Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Voice Over Talent Agent or Voice123? Why Not Both?

In Voice123, we receive questions through our customer service department frequently wondering, if having an agent for voice over work is better than having a profile on Voice123.

The best thing we can recommend... Why not try both?

To start, Voice123 is not an agency. Most importantly, working on Voice123 is not exclusive, and Voice123 takes no commission. This means it is all about you as a voice over business!

Voice123 offers informational emails about working online, and also offers help to both voice talent and voice seekers to maintain a sense of community filled with professionals that believe in integrity. Voice123 is also a great marketing tool, we invest heavily in Internet marketing, so it is easier to be found when you belong to Voice123.

So, when it comes down to 'Which one?', think of it this way:
  • On days when the email invites from Voice123 do not look attractive, you always have the opportunity to get a phone call from an agent regarding voice over work.
  • If the agent isn't calling, you have Voice123.
There are more voice over jobs available online, from your smallest shopping center's phone message to your big budget motion picture. To 'limit' oneself is to openly decide not to work. Take a look at the profile of Skid Trax. He recently wrote me about his latest work:

"I've been very busy, in part, due to some of recurring clients I've picked up from V123, plus my other retainer and agency clients. I've also just completed my promo/show open voice over work for season 3 of "Destination Truth" on The Syfy channel, airing this September after "Ghost Hunters". I did season two after auditioning last year for the gig. Take a look at it here. I'm also still doing the animated fish character as it is an ongoing series from Ryno Productions, not to mention the dozens and dozens of other syndicated cable and radio spots I've been doing for them. Voice123 has truly paid off!"

Just think...if he had chosen only one, he would not have been as busy as he is now!

If you would like to share your success stories with Voice123, please write us! We would love to hear about it!

Thank you!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
My Blog
Twitter: @voice123dotcom

Friday, August 21, 2009

Important: Voice Over Industry Networking

Out of Sight (or Ear) Out of Mind… Stay in Touch, Meet Contacts, Network, Advertise!
- By Bettye Zoller

"I've been in this nutty business thirty two years (voiceovers). I started working at age five, signed to MGM Studios in Hollywood as a child actor where I went to school in the famous "little red schoolhouse" on the MGM movie lot. I knew that showbiz was for me. Mother taught me that I had to 'hobnob' with important people at MGM and had to make them "like me." Mother taught me the importance of networking. She used to say:

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Don't hide your light under a barrel."

That was over fifty years ago. Voiceovers and being a recording studio owner and audio engineer producer is somewhere down the list of my many "hats" I've worn in showbiz. And, throughout it all, as a performing singer and actor, a print model, a journalist, an audio book publisher, author, and producer, a college teacher, a jingle singer, whatever, I always knew that my first job was to get out there and be seen and heard. How did I get my first jobs as a studio singer, a headliner in resorts and supper clubs nationwide prior to getting studio work, and eventually, hired as faculty by colleges?
  • By making the rounds of recording studios and shaking hands and leaving my singer's demo.
  • By getting my headshot and demo and credits into the right hands and getting signed by music agents in 3 cities, who eventually booked me 50 weeks a year with my jazz group.
  • By meeting and getting to know department chairs or other faculty members while keeping an eye on the human resources department to determine which, if any, positions were open.
You must "get out there." Staying in the public's eye and publicizing yourself is JOB #1:
  • Networking, attending functions, at least two nights each week is a primary goal. Take plenty of business cards and copies of your demo CD.
  • Hand out headshots, too, or theatre reviews of plays you've acted in if you've other performance areas.
  • Include information on your recording studio services or CD duplication prices.
  • Advertise whatever you make money with and you have to tell them what you do.
  • Get their business card and start a card file. Keep the file up to date.
  • Regularly send out postcards to contacts. This will keep a "clean mailing list", too. For very little money spent on a stamp, you can determine who has moved or is no longer in the business.
  • A newsletter is nice too. Keep it short, one page. Put at least one photo in each newsletter. Always take advantage of photo ops with a celebrity or producer. Never leave home without your digital camera. You never know what photo opportunities might present themselves today!
Holidays are perfect for staying in touch, too!
  • Send a "Happy New Year" greeting or a "Thanksgiving Note (I'm thankful to have met you).
  • Postcards are best…never a letter with envelope. That way, the recipient will at least glance at your card prior to throwing it away. An agent gave me this advice many years ago, and I still follow it.
When possible, get involved in charitable or community events. You'll do a good deed and get visibility too. If this sounds "crass," just remember that the biggest (and wealthiest) stars are heavily involved in charities because it keeps them in the public eye. It has publicity value. That's not to demean good intentions, but let's be factual. Every manager and agent will attest to the publicity value of a talent's being involved in charities and non-profit endeavors.

A new (revised) demo CD is always a great reason to do a mailing and to give the demo out in person at every event you attend.
  • Remember that "all new" is advertising's biggest and most important headline. Use this to your advantage. Perhaps you want to create a different sort of demo, for example, a collection of spots you've voiced for financial institutions over the past couple of years or a collection of your car dealer spots, a collection of corporate narration excerpts…something new. "All new and improved!"
Of course, almost everyone knows that today we must maintain a strong internet presence.
  • By having a website of our own.
  • By having a blog.
  • By joining voiceover networking sites and participating,
  • By becoming a voice on email lists and similar public forums.
  • Social networking sites give you exposure to hundreds of thousands worldwide. Amazing!

Out of sight (ear) out of mind! If people are saying, "Wow, I wondered if you were still in the business," or "gee, I haven't seen you for ages…" you are missing the ‘gravy boat!' That's a clue your networking needs a boost. Most of us are not in the league to hire publicity agents, so that means we must do it ourselves. Get going! "

- Bettye Zoller has been a Voice123 member since 2003. She is known as a voice coach whose students work, most recently, John Knouse. Watch her website year round for all her voice over workshop postings, schedules, and details.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Auditioning: The Importance of Originality

The following article was generously submitted by Voice123 talent, Gord Brooks, and his take on the importance of being original while working online:

"Good Judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment"
-Sufi sage/fool Mulla Nasrudin, born circa 1208

The above quote seems obvious when you put it so clearly. Indeed, as kids we learned our most valuable lessons from bad judgment. Unfortunately, as with so much from our childhood, we learn how to be 'safe' as we "grow up". We stop taking risks. We stay within the comfort zone that "experience" has taught us will bring the least risk. During the process, we lose the sharp outline of who we are, and we become blurred and indistinguishable as an individual, gradually merging into the herd. Remember, there is no 'I' in sheep, if you know what I mean.

Why preface my story with another reminder about how great it was to be a kid?

Why remind you of your glory days when you were an 8 year-old fearless rebel?

I am offering you a 'perspective'. I should explain that my auditions are often weird, funny, waaay off base, and at times, rude. I have chosen to be very wrong, and chosen to be very right... But they are always unique, impulsive, and 100% genuine, Gord Brooks originals. At least, they were until....."THE YEAR THE ECONOMY CHOKED TO DEATH AT THE ALL YOU CAN EAT "SUB-PRIME" BUFFET". And so begins my tale...

We join our hero, Gord, during the spring of 2009. Gord's spirits (and income) are lower than the Prime Rate. With the economy in limbo, there was less work available for less money. As with most people who are self-employed, not having a steady, predictable income to match one's steady, predictable bills induces a constant low 'watermark' of stress. It is always there, as if it were a law of nature. As the months rolled by with no improvement, that 'watermark' rose in pitch, and volume to a nails-on-blackboard screech. Seriously, the way things were going; it was scary.

There was something even more serious taking place...During this time, without realizing it:
  • I had changed the way I was auditioning.
  • I was not letting myself have fun.
  • I was not going with my gut instinct.
  • I was editing out anything that had even a faint whiff of risk.
  • I focused on providing exactly what was 'requested', not giving voice seekers any reason to reject me. Out of fear I had gradually morphed into Gord "The Safety Bear".
In ice hockey (I am Canadian), there is a term "Gripping the stick too hard". It means you are too tight, not loose not having fun, and not relaxed. I was gripping so hard I got splinters. The result? I got great feedback, but I actually saw fewer jobs. Interesting. In June, after yet another audition where I had ranked #1, and was not hired, I finally woke up to what was wrong. I decided the Safety Bear needed to get dangerous. The very next audition would be 'the genuine Gord Brooks'.

That audition was for a restaurant called Spinnakers, and the voice seeker was from "The Tourism Network". I was not sure how I was going to have some fun with this, but I was going to try something original i.e. My way. The opportunity came in an outtake. I could not say "margarita". The 'R' rolling thing was really weak. As a practice, when I flub a reading, I try not to endlessly repeat the word or phrase trying to get it right. Instead, I start improving, singing, or switching my voice completely in between each attempt. I find it keeps me relaxed, and loose instead of getting impatient or pushing too much. I cut the outtakes down to a short, snappy, funny bit, which ended the custom demo. You can listen to the audition here.

It was exactly the type of thing I often did in the past, classic 'Me'. It worked! I received an email response saying how much they liked the demo, and asked if I would be interested in doing on-going work for their SEVEN TV stations! Obviously...Squeezing them into my schedule would not be a problem. Here's the twist... Spinnakers went with another voice.

However, in the email explaining Spinnakers choice, there was a new script for an entirely different restaurant with a much larger budget. Talk about instant, unmistakable confirmation that I was back on the right track!

The moral of my story: When I went back to being me, when I focused on doing what I do best, and most importantly when I trusted myself...success followed, instantly.

by Gord Brooks

Voice123 thanks Gord Brooks for taking the time out to tell us about his voice over experience. If you ever have any success stories that you would like to share, please write us!

Thank you!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
My Blog
Twitter: @voice123dotcom

Thursday, August 13, 2009

5 Reasons Why Hiring Voice123 Talent is the Smart Choice

1. Speed - Voice123 is still the first and fastest online casting site for voice talent. Our SmartCast technology cuts down the amount of time it takes to find voice talent. On some of our most well-paying jobs, voice talent auditions were received in less than 60 minutes, after the job was posted. In the day and age of 'Time is money.', Voice123 simply makes the most sense.

2. Easy to use - Voice123 understands that too much 'flash and dash' can actually make a website more confusing to use. Our website is easy to use, so posting jobs and finding talent is simple and easy.

3. Technology - The audition inbox at Voice123, by which you would receive auditions, has tools such as:

  • Sharing a link to your audition inbox for other clients to use.
  • A ranking system to manage who you are considering for the job.
  • A preferred talent feature to save your favorite voice talent to work with.
  • A similar talent feature to find talents similar to the voice you are interested in.

4. Customer Service - Voice123 offers the most 'humanized' customer service on the web, today. With a management staff trained by some of the best companies in the world, such as Disney, our staff removes the wall of anonymity, and offers personal service from real people with the understanding that your time is important.

5. Top Quality Voice Talent - The voice talent on Voice123 carry decades of experience, many whom can work right from home, and give you quality product in as little as a day. The diversity of quality voice talent on Voice123, also means you will find a voice you need in almost any language on our site.

We certainly hope you will be able to post voice over work soon at Voice123!

Thank you for reading,
Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
My Blog
Twitter: @voice123dotcom

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The 'Viral' Voice Over Landscape

The 'Viral' Voice Over Landscape
'National, regional, and local' are words we have all heard for years. However, the modern day voice talent must now consider handling a new voice over landscape that has popped up in the past ten years, and within the last two years, has exploded due to social media sites such as Youtube.com. You may find that one day, the national spot you did has turned into something bigger you never thought possible, overnight. You never saw it coming nor could you do anything about it.

I am referring to the 'viral' landscape. I give to you a recent example of how such a thing can happen. Given that times have indeed changed, the need for understanding the responsibility of the 'viral' landscape is important:

  • Back on July 6th, 2009, a Voice123 voice talent (choosing to remain nameless) booked a national spot for a type of exercise equipment called 'The Shake Weight'.
  • The talent negotiated the contract, and all seemed like it would be just a regular national spot. Yet, when the product hit the web, it took on a life all its own. You may see the reason why here. Unexpectedly, in just two days this national spot became 'viral' and in less than a week it has appeared on 'Attack of the Show' on the G4 Network, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and 'The View', and has received over 500,000 views on Youtube from the link the talent provided for me. The other links in which other people posted the video have easily added up to another 300,000 views.
The truth is that you simply cannot control the 'viral' landscape because you never know when that national, local, or regional spot will strike a chord with someone and they will begin giving you more exposure than you had ever expected. If this kind of thing happens to you, try the following:

See the opportunity
When exposure has reached 'viral' proportions for you, see the opportunity! As unusual as this video was, its exposure almost overnight led to more work immediately. It is important to note, too, that more than 40% of U.S. households under age 35 watch Internet video on their TVs at least once a month. That includes watching movies via game consoles, Web TV gadgets like the Roku box and Apple TV, and/or hooking up a laptop to the TV. Just because it 'looks like the Internet' does not mean it should be paid less attention to, or ignored as lesser an opportunity.

'Humble + Humor = Safety' and 'Ego + Keyboard = Trouble':
If you really think about it, the Internet belongs to 'everyone' because 'everyone' provides the content. The Internet is filled with experts, professionals, and influential players. So, when one person is given a great amount of exposure, it is best to be humble, and humorous about it.

If this voice talent proclaimed, 'Look at how much exposure this product got, and MY voice is on it. It is because of me.', you would have millions more thinking, 'Who does he/she think she is?'. Marketing the work you have done is important. If it is a job that led to 'viral' exposure, you will get more positive reactions with a humble, 'Yes, that was me. What did you think?'. The 'viral' landscape was created by people communicating with each other, so they did find humor in something that happened, especially in this case. Humor... works on the Internet. It humanizes us in a rather anonymous online world.

I want to sincerely thank the voice talent for bringing this news to my attention. I cannot thank her enough for sharing this with me.

Thanks for reading!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
My Blog
Twitter: @stevenNYC123

Monday, August 03, 2009

Voice123 'Tuesday Twitter Contest'!

Voice123 announces its 'Tuesday Twitter Contest'! We are doing this in an effort to reward the loyal followers of Voice123 in Twitter, @Voice123dotcom, and assist the talent from Voice123 with professional production capability, but cannot subscribe to audition during these tougher economic times, or would like to get more time added to their subscription!

Here's how this works!

The 2nd & 3rd Tuesday of each month:
  • We will announce the language/gender category for the week, for talent under the chosen category, to fully produce a very small script of one sentence from the Link Exchange section of Voice123 (See the sentences used in Step 1).
  • During the contest weeks, submission entries will be collected via a project posted on Voice123.com. The verification code to submit will be available via @Voice123dotcom ONLY. You can create a profile, and submit using the verification code, whether you are a premium or standard subscriber.
  • Submissions for the week will be accepted until 12pm USA ET the following Monday, the day before the winner is announced, and the new category is chosen.
The 4th Tuesday of each month:
  • Voice123 will announce the winners and honorable mentions throughout the day, and promote the Voice123 talent who entered.
  • Winners will be rewarded with a 90-day Premium Subscription trial to Voice123!

Rules and stuff:
  • Talent must have a complete Voice123 profile to enter.
  • This contest is open to ALL voice talent on Voice123.
  • The talent must be a follower of @Voice123dotcom Twitter account to get the info.
  • Talent must submit via the project using the verification code.
  • The submission must be the requested category for that week to be considered.
  • The categories for each week will be chosen at random.
Look out for this next Tuesday on @Voice123dotcom, and good luck!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
My Blog
Twitter: @stevenNYC123