Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Develop Your Voice Over

High Reward, Low Risk Way to Develop Your Voice Over (and Other) Skills
by Mark N. Lewellen

Your success in voice-overs depends on several factors. The ability to communicate well is an important skill in both business and in life. As Lee Iacocca says, "You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere." Companies and advertisers always need people who can orally advocate their ideas or promote their products clearly and effectively.

Where can you gain expertise in practicing the verbal communication skills needed for successful voice-over work? Try Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a non-profit (inexpensive), worldwide (popular) and educational (learn by doing) way to perform public speaking and practice voice-overs in a high reward, low risk setting. Experienced professionals and beginning speakers alike can benefit from the practical, face-to-face program that is the hallmark of Toastmasters.

Although its members are mainly known for developing public speaking expertise, many other important personal and business skills are also gained by attending and participating in the organization. How to be an effective listener, receiving positive feedback and running an effective meeting are all practiced regularly. One of the tenets of Toastmasters is that everyone who attends a meeting is given a chance to speak. This will provide you with many opportunities to develop and expand your voice-over talents.

When practicing your verbal skills, you should be aware that a good voice should be balanced and contain a combination of pitch, volume and rate. The rate of your speech is measured in words per minute and is typically in the range of about 130-160 words per minute. The volume of your voice should vary throughout your voice tracks. The pitch of your voice is another variable you have at your disposal. The one thing you want to avoid at all costs is going on and on in a monotone voice.

Believe it or not, there may be times when you don't want to speak. Pauses and silence can be a powerful technique when used properly. Attending and participating at Toastmasters meetings will give you tremendous practice in using all of these verbal techniques. Beginning with the modules in the Competent Communicator manual, Toastmasters will challenge you with such verbal projects as Vocal Variety, Persuading with Power, and Inspiring Others.

There is still more; not only will you gain valuable experience and confidence in your verbal skills, you will also be recognized for your efforts. After you complete all ten projects in the basic manual, you will receive a Competent Communicator (CC) certificate, which you can frame and display on your wall. Your employer will also receive one if you wish. As a final benefit, Toastmasters is a great place to network and meet new people from all types of businesses and walks of life. Some of them are bound to need voice-over talent such as yours. It's a win-win situation!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Talk Your Way Out of a Recession: Voice Over Industry to Increase 7% in 2009

(Burlington, VT) -- The voice-over industry boasts sustainable growth despite the economic recession. According to statistics reported by Voices.com, the voice-over industry is set to grow by 7.5% from 10.9 to 11.7 billion dollars in 2009. Effectively, there are substantially more opportunities for aspiring voice-over artists to break into the industry. According to Voices.com, earnings of voice talent have increased 82% in the past year due to higher paying jobs with longer contracts.

Voice-overs are not a get rich quick scheme, but they can be a great source of income. The ability to work from home and generate one’s own hours creates flexibility and allows the voice-over artist to work around their current employment before eventually building the venture into full-time work.

For those interested in exploring the field of voice-overs, voice-over training and demo production company, Such A Voice, offers a free online course to educate the public about the opportunities in the industry. "Most people who take our course have always been told they have a great voice, but don't know the first thing about where start. Our free online course is designed to educate aspiring voice-over artists on what it takes to be successful in the field," says Ben Werlin, Business Manager.

To view Such A Voice’s free online introductory course to the voice-over industry, please visit www.suchavoice.com.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

3 Reasons V/O Artists Need Business Cards

3 Big Reasons Why You Need Business Cards in Your Voice Over Business
In the Voice Over and Entertainment industry, image is everything. It is imperative that your voice over business project a professional image. One of the most effective ways you can do this is by presenting those you meet with your business card. Here are 3 big reasons why business cards are so effective in promoting your business:

Business cards are a basic staple for marketing a viable business. The practice of using business cards is world wide. This is why applying them to your advertising and marketing strategy works so well. People love using them and receiving them!

Business cards add instant business credibility. Handing someone your card gives immediate substance to your business. All your contact and website information is there on your card. They can contact you or visit your site to hear your voice over demos.

The design of your business card can portray a lot about your personality. Bright colors can signify a bright, vibrant voice. A bold color scheme can represent high energy in your voice. There are myriad ways to design your business card so that it reflects your personality and your voice.

Business cards project a professional image. Just consider it your “pocket sized Public Relations” person! Exchanging business cards is a great icebreaker for meetings and other business related functions. All the key information you need for people to know is right there on your card. Instead of explaining what you do to each new person you meet, you can spend time getting acquainted and adding to our own list of contacts. Be ready for every opportunity to hand out your card!

Here is a list of reasons why that feather-weight card carries a ton of heavy-weight marketing potential:
• Portability –Business cards can go everywhere you do! They fit in a wallet, pocket or even the smallest evening bag. Take them everywhere you travel.
• Friendly and convenient – All your business information is available on one small card. People in general love to exchange business cards. Where else can you have your own little “personal billboard” that promotes your voice over service? You never know who you might meet or need for your next job!
• High rate of return and referral– Your card recipient will associate your first meeting with your business card. If they can’t use your services now, they will have your information to refer you to someone else. That business card you gave out months ago could lead you to great voice over work tomorrow!

Now go out and get your business cards printed up! Keep in mind that your business card is just as important as your American Express card. Make it a point to “never leave home without it.”

For more tips, techniques, and marketing ideas, register on our website HERE. If you're not sure you're ready for that first voice over audition, we offer FREE voice evaluations from one of our highly trained voice coaches just by entering your name and e-mail address.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Producer Interview: John Billingsley

John Billingsley has over 15 years of experience in music, television and film production and holds a master's degree in Media Studies. He worked for many years in New York City on the staff of two major recording studios, Quad and Looking Glass. He did extensive freelance production work in the city as well and has engineering credits on albums in a wide range of musical genres, including ensembles from Philip Glass to Phish. John also has audio production credits on television programs that have aired on major networks such as MTV, VH1 and PBS.

John relocated to Burlington, Vermont in 2002 where he taught media production and business courses at Champlain College and managed the college’s broadcast media facilities. Through his independent production company, John has scored music and created sound design for numerous independent films. Currently he is directing and producing a documentary film titled "Liemba" about the oldest operation passenger ship in Africa. Visit www.liemba.org to find out more.

John joined the Such A Voice team in 2005, and has helped many new voice talent get their careers started through his charismatic coaching and producing style.

John’s ears work wonders with all of our voice-over talents. He is fun and easy to work with, and knows how to get the best out of each and every one of our clients. Trust John to put together an immaculate voice over demo for you, that will absolutely help you get the work!

Name and Title
John Billingsley
Voice Coach / Head Producer

How and why you got into the voice over industry
Started as an intern at Maysles film in NYC after college in 1992. Went on to work as a freelance audio engineer/producer in NYC for over a decade. There was no way not to get into the voice over industry. But I stayed on the production side of the glass and only venture in front of the mic when no one else is available!

What do you enjoy in your free time
What free time? I have 3 kids under 5!
When I do find some time that is free though, I like making music, skiing, biking, camping, sailing…but most of all, spending time with the aforementioned kids & my lovely wife!

Something about you that not many people know
I am a certified Woofer. What is that? A “Wilderness Outdoor First Reponder.” Also a graduate of Outword Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School.

What is your least favorite word or sound and why
Nasty, unintended feedback… offends my professional sensibilities.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Producer Interview: Brendon Coyle

Brendan Coyle has more than ten years of experience in the music business. He earned his master's degree in Music Technology from the College of Saint Rose. He has produced recordings for projects ranging from choruses and big bands to jazz trios and folk artists. Brendan has done narration work on independent films and has worked for years with the Capital Repertory Theater in Albany, New York.

Brendan’s years of experience as a musician and a producer have given him a great ear and the ability to get the best sound while working with a diverse range of clients. He believes that the key to a good recording is a comfortable and fun working environment where he can use his skills and your talent to achieve the best voice over demo.

Name and Title
Brendan Coyle - Voice Coach and Producer

How and why you got into the voice over industry
Via the recording industry. I edited and produced voice overs and music while earning my Master's degree in Albany, and found myself doing a lot of voice work production. Makes sense considering the human voice is the most recorded instrument in the recording industry.

What do you enjoy in your free time
Playing music and researching History

Something about you that not many people know
I have duel citizenship with the U.S. and the U.K.

What is your least favorite word or sound and why
The sound of popsicle sticks being rubbed together hurts my teeth.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Producer Interview: Heather Costa

Heather Costa attended Dan Levine’s voice-over MasterClass in July 2004 and has quickly developed a highly successful voice-over career for herself.

Today, just over two years after studying with us, Heather finds herself with a massive client list of 250+. Her website speaks to her professionalism and her organized approach toward the entrepreneurial field of voice-overs. She has set herself up to cover every angle of voice-over work that she can.

After watching Heather’s success story, we asked her to join our team in early 2006. She has been doing a marvelous job. Her warmth and sincerity as a person and as a voice talent have helped her to succeed as an excellent teacher and producer. She is already inspiring many new voice talents to follow in her footsteps.


Name and Title

Heather Costa, Voice Over Talent, Coach & Producer

Locations/Areas Covered:
GA, MD, MI, NC, OH, SC TN, VA, CA

How and why you got into the voice over industry
Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be the voice of Ariel in the Little Mermaid. So one day, back in 2004, my father handed me a book by Terri Apple about the voice-over industry after he had seen a flyer for the class with Dan Levine, "You're On the Air How to Really Make it in Voice-Overs." It was at that moment I realized this was something I knew I had to pursue! After attending the class, I was invited to continue on in the Such A Voice masterclass program and since then I've been working full time in the voice-over industry and loving it!

What do you enjoy in your free time
Relaxing with my family. My husband and I love to watch movies (seriously, our house looks like a Blockbuster), I also love to cook, spend time outdoors picnicking and taking walks and I also love spending endless hours entertaining our son :) I also enjoy quilting, scrap-booking and eating lots of chocolate!

Something about you that not many people know
I've always been involved in music - singing, playing the oboe, flute and piano. I even toured Europe a few times performing with choirs. However, whenever it came time to actually sing live as a solo performer, I would get very nervous. This is why I am so happy doing voice-overs - it's just me and the mic and I still get to perform! Also, the confidence I have gained from voice-overs has actually helped me with singing as well.

What is your least favorite word or sound and why
The sound of pain or sadness, especially when it's someone close to me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meet Nikki Lu Lowe!

Nikki Lowe is a creative, energetic, and warm personality. She's the kind of coach that people gravitate towards, and her infectious personality is just what you need to help get you started with voice over work.

A lifelong entrepreneur, Nikki began her voice over career in the mid 90s to compliment her focus on software training and e-learning solutions. Nikki also graduated from Such A Voice's masterclass program, and we have enjoyed watching her voice-over career blossom after having worked with her. Her clientele base has extended to a wide array of diverse companies such as PBS, Habitat for Humanity, and several international software companies.

Today, Nikki records for weekly television series, radio and television commercials, corporate presentations, independent art projects and e-learning on demand courses and tutorials.

Name and Title: Nikki Lu Lowe / Voice Talent and Producer

Locations/Areas Covered: MA, NH, VT

How and why you got into the voice over industry: My first opportunity was in college helping a friend with a radio drama. I loved the creative aspect and hearing the end result. Since that day, I was hooked.

What do you enjoy in your free time: Exploring with my son, traveling, reading, spending as much time as possible with my awesome husband, and the great outdoors.

Something about you that not many people know: Since the movie Jaws, I've been petrified of being eaten by a shark...or anything else with large teeth zipping around in the water. I refused to take a bath for fear he'd come up the drain and have a little snack (which would have been me, unfortunately).

What is your least favorite word or sound and why: My least favorite word is 'racism' for obvious reasons. My least favorite sound would have to be pots/pans banging together. It hits some note that drives me bonkers.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Talent of the Month - July 2009

Tim Webb

"My most important component in my marketing plan is being myself. It has been said to treat others like you want to be treated, and I live by that in my voice over business." - Tim Webb

So far, this mantra has worked wonders for Tim Webb while pursuing his voice-over career. Since his training with Such A Voice in July of 2008, Tim has produced spots for car dealerships, insurance companies, bedding stores, electronics stores and even provided the Australian accent for an exotic wild life ranch. In just a short time, Tim has really made quite an impact on the voice-over field. Most recently, Tim was hired to be a part of a regional commercial playing throughout Texas for a Texas-based insurance company. It was his first conference call/recording session.

Such success comes as no surprise to those who know Tim well. Ever since Tim was a kid, he has been impersonating people. People frequently said to him, "Maybe one day you'll get paid to do voices." Remembering those words, Tim decided to pursue a communications major in college, hoping that this would lead him to his goal of one day hearing his own voice on television and on the radio.

With his ambition and drive to succeed, Tim has achieved that goal. Using his young, hip, guy-next-door voice, Tim has embraced his niche as a youthful announcer and has found his strongest market in the companies advertising to a younger clientele, like sports bars and steak houses. He has a clear sense of where to market himself and where his voice will make the most impact. He knows who he is and isn't afraid to show his personality to potential clients. "My most important component in my marketing plan is being myself," Tim says. Even though it seems simple, it is this self-awareness and self-confidence that has propelled Tim's voice-over career forward. While knowing his niche and knowing how to market himself are important elements, Tim continues to get the jobs because of his attention to customer service. When asked how he deals with clients, Tim replied, "It has been said to treat others like you want to be treated, and I live by that in my voice-over business."

Tim also lives by his passion for voice-overs and his drive to further his career. After all, he's been interested in it since he was a kid! For Tim, the effort is always worth it in the end. "I am getting to do something that I absolutely love to do, and feel that I am using my God-given talents. I am getting paid to do voices, which is what I have always wanted to do," he says. Tim plans to turn voice-overs into a full-time career within the next year and hopes to be the voice for a national company or a cartoon character sometime in the next few years.

When asked what advice he has for those starting out in the world of voice-overs, he said, “The tortoise, not the hare, always wins the race. You are not going to be the next Don Lafontaine overnight. It takes perseverance, but in the end, you will win.” For Tim, perseverance means checking his e-mails and online casting sites daily, making sure that he is following up with clients in a timely manner and continuing to make new contacts and search for new potential clients. It is this tortoise mentality, this perseverance, that has propelled Tim to success. The best part? He is running a race that he loves--and winning.

To listen to Tim's demo or to learn more about his voice-over career, visit his Voice Fact page at http://www.myvodemo.com/such/index.cfm?world=3440 or visit his Web site at http://www.timwebbvoiceovers.com/

Technique Tip of the Month:Warming Up Your Instrument

Anytime you begin a project, it’s crucial to warm up and get your instrument ready for work. That instrument, of course, is your voice. For many people, recording first thing in the morning or recording late at night may make it difficult to produce a quality sound. Your instrument (your equipment) just may not be at its best at those times of the day. You will be able to determine the time of day when your own voice isn’t ready for optimal use. To help your voice wake up, the best thing to do is to talk. Talk to your dogs, talk to the television, talk to your family, sing while you're in the shower. Talk as much as you need to in order to get the blood flowing to your vocal chords. Most importantly, make sure that you drink plenty of liquids. If you are a coffee drinker, that's fine, but try to get a couple of glasses of water in before you start recording.

Repeating tongue twisters is another great trick to help warm up your voice. When you’re having warm-up sessions, think of yourself as a baseball player who is waiting to go to bat. Baseball players will often practice swings with weights on their bats before they step up to the plate. Swinging the bat with these weights on it makes it seem so much easier when they actually do step up to the plate to take a swing; it makes that bat feel light. Tongue twisters can do the same thing for your mouth while you’re warming up. If you are practicing with and mastering these difficult tongue twisters, by the time you pick up the actual script, the words will come easily and flow off the page. Chances are that whatever you have to read will be easier to get through than the tongue twisters, just as the baseball player's bat is lighter without the weights.

Another thing you can do to warm up is to take your entire script and say it through clenched teeth. Doing this really makes your tongue, throat and jaw muscles work hard to get those words out. The goal of this exercise is to try to enunciate so that people can understand what you’re saying. By attempting to do this through clenched teeth, your mouth is really working hard to clearly pronounce the words. The great thing about this exercise is that you don't even need to have a script to read. You can just walk around your house talking to your kids, your husband, your wife or your dogs through clenched teeth. Just be sure to let them know what you’re doing so that you don't come off looking or sounding angry!

Once you begin recording, deep breathing is essential. People are often tense when they get into the studio. This might be because of nerves, or maybe it's been a stressful morning. Who knows? Just remember: one of the best parts of what we do is that we can start over if we make a mistake! A script recording rarely ever comes out right the first time. We have a job that allows us to make mistakes. The goal is to get the end result sounding right. So relax, take a deep breath and just have fun knowing that even if you do make a mistake, you can start over. After all, the better prepared you are and the more you warm up, the fewer mistakes you will make!

Lisa Foster, Voice-Over Talent, Coach and Producer

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Producer Interview: Sheryl Powers

With over 25 years of experience in the radio & voice over business, it's obvious that Sheryl Powers loves what she does and we're excited to have her as our second Producer Interview.

As a DJ, talk show co-host, radio & tv voice-over artist (both locally & nationally), and radio sales and marketing specialist, she knows all sides of the business.

Sheryl's voice-over credits include American Gold and Silver Exchange (aired on Lifetime network), Mattress Giant, Funjet Vacations, Hearts on Fire Diamonds, Sunnyland Patio Furniture, Charlotte Gold and Diamond, Dalworth Clean, and many, many more.


Name: Sheryl Powers

How and why you got into the voice over industry:
Radio/TV major in college, internship at a radio station near Dallas the summer of my Senior year got me hooked and never went back to school.

What do you enjoy in your free time:
anything outdoors: waterskiing, home projects, jogging, sipping a beverage on a patio somewhere with my fella

Something about you that not many people know:
A short stint in Montana when I was 11 had me as the sausage processor at our family's butcher shop. I measured the lard to the wild game, worked it in to the casings and I piped out some pretty fabulous links if I do say so myself!

What is your least favorite word or sound and why:
Repetitive "R" words and anything in German :)