1. Instead of an Avalanche …

    What if what’s coming for your voiceover business isn’t an avalanche? What if it’s a tsunami? I started thinking about this blog post after reading my friend Jeffrey Tobin’s post called Your Tsunami is Coming.

    As I read, I thought back to what I see as a vivid example of a tsunami hitting the voiceover business as a whole. The strike of 2000. Until that year, while there had been some significant shifts of one kind or another (one example would be how auditions were being done at agency offices rather than in recording studios), most voiceover work (especially work that paid well) was was booked way it had been for a very long time, through an agent. And much of the time after submitting an audition.

    Then the strike.

    Suddenly, the amount of good paying non-union voiceover work exploded.

    There were a number of factors involved, most of them related to the explosive growth of the Internet. Anyone remember the dot com bubble bursting in 2000? Yes, the bubble burst, but it was a bubble in the first place because of how rapidly the Internet had grown. It was now possible for someone looking for a professional voice to search and find good, quality voice talent who had their own web sites. With demos.

    My friend Connie Terwilliger started her site in 1996. I posted my first site in 1998. Back in the late 90s there were not huge numbers of  voiceover people with their own websites, and the majority of us who did have sites were working pro voices. So, someone searching for a voice was likely to find a professional. No need for an agent. Or an union. Or even a contract. Just connect via email or telephone. Work out the details. Email a script. Record at home. (I built my first studio in 1986.) And deliver the audio. Send an invoice. Deposit the checks when they arrived in the mail.

    So, back to the tsunami. What does a tsunami do? It creates massive devastation and destruction. Which is, at least at some level, what happened to the careers of many voiceover people in the aftermath of the strike in 2000. No, it wasn’t as swift as a tsunami, but the aftermath was just as complete.

    Loads of very talented people were booking less and less work. A decline that has continued for many. And for all of us, the levels of pay have never returned to what they once were. Oh, individual jobs can still pay very well. But the playing field today is very different than it was 25 years ago when I was still in my first decade of doing voiceovers.

    Here is reality: some kind of destructive storm (or maybe tsunami) is ahead of each of us. How are we going to deal with the aftermath of whatever that turns out to be? What we can’t know is exactly what will happen. What we can know is how well prepared we will be to deal with it. Or them, if the trouble turns out to come in multiples.

    Many of the people that have thrived in voiceover in the last 15 years have been people who have learned to ride the waves of change that have swept through the business. They have a professional website. They don’t sit back and assume that everything is going to stay the same. They know it won’t.

    Learn to be flexible. Pay attention to the shifting landscape. Adapt as things change. As you do, you’ll see that everything works out.

  2. Spotlight on Anthony

    My friend Anthony Mendez in the narrator for the new CW show Jane The Virgin. Check out the extended trailer, also narrated by Anthony.

  3. What if you just get better?

    So here’s a question every one of us who works professionally in voiceover needs to wrestle with: how do I make my business bigger and better? Or another way to put it would be: how do I become more successful?

    (What follows was prompted by Seth Godin’s recent blog post Dumb down and scale up and I warmly recommend you spend a few minutes reading that post before you continue here.)

    If you’re not thinking about these questions pretty often, you aren’t thinking about your voiceover business as a business. Maybe it’s just a hobby? But if you’re doing voiceovers professionally, whether you count your income totals for the year in 4, 5, 6 or 7 figures and whether you do mostly radio commercials in one local market or audiobooks or promos and trailers for the top studios and networks in the world, moving toward greater success is something you think about.

    Right?

    There are a couple of elements involved here, of course. How do you define success? Is it more money? Or, more money for each session? So that you have more time available to spend with the people you value most. Or, maybe it’s the kind of clients you have; and the amount of money you make isn’t the primary factor?

    Another element has to do with the question, is bigger always better? For me the answer to that question is, yes! But your answer may be different from mine.

    Here’s what I mean. My voiceover business now employs, at some level of involvement, all four of my children, my wife, my mother and two of my best friends. Some of these, pretty much every week. Others only a few times a month and a few just a time or two each year.

    Thirty-one years ago when I started doing voiceovers professionally on a steady basis, it was just me. And my business stayed that way for a bit more than 20 years. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I started adding my wife and then my son Eric and daughter Karen into the mix.

    As I look back, I can clearly see that while there was some fluctuation in my voiceover income from year to year, it was all within a pretty narrow range. There was a bump to a new range about 20 years ago when I started working with my agent in Pittsburgh, but it wasn’t a huge jump. Just a nice bump.

    But 10 years ago, two key things came together that have made a huge difference for me. First, by adding in help from my wife and my kids, I was able to concentrate more of my time on the thing that only I could do: the actual voicing. As I moved editing, writing, proofing and so forth off my plate, I was able to be both more efficient with my time and more productive with my work.

    The second thing that was added in to the mix was to start studying with some top voiceover coaches, thus raising my ability to tell stories more and more effectively and professionally.

    I don’t think I’m being too immodest when I say that the fact that I had been working steadily as a voiceover professional meant that I wasn’t a disaster for the first 20 years; but it’s also clear to me now that I had a lot to learn. And like most people, I had no idea how much I didn’t know.

    So, my suggestions for growing your business come down to two simple suggestions: find people (like my daughter Karen obviously) to whom you can outsource some of your work. And either start studying with a truly excellent voiceover coach or get back to doing so.

    I do something at least several times a year to keep my tools sharp and polished. I don’t ever plan to stop. Because while getting bigger might or might not be right for you, but getting better isn’t an option. It’s a requirement. At least it is if you want to continue to consider yourself a working voiceover professional.

  4. Don’t miss Jerry’s comments about Faffcon 7

    My friend Jerry Reed offers some excellent insights about why Faffcon 7 was valuable to him in his blog post 10 Things I Learned at Faffcon 7.

  5. Have you ever heard of Faffcon?

    Well, whether you have or you have not, you can get a glimpse into what attending a Faffcon is like from this superb blog post by my friend Brad Veneble called Faffcon, je t’aime. The next Faffcon will be next fall at a location and date yet to be announced. Meanwhile, you can get a fully satisfying Faffcon like experience at Faff Camp, which is coming up in March 2015. You really should be there.

  6. Summer Shorts 14 for June 7, 2014

    SS14

    June is Audiobook Month and again this year I’m taking part in the Summer Shorts series of blog releases. Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, has teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media to celebrate June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) by offering Summer Shorts ’14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.

    Throughout June 2014, 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day via Going Public, as well as on various author and book blogs. As a “Thank you!” to listeners, pieces will be available for free online listening on their day of release. As a bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media in support of ProLiteracy, there are over 20 additional tracks only available via the compilation download.

    With that background, today’s release is Hearing Aid, by Jeremy Robinson. Narrated by Jeffrey Kafer.

    The story tells of a future world where one man regains his hearing after a lifetime of silence. But is he better off? Copyright is held by Jeremy Robinson. Recorded with permission.

    Ever since his first play at thirteen (his mother still has the bellhop costume), Jeffrey Kafer has been an avid performer on the stage and in voice-overs. He has narrated over one hundred books spanning all genres and won the 2008 Voicey Award for Best New Voice.

    The previous post in this series can be found at The Book Nympho.

    The next post in this series will be at MV Freeman’s blog, tomorrow.

    And if you’d like to scan through all of the posts in this series, check out the Going Public blog.

  7. What an amazing evening

    Last night my lovely wife Cinda and I dressed in our finest and headed off to the New York Academy of Music for the 2014 Audies Gala. It was going to be a fun evening no matter what happened, because we don’t often have an excuse to do this sort of event.

    We hopped into the cab called for us by the doorman at our New York hotel and rode the several blocks to the site of the gala. All went smoothly on our trip. Actually a little too smoothly. We arrived 20 minutes before we were supposed to. Ah, the trials of trying to out guess rush hour traffic in Manhattan!

    The folks at the New York Academy of Music were nice enough to provide Cinda and me with a place to relax while we waited for the registration desk to be set up. 15 minutes or so later they were ready and we checked in at the desk. Yes, our names were on the guest list!

    We then joined the crowd going to the pre-Gala reception on the third floor. Lovely and delicious foods of various ethnic origins were provided along with a wide selection of beverages for every taste.

    Here’s a photo of Cinda and me with our friend Roxanne Hernandez Coyne from the reception.

    Cinda and Bob Souer with Roxanne Hernandez Coyne

    Cinda and Bob Souer with Roxanne Hernandez Coyne

    After a very pleasant time of chatting with old friends and making a few new ones, we all went back down to the main floor and the auditorium for the main event.

    The president of the Audio Publishers Association, Michele Cobb, introduced the host for the evening, the very talented Libba Bray; who provided plenty of laughs as well as kept things moving from one award announcement to the next.

    About 30 minutes into the awards announcements we came to the category where I was nominated, Business/Educational. After reading through the nominees, the winner was announced. I believe I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. My book, Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army, was the title read as the winner. Here is a list of all of the 2014 Audies winners. You’ll find my entry part way down the page on the left side.

    I don’t have a copy of the official award winner photo taken at the close of the Gala yet, but here is a photo of me holding the award with actress and voice talent Pam Tierney.

    Pam_Bob_AudieAward

    Pam was kind enough to take time from her schedule to work as my director for this book. Also providing invaluable help were my son Eric Souer as my audio editor and my daughter Karen Souer as proofer.

    By the way, you can find detailed coverage of the 2014 Audies Gala on the APA website (link is PDF) and on John Florian’s excellent VoiceOverXtra.

  8. Cleaning up the blogroll

    This is an ongoing project of course, since there are a LOT of links in my blogroll; but I’ve removed a few broken links today. I’ve also added one link to my blogroll, that of the voiceover blog from Jason McCoy.

  9. How quiet do you need it?

    My friend Andi Arndt has written a wonderful post called The Sound of Life about wrestling with whether or not to add an isolation booth to her toolkit as a narrator. I think you’ll find it well worth a few minutes of your time.

  10. ACX Master Class coming

    I enjoy narrating audiobooks a great deal and have had a narrator listing on ACX since the day it went live. Maybe you’ve been thinking about starting to work in the audiobook field or you’ve put your listing up on ACX, but so far nothing is happening for you. Well, my friend Dan O’Day is about to do some teleseminars on audiobooks and he’s releasing a series of free videos to help you get a better handle on exactly what’s involved and to decide if taking part might be right for you.

    The first video tackles “The 7 Lies You’ve Been Told About Narrating Audiobooks.” (Click the link to check out the video.)

  11. Banks wisdom for 2014

    My friend Philip Banks posted some cogent thoughts on the VO-BB earlier this week. I’ve quoted him here because not everyone will click through on the link and you really do need to see this:

    1 -Stop comparing the Neumann U87 with any $150 mic from China and then asking for opinions.
    2 – Stop comparing the MKH416 with the Neumann U87
    3 – Stop debating whether or not P2P sites work
    4 – Stop finding alternatives to ISDN
    5 – Stop working on your brand, you don’t know what that means
    6 – Stop linking to your blog, post your ill-informed opinions here
    7 – Stop looking for yet another agent
    8 – Stop trying to sound like the VO you admire
    9 – Stop trying to find YET another VO Coach
    10 – Stop asking other out of work VOs how to get more work
    11- Stop giving advice to other out of work VOs on how to get work
    12- Stop arguing with VOs who are at the top of the game
    13- Stop believing other VOs who claim to be at the top of their game
    14- Stop attending VO mixers until you’ve replaced the batteries in your Bullsh*t detectors
    15- Stop telling potential clients how you sound and what you can do and let them decide
    16- Stop following and start to lead
    17- Stop apologising for your rate
    18- Stop competing with others and start selling you; you’ll own the market
    19- Stop aiming low
    20- Stop giving yourself such a hard time, you’re doing fine.

    Now you’ve cleared the decks that leaves you free in 2014 to do all the things you’ve been avoiding which lead to jobs and pay days. You will be amazed how much progress you’ll make in a relatively short period of time.

    I wish you all prosperity in heart, body and bank account for 2014.

    As Philip would say … “Think on.”

  12. Added to the blogroll today

    One of the very best things about Faffcon is the people you get to meet, learn from, and with whom you get to spend some time. At Faffcon 6 in San Antonio almost a month ago, one of the people I got to meet was Melissa Moats. Just today I discovered Melissa has a voiceover blog so I’ve added her to my blogroll.

  13. Marice update

    Here’s an update on where Marice Tobias will be over the next few months.

  14. Wisdom from Calvin’s creator

    With my profound thanks to my friend Fran McClellan for posting the link to this on Google+, where I found it, please take a few minutes to read some wise words and images in this post by Bill Waterson called A Cartoonist’s Advice.

  15. Marice Tobias workshop next month

    This will be amazing. (Note: Updated to make clear this event is taking place in Los Angeles.)

  16. Interested in voicing games?

    Then take a few minutes to read this superb article by my friend DB Cooper

  17. It’s the last day for one key benefit to The Voiceover Class

    For several years now, Harlan Hogan and Dan O’Day have been doing a teleseminar series once during the year. It’s called The Voiceover Class. I took part in the first of them back in May of 2009 and it was an excellent experience. I’ve encouraged many of my friends to take the subsequent editions of this teleseminar series and have posted about it here as well. The stated goal of The Voiceover Class is to help you take your voiceover sideline and turn it into your full time business. Based on my experience and the experiences of a number of my friends, I would say it’s a goal that Harlan and Dan do a terrific job of reaching.

    Registration has been going one for several days now, but there’s a pretty strong reason you’ll want to act today if you think this is something you would like to invest in. Each time Harlan and Dan do The Voiceover Class, they bring in Jeffrey Fisher to do an evaluation of the sound the studios of the members of the classes. This year, because of other commitments, Jeffrey is only going to be able to do a limited number of evaluations so you have to register before September 1, 2013 (in other words by Midnight today or tomorrow depending on when you’re readying this, August 31, 2013) in order to be included in those who get this evaluation. And again, I can say from experience,  what you get from Jeffrey is  valuable information that will help you get a better sound from your studio.

    Harlan and Dan have offered to pay me $200 for each person who puts my name in the “Your Comments” field of the online registration form. You decide if you want to put my name in there or not. I’m fine with whatever you do. It’s not cheap. In fact, it’s a pretty fair chunk of money, but I think you’ll find the money you invest in The Voiceover Class will be money well spent, especially if you’re serious about making voiceover your full time business. So click through on one of the links for The Voiceover Class to get all the details about signing up.

  18. Hal Douglas in the spotlight

    With my thanks to Dan Hurst for posting the link to this video on Facebook, here is a fabulous short documentary about the great Hal Douglous.

  19. In A World

    I’m hoping to see the new movie In A World in a few days. If you’re involved in voiceover or interested in voiceover, you’re likely hoping to see it as well. Meanwhile, you might want to check out the excellent review of the film posted in VoiceOverXtra by Heather Costa.

  20. The Voiceover Class

    For several years now, Harlan Hogan and Dan O’Day have been doing a teleseminar series once during the year. It’s called The Voiceover Class. I took part in the first of them back in May of 2009 and it was an excellent experience. I’ve encouraged many of my friends to take the subsequent editions of this teleseminar series and have posted about it here as well. The stated goal of The Voiceover Class is to help you take your voiceover sideline and turn it into your full time business. Based on my experience and the experiences of a number of my friends, I would say it’s a goal that Harlan and Dan do a terrific job of reaching.

    Registration actually started yesterday, and there’s a pretty strong reason you’ll want to act quickly if you think this is something you would like to invest in. Each time Harlan and Dan do The Voiceover Class, they bring in Jeffrey Fisher to do an evaluation of the sound the studios of the members of the classes. This year, because of other commitments, Jeffrey is only going to be able to do a limited number of evaluations so you have to register before September 1, 2013 (in other words by Midnight, August 31, 2013) in order to be included in those who get this evaluation. And again, I can say from experience,  what you get from Jeffrey is  valuable information that will help you get a better sound from your studio.

    Harlan and Dan have offered to pay me $200 for each person who puts my name in the “Your Comments” field of the online registration form. You decide if you want to put my name in there or not. I’m fine with whatever you do, but I do think you’ll find the money you invest in The Voiceover Class will be money well spent, especially if you’re serious about making voiceover your full time business. So click through on one of the links for The Voiceover Class to get all the details about signing up.

  21. Leslie’s audiobook

    My very good friend Leslie Wadsworth is the narrator of an inspiring new audiobook called Gods of Noonday. Leslie’s is one of those luscious voices I can listen to all day, reading anything; so when she’s telling a gripping story, it’s very much worth checking out. Here’s her narration of the book’s prologue so you can see and hear for yourself what I’m writing about.

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  22. For the second day in a row, it’s a special day at our house

    With one son about to launch out in a new direction, our middle son David is not only celebrating his entry into legal adulthood today, but in the last few months he’s started working with me as well. It is a great joy working with David. He has done a superb job with each project I have assigned him and at least one massive project from earlier this year would not have been completed on time without his truly excellent and dilligent work.

    I’m very proud of the man you have become, son. Happy Birthday, David!

  23. It’s a special day at our house

    In fact, a couple of special days in a row; but more about the second part of that tomorrow. Today is a day to celebrate the birthday of our second child and oldest son, Eric.

    Since he graduated from high school 5 years ago this past Spring, Eric has been my partner and helper and audio editor. We’ve traveled to lots of events of one kind or another, all having something to do with learning all that we could about growing and strenghtening our business of delivering excellent voiceovers … of telling stories in the most powerfully effective way possible.

    We’re standing today on this day we celebrate the anniversary of his birth at the start of a new phase in Eric’s life as he makes a significant transition back to school, launching out in a new direction.

    It’s a day filled with all kinds of emotions for me, but all of them are good. Going forward I know there are things I’m going to miss, but I know without a shadow of doubt that the direction Eric is taking is exactly the right one for his life. I support these changes wholeheartedly.

    And I remain profoundly grateful for all that we have been able to do and experience together. God bless you, son. Happy Birthday!

  24. Marice in Boston

    Marice Tobais will be traveling to Boston soon!

  25. Something new and just for you

    The wonderfully talented Lisa Biggs emailed a couple of days ago with news about Girl’s Guide to Voiceover. I think, even if you don’t fit the category of “girl”, you’d be wise to check it out.

  26. Proof that a team is the way

    My daughter Karen is my favorite proofer when I’m working on an audiobook. This isn’t just because she’s my daughter (so of course I love her); but equally because she’s brilliant at it. Her attention to detail is amazing and most of the time when I have her proof one of my books, it comes back no further corrections needed.

    But, proofing isn’t just for audiobooks. She also proofs (and often edits as well) eLearning projects for me. As she writes there are 5 Benefits to having Proofed Audio. I can add nothing more to her insightful piece.

  27. Going Public … in Shorts … day 19

    This month (June 2013), the audiobook community is giving back! Spoken Freely, a group of 30+ professional narrators, has teamed with the Going Public Project to celebrate June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) 2013 by offering a serialized audio story collection: Going Public…in Shorts. Each narrator has recorded a short piece from the public domain, including the work of Chekhov, Twain, Chopin, Poe, Lovecraft, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Wilde and many others, even Lincoln’s pivotal Second Inaugural Address. All proceeds will go to the Reach Out and Read literacy advocacy organization.

    Each day this month, one or two stories will be released online via the Going Public blog as well as on various author, book and voiceover blogs, with each participating narrator hosted by a different blog. As a “Thank you!” to listeners, stories will be available to listen to online for free for a limited time during this audiobook celebration month. The full schedule of story release dates and narrator appearances is available at Going Public.

    In collaboration with Blackstone Audio, stories will also be available for download purchase starting on their day of release, with the full compilation available beginning June 30th. All sales proceeds go directly to Reach Out and Read, an innovative literacy advocacy organization serving more than 4 million children and their families across the nation, with an emphasis on serving those in low-income communities.

    Today is day 19 of this project and we’re featuring Death and the Woman, by Gertrude Atherton as read by the very talented Rachel Fulginiti.

    Downpour link for Death and the Woman is here. For the entire Going Public … in Shorts collection is here.

    Also featured today is A Pair of Silk Stockings, by Kate Chopin as read by Arielle DeLisle and spotlighted on Bookfan. Yesterday’s feature was Story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin as read by Tish Hicks and spotlighted by Mary Freeman on Romance Magicians. Tomorrow’s will be The Prophet’s Paradise, by Robert W. Chambers as read by Stefan Rudnicki and spotlighted on A Book and a Latte.

    Going Public…in Shorts is made possible by the efforts of the Spoken Freely narrators and many others who donated their time and energy to bring it to fruition. Engineering and mastering provided by Jeffrey Kafer and SpringBrook Audio. Graphic design provided by f power design. Published by Blackstone Audio. Project coordination and executive production provided by Xe Sands.

  28. It’s not always what’s new

    I was reading my friend Pam Tierney’s blog yesterday and took note of her recent post What’s in Your Toolbox?, which reminded me that I have a ton of insights, notes and material from numerous events I’ve attened, workshops I’ve taken and seminars I’ve signed up for; many of which remain unexamined in the aftermath of these events.

    A valuable kick in the pants for sure. Which leads directly to this question, which is pointed and me even more than it is at you: what action am I going to take in response to this insight?

  29. Audiobooks and a good cause

    Pat Fraley emailed this morning with news about a teleseminar he is doing with Scott Brick and Bob Deyan. Here are the details including links to sign up.

    The 2013 Audiobook Gold Rush Webinar
    Tues. May 21 6PM-7:30PM PDT

    Join Robert Deyan, the audiobook producer
    who hired over 500 narrators in a
    two month period last year,
    with Scott Brick and Patrick Fraley
    for a meaningful, inside view of how
    to work the audiobook market.
    $47. Recording of all comes with the price.
    Details: http://www.voice-overwebinars.com/Audiobook_GoldRush.html

    100% of the money goes to performer
    Nicole Nielson who has been stricken
    with an incurable disease.

    This is a great bargain for anyone who wants to know more about voicing audiobooks. It’s also a great cause.

  30. The rest of the Faff Camp of the story

    The final day of Faff Camp started with an opening circle, which was as it should be.

    Then the first main presentation of the day was given, by me. The topic was Invite the Avalanche, and was based on (but not identical to) talks that I’ve given a couple of times at various Faffcons. The best way to get the substance of what I spoke about would be to put the word avalanche into the search box of this blog and read the articles that you find.

    Here though is something you won’t find in any of those previous blog posts:

    Beware of the cheap. It’s so very easy to self-justify either looking for something cheap because we think it will represent a bargain (but in reality what we’re buying is just cheap trash) or to self-justify selling ourselves for cheap.

    Bottom line: it’s not about what you would like to do, nor about what you can do. It’s all about what you will do, and then actually doing the thing.

    When I first saw the line-up of speakers for Faff Camp, I was so relieved and grateful that I was up first on Sunday; because the final main presentation was given by Doug Turkel. I did not want to have to follow Doug, who provided us with a virtual MBA of ideas and insights about how to improve our marketing, how to think more like a business person and less like just another starving artist.

    Bottom line: the options and opportunities are nearly endless, but all of those options are worthless if you don’t actually take action.

    After the main presentations, we again spent an hour taking part in the table top mentoring. This time I didn’t have to lead a discussion, so was able to enjoy discussions about transition from radio to voiceover (led by Don Brookshire, and for whom I don’t seem to be able to find a web site!) and about corporate narrations (led by Peter Bishop).

    We then broke for lunch and in the afternoon did some breakout sessions; among which the stand-outs for me were Tom Dheere‘s on personal and business organization and time management and Sean Caldwell‘s on rates.

    Faff Camp proper wrapped up with a closing circle and the day ended with a memorable Faff-ter party that was great fun, tinged with sadness as various people had to depart for the airport.

    Truly a memorable weekend, chock full of both good times and excellent ideas. Now the challenge is to translate those ideas into actions!

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