The Business of Voice-Over: Volunteering and Training
Marc Cashman is BACK! And he’s answering more of your questions. If you have any specific VO questions and wish to be advised by the ever knowledgeable Mr Cashman, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org! Here’s Marc……
Good questions are in abundance this month from NowCasting.com/Actors Ink readers asking about the business of voiceover. This month’s queries tell and ask about volunteering your voice and the learning curve for training and recording V-O.
Q: Hey Marc! I have an interesting story. Soon after you sent out a call for volunteer voice actors to read for the blind and severely dyslexic, I came across an App called Umano, where voice talent read articles and the user plays them when they’re in a situation where they can’t read, i.e., in the car on the way to work, train or bus where they get dizzy if they read, etc. I thought, hmm…that’s cool. I want to do that. So I found a support email and sent a note asking to point me in the right direction of who I need to speak to. The co-founder (who is one of three former Google engineers) wrote me that night and asked for an audition with an article he attached a link to. I did it and sent it back. The next day, he wrote asking me to call him. I did, we talked and guess what? I’ll be working for them starting tomorrow! It pays VERY little.. BUT…my name and photo will be on every article I read along with a link to my website. And as the app gets more and more popular (already #1 on Google Apps and Itunes apps) the potential for folks to hire me to read their articles will be there. Plus it’s GREAT exposure. Goes to show if you want something…don’t be afraid to reach for the stars. You rock! I treated the article as a script and it had a story. P.S. I’m only the 2nd female voice talent to join the team! –Wendy B., Miami FL
A: Wendy, you rock! You see, you never know what’ll happen when you put out positivity, and in this case, it paid off—and will hopefully pay off long-term. Keep me posted on your success stories. This is the email I sent out recently:
I can’t think of a better win/win for voice actors at any level: practicing your narration skills (and strengthening your cold reading skills) by donating your talent for just a few minutes a week to help someone less fortunate–reading for the blind and dyslexic. AIRS-LA is seeking volunteer readers. It would involve a commitment of reading articles in your home studio (5-10 minutes of material per week) & emailing the .mp3 files to the chief editor for uploading to the website. You can contact AIRS-LA by calling Max Flehinger at 818-516-4048. And go to their website: www.airsla.org to see how much they’re doing. Listen, you can do this no matter where in the world you live. And if this piques your interest, look around for a Reading for the Blind organization near you. Do something good this year–use your gift of storytelling to help someonewho’s listening
Q: I’ve read plenty of blog posts, books, you name it, regarding the myriad what-should-I-do-now voiceover questions, but, well, none of these fine publications seem to give me a straight answer. Either that or my skull is thicker than the average schmoe. Basically what would you recommend I do, apart from my usual practicing, between now and our next sessions Should I do some outreach to potential clients? I can hear it now: “Hi, this is Tim. Huh aw, you know! I’m the guy from that place last month?” “Miss Jenkins! I pay you to screen these people!” Click. I guess what I’m asking is what else would you advise a newbie in this business to do to help his V-O career along during this stage of learning the craft. There must be something I should do to prepare the way while I continue to hone my skills, but before I cut a V-O demo. –Tim H., Houston, TX
A: You’re somewhat putting the cart before the horse, Tim. Right now you’re in training mode, not marketing mode. You don’t even have a product yet. You don’t have a landing page. You haven’t branded yourself. The main thing you should be doing right now to prepare for your foray into V-O while you continue to hone your skills before you cut a V-O demo…is to continue to hone your skills before you cut a demo. Your V-O demo’s gonna make you sound great. But if your talent doesn’t live up to your demo, you’re toast. Concentrate on the craft or you’ll be marketing your talent when you’re not ready for prime-time. However… there is something practical you can do while you’re training. If V-O is something you really want to dive into, then invest about $100 in a mic and software, and start learning how to use them. Software: Audacity. It’s free for PCs or Macs, and you just download the program. Mic: MXL990. It’s about $80 + tax and free shipping. Go on eBay or Amazon or just Google it. Pre-amp: MicPort Pro. That’s your interface. Not expensive at all. You plug the mic into the pre-amp and the pre-amp into your computer. Go online and find free tutorials. And commandeer a walk-in closet for your booth.
Marc Cashman © 2013
MARC CASHMAN, President and Creative Director of Cashman Commercials/L.A., creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he’s a guest speaker at Ad Clubs and Broadcasters Associations throughout the U.S. and has been interviewed in trade magazines, newspapers and on radio and television programs. As a voice actor, Marc was named one of the “Best Voices of the Year”—three times—by AudioFile Magazine. He also teaches voiceover at California Institute of the Arts, through seminars at NowCasting’s iActing Studios and instructs all levels of voice acting through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, CA, as well as world-wide tele-coaching. Marc has been the Keynote Speaker and Master Class instructor at VOICE 2008, 2010 and 2012, the only international convention for voice actors. He recently presented at VO2013 ATLANTA (http://vo2013atlanta.com). He can be contacted at 661-222-9300, email@example.com or through his website, www.cashmancommercials.com.