SOUND ADVICE July 2013 Newsletter

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”
Albert Camus

Uncle Sam

The Purpose of a Voice-over Demo
Your demos are expected to be a professional demonstration of what it is you do best, and what sort of work you’re aiming to secure more of.  Voice-over demos, like on-camera reels, are meant to define who you are professionally and what work you do best.

While there are no absolutes when it comes to what should and shouldn’t be included on your demos, probably the most key factor is: Specifically, what effect (or work) are you attempting to attract?

Which leads to the next inevitable defining factor:  What does the producer need and want to achieve from your demos?

At Sound Advice, we have extensively surveyed those most likely to hire you in order to take as much of the guesswork out of the equation as possible.  Producers are generally attempting to “sell” you, as a talent, to their clients, directors, and to various creatives.
Each demo track targets the specific area of the industry you’re aiming to work in and areas that can best define your greatest assets.

Producers who utilize your demos do so to discern whether to audition or simply hire you, therefore your tracks must fulfill the producer’s professional needs and standards.

 Bulls Eye

The best definition of a voice-over demo is: what it is you do best and what you want more of. This is also true of headshots, on-camera reels, or any other promotional tools designed to evoke more work.

Kids, Young Adults and The Coogan Law
Knowing the legal ins and outs of having a child in this business can be daunting.  It has a long history, which is probably best illustrated in the life story of Jackie Coogan, a child star discovered by Charlie Chaplin, who initially found fame in the classic 1919 film The Kid. He became the youngest star in the business and earned a lucrative salary during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Under California law at the time, his earnings belonged solely to his parents, who ultimately pilfered away all of his savings by his 21st birthday.  Jackie sued his mother and former manager and as a result the Coogan Law was in effect by 1939 with the intent to protect the earnings of young actors in a similar situation.

Today the Coogan Law, modified to further protect child actors in January 2000, affirms that earnings by minors in the entertainment industry are the property of the minor, not their parents.  According to the SAG-AFTRA Web site: “Since a minor cannot legally control their own money, California law governs their earnings and creates a fiduciary relationship between the parent and child.” This change in California law also requires that 15 percent of all minors’ gross wages must be set aside and deposited within 15 days of employment into a blocked trust account commonly known as a Coogan Account.  Employers will require a Coogan account number from the parent upon securing a role.

Not all banks offer Coogan Accounts, and even many that do may not have employees who are familiar with the term. Explaining you are interested in opening a blocked trust account for your child should clarify what you’re attempting to accomplish.

Check the SAG-AFTRA Web site for a list of the banks that offer blocked trust accounts.  Coogan Accounts are required if your child or minor will be working in the states of California, New York, Louisiana, or New Mexico.


How To Book an Out-of-State Session & Record Locally
Email: Hey Kate,
When I get an out-of-state agent (to rep me), are they going to expect me to audition from home every single time? And will they expect me to deliver broadcast quality from my home if I indeed book the gig? Or will they direct me to a recording studio they’re in contact with in LA for example?

I looked for this information in the book but couldn’t find it.

Kate’s response: Hey, Yourself…  Should be in Chapter 12: AUDITIONS, in “The SOUND ADVICE Encyclopedia of Voice-over & the Business of Being a Working Talent”.

Yes, all out-of-state agents expect you to deliver your auditions from home.

Talent agents DON’T expect you to deliver broadcast quality recording and editing from home UNLESS you tell them you have that as an option.  (You don’t.)

Your out-of-state agents will NOT direct you to a recording studio in your area. You’re expected to have studio options lined up for yourself that IS broadcast quality.

In LA, there are no less than 8 studios within a five mile radius of our studio here in Studio City that all offer a discounted, professional “Talent” rate, should you be required to cover the studio costs on a gig.  (This typically ONLY occurs on non-union gigs.)

You should contact each of these studios prior to finding yourself in this situation to determine what each of these studios would charge you once you get a booking.  The average today is about $50 a half hour.

So, if you book a gig with an out-of-state client, they’ll want to “patch” with the local studio you suggest.

Consider this: if you stand to make $500 on the voice-over job, and the client expects you to pick up the studio tab on your end, and the session only lasts a half hour or an hour at most (which is the standard)–you have to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”  No one can answer that question for you, but you.  But most talent figure, “Heck, I’m still $400 up.  Sure, why not?”  (Frankly, I agree!)

So, once your agent contacts you to either “check your availability” or book you on the gig, you’ll need to call your TWO favorite studios to check THEIR availability.  If the first studio you contact is booked and can’t accommodate you—call the next.  You need to find out whether they have a room available for you the day and time of your proposed session.  Place that session on a “light hold” UNTIL you know for certain the session is confirmed–otherwise, you could be charged for last minute date or time changes.  This is standard for most studios–regardless of whether you’re talent or whether you’re a commercial or corporate client booking the time.

If the studio of your choice can accommodate you, you let your agent or the client know who to contact at your local studio. The client will ask you for call-in numbers from the studio you plan to recording in. Tell them, “I’ll have the studio contact or email you with the info.  It depends on which room they’ll have me in.”

Beyond all that, you show up at the studio the day and time of your gig and LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS.  This way you can concentrate your attention on offering the best possible performance and remain unburdened from attempting to play studio, recording engineer, producer AND talent.  Why split your focus anymore than you absolutely have to?  Be a professional voice talent.

Compile a short list of studios in your region that have ISDN, SOURCE CONNECT and PHONE PATCH. Determine whether these studios indeed have a “talent” rate in the event you might be required to cover the studio costs on your side of the patch on your next booking.  Be prepared well in advance of being booked and afford yourself more than one option, in the event the one studio you hope to work with is otherwise engaged.

Knowledge is power!  It’s also as good as money in the bank!

A Gentle Reminder
If you have yet to start coaching, producing your demos or promoting your self, now’s your chance!  I can’t stress how remarkably rewarding you can make this summer—AND still enjoy plenty of “down time” with friends and family, IF you will simply dedicate yourself to establishing your career RIGHT NOW!  And we can help.

July and August are magical months in a variety of ways, not the least of which they offer the greatest response to training, to demo production and to your promotional mailings.  So, get busy living or continue to drift further away from your true heart felt goals.  The future is in your hands.  Give us a call or email to START today!  We here to help!

773.772.9539                            323.464.0990

Kate McClanaghan, Inc. © 2013. All Rights Reserved.