SOUND ADVICE December 2013 Newsletter

“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more….” – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Grow Your Small Business As a Working Talent
Let’s assume you’re after what we’re after: to work steadily as a professional talent, earning a decent living while thoroughly satisfying your aesthetic itch. It can be done. People do it every day. However, as with any small business, you need an effective process to be as efficient as possible. That’s where SOUND ADVICE comes in.

After all, this is your small start-up business you’re embarking upon here. It requires attention to detail on many fronts: in your performance, in the production and marketing of your demo, in your pursuit of representation, and the on-going promotion of yourself as a viable brand.

The problem, however, is that far too many people will focus on details that are of no consequence to the overall goal of establishing and maintaining a career in this business. The purpose of our performance training, demo production, and our very detailed book is to help you maneuver through the industry minefield with greater ease than ever before—even if what we impart to you may be contrary to your past training or assumption.

If you are, or once were, established in this business, it’s very likely recent changes in technology alone may have left you in the dust, which may add to your anxiety. Yet, technology is a natural component to better our lives, our work, and certainly your advancement as a talent like no other time in history. There have never been more opportunities to work as a professional talent than there are today thanks to the Internet and the accessibility of a few basic technological tools. That said, it’s safe to assume technology will continue to advance at the rate it has over the last few years, and it’s certainly not expected to slow down anytime soon. Rest assured getting you in-step is a transition that can be done with very little effort so you can get on with your career, and we can help.

Even if you have embraced technology fully, there will always be a number of simple advances you discover that apply to you specifically and to this field in order for you to work smarter and with the utmost efficiency. However, if you resist change, as so many small business owners do, the future of your career will ultimately fail. This stigma applies most often to those who consider themselves tech-savvy. Imagine the pitfalls that could be averted.

All the more reason for you to have a custom-tailored approach to your career, which only SOUND ADVICE can offer on the professional scale we do.

Marry these elements with the most effective self-promotional tools and skills in the industry and you have precisely the proper combination needed to establish and forward the career you’ve always intended. As actors we’re often taught to rely solely on our wits and physical prowess onstage, and the result has been that we forfeit any real advancement of our careers by omitting the objective training necessary to transfer our performance skills to recorded media.

So what do you need to know to adapt to create your small business as a working talent?

Schedule a one-on-one Orientation (or re-Orientation, as the case may be) to enlighten you to what you need to get started or to reassess your approach and get yourself completely up-to-date fast!

This is in part why I wrote (and completely updated) The SOUND ADVICE Encyclopedia of Voice-over & the Business of Being a Working Talent yet again!

The advances in the past year alone have made it easier to record an effective audition you can be proud of from just about anywhere you happen to be, edit it, and send it without any assistance.  With some dutiful application (and our trusty crew) you’ll discover what you have to offer as a talent in order to realize your dreams as a working talent.

As H. G. Wells once said, “Adapt or perish.” Since the latter really doesn’t appeal, we’ll focus on the former. ›

Holiday BONUS
If you live in or around Chicago, you may have noticed the scores of feature films and various network TV series being shot there has increased in 2013 to levels not seen in nearly 20 years. This is due to the 30% statewide incentive offered filmmakers and union production. The downside of this in recent years has been the fact the local on-camera talent had only been employed on a bulk of these projects as background (EXTRAS)—until NOW!  We now have a game changer: The Illinois 30% tax credit will soon be enhanced to include a 30% credit if the production hires local onscreen talent as well.  According to REEL Chicago, “Since the tax credit worked like a charm in increasing business-to-date, imagine what the additional credit will do!”  Consider this your Holiday BONUS!  So, you better keep your skills sharp, Chicago!  Now’s your chance to really shine! ›

Good Questions

Q: Can one get VO jobs such as narration having only a commercial track on their demo? What’s the norm? Curious. Thanks

SA ANSWER: It’s not impossible, just not as likely considering Corporate Narration producers offer their Corporate clients your demo as an audition better than 90% of the time–and THAT’S what ultimately books you.  The demo becomes the audition.
The Corporate client (and the producer, too, for that matter) can’t imagine whether you’d be correct for the project or not without you offering what they would consider to be your best efforts–your Narrative track.
This is precisely why these demos are not combined.  There are specific delivery styles a producer/Corporate client need to hear from your Narrative demo that a Commercial or Promo track should never include or exhibit.  The entire objective is to produce you in such a way as to allow the listener the ability to fully imagine the various Narrative styles that suit you best and thereby take the guess work out of the equation for this facet of client by defining you within it.  It’s the air they breathe.  They simply want to know it’s the air you breathe to and where you belong.  You either demonstrate that in the track–or you don’t.  (And the latter is not an option.)

Q: Hi Kate, any chance you will be sending the coaching materials so I can review them this weekend before the coaching starts?

SA ANSWER:  We don’t forward the materials much more than a day ahead, Ted.
First you won’t be able to make any sense of it, and second we don’t want you reading the scripts in advance of the coaching session.
The objective is to have the material as cold as possible to recreate the experience of being cast directly from your demo which occurs better than half the time, should we produce your tracks.  We’re likely to unearth your standard defaults in order to better assess your skills and shortfalls. This way we can better coach you and your needs more head on.


“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”   ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Got a few questions after one of our blogs last month, “How To Determine Your Rate as a Voice Over”

Q: What recourse (if any) does a “green” VO talent have if an unscrupulous client is dishonest or simply mistaken about how a read will ultimately be used? For instance, if the talent is offered and accepts $(Buyout X) for a read and comes to find out that the usage was far greater, resulting in $(Buyout X++++++) in revenue, for the client?

Of course the talent has to decide whether it’s worth the sweat and aggravation to seek legal action if this happens, but do you suggest that the talent includes any protective language in a contract to discourage it?”

SA ANSWER:  Honestly, in most cases, emails are as good as having the project in writing (as well as time stamped).
That said, there really isn’t much you can do if ANY client runs away with your work.  (True in this field and any other for that matter.)
In most cases professional producers supply a release. Without that they really don’t have much to stand on, unless they live half way around the world and have no moral compass. (Which could be the case– again in any business setting, not simply voice-over.)
You can create your own agreement including the intended usage per your agreement and include the stipulation that any additional usage (beyond what was propose) would incur added expense. (Which would be determined as needed at a later date, but usually doubling the fee, to be billed annually with a 10 – 20% increase with each added year of continued usage.)
Here’s the thing: as a SOUND ADVICE talent, better than 70% of the time you will be cast directly off sites that include multiple voice over talent—which is why you want to be where there are MANY voice talent.  Producers look for VO talent where there are many!
Of the auditions you will receive from P2P sites, more than half already have determined budgets.  If you’re okay with the budget they pose–great.  If not, don’t do it.  And if they change their rates AFTER the audition and try to reach you directly to see if you’ll work for less–DON’T DO THE JOB!
Of the remaining auditions offered through these sites, less than half will ask YOU to offer a rate, so it’s rather infrequent.  Do a gut check. If it hits below your comfort level–say so.
And whenever possible and appropriate– field it to a proper talent agent.  ›

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” Charles M. Schulz

“On a busy day twenty-two thousand people come to visit Santa, and I was told that it is an elf’s lot to remain merry in the face of torment and adversity. I promised to keep that in mind.”   ― David Sedaris

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ”   ― Norman Vincent Peale

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”― Hamilton Wright Mabie 

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow