Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meet Our Staff: Heather Costa

Once a month, Such A Voice will be highlighting a member of our staff to give you a little insight into who they are & what they do here at Such A Voice to help you get to know the people behind-the-scenes!           
Meet Heather Costa. Heather is originally from Catskill, NY. From there she attended the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in CT where she received a Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance. After graduation, Heather relocated to northern NJ for a couple of years to establish herself as a voiceover talent. From there, she spent a few years in Albany, NY and has now settled in the Hudson Valley with her husband and two beautiful children where they are surrounded by apple orchards and vineyards. Heather is a country girl at heart. She loves being surrounded by open spaces and watching the beautiful sunsets over the rolling hills. The Hudson Valley is just a short train ride away from Manhattan, so it's a perfect mix of country and city for their family. When it comes to passion for all things voiceovers, we've yet to meet anyone that can meet Heather's level of enthusiasm for the industry! Some of her clients include: the Disney Channel, Comcast, Infiniti, Playtex, PetSmart, Finish Line, eBay, the Educational Testing Service, Barnes & Noble, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, MVP Healthcare, Chase, Clear Channel, Prentice Hall and many more.        
Heather began her journey with Such A Voice as a student. From there she wore many hats as an instructor within the company and has always been an integral part of the Such A Voice family. She is now the Director of Operations, where she handles a myriad of responsibilities. She oversees all of the staff members at Such A Voice, works directly with the Such A Voice President, Dan Levine, in creating new programs and always making sure that we have the best opportunities for our students. She also makes sure that things run smoothly within the company and that all of our students are happy and succeeding within their programs. Heather let us know that the part that she loves the most about her job is "Getting to focus on all of the details within Such A Voice. It's great having the opportunity to be creative and constantly bettering the services and resources for our students. I also love receiving emails from our students telling me about their wonderful experiences with our coaches and producers and hearing all about the jobs that they've booked!"          
We were excited to learn more about Heather!          
What are a few of your passions? Enjoying life through my children's eyes. Watching them experience things for the first time. There is nothing more amazing! I also love filming & editing home videos and integrating photos within them to create family movies, rollerblading, photography, writing poetry and reading.          
Where is your favorite vacation spot? One of my favorite vacation spots is Boca Raton, Florida. My parents have a time share and I've been going there since I was five for an annual family trip! Now I get to share that with my kids. It's a time to relax and enjoy four generations all together!    
What/Who is on your playlist right now? Adele, Maroon 5, Javier Colon (who is a college friend and the winner of the first season of The VOICE) and Rebecca Correia (my college roommate and amazing musician).    
Do you have any advice for aspiring voiceover artists? Go after your dreams! I am a big believer that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. Have a plan. Push yourself to reach your goals and always, always have fun!      

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Talent of the Month: An Interview with Kathy Poelker

"I have had the pleasure of working with several people from Such A Voice and have found everyone to be very nice and interested in helping me develop this facet of my business."


When Kathy attended an intro-class in the Fall of 2010 with Lisa Foster, it wasn't on a whim. "I've had an interest in voiceovers for about 20 years". Kathy already had quite a successful career that included keynote presentations and consulting to teachers. She also has her company "Look At Me Productions" where she writes, records and publishes children's music. Look At Me Productions has published approximately 60 products for early childhood programs that involve children from birth through age 7. These publications help developing children and children with special needs. "Two of my products are Children's Musical Big Books, which are sing-along/read-along products. I did the voiceovers for both series of books (11 different titles) in both English and Spanish versions. This was the beginning of my voice over interest and a natural extension of my recording work & studio experience".

The intro class was also a great bonding experience with her son, David Lecinski, since they attended together. "The class was fun, lively and exciting. Lisa made the class non-threatening for anyone who had never been on the mic before. She did a great job of giving us plenty of valuable information about the industry and let us know what to expect as working voiceover artists". After attending the intro-class, they both realized they had what it takes to make it in the voiceover industry. They both signed up for coaching with Lisa Foster.

Once Kathy completed her training with Lisa, she picked up additional training with Anne Ganguzza. "I have had the pleasure of working with several people from Such A Voice and have found everyone to be very nice and interested in helping me develop this facet of my business. Dan Levine, CEO, is a wonderful human being and he's been very supportive. I have not only coached with Lisa Foster, but also with Anne Ganguzza, who is delightful and determined as a vocal coach. She made every coaching session interesting and challenging. She really goes the extra mile for her students. Her sessions were very well done and she was prepared for all of them, every week. As an educator, I wanted a 'good coach' and I can say that Anne is absolutely that person."


Kathy's passion for learning definitely helps her out in the voiceover industry. "I would definitely say that my biggest strength is that I love to continually learn new things. A career in VO provides that opportunity. Every day is a day of learning for me. What I love about the VO industry is the challenge it provides. Each project is different; people you work with are different; learning new VO techniques each day is exciting, expanding, and demanding. My weakness is that I want to try it all! All genres are interesting to me, but there aren't enough hours in a day to try them all."

Kathy is happy to report that she has booked numerous jobs! "My first job was a multi-faceted VO job that included a 1 1/2 minute overhead store announcement which I wrote and added a music bed for a chain of five stores in our area. That same music is also being used as their on-hold music for their phone system and on their corporate website. I have repeat business from them in doing their drive-thru ramp recording for all of their stores as their customer greeting! The pay for this bundle of recordings was GREAT! It was a very nice opportunity for me as a first job! It all went well. No surprises."

Once that job was finished, the jobs started coming in very quickly. "A few of the projects include: two TV commercials, a 1.5 minute TV medical program narration/introduction, a 9/11 Memorial Tribute for a video production for a mega-church in our area, robocall advertisements for a publishing company, robocall advertising for a teacher training organization, an online psychology course narration for a university and an online character animation for an education company. Every project is different and unique and a challenge of my vocal abilities!" On top of all of that, Kathy has also been contacted by an audiobook producer for a future audiobook narration!

"One of the most wonderful things I can share in this interview is that each of the jobs I have had have asked me to continue working for them on future projects! All are new clients for me and repeat business is what matters in this industry. When people can count on you - on the way you run your business, your character and your voiceover talent - you're a "go to" person for future work. That adds up to great financial rewards in the long run. You need to be a good listener and give your client what they want!"

Kathy offers a few great tidbits of advice for aspiring voiceover artists. "Remember that 'Rome wasn't built in a day'. Listen to other VO talent, study and read about the industry. Practice, practice, practice and then practice more. Learn from successful industry professionals and don't give up when you think 'it will never happen'. BELIEVE in yourself, and go for it! Be a networker. You can do it! You're in for a great ride!"

We're so proud to have helped you on your journey, Kathy. Congratulations on your success!


Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marketing Tip of the Month: Give Back to Your Community!


As voiceover artists, we are always looking for new and creative ways to increase our clientele. One of the easiest ways to do this also has a "feel-good" aspect to it: volunteer your voice to a non-profit, charity or even an event! Donating your time and voice is an excellent way to advertise your talent by promoting a worthy cause. Whether you live in a small town or a large city, there are organizations that would love to have your professional voice promote their message!

There are numerous ways you can volunteer your voice over services. You can offer your voice for PSA's (Public Service Announcements) on the radio or television, you can also find organizations nationwide that need great voices to read local news and events for the blind or reading impaired. Nearly every city and town has a reading program to assist the reading impaired. If you don't love the thought of volunteering your time by spending time in the recording studio, there are plenty of other options. Offer to be a master of ceremonies at an upcoming charity event, read a book for a group of young children at a local library or at a retirement center where their sight might not be the greatest.

One of the most prominent online reading impaired programs is Learning Ally (formerly called "Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic"), which was founded in 1948. Learning Ally serves more than 300,000 K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners. These are people that cannot read standard print due to things such as blindness, visual impairment or a learning disability. LearningAlly has trained volunteers that read textbooks and other literature titles to produce downloadable audio versions. These audio versions are able to be downloaded onto computers, smartphones and specialized assistive technology devices. They currently have more than 6,000 volunteers across the U.S (all statistics according to their website). 



Another great company to volunteer your voice with is Librivox.org. Librivox has volunteers record a variety of different books which allow the visually impaired access to books that they perhaps did not have had access to before. As a volunteer, you can record chapters from novels and practice your narration and acting skills at the same time. You get the added benefit of public exposure being listed on the search engines under the Librivox banner. Not to mention that your recordings will be listened to by possibly hundreds of people. You also have the opportunity to promote yourself and your website at the beginning or end of each recording.

What do you get by volunteering your voice? Besides the warm, fuzzy feeling of giving back to your community, remember that quite a few local businesses also make a point of volunteering their time, products or services to charitable causes. You never know who may be listening! The crowd that you are emceeing for today could bring you a new client or two tomorrow!

Volunteering your voice provides a much-needed service within your local community and even those that need your talent in other parts of the country. Not only will you feel good about helping others, every experience adds to your portfolio, helps keep your technique top-notch and potentially opens the door for new clients. Investing time in your community is an excellent investment for your business.

So log on to your computer, because an organization you’d love to work with is just an easy search away! Help make a difference in the quality of someone’s life by simply doing the work you love.

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Friday, October 21, 2011

Such A Voice Presents a seminar with the Casting Director for Walt Disney TV Animation!


What voiceover artist hasn't dreamt, at one point, about voicing a project for Disney?! When asking our students what their "dream job" would be, the leading company is always Disney! Which is why we're so excited to have teamed up with Sara Goldberg, the Casting Director for Walt Disney TV Animation! Currently, Sara is casting for shows such as Phineas & Ferb, Fish Hooks and Gravity Falls.

We are hosting a three-hour workshop in Los Angeles with Sara for those that are interested in using their voice for animation. Sara will be discussing how she casts and what you can do to pursue this exciting side of the VO industry! She will also be providing feedback on each students performance.

(NOTE:  This is not a Disney event. It is a Such A Voice event and Sara is doing this for us on her own as an independent contractor.)

For more information and details, please go to: http://www.suchavoice.com/Page/Disney_Seminar

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Such A Voice Presents a seminar with a Reality TV Casting Director AND a Creative Director from a prominent Ad Agency



If you have the guilty pleasure of watching Soap Operas, you may recognize the face above as Shayne Lewis from the legendary Soap Opera, The Guiding Light, played by Marty West. What you may not know is that Marty is now the CEO of a very successful Reality TV Casting Company, West Casting, and he has cast over 50 reality television shows (including such hits as Deal or No Deal, Millionaire Matchmaker, Tool Academy and many more). He is considered to be one of Hollywood's leading Casting Directors for TV Reality Shows and Game Shows! Due to his firsthand experience in the industry, he understands the pitfalls. He created West Casting to help bring people's dreams to fruition, because he believes everybody deserves a shot.

We are proud to have teamed up with Marty to offer a handful of seminars in different locations nationwide. Marty will appear at each of these locations along with a prominent Ad Agency Creative Director in each city to discuss what Creative and Casting Directors look for when hiring talent. They will also be providing feedback on each students live performance!

For more details, or to find out upcoming dates and locations, please go to: http://www.suchavoice.com/Page/Casting_Seminar

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Working on the Road: Tips to remember when recording away from home.


With holidays approaching in the next few months, I'm sure many of you have prepared to take time off to spend with family in various locations away from home. As you book your flights, make your packing checklist (or is that just me?!) and figure out who's going to take care of your cat while you're away, you also need to decide if this will be a true VACATION or a working one. Yes, it's nice to get away from the mic for a while, but it's also nice to know that you can spend a couple hours during your trip and earn back what you spent to get there! A few of you probably don't put much thought into any potential voiceover jobs that may come in while you're away. To some people, a vacation means NO work whatsoever, others may want to make sure they're available to their clients in case of a last minute job or pickup that's needed and then there are others who choose not to miss out on any VO opportunities and therefore always bring their studios with them, even while on vacation. Below are our tips for making the most of your "time off":

1) Remind your agents and clients of your planned trip. You should notify them about a week in advance and then remind them again the day before you leave, letting them know if they need anything else before you go, to please send it over at that time. You can let them know how you plan to handle jobs while you are away, whether that be that you're completely unavailable, available for emergencies only or available as you always are for any VO job that comes in. Most agents and clients will respect your time off, but you always have to make sure that they know! Then when you return, send them another email to let them know that you're back (even if you already gave them a return date). Some agents/clients will mark you unavailable until they receive that confirmation that you're back and ready to work again. For all of your agents/clients that require you to travel to them for auditions and bookings, even if you plan on taking your studio with you, notifying them in advance of your absence is extremely important.

2) Make sure you're on the same page with your family members and travel companions. After all, this is your vacation. You want to make sure you get ample R&R time, so it's important that everyone is on the same page as to whether you'll be working while away or not. That may mean agreeing that you'll only check correspondence once daily, or only during certain hours of the day, or that you'll still be glued to your smartphone, even while sitting poolside. 



3) Make a separate checklist for your recording equipment. You don't want to arrive at your destination just to realize you've forgotten an integral part of your traveling recording equipment. Simple things like headphones, cables and a light (so you can read scripts in hotel closets if need be) are very easy to forget when you have a whole slew of other things to worry about packing. When preparing for your trip, try to keep in mind what, if any, equipment you will be checking for a flight, versus carry-on, or how much room it might take up in the car if you're taking a road trip. Also keep in mind that if you are flying, any equipment that is carry-on you should be prepared to remove from your bags at the security checkpoint, since a microphone and long XLR cable can be confusing to a TSA agent!



4) Keep your environment in mind. Sometimes you won't be able to handle work efficiently while you're on vacation simply because of your environment. Will you have internet access? Will you have an adequate power source? Will you have sufficient space to record where there isn't any room noise? These are all things to keep in mind when planning your travel and how you're going to handle any jobs while you are away. If you have a portable recording booth, that will certainly help with acoustics in your hotel room, or car (yes, cars are great for recording in!), a closet, or anywhere else you can squeeze yourself into. If you don't have a travel setup, you can certainly create a make-shift studio with hotel pillows, couches, mattresses, curtains, you name it!

5) Take any work in progress with you. You may have to do pick-ups on a job you've already begun working, so make sure you bring anything you're currently working on with you. Also keep in mind that recording in a different space will change the sound and if your home studio mic and travel mic are not the same, it'll obviously affect the sound as well, so you'll have to work around that.

Hopefully these few tips will make it a lot easier for you to record when you're away from home. After all, the happiest clients are the best clients to have and when they're happier, it's much easier to relax and actually ENJOY your vacation!

Written by:
Bethany Baker
Such A Voice Marketing Director


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Talent of the Month: An Interview with Greg Allen

"I was really nervous when recording my first job, but I was pleasantly surprised when the client accepted it and enthusiastically stated that they liked my voice so much that they'd be contacting me for future projects!"

Greg Allen's love for voiceovers developed very naturally as an offshoot of his love of the radio and broadcasting industry. It all began when was asked to lend his hand at some copywriting. He did such a great job that it led to writing original scripts of his own which, in turn, helped him look further at the process of voicing a spot from start to finish. Like so many voiceover artists, he was immediately hooked!


There was quite a bit of raw talent working in Greg's favor right from the beginning. He has the experience of a radio broadcaster under his belt, along with a naturally wonderful tone to his voice. He also has the ability to express genuine emotion with each and every script, which allows him to really connect with the listener. When it came to his areas in need of improvement, he knew that he would need some help learning the intricacies of the technical side of editing (so he could easily and efficiently be sending jobs out quickly). He also realized that he had the tendency to slip into his "announcer" voice at times (which doesn't work well when voicing a natural sounding script). That's where Such A Voice came in!


Greg credits Such A Voice with really teaching him the importance about being true to himself and his voice as he interprets each script. When it comes to his personal coach, Greg has nothing but wonderful things to say! "Michelle Falzon has been helping me deliver a more natural read instead of sounding like an announcer. She's also helped me to learn A LOT about the editing process. Because of her, I sound much more relaxed and natural as I deliver my reads now. Thanks Michelle!"


Anyone that speaks with Greg can definitely attest to his determination. This is a man that really seems as if he could conquer anything he puts his mind to, he's always up for a challenge. In fact, the one thing he enjoys most about the voiceover industry is the challenge! "I really enjoy matching my read with the director's idea or image of how the spot should be". His inspiring perseverance also comes through in his advice for aspiring voiceover artists: "Stick with it! Don't throw the towel in too soon. Seriously, when I felt that I just wasn't cut out for being in the voiceover industry my first job opened up! So stick with it and put your heart into it because your listener's on the other side of the mic, not just the consumer, but producers and directors can tell that your heart is in it."


Since receiving his demo, Greg has already booked four jobs! His first job was for a software company, which he auditioned for and was pleasantly surprised to find out he had been chosen. "The contact gave me clear, detailed directions for the read and gave me a definite deadline. I was really nervous and felt that I would mess up my first job but I just tried to focus on relaxing and working through it. I was so excited when they accepted it, they even enthusiastically stated that they liked my voice and will be contacting me in the near future for more projects."


We are very excited to see where voiceovers take you next, Greg!



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marketing Tip of the Month: Use Email Marketing!

Email marketing has been proven to be one of the best marketing strategies for many businesses. Why? Essentially you'll be putting your message right into your target contacts lap. That's right, email marketing is DIRECT marketing! We'll be giving you a few tips in simple terms so you can begin email marketing as part of your plan to increase your voiceover business.



Tip #1: Make it personal.

When writing your marketing copy, think of it as if you are speaking directly to your potential client. A personal approach in email writing is usually more effective than using a very formal tone, particularly when it comes to the voiceover industry.

Tip #2: Timing is everything.

Find out when the best time is to send your marketing emails. For some marketers, Friday evenings generate a higher response rate but the perfect timing may vary from one business to another. The best way to know what works for your own business is to test audience response for different times of the week. I personally suggest setting up a spreadsheet with how many emails you send out each day, as well as the time it was sent and keep track of how many responses you receive. You'll quickly start to see trends emerge.

Tip #3: Write an interesting or exciting subject line.

Here is your best chance to grab the reader and entice them to open your email. Use words that will spark interest or that resonate strongly with their business or product. Avoid using words that are usually found in SPAM emails and never use an exclamation point at the end of your subject line.

Tip #4: Never SPAM.

Even if people are subscribed to your newsletter, make sure that you only send them relevant messages about the topic that they signed up to receive information on (in this case, voiceovers). NEVER try to send an unsolicited email, even if you think a person might be interested with your offer, if it's unrelated to your industry. If you try to SPAM even once, you could leave a negative impression to the recipient, which may cause them to unsubscribe from your emails.


Tip #5: Include a call to action.

Don’t forget to use call-to-action words or phrases not only in your emails but with all your marketing material in general. Do not leave the recipient guessing what he/she should do next. Spell it out clearly and encourage the reader to take action. Phrases like “Click here”, “Order now”, “Call now” may sound overused but they can really make a big difference in improving your response rate.

Tip #6: Watch out for errors.

It’s important to make a good impression. Before sending out your emails, spend time reviewing the content and thoroughly proofread to make sure that it doesn't contain typos, misspelled words, or grammatical errors. It is also recommended to have someone else review your marketing copy, as it is easy to overlook errors if you were the one who wrote it.

Tip #7: Don’t give up.

Like other direct marketing methods, email marketing is meant to be consistently repeated, so try not to worry if at first you don’t get the exact results you want. Study your method and see where improvement is needed. Continue to test the method by sending marketing emails. As long as you don’t SPAM and you send the emails out at proper intervals, you can repeat email marketing campaigns as many times as needed.

These are just a few tips to get you started. As you utilize this form of marketing more, you will learn quite a bit about what works best for your client base and be able to fine-tune your strategy based on this gathered research. Before you know it, email marketing will become almost second nature to you. You'll know exactly what time of day to send out your emails, what keywords you should use in your subject line and how to phrase your call of action to get the most response from your clients!

Written by:
Jeff Santoro
Such A Voice Marketing & SEO Specialist