audiobooks

Long Distance, Home Grown, and Serve to be Great Are Available Now!

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My Audible narration collection begins! Check out the first three book narrated by me: Long Distance by Bill McKibben, Home Grown by Craig Fehrman, and Serve to be Great by Matt Tenney. Each of these were a fantastic, vastly different learning experience. Reading books I would otherwise never have thought to look at has really expanded my understanding and appreciation of different points of view. By having to "become" the author, I get to have the reading experience in a completely different way. Cool stuff. These were also great training for my first fiction novel, which should be dropping sometime in the next few weeks. That little Audible button at the top has my latest books on it, so check it out!

UPDATE: Little Bighorn, my first fiction audiobook, is now available for pre-order! I'm pretty proud of this one.

Where's the Work?

You've decided you want to get into voiceover. You've done some research, cut a demo together, and now you're ready to dive in. Where do you go to find work? I've been asked this quite a few times recently, and the general answer is: everywhere. It just depends on what kind of voice work you're looking for.

For smaller jobs of all types, I use voices.com. There are a million pay-to-play sites, and yes, the vast majority of jobs on there are extremely low pay, often with horribly written copy and next to no chance of repeat business or relationship building with the client. However, I've found that in my first year, it's a great resource to have. You get tons of daily practice, more auditions than you can handle, and plenty of fodder for future demos. Will I be using it a year from now? I'm honestly not sure. But for those starting out, it's a great way to develop your reading technique, hone your voices, and build your armor. And hopefully make a little money at the same time.

For audiobooks, look for local companies that act as proxies for big businesses like Audible and ACX. Or, simply go to ACX directly and start auditioning. This industry has exploded over the years and the door's wide open for new talent. The pay is typically fairly low, but each project is a good chunk of work and a steady income is possible, something which you aren't likely to find in many other sectors of VO.

The animation work is (mostly) in LA. Which sucks for me because that's where I want to end up (in animation, not in LA). If you want to go the animation route, make your own cartoon. Cartoon Network has been giving people outside the typical LA circuit the means to air their own projects to a multi-national audience and is the best way, in my opinion, to break into that industry.

For bigger, better projects, nothing beats a good agent. My highest paying work comes from the local agencies I'm slowly but surely building a relationship with. In a world where P2P sites seem to be taking over (even some agencies now only book using sites like Casting Frontier, which beg you to buy premium accounts for inane perks like adding multiple headshots to your profile), sometime the old ways still work best.

There's IVR/telephony work for businesses of all sizes. There's internet explainer videos for damn near every business and product in existence. There are documentaries and TV companies and radio stations and recording studios and ad agencies and production houses everywhere. I find work by emailing, cold calling, mailing postcards, handing out business cards, mentioning my services at parties, anything I can do to get a bug in someone's ear that I'm here, I have the goods, and they need to work with me. It's a nonstop hustle, but luckily there's more work out there than ever. Is it the possibly fictional halcyon days where landing a commercial spot would buy you a house? Not really, at least not for most. But you can still make a damn good living as a voice actor. Just get started somewhere and see what you can make of it.

 

 

Every Job Feeds Into the Next

I was recently interviewed for a college survey project about my career as a voice actor. This is the first time I've given an interview for something not involving music (I write for and play in Random Battles and Uatu) and I was immensely flattered to be asked. Throughout the interview, I noticed most of my answers had a bent of marketing and advertising. I hope I didn't bore my interviewer too much, but I had made the magical world of VO sound like a business 101 lecture. But there was one point I happened to make to that I wanted to explore.

Every job feeds into the next.

I haven't been a voice actor for very long (I went "full-time" back in October). Aside from this, I've been a wedding DJ (still am, in fact), a maintenance man, audio engineer, server, bartender, HUD appraisal manager, IT tech, and graphic artist. As you may imagine, none of these industries have a ton of crossover. But, I've taken the skills and tricks I've learned from each of these jobs and applied them to my current endeavors.

This is what constructs my unique business approach: You may have sat down to a Pro Tools session in a studio, but have you ever replaced the carpet and tiles in that room? Have you been the delivery guy who brought you lunch? You've been a guest at a wedding, but have you been the valet, server, maitre'd, bartender, or DJ before (being only an attendee at a wedding is a very rare and strange thing for me)? While this may not seem relevant to voiceover, these experiences have shaped my outlook on my new business and informed how I approach its various challenges. I've sold myself as a DJ to brides for years, which taught me first hand how to adapt my skills and shape my words in order to present the best possible product for my client. Improv skills help in that realm just as much as behind the mic, by the way.

I wouldn't have had the confidence to build my own home studio without having been a gopher at my dad's construction sites growing up or been a maintenance man at Meadow Mills, incidentally now about two blocks away from my house and home to theater troupes in my social circle. I certainly wouldn't have appreciated the relative freedom and empowerment running my own business is without having sat in many,  many offices on many, many unbearably boring days. Those memories provide extra catalyst for building a successful business, and let me tell you, it's a hell of a good one.

As I progress in my business, now every job feeds into the next by way of word of mouth or repeat business. As I grow as into voiceover more and more, the type of work is aligning more and more: instead of serving, DJ'ing and interning at a recording studio, I'm performing a school assembly, acting in a short film, producing an awesome podcast, and, well, DJ'ing. In five years, who knows, maybe I'll be discerning between audiobook work and IVR. A guy can dream.

 

-Rex