Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. Video Games, Animation, TV and Radio spots, Narration, Voicemail greetings.
Those are my bread-and-butter. I can and have done it all, but these are the things that I get most.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Don't be satisfied with 'good enough.' That's the first thing I would say to a potential client. Then I would advise them to never hire a vendor that doesn't show a genuine interest in their business or product.
That sets the truly excellent apart from "good enough."
So please. Talk to me. I'm fair, and I'm one of the best. If I can't do it myself, I know at least fifty other people that I would recommend without hesitation.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. Because unlike others that preen and posture, I really do love my job. And Dad always said that when you find a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life.
My work really stands out because of the love I put into my words...or the frustration, or the sheer hatred. And I want to know the people I work with. I want to know about their business or their project. A great number of my clients are now my friends, and it's that way for a reason.
Whatever emotion those words need, I'll provide them. Because I really care that much. And that's a difference you can hear.
That's what makes my work "pop."
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. I get to make my own hours.
I get to spend time with my family.
I get to know some of the hardest working people in the world. Note I said "world" and not just "in the country."
I work for some of the most creative people in the world.
I get to be hero to the children of every ex-girlfriend I ever had...haha!
I get the satisfaction that when I talk, people listen. Not even the President can always say that.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. Q: You get paid to talk...? I could do that!
A: Sure. You could do it...
- But can you run your own business?
- Can you market yourself effectively?
- Can you differentiate yourself from the literally thousands of others with a USB microphone and a computer that call themselves "Voice Actors?"
- Can you stick with an industry where rejection is 95% of the job?
- Can you be willing to keep learning something new every single day you work?
- Can you speak in a voice that truly represents the essence of 'you'?
Notice I put the voice last. That's because in this industry, the voice is the least important thing. Being a good businessperson, having good relationships with clients, and working harder than the other person are all the components of managing a career in voiceover, not to mention the constant education and communication with clients.
So, to answer your question...No, as a matter of fact, I don't get paid to talk. Not *just* to talk, that is.
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. That the voiceover industry has value, like any other commodity. The problem is, that voiceover isn't a normal, everyday commodity to everyone. People don't manage their expectations of value properly when it comes to hiring a voice.
Here's one way to look at it. Say you lock yourself out of your car. When the locksmith arrives, he pulls out a couple of tools and has your car open in twenty-five seconds, then asks for a payment of sixty dollars.
How would you react? Happy that you have such an expert locksmith that you were able to get into your car so quickly? Or would you react like many would, in that he charged sixty dollars for such a short time of work?
I actually saw a locksmith and his customer in this very situation, I happened upon them in the parking lot of a grocery store, and after the customer reacted poorly to the news of the bill and asked how he could charge him so much money for a minute's work, the locksmith said, "You aren't paying for a minute's work. You're paying for a minute's work and fifteen years practice."
And, that's exactly what most voiceover folks have to deal with daily, simply because the perceived value of the work we do is very low. Most people don't know how much work we do in our industry, because of the perceived time of a radio or TV commercial. The assumption is that it's thirty, sixty, ninety, etc. seconds of work, and that's not true.
Add to that the fact that talking is a natural thing for most people to do, and that reduces the perceived value of what we do even more. I've lost count of how many times a potential client said, "How could you possibly charge me that much for talking. I mean *everybody* talks." Have you seen an eyewitness to a news event talk on camera? Yeah. Nobody wants that guy to talk, either.
And thus, we arrive at the point. Don't devalue something that you take for granted. I mean, think about if anyone outside of your industry suggested you do something for a fraction of the pay you deserve, or even free, and then I say, "welcome to my world."
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. I always knew that I wanted to do something with my voice. When I was three, I ran around the house singing "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers.
I was always making weird noises and throwing my voice when I was in middle school.
I was All-State Chorus in high school, and I went to college on an opera scholarship.
I entertained at parties by doing impersonations and making funny voices.
It was only natural that I used my college education to learn to get paid to do the stuff that used to get me in trouble in middle school.
But honestly, the decision to really do voiceover as a profession was only after I realized that *people really do this* for a living. I was hooked, and the rest is just a story to tell at parties.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. Absolutely. The fact is, when it comes right down to it, voiceover folks are actors. And actors take classes. Even the famous ones. The ones who are truly dedicated to their craft are always learning.
For film and theatre actors, they'll go to reading groups and take regular acting classes. The most successful ones keep honing their skills, because, in this world of blink-and-you-miss-them movie and TV actors, it's the ones who continue to grow that have the most longevity.
It's a little different in voiceover, because you don't have the visual medium to lean on in order to emote character traits or 'ticks' or whatever. You're totally in the "theatre of the mind" as has been mentioned for decades.
Because the industry and business of voiceover is changing so much, it's more important than ever to keep learning. There's an art and science to voiceover, on the performance side, and the business side.
Just to give you an idea of how important education is in our industry, I've started a workshop production company called Superhero University, whose sole purpose is to bring the best coaches in the business to the voiceover folks that wouldn't normally have access them. That's how important education, and a well-rounded one at that, is to a person in voiceover.
Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?
A. Please, please, PLEASE...don't put the cart before the horse. Don't spend thousands on equipment for recording at home. You don't need to have the means unless you have the inclination. And you don't need the inclination until you have the education.
So...the biggest piece of advice to anyone getting into this industry is "take classes!"
Learn at least a little of what this industry is all about before committing *any* other resources to a new business venture...because that's what you're getting into, folks! A business!
The first money you should spend is on voiceover education, period. The trick to a good voiceover education is to take classes in all parts of the industry, and from several different coaches. Now, I'm not saying don't take several classes from one coach. Just do some research before you take more than one class with a coach.
Nobody is going to be an expert at coaching everything. Now, I'm not saying that a voiceover talent can't be great at everything, but there are coaches whose expertise will be revealed with a little digging. For example, one of the best in the business, Bob Bergen (the voice of Porky Pig since Mel Blanc's death in 1991) will be the first person to tell you that he doesn't offer a commercial voiceover class. That's just not his thing...animation is, and he's a great coach for recognizing his limits. But if you ask, he will give you plenty of referrals to the kind of coach you're looking for...even other animation coaches.
The bottom line is, education is the absolutely most important thing that a voiceover person can have at their disposal. What did "School House Rock" teach us? That knowledge is power. Couldn't be more true in this industry.