Thursday, March 25, 2010

To Slate, or Not to Slate? A Common Voice Over Question

There are varying opinions as to why or why not someone should slate in an online audition. The truth is... with any creative field, you never have a definitive 'right way', but there is always a definite 'wrong way'.

This week, we examine 'slating' and why or why it is not done.

  • It was a common practice when working offline, and going to studios to slate names before one began an audition.

  • The way auditions were collected called for it to happen this way.

  • Working in any new environment, such as online casting, it is common to do what you were once taught as a business practice.

Why is it NOT done as frequently now?
  • Working with a website involves a new way of collecting auditions. Your name is right there on the interface.

  • A marketing tip when working online is that if you can offer a solution to a problem in one mouse-click, and less time, the buyer feels like a genius for finding you.

  • Attention spans run shorter, online. In general, it takes somewhere between 5 and 20 seconds before they have concluded that the mouse-click was a failure, and it is best to stop listening. Should the first 10 seconds of an audition be a slate, or are you spending time telling them something they already know or will find out?

There are always those who can say, 'I slate, and I get work often online' and those who do not slate and get work. So what do you do now?

Think a moment about things already happening now:
  • Slates that offer personal commentary, or a long explanation into what the person is about to hear, usually leave a voice seeker bored before they hear the audition.

  • Feedback received from voice talent on Voice123 who have posted work as voice seekers, have expressed that 'techno slates' damage chances with the client because the first voice the client should hear is the talent's voice.

  • Many who audition are in the belief that they are always auditioning for the person doing the hiring. In fact, most voice seekers are posting the voice over work as a 3rd party to present to a client. This means, the auditions being presented to the client represent the job poster's ability to find voice talent. Any slate leading to the question, 'When will the audition start?', may do more harm than good.

A final note... a creative talent always has to face that question, 'Is what I am intending to do being received like I had intended?'. It is a tough question to face because creativity comes from the mind and heart, and the anonymous atmosphere online allows for people to be more opinionated than they would be face to face. It is always important never to take someone's business decision personally.

In a 'do-it-yourself voice talent' environment, each voice talent has to offer a bit of online customer service by knowing what you do not need to slate to them, if you even should, or looking at the track record of whether or not it has been a successful voice over practice online.

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
Voice123 Premium Forums
Steven's BlogTwitter: @stevenNYC123

Friday, March 19, 2010

Voice Over Ideas on Watermarking: 'Been There Done That' or 'Always'?

The question has come up many times before: 'Should I watermark my auditions?'. There are always varying opinions on whether or not you should, but I believe getting to the root of the problem as to 'Why people watermark(ed)?' will give more insight as to how to proceed.

Remember that any creative industry is made up of 'trends'. It has always been this way. Doing business online means following 'online business trends'. Remember that working online breeds fear because we do not see each other face to face.

Fear led to watermarking, and at the time, rightly so. 'Watermarking' was introduced when auditioning online became a 'trend' and a remedy for the fear 'What if they take my audition!' was in demand. "Not knowing who to trust' was common in the online voice over industry. So what changed?

Voice over professionals joined in communities who worked online together.
Voice seekers became voice talent, and voice talent became voice seekers.
They interacted enough times for voice seekers to begin thinking, 'I have worked online before. Why did he/she watermark? Do they not trust me?'. (It might seem like a sensitive reaction, but knowing that a watermark indicates a fear something may be stolen, it is understandable.)

Finally, watermarks done poorly became a 'trend' and great clients were simply tired of them. Voice talent who knew this responded by not using them anymore to meet a buyer's need. As such, out of any 'need' grew a new 'trend' to get work... Do not use watermarks.

I will admit there is a great deal of conflicting information out there. I sat in a class in 2008, and heard someone say, 'Don't audition online. They steal your auditions.', which surprised me because I knew the person never even did one online audition. You see, that is the funny thing... compared to 2004... we all know who is who, and what they do, because the online communities and social media makes this possible.

If you are still wondering, 'WHO DO I BELIEVE!' Do not fear. Believe the following:

The advice of people who get work online. You can find them in our forums.

If you fear you have to watermark when you see Project Details, Script, and Voice Seeker Details, you should probably pass on the audition.

The Voice123 process is just an audition process. Just like in casting directors' offices, they never used your in-house audition for final production.

If you fear the seeker will use a 96 kbps compressed audio voice over audition for final production, that is not a job worth the effort.

Fear is the one thing that can be erased through education and experience.

My personal opinion...Do not watermark. Change the phone number, if there is one, or slightly fade out the volume on the end of your audition. Most clients know who they want by that point, but hey...there are no absolutes to this industry.

If something gets you work, keep doing it, until it doesn't.

Best regards,

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
Voice123 Premium Forums
Steven's BlogTwitter: @stevenNYC123

Friday, March 12, 2010

Voice Over Job Posting Reaches All-Time High!

Last month, in only 28 days, Voice123 handled a record 1,111 SmartCast job postings on Voice123, in addition to the hundreds of private jobs posted through the site. (SmartCast-disabled projects.)

If you look closely at the Project Directory, you will notice that Voice123 has steadily grown into the leading voice over job resource for voice talent. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for being a part of Voice123 because voice seekers find the most professional voice talent in the world on Voice123, more than anywhere else, and we never lose sight of your importance to us and the voice over industry.

We handle the volume of traffic on Voice123 with a friendly, intelligent, and supportive team that understands the growing needs of the online voice over community.

From our team... We thank you for being a part of Voice123. Your needs are important to us. Working to handle so much job traffic is a pleasure for us, and we hope it is a pleasure for you.

Best regards,

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
Voice123 Premium Forums
Steven's Blog
Follow us on Twitter! @Voice123

Friday, March 05, 2010

Oops! Did I Just Market My Voice Over Business, Accidentally?

A powerful tool in working in the online voice over industry is to generate positive web content surrounding you and your business; mainly 'being chatty' about the success you are having, or positive opinions you have about what you are doing.

It truly is no secret that when you are talking about yourself, or another online business, you are in effect, marketing yourself.

Voice123 is no stranger to it. In fact, you can find us at:
Did we just market ourselves by simply adding those links, and hoping you will subscribe or follow, and then comment yourself? Yes! Of course, and there is nothing wrong with it!

However, keep in mind for yourself, that with this new social age of marketing and networking online for free, there exists great responsibility to exercise:

Avoid marketing yourself by 'being chatty' relentlessly about negative topics. Accidental marketing has a sort of 'instant karma' that will get you, if you use powerful and free networking tools in a negative manner. The intelligent people at Google, who now have added 'tweets' as part of search engine results, know the difference between when a business is trying to trick a search engine, or use it to benefit their business. Any form of 'blackhat practice' leads to negative results for your business.

Your generated public content becomes your brand, and your image into 'who someone will be working with'. Appearing as a friendly, down-to-earth, 'mom 'n pop' store through generated web content will do more good for you in an anonymous environment that simply demands transparency. Take this working example:

This is my profile. Now, if I tweet to tell you how proud I am of what I have achieved, it generates more of a positive buzz than tweeting, 'Look at how I am a professional.'

How was that first tweet different from the next? Only you will know, but I just accidentally marketed myself and my positive business opinions with this blog! :p

Be positive always! Your positive content will always work for you, even when you are not thinking about it!

Give it a try, if you have a Twitter and/or Facebook account click these links to tweet about your Voice123 profile:

Tweet about your Voice123 profile
Share and comment on your profile in Facebook


Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
Voice123 Premium Forums
Steven's Blog
Follow us on Twitter! @Voice123