Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are You Ready to Join the Union? 10 Key Points You Must Consider Before Joining AFTRA.

Working in the recording industry is both exciting and financially rewarding. You are working in a profession you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

Lately, you have been thinking about joining AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). There are definite advantages to joining the Union however; joining too soon can create problems in your blossoming career. Should you join now or wait a while longer?

Here are some important considerations you need to think about before joining the Union. Your answers will help you determine if you’re ready to join AFTRA now or, should wait a bit longer.

First, let’s go over an average Union voice over artists profile (we’ll call her Stacey) and see if you are ready. Compare the profile below to your present career experience. The comparison will reveal just how close you are to stepping up into the union wage network.

Stacey is actively marketing her demo to local radio and television stations. Her blatant self promotion has led to a good bit of interest and quite a few really great jobs. The jobs in her portfolio showcase a variety of markets and voice over styles. She has learned her particular vocal strengths for her market. Anyone reviewing Stacey’s portfolio or hearing her demo, knows she can do the job.

Stacey has a stable of regular clients and is well known as a respected and sought after voice over artist. Her name is getting passed around as someone who can perform high quality voice over work, every time. Producers that normally hire union artists are contacting her. Stacey’s skills have grown from being a newbie voice over artist to a professional with a steadily growing portfolio of work.

Does this profile describe you? If it does, congratulations! You’re a very good candidate to make the move to Union V/O professional. On the other hand maybe this profile isn’t you…just yet. You need more experience before venturing into Union territory.

Here is a checklist of 10 key points you need to consider in evaluating your readiness to join AFTRA:

* You have acquired a substantial amount of jobs in your portfolio.
* Your expanding portfolio and demo showcase a variety of voice over styles.
* You’ve discovered your natural vocal style and your niche market.
* You have worked for some well known companies and/or producers.
* You are known for a particular style of voice over work.
* You are receiving recommendations from producers within your network.
* You are gaining a good bit of work by referrals.
* You are contacted for work by agents who hire union voice over artists.
* You are attracting companies with higher quality jobs and larger wages.
* You have developed your skills to a level equal to V/O artists making union wage.

Making the decision to join AFTRA defines a turning point in the path of your voice over career. The transition in taking that next step will go much easier when all your professional stepping stones are in place.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finding the “Voice” in Your Copy

Learning to find the Voice of Your Copy requires you to listen and record…a lot. You need to hear yourself reading copy and develop an ear for what sounds good for you. You’ll learn what your natural range is, your local inflection and what kind of recording work your voice is suited for. Terms like “funny, sexy, deep and soulful, man on the street, housewife, news reporter, loving mom, childlike, hip, rock and roll, or even the voice of God, will train your ear to listen for that character in your vocal range.

One way to help you develop your “character” ear is to read copy aloud daily. What you read isn’t important. Your focus is finding the voice of the character. Record yourself doing this exercise so you can play it back and listen. The more variety of copy you read, the easier it will be to find the characters behind those different voices.

This exercise can pay off in a big way when called in for a VO session.
For example: You’ve been called in to do a read for a cat food commercial. Now if you have a cat, you will probably be all smiles when you perform the copy. Performing this character is no problem because you can easily put on your “cat lover” voice and sound convincing. But, what if you don’t have a cat? What if you have an allergy to cats? You may really have to reach down deep to pull up a voice that will convince the producer you really do love cats and that particular brand of cat food. You need to become the kind of person who would actually say those words so the listener will want to buy the product.

If at all possible get the copy before the session. Read over it as many times as it takes to get a feel for who the person is they are looking for. You don’t have to do a physical performance to become a convincing vocal character. The main focus is getting in touch with that “character on the page” and becoming the convincing, believable voice the producer is looking for.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Voice-over Talent Position!

Hi there,

Ben Werlin writing with Such A Voice. We are currently looking for a professional, experienced voice-over talent to join our talented team.

This is a full time position that will involve voice evaluations and following up with potential clients. We may put your experience to work in other ways as well!

We are seeking someone with an upbeat, friendly manner. Strong sense of organization, attention to details, and sales experience are a plus.

We offer a fun, motivating small business atmosphere in the heart of scenic Vermont (Burlington area). We prefer talent that are willing to relocate to the Burlington area, but are willing to consider exceptions if you're a great fit.

Expect salary in the $40,000-$50,000/yr range and you will be entitled to benefits including full medical coverage, automatic employer 401k contributions, and 4 weeks of vacation.

Please send a resume and cover letter to info@suchavoice.com if you're interested.

We hope to hear from you!

The Fine Art of Breathing: Make Your Voice a Masterpiece!

The one thing that we all do daily is breathe. It’s a necessary part of our existence and we all do it the same way. Or do we? Those of us in the performance arts have learned that proper breathing is essential to giving a great performance. Read on to learn how proper breathing technique can improve your performance.

When it comes down to it, breathing control directly affects vocal control. To have full range of all the nuances your voice, you must have full use of your lungs. Like a painter uses different brushes and strokes for effect in creating his art, you need to develop that same type of control with your breathing. In order for you to create your masterpiece of vocal sound, you need to develop your breathing technique.

One of the ways you can improve your performance breathing is to learn to do it properly. This involves actively using your diaphragm muscles in your abdomen. Some people call this “middle breathing” as your stomach will move in and out as opposed to using your chest or shoulders (considered chest breathing or shallow breathing). Here’s how it works.

Sit up straight in your chair and place your hands in your lap with your palms resting against your lower abdomen. Sit in a natural “attentive” position with your head up as if you are gazing across the room. While holding this position breath in slowly and deeply through your nose and inhale as fully as possible. While you are inhaling, imagine you are filling a balloon with water. The water goes straight to the bottom of the balloon and expands out while it fills up. You should be able to see your hands moving out as your lower lungs fill with air. Pay attention that your chest and shoulders stay in their normal position during your inhale.

When you have inhaled as fully as possible hold your breath for a second or two and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Part your lips just enough to allow the air to escape. Use your diaphragm muscles to push the air out by slowly contracting them and pulling your stomach in. Imagine you are now squeezing the water back out of the balloon from the bottom up. You will see your hands slowly pulling in toward your pelvis. Continue your slow squeeze until you have completely exhaled every bit of air you can from your lungs.

Congratulations! You have now completed your first controlled breath! You should practice your controlled breathing several minutes daily. This exercise is very effective for several reasons: As your lung capacity improves so does your abdominal strength. This also has a positive effect on your vocal cords. There will be less vocal strain simply because you have more air and greater breathing control.

You can hear how effective your breathing control is by making simple sounds (like, la, so, fa, do, etc.) during the exhale part of the exercise. You can control and vary your sound by how slowly or forcefully you exhale. Any variations you do will improve your control as long as you remember to breathe from the diaphragm! So take a deep breath, practice your controlled breathing and wow your producer at your next VO performance!