tonight's Mega Millions jackpot has surpassed 1.2 BILLION dollars! That's  a lot of "cabbage," "moola," "greenbacks," "cash," "Benjamins," "money." It's the second largest Mega jackpot in its history. As you may know, if you play the lottery, Mega Millions numbers are drawn twice  a week---Tuesdays and Fridays. The odds of hitting the jackpot are extremely high, but you've got to buy a ticket to win it. I bought a few and put the tickets in my living room by my "waving arm lucky cat" I bought in San Francisco on a Saturday walk through Chinatown. It's been waving for some weeks now, non-stop, off the same AA batteries that power it. I also have a gold lucky coin at the feet of the cat. Hey, why not? It can't hurt, right? 

The founder and CEO of fast food chain Raising Cane chicken fingers, Todd Graves, bought 100,000 Mega lottery tickets for his employees. A nice gesture for sure, but a bit of a publicity stunt, I think. At $2 a ticket, that's $200,000 in lottery tickets. Definitely NOT recommended for the average Joe's pocket book. Buy 100,000 lottery tickets, if you could, and your friends might think you've lost it.

Of course, part of the fun of playing is from the moment you bought ticket(s) until when reality hits and the numbers are drawn; thoughts would be racing through your head as to what you would buy or do with all that money. I'm sure I'd go with some new studio "toys" where I record voice overs. A deluxe voice over booth plus a new Neumann U 87 microphone for around $3,200. (As fans of the microphone will tell you, it's worth every penny). And, I'd buy a new Avalon preamp to add that extra sheen to my voice over recordings.  OK, that's just for starters. If you're an audio gearhead, I'm sure you'd have your own list of must haves. 

I'm not a big shopper and a "things" person. So I wouldn't be going on any crazy shopping sprees.  I WOULD be doing some fine dining in San Francisco's best ("House of Prime Rib" comes to mind). I've taken friends there 3 times in a limo and the food and fun was outstanding. Parking in the city can be a challenge, so the limo works great. And it's not as expensive as you would think to book it for 4 or 5 hours. You'd have plenty of time to sightsee after dinner.

I'm sure I'd also give some of my winnings to organizations or causes I believe in; pets and children's charities up front and center. I lived in Florida and was on the radio back in the 80's when Sheelah Ryan won a massive 55 million dollar jackpot and gave much of her new found wealth to cat causes and single Mothers struggling to pay rent. A fine lady indeed. She passed away in her late 60's.

Of course, I'd give a slice of the lottery jackpot pie to my siblings. I have 8 brothers and sisters that have all done well in their chosen businesses. Like any family, we've had our squabbles, but overall, I'm lucky to have the brothers and sisters I do, so giving away money would be a noble deed for sure. Besides, I'm sure they'd do the same thing for me if they won the big one, right? (Insert nervous cough here). I said...I'm SURE they'd do the same thing for ME...right?

Some travelling would be on my bucket list too. There are so many places I would visit. Hold the extra long vacations though. I bore easily. I once took a 5 day trip to Hawaii. That was plenty for me. And these days, with flying being a sort of torture treatment, I think I'd wait a while to travel anywhere.

Well, I hope whoever wins the jackpot spends it wisely and has the time of their life. You always hear sad stories about jackpot winners who blow it all within a number of years and end up bankrupt.  Enjoy your wealthy blessing. Hire a shrewd financial adviser, get a new phone number, disappear, and don't brag. Be humble, if you can. I'm thinking with all that money, it would be no easy task.

That's enough lottery dreaming for this Friday afternoon ... just hours before the big Mega Millions drawing.  "May the luck of the Irish...." And if you know me as a friend, family, or an acquaintance, and you hit the big one, know that I think you're just an extraordinary human being and beyond wonderfully talented, good looking and charming, to boot.


                                                           


 

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Sixth Annual Uber Lost & Found Index

I use Uber...a lot. Just found out every year, Uber comes out with some rather amusing reports about things lost or left behind in their Uber cars. 

Here's a partial list of the most unique items left in an Uber for 2022...

Some tater tots

My fingernail is on the seat

“It’s Boba Time” apron 

Foldable unicorn kid chair 

500 grams of caviar 

My grandma’s teeth

A Buddha locket

Cat litter and a reptile heating bulb 

“Life is tough but so are you” blanket 

A grass cutter and tree trimmer

Supreme underwear

Pizza costume

Unicorn band aid box

Pie 

A Billie Eilish ukulele           For a complete (and funny) list, go here.                                                                  

Thursday, June 9, 2022

How's your audio editing?

 If you record from a home studio, one of the basic, but very necessary skills you must master is audio editing. Digital audio recording software includes audio editing functions; compression, de-essing, EQ, etc. As any experienced voice over talent can tell you, the time consuming part of doing voice overs is the audio editing. After you record, you'll be sitting down and going through the audio to eliminate any unwanted sounds...heavy breaths, mouth clicks, distracting popped p's, takes you recorded but do not want to use in the final recording, etc.

I actually like the editing process and handle that myself here in my studio. Some voice artists will job the editing out to an audio editor and pay them accordingly so they can move on to the next voice over. If you record e Learning projects, like I often do, you'll be editing the audio and then separating and labeling the audio files per your clients specs indicated on the script. It can be a time burn and it's definitely a task that you want to stay focused on. No mental zoning out. Sometimes, while editing, you'll hear mistakes you made when voicing the script that you missed when you recorded. You may have to go back in your booth and re-record the sentence with the same pace and tone as the original recording so it can seamlessly be cut in when editing. It's called a "pickup." I have recorded many aviation training scripts where it's easy to make a mental mistake. For instance, the script says "attitude" instead of "altitude," which you mistakenly said when recording. Attention to detail is a must. 

I went to a voice over coach to record a few corporate narration scripts and have her give me constructive input. She herself is an accomplished voice talent as well as a coach and has a very polished voice and delivery. But when she sat down to edit my audio for playback, she said she hated audio editing. Frankly, she looked a bit nervous as she moved the mouse cursor to the audio edit she wanted to make. I'm not sure why she so disliked editing as the audio editing function allows you to click back and try the edit again to your liking. It's "non-destructive" in nature. If you're just starting out, your editing speed will increase with practice and experience. 

One thing's for sure. Having good audio editing skills is a big asset in speeding up your turnaround time. I often have customers/clients who say, "John, thanks for the fast turnaround."

If you're just beginning your voice over career and want more help, a good book I bought off Amazon years ago is "Voice Actor's Guide to Home Recording" by Jeffrey Fisher and voice over legend Harlan Hogan. It's written with a humorous style and is loaded with instructional information about audio editing and way beyond.  They do a great job breaking it all down. It will serve as a good in-studio reference manual. Money well spent.

Friday, May 20, 2022

The angry golfer and an $18 beer

 (UPDATE to this story: Tiger Woods withdrew from the tournament after the 3rd round due to ongoing issues with his sore right leg as a result of the horrible car accident back in February of last year. He was 12 over par after the 3rd round and tied for last place).

One of the golf majors (PGA Championship) is happening this weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As usual, there are plenty of headlines, especially since Tiger Woods is playing and trying to make the weekend cut. The Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa is a real beast. Good luck Tiger and all the others hoping to win the oversized trophy, and a big, fat paycheck, along with the money endorsements that come with it.

On the lighter side of things, golf sensation Justin Thomas had a few things to say the other day about the on-course menu items for the fans during a press conference. He said there was much chatter in the locker room about the sky high price of a can of Michelob Ultra for $18 (a tall boy) and the $16 salad. He went on to say the fans deserved better. And to think the famous pimento cheese sandwiches at The Masters sell for around $1.50. What a bargain!

My Dad taught me to play golf at a very early age. He would always have golf on TV on Sundays after church. I thought it was dreadful and boring to watch. That is, until he invited me one weekend afternoon to join him to play my very first round of golf. I was very fidgety and nervous on the first tee as Dad showed me how to grip the club and stand toward the ball. (Commonly referred to as "addressing the ball" for you non-golfers). At my "big moment of truth," I swung the club back and then down toward the ball and I think it rolled maybe 20 yards or so off the tee and down the fairway- a major disappointment. The ball never became airborne. I "chopped" my way toward the golf green and quickly realized it is a very difficult game. But through it all, I got hooked, and would eventually go on to become a pretty accomplished junior golfer in high school. Dad taught me proper golf course etiquette such as not talking while someone is putting, or being ready to hit your ball when it's your turn, so as not to slow the pace of play. On my high school team, there were several golf club throwers and angry players when things didn't go right. I was never one of those. While I wanted to play well, it was never that big a deal to me. Even the best have their off days. Playing with an angry golfer can be quite annoying. When witnessing a temper tantrum over the years (some from my own relatives) I have often wanted to say, "I don't know why you're SO upset, you're not that good a golfer."  But then, sound judgement prevails. I keep my mouth shut. Golf clubs can serve as lethal weapons indeed. Especially in the hands of an angry golfer.

                                                                           


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

To sit or stand. That is thee question

 If you visit any of the many voice over forums online, you'll see conversations about whether to sit or stand as you are recording a voice over. We've all read articles about how unhealthy it is to sit for prolonged periods of time. But beyond that, I believe standing as you record has some solid advantages. However, as always, there are exceptions. If you are narrating an audio book or a lengthy e Learning module, you are more than likely going to sit. But for commercial work, I think standing is the way to go, especially if the copy is quite energized. Sitting while recording an uptempo car commercial would likely hamper you. You need to stand to put some motion into the read with your body. Lately, I've decided to stand in my booth. I do a lot of sitting editing the audio after recording.

 Bottom line-there is no right or wrong way. Whatever allows you to give your best performance.

Here's a link to a good article on CNN.com about standing desks.

Monday, April 18, 2022

"Of Naysayers. Haters. Gaslighters. Energy Vampires"

I read a book once where the author said, "Seeing people for who they REALLY are is one of the most valuable and profitable things you can do in life."

Naysayers. Haters. Gaslighters. Energy vampires.

There's no avoiding them. They pop up at work, school, a rude ("I hate my job") cashier at your local convenience store, a friend, church services, sports events, family gatherings, competitive singing TV shows ... you name it. Thank goodness there are proven methods you can use to banish them forever, or at least minimize the irritation they bring into your otherwise generally pleasant day.

Recently, in a phone chit chat with a  friend, I mentioned another friend of mine I've known for years, has become a certified, undeniable, energy vampire. She has two moods---grumpy and grumpier. I LOVE the term...energy vampire... as I have encountered a number of them over the years, and it seems like such a good description. Just in case you're out of the loop, an energy vampire is defined as:

"Friends, family members or coworkers who literally zap your emotional energy."

(Break out the garlic and sharp, wooden stakes).

According to Psych Central, energy vampires tend to be emotionally immature, self-centered and lack empathy. 

The million dollar question is "How do you deal with energy vampires who suck you of your energy?"

Some suggestions are: hang out in groups of three or more, stick to light topics when chatting, lend an ear, reduce contact, and cut them out of your life. 

A longtime friend is a "triple play threat." An energy vampire, naysayer, and hater. (Other than that, she's a great gal!) Sometimes the phone rings,  I see her name on caller ID, and I just can't answer the phone. One afternoon, I was "treated" to her ear shattering, 1000 decibel screech about how awful Kelly Clarkson dresses on her afternoon TV talk show. I let her rant for a bit, then told her she can always change the channel. "Just grab that little black thing we call a 'remote,' and change the channel." What an idea! Nope. That flies right over her head. I'm positive she enjoys the hating way too much.  Another time, it was about Good Morning America's host, former football player, Michael Strahan, and how much she hates the gap in his front teeth. I informed her that some viewers like the gap, and some don't, as I heard him say one morning on the show. That launched another shout down on the phone, to which I tried to change the subject quickly---"WOW. How about this great weather we're having!" Or, "How about those Warriors and Steph Curry. They kicked butt last night!" That was met with a typical, monotone, Debbie Downer from her, "I don't watch men's basketball John." OKKKK! Sour pusses will be sour pusses, I guess. Just trying to elevate the conversation.

I had a few naysayers when I told them I was going to go to radio/broadcast school to learn to become a deejay, at the age of 18. "Oh really? (sarcastic chuckle), let us know how THAT works out." In a way, that kind of drove me. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Those types of discouraging comments can put a bit of a chip on your shoulder. But it turned out to be good. I had a very satisfying on-air career for 20+ years in places like West Palm Beach, Charlotte, Akron-Canton, Miami, Joplin ("Oh no! Another tornado!") and met many recording artists and celebrities; most of them very nice to talk to. I also worked alongside some very talented people and learned a lot. Meeting the often outspoken station listeners was cool too. "You guys play too many commercials and you play the same songs over and over!" Or, "Why are you guys already playing Christmas music and Halloween just ended?" (Truth be known: Radio ratings went up considerably when we went early with the Christmas tunes).

As for the haters who are often insecure and get enjoyment out of trying to marginalize your success by knocking you down a peg or two, ignoring them or removing them from your life, is a very useful option. I have an attention seeking brother-in-law who for some reason likes to play the hater card on me; childish, verbal attacks. Jealousy comes to mind; a very common hater trait. We rarely see each other, but at family funerals. And I'm OK with that. My technique? Simple... I ignore. The contrived drama that is thrown my way goes in one ear and out the other. And this is coming from a man of supposed high intellect who is a director at an institute of a well known university! Go figure. 

 Backhanded/patronizing comments are definitely a part of the hater toolbox. A sassy co-worker in the coffee break room who says, "Hey (fill in the name), NICE shoes! Where'd you get them, Pay Less?" Wouldn't you just love to stick a bagel in her yapper.

Wanna bring your haters out of the woodwork? As in by the dozens? Hit the Powerball jackpot.  As the old Bachman Turner Overdrive song lyric goes, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!" People you thought were your friends/family will be seething with jealousy. Not your fault the lottery Gods showered their good luck down on you! By the way, as I write this post, the current jackpot stands at $450 million ; worthy of at least a one ticket purchase. Yep, I'm on that lottery playing train: "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. All you need is one ticket."

This post is getting long, so I'll skip a lengthy chat about the gaslighters. You probably know what challenges they present. If you don't, Google the term. I can tell you from experience to watch out for the "tag team" husband and wife gaslighters. They love to work together with a plan, and have it down to a science. Bullies. Two against one.

As you go up the ladder in your profession of choice, these kinds of sad and sorry people will try to take cheap shots at your success and bring you down. March on. Ignore. Smile. Your daily success will be your victory. Land that next voice-over job. When you do, celebrate a bit. You deserve it! Oh, and tell Debbie Downer to take a hike.

                                                                   


                                    


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

"I'm not Oprah, but here's my voice-over 'book club' recommendation"

 As I'm sure you've noticed, there are a ton of how-to voice-over books out there. Yesterday, I was doing some tidying up in my storage room and found a copy of "Voice over. Voice actor. What It's Like Behind The Mic." It was stuffed in the bottom of a cardboard box under a table. I had forgotten I bought a copy some years ago on Amazon. It's written by Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt--a very talented husband and wife team who are A Listers in the animation voice-over world. What I love about this book is their sense of humor and its easy to understand advice and information about all things voice-over. This book will answer many questions you may have.

In it you'll find:

Ins and Outs of auditioning

Voice warm-ups

Tips for reading copy

How to stand out

How to market yourself--demo production

Agents (Their mindset and getting one)

Union vs. Non-Union work

What to expect when you land a voice-over job

The book is mainly geared toward beginners- intermediate, and it's a solid read.

I highly recommend. You can grab a copy on Amazon. It's 5 star rated by readers and has been updated.

Trends and business practices change quickly in the voice-over world.

                                                             


                         

Sunday, March 20, 2022

"Heavens to murgatroyd!" The Maury Show has been cancelled.

 Well, I'll be! After 31 years, the Maury Show has been cancelled; they're pulling the plug. Somebody hand me a tissue. How many DNA/paternity cases ("Sam is NOT the father!') can they show? I can think of a million other things I'd rather watch or do than Maury with all that false, made for TV drama; like go clean my shower stall. But this IS America; the home of the lowest common denominator, daytime TV sludge that poses as entertainment and "must see/guilty pleasure TV." 

Obviously, Maury had a big following. Since the show has been cancelled, I'm sure another show is in the works to grab those lost souls who got their daily dose of theatrics. What will they do? Many viewers have undoubtedly thought-- "My life was a shambles until I watched the Maury Show and saw all those crazy people onstage pathetically trying to sop up their 15 minutes of fame."  

My interaction with The Maury Show was limited to a millisecond, as I channel surfed for something informative and entertaining to watch. Silly me. That's like going to my local butcher shop expecting to find gardening tools. Oh well, there's always the Travel Channel. Oh, wait. My bad. In case you haven't dropped by there lately, the Travel Channel is mainly ghost/paranormal shows, NOT travel/adventure offerings. They DO have some non-ghost/non-bigfoot shows,but that's for very limited time slots.  One show features Ozzy Osbourne and wife Sharon, with producer son Jack, rating paranormal/scary videos from a no frills set with upholstered chairs. Ozzy looks like he's bored to tears and taking a nap, as Sharon teases him to wake up and participate. Another episode, their "behind the scenes" feature, was about how many times Ozzy had to go take a pee during the show's taping because he drank too many cups of coffee. I kid you not. I believe I heard the show has been cancelled after one season, as Ozzy's salty, off-the-cuff language was not acceptable to TV affiliate audiences around the country.

As always, with TV programming, follow the money. Whatever makes the ratings soar. Big ratings= big advertising $$$. That's the way it's always been and always will be. Outrageous behavior is the norm. "How low can they go?"is to be expected. As the old saying goes, "It smells but it sells."

I would say to Maury, "Hey, 31 years hosting a TV show is an amazing feat on daytime TV. Many shows get the axe after one season. Job well done." But I just can't bring myself to offer full-blown congratulations. So, I'll split the difference. "Enjoy your retirement Maury."

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The amazing Morgan Freeman and his voice tip

 So I was online the other day and stumbled on to an interviewer and the incredible Morgan Freeman talking about his big, deep, distinctive, authoritative voice. The interviewer, who was sitting back to the camera and not anyone famous, asked Morgan how he, the interviewer, could get a deeper voice. Morgan said something I have never heard before. He said, "yawn a lot." Yawn... really? He went on to say that yawning is one effective way to RELAX your vocal chords which will give you a deeper, richer pitch to your voice. I had heard about relaxing your vocal chords for effective voice-over, but never heard about using yawning to go deeper with your voice.

 I yawned a lot in junior high school as the teacher lectured on and on with a topic I was zoned out on, my eyes glazed over, but I don't recall my voice getting any deeper. But when Morgan Freeman speaks, people listen. So, I'll definitely take him at his word. Just be careful not to yawn when your other half is speaking to you at the end of his/her day with another all-important, drama filled story from work. Full attention please. Yawn at your own peril.

Then from an article in Time Magazine there's this...

"But there’s something deeper going on with the appeal of Freeman’s voice—literally. In scientific experiments, people consistently perceive low-pitched voices in men as stronger and more physically attractive than male voices with a higher pitch. “It’s not surprising that Morgan Freeman is used for a lot of voiceover work, because his voice is perceived as that of a dominant, strong male figure,” says Casey Klofstad, associate professor of political science at the University of Miami and researcher of how society and biology influence the way we make decisions."

I always have to laugh when I see cheesy ads where the voice seeker puts in their ad, "MUST sound exactly like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones." And then you see they're offering $20 for the voice-over.  Comedy at its best.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Ditch the headphones...sometimes

Here's a simple way to make your voice-over reads more natural sounding; take your headphones off when you record. The problem with wearing them in your home studio booth is, too often, voice talents get use to listening to their own voice in the headphones as they record.  I've been taking my headphones off for years and have never regretted it. Especially for those jobs where they want a conversational tone, like e Learning. Overloading your ears with sound is not going to be beneficial.

Now, that said, sometimes you must wear them. If you're at a recording session, you'll need to have them on so as to be able to hear input from the director who is outside your booth; usually looking at you through glass. You can turn the volume of the headphones down a bit as you read script.

I know. I know! You like the sound of your own voice flooding through your headphones and into your ears when you record. You're comfortable that way. Let me ask you something. What exactly are you listening for when you put on headphones inside your home studio booth? While you stumble and bumble to come up with a legitimate answer, I would suggest you try an experiment; take your headphones off in your recording booth. If you're in love with the sound of your own voice with your headphones on, you'll probably be uncomfortable for a while. Stay with it! Your reads will benefit. 

If you're editing audio, of course, you'll want to have your headphones on to check for unwanted mouth clicks and any other undesirable sounds you can edit out. Sometimes studio monitors will not give you super accurate feedback. With your headphones on while editing, you'll hear things you won't hear on your monitors.

A good set of headphones is a must for any studio. I use Audio-Technica. But there are a ton of different, quality brands out there. Sony, Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser come to mind. Do some research online before buying. Stay away from "cheap" headphones. Not all are created equal. Over the years, I've used Broadcast Supply Worldwide to buy my studio equipment and have been pleased with the price, quality, and on-time delivery. Here's a link to their headphone offerings.



Monday, March 7, 2022

"Pssst! I have something really cool to share with you"

One of my favorite, top tier, A List voice actors is Scott Rummell; a terrific promo and trailer voice. He's a big league talent you've no doubt heard over the years. A Disney voice, Lee Jeans and much more. He also seems like a very generous and nice guy. 

Here's a link to Scott in an L.A. studio recording a new commercial demo. Watch the process. Much to learn from this. It runs about 20 minutes. You'll notice the session was "light and breezy." The guy producing the demos is Chuck Duran of "Demos That Rock Studio" in L.A. 

And here's a link to a really entertaining TED Talk Scott gave where he speaks about how he got started in voice acting. Very enjoyable. I highly recommend you watch it. It's truly inspirational and also runs about 20 minutes. If you've been sitting on the fence about getting into voice acting, maybe this will give you the kick in the pants you need. Even if you're not a voice actor, check it out. The power of persistence comes through loud and clear.

                                                                        



Friday, March 4, 2022

How is your stuff doing these days?

 In my early days of radio broadcasting, I was constantly moving to the next opportunity. U-Haul and I were the best of friends. I usually rented the smallest truck. I made it a rule not to hang on to useless clutter that I would have to senselessly move to my next town. Besides, most of the time when they hired you, they'd want you there in days...not weeks.

Which brings me to the fine art of clutter. Some folks are really good at it. I don't have a lot of that here at my place as I've never been a "things" person. I'm allergic to malls. A few months ago, I went down to my carport storage, unlocked the door for the first time in years, and saw a few big Tupperware containers which I had forgotten I had down there. Much to my surprise, there was a shoe box crammed with cassette tapes of my old radio shows. I took the box out and went back upstairs to my living room where I could see dates on the cassettes; some of them dating back to the mid 80's! Not having a cassette player, I called a friend who had one, and she gladly loaned it to me. Playing the tapes of my early radio shows was kind of weird. Some of my on-air antics were cool; others I was less impressed with. Time gives you a whole different perspective. I even had a recording of a couple of actors who visited my studio for a live, on-air interview from "Greater Tuna," a very funny show featuring Joe Sears and Jaston Williams; a comedic play set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas, the "third- smallest" town in the state.

After listening, I was going to put the cassettes in a closet, when it occurred to me, I would probably never be listening to them again. All of this was from my past, and it had very little sentimental value to me. I took the entire box, cassettes and all, and threw them in the garbage can for Monday morning pickup. See how easy that was? Something clicked, and it made me feel good. 

I went through my closet and found like new pants and other clothes I will never wear. Off  they went to my neighborhood Goodwill. "Ahhhh...much better now." 

 I was reading a book by one of my favorite British authors, Stuart Wilde, where he speaks about decluttering our lives and making way for the new and the good that's coming to you. I'm a firm believer. Less, not more, is the way to go.    

Some people just can't imagine throwing their useless junk away; they seem attached to it. And I'm not talking about hoarders.  Even though they've never touched it in years, there it sits taking up space and collecting dust.  And God forbid they should have to move. That'll take days to relocate all the stuff they never use. They'll have to rent out that jumbo sized U-Haul you see around town to get all that junk to a new location; and beg family and friends to help them move all that crap stuff into and out of the truck. Insane, I say. Get rid of it already! You'll feel much better. And "lighter." Out with the old...in with the new!

                                                                  



Friday, February 25, 2022

"This ain't no funeral" (What's with the coat and tie?)

 So you are about to head out to your very first recording session as a newbie voice talent, excitement abounds, then it hits you; "What should I wear?" I can't speak for others, but what I've seen at almost every recording session I've done is casual to business casual--without fail. Why is that? I think that COMFORT rules the day in recording studios. Simply put, you want to be comfortable when you're recording. You'll notice the folks who run the recording studio are dressed quite casually. Now, there are limits when it comes to casual dress. I use to work with a guy in radio who was known for his deep sea diving exploits off the air and he'd show up in flip flops, cut offs and a tank top to do his show. OK. No big deal with that. He was on the overnight show and there were few people around. I wouldn't recommend you show up for a recording session with flip flops though. That's a tad too casual. On the other hand, if you show up with a suit coat and tie, you'll be way too formal and look like you're heading to a funeral. And NOBODY wants to work with someone who looks like they're heading to a funeral. For the most part, creative folks tend to lean toward the casual side of dress.

Shifting gears from outside recording sessions to at home ones, the cool thing about recording from a home studio is no one sees how you dress. Well, maybe your kids or other half do, but they could probably care less how you dress while you record just as long as you make lots of money so you can support their fast food habits. 

There's a voice actor who runs a very popular (if not controversial) blog that wrote a book about making a living doing voice overs from a home studio in your pajamas. Who would know? I say"Go for it" if that's your thing. Or, taking it one step further, doing voice overs in your birthday suit! This I wouldn't recommend for a number of reasons. I won't go into that here as we're approaching creep factor X 10. 

So, when heading out to a recording session, think casual NOT funeral formal. You'll fit right in.


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

"The Wonderful World of Water"

OK, just keeping it real. I have a confession to make.  I HATE WATER!

Maybe the all caps is a little too dramatic. I don't really hate water, but I often forget to drink enough of it throughout the day. According to "Culligan Water"...

"The average amount of water you need per day is about 3 liters (13 cups for men) and 2.2 liters  (9 cups for women)" 

No  doubt, it's really important to stay hydrated throughout the day. And as a voice actor, it's especially important to get your recommended amount to keep the vocal cords from drying up or getting hoarse. If you're heading out to record a session, don't forget the bottled water! And start drinking water well before the session. If you're recording in your home studio, same thing applies. Water, water everywhere...

I've long considered water taste to be bland and boring. I know there are a gazillion choices at the store to remedy that. I like to put a little lemon juice in mine to step it up a notch.  Trust me, I'm not dissing  water. It's a wonderful thing when you think about all the ways we use water. I'm grateful. Very. In some parts of the parched world, it's gold. As I write this, I have an annoying, dripping, shower head in my bathroom. I tried a new shower head, and still,drip, drip, drip. Time to make a phone call. Water's been VERY good to plumbers, hasn't it? I was told it's not the shower head that's causing the dripping,it's a seal behind the hot/cold handle that has worn out and needs to be be replaced. My father, a very talented man, once went on a wild rant in our little country house in Ohio when he tried to do some plumbing in the basement and  had a mega meltdown;swearing all kinds of unmentionables because he was having little success making the repair.  No doubt, water can be tricky and has a mind of its own. No thank you. I'll leave the more "involved" plumbing to the pros.  

OK, where were we? 

Here's a cool fact.

"The average person could survive about a month without food. But only a week without water."

As voice actors, it's important we protect our voices. Lose your voice; lose money.

 So, here's to drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated throughout the day.

Gulp, gulp, gulp.Where are my lemon wedges?


Monday, January 31, 2022

Her million dollar voice is SO familiar

If you watch live awards shows you have heard her voice announcing the presenters, guests and such. Her name is Randy Thomas. She began making money with her voice in radio years ago, where women were largely pushed to the side. Men ruled and women played second fiddle. But Randy broke those barriers. If you're a female voice actor, you have Randy to thank, as she kicked in the door for those that followed her.

No doubt, live announcing a huge event like the Oscars with millions watching,would be nerve- racking. But she's got it down; a real pro. 

Here's a link to a very brief piece about her I found online speaking from her home studio. 

                                                                 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Hoarse throat relief in a bottle

 One of the challenges of voicing many scripts is that your voice may decide to get in a funk from time to time. Dryness, raspiness - just plain ol' sore throat. Not being able to deliver projects on time can mean money lost, or worse yet, the loss of a client.

I heard about a terrific product from that great animation voice talent and coach, Pat Fraley, called "Entertainer's Secret." This stuff's been around for some time and professional singers (including Billy Joel and Katy Perry), as well as voice over folks, swear by it. You spray it into your throat or sniff it into your nostrils. It's distributed by a company out of Indiana. The bottle indicates the main ingredient to be Aloe Vera Gel.

I ordered several bottles and keep them handy in my vocal booth.

I know that there are many other tricks of the trade that VO folks use to keep the voice fine tuned such as nasal irrigation with saline solution, but this stuff works for me. And it's not messy. 

Check it out here

"Leave that jewelry at home!"

Pretty much common sense, but if you're going in for a recording session, leave your jewelry at home, or at least put it in your handbag. Loose fitting jewelry can make a bit of noise and  microphones are very sensitive. The producer and audio engineer will not be pleased with you if you bring unwanted sounds to the recording session.  I have a guided meditation I listen to and at some points you can hear the narrator's wrist bracelet in the background. Not good. OK, keeping it short and sweet on this post.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

"Do I need a website to be a competitive voice actor?"

Those just jumping into the voice over world may wonder whether a voice over website is a must. Some may think it costs too much money to have a website. I believe if you DON'T have a website, you're potentially losing money/business. A well thought out website is your online "storefront." If done right, it gives you credibility. It's a place where potential customers can go to listen to your voice demos, read testimonials (powerful), see actual examples of your voice over work through videos you've recorded for, tells folks a bit about your background, answers questions with an FAQ, and contains details about how to reach you.

By the way, it's not expensive to have your website up on the Internet. You generally pay a quarterly dollar amount. The companies who host websites are very competitive. Do some investigating. You might be surprised.

I won't speak for others in the voice over industry, but I will give you my experience with my website. When I decided to leave my on-air radio career hosting a midday show in Charlotte about 15 years ago to go full-time with voice over, I was fortunate to have the help of our radio group webmaster. I told him I needed a "basic" website put together so I could land voice over jobs. He graciously agreed to meet me at the station on a weekend (a good thing--no distractions in the building) and he put the website together, as I looked over his shoulder. At one point he asked me what I wanted to call my website--"John Miles Productions" Or, "John Miles Creative." I suggested we go with "productions" as it was a bit more all inclusive. So, "John Miles Productions" was born. That website gave me confidence to approach people for work. I was able to send out marketing emails to production companies and direct them with a link to my voice demos. Back then, things were a bit different; I would sometimes receive an email or phone call from someone I had just emailed my information to same day. "Good timing John. I have a voice over job you might want to do." None of this would have been possible without a website.

I highly recommend hiring a competent web designer to create your website. Some voice talents like to put their own website together (e.g."WIX"). In my opinion, that's OK, as long as it looks neat and clean and contains the information I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. And by all means, there is no need for flash and tons of bells and whistles. The people who may hire you want TWO things from your website. They want to hear your voice demos, and they want to know how to reach you. Put your contact information (i.e. email and phone number) where it's easy to see. Of course, same thing for your demos. There's always been a lot of talk in the voice over industry as to whether to put a picture of yourself on your website. I've taken the "no picture" route. Some feel it's a good thing to have a picture as people like to see who they're dealing with. I'll leave that debate to others. I don't want people judging me by what I look like. I want them judging me by what I sound like. Some voice talents are in their 70's, or even 80's, and they sound much younger. The great, late, narrator Peter Thomas' career spanned 7 decades! He was 92 when he died and still had narration job offers! (You no doubt heard him on TV many times. A real legend. "Forensic Files" was one of his shows.)

After putting off a much needed voice over website update for way too long, a very talented nephew of mine from Ohio put together a wonderful website for me. He did an outstanding job, and I'm proud to have a website I can send potential customers to where they can hear demos and read about my background. A HUGE thank you to him. I have absolutely no eye for website design, and he took copy I provided and made everything work. 

So, the answer to "Do I need a website to be a competitive voice actor?" I believe is... YES. I know there are voice talents who get work from so called "pay to play" websites like Voice 123 and Voices.com and do not have their own website. They use those sites to upload their voice demos and provide background information. That's fine. I just know from past experience that a personal website is a definite plus. I think that those who ignore it as a very effective marketing tool, do so at their own peril.  A website gives you "presence."

Here's a link to my new voice over website. It allows me to put everything in ONE place. And it looks professional. It gives the potential customer/client the impression that I'm a pro and ready to go to work. And that's a good thing.



Tuesday, January 18, 2022

"This copy stinks!" (A warning for you). And an Orson Welles drop by

 I don't think there's a voice actor who's been around for a while who hasn't received copy from clients/producers that lacks proper punctuation, has misspelled words, or awkward phrasing. 

It's very frustrating for you, as the voice talent, because your goal is to make your read "sparkle." But that little voice inside your head says "I'm never going to be able to make this sound professional. Just too many errors." 

When in a recording session with a client, although tempting, never make fun of or mock the copy. The person directing you may have written it! He or she may not appreciate your on the spot critique. They may think it's a masterpiece.You feel otherwise. Keep it to yourself.

The best thing you can do is to roll with the flow. But you might want to politely say, "Where it says _____, do we want to say_____ ?" Defer to the client. They're paying you. If you're recording from your home studio without direction, you might want to email the client and ask about certain things before you start recording. Sometimes the client is "English second language" and they may be counting on YOU to smooth it out. This is common with overseas companies.

When I lived in Carolina, I use to drive down two times a week to a well known music service company that also produced on hold messages galore. I would sit in a booth for an hour and read message after message as the audio engineer captured my voice over in another room. Almost every session, there was  a piece of copy that would come up that looked like no one had bothered to proofread it. More than a few times,  I had to bite my lip. (And I have broad lips. Ouch!) Sometimes, the audio engineer would chime in with "Let's try it this way..."

Now, because you've read this post this far, I want to share with you an entertaining, old school recording session with the late, great, actor/producer/director/writer Orson Welles of "Citizen Kane" and "War of the Worlds" fame. He was recording a voice over for frozen peas and burgers, and to say that he was critical of the copy would be a huge understatement. Listen to how his anger builds with every mistake, and then he explodes before walking out of the session. It's a true classic. And funny too! Here's the link.

Friday, January 14, 2022

"Let's Get Ready To Rummmble!" (No, this is not about your family's last holiday get together)

 Years ago, I received an email from a gentleman who wanted me to record a TV commercial for him. As I remember, it was for a small/medium sized market. I asked him to email me the copy before I committed to recording it for him. I immediately noticed the copy contained the phrase "Let's Get Ready To Rumble!" I had read somewhere that the phrase had been trademarked by boxing announcer extraordinaire, Michael Buffer. If you watch sporting events, you've no doubt heard his over the top announcement at the beginning of a boxing match.  (Pic down below). He gets between $25,000 to $100,000 to say those five words, depending on the match! Yep. How sweet is that? He had the phrase trademarked back in 1992, and since then, it's been used in movies, TV shows, video games, Washington political hearings and beyond. (OK. I made that last part up, but it IS fitting).  In fact, it's estimated he's made $400,000,000 to date off the phrase. He and his company vigorously enforce the legal use of it.  He's actually made more off the licensing than ring announcing. 

Back to that customer who wanted me to say the phrase in his TV commercial. I emailed him back and clued him in. He had no idea it had been trademarked.  We went with some variation of "Let's Get Ready To Rumble!" and all was well.

This reminds me of the Wendy's TV commercial back in the 80's with Clara Peller-the onscreen, feisty, grandma known for her gripe, "Where's the Beef?!" Humorous, to say the least. Back then, the phrase caught wildfire and was being heard and seen everywhere; including on a huge bunch of tee shirts. Wendy's trademarked it back in 1984. I interviewed Clara on my radio show when I was on in West Palm Beach . She and her manager son were in town that weekend for a Senior Olympics event. Clara was extremely hard of hearing, and the story goes that when she was taping a TV commercial, with a few other grandmas standing behind a counter with her, a producer hidden down below tapped her on the ankle to bark those famous words "Where's the Beef?!" right on cue.

Now all you and I have to do is come up with another catchy marketing phrase that everyone wants and trademark it. I'll give you 50 percent. You in?