Archive for June, 2012

Softly, softly ………

Hopefully, I’m on my audience’s wavelength

It was only when I embarked on my career as a voice over artist that I started to use social media.  Yes, I’d heard of Facebook and Twitter, and I knew what they were, but I couldn’t see how they were relevant to me.

Having to market myself changed all that.  It was obvious that Facebook and Twitter – and a blog, of course! – would be good ways of communicating with the voice over world and generally building my profile.  There were other plus points: following some of my favourite journalists (Kevin Maguire on The Mirror and Jon Snow from Channel 4) on Twitter, or staying in touch on Facebook with people I’d worked with in the past – sometimes the dim and distant variety!

But I didn’t expect an opportunity to land right in my lap.  A couple of weeks ago, an ex-colleague who now works for AgeUK posted a message on Facebook about the charity’s new internet radio station, The Wireless, encouraging everybody to listen.   So I did – but not before I replied asking if I should send her my voice reel.

Cutting a long story short, she very kindly passed on my details to the station’s producer and, to my surprise, I was invited in for a chat – and to record some links.  The station, like many others, is mainly pre-recorded: it plays music from the 50s to the 80s and most of the shows are compiled by computer, with the presenters recording links between the tracks in advance.

It turned out they were looking for a presenter for the weekend editions of the late evening show, Downtown, which plays wind-down music.  So I recorded my links and my try-out show went out last Saturday – after which I had to wait to see if the charity liked what they heard and wanted me to host the programme regularly.

They did – and I now present the show on Saturday and Sunday evenings between 9 and 11 pm, which means a trip to the studio every fortnight to record four programmes’ worth of links.  Although I’ve been on the radio in the past, this is a different way of using my voice: I have to sound spontaneous and chatty but, given the type of music on the show, I also have to tone myself down and can’t be my usual energetic self – quite a challenge!  Not quite Whispering Freda Cooper, but you get the idea ….

And, before you ask, yes, I do listen to my own show.  Not through vanity, but because I need to know how I – and the programme – sound and how I can improve.  Having listened to my first one, I already have a list of things to work on, think about and try out.  It’s been a while since I’ve been on the radio, so I’m a little out of practice.

The Wireless is available through AgeUK’s website, www.ageuk.org.uk – just click on ‘listen’.  I present Downtown every Saturday and Sunday night from 9 – 11 pm, if you want to give it a try.  But it’s not compulsory.

App-lying Myself

And my microphone is where ……?

A few months back, I landed my first piece of paid voice over work but I couldn’t say much more about it at the time.

But now I’ve recorded my first pieces, it’s about time I did.  You may have already heard about Kaliki, a new platform that converts print publications into streaming audio apps.  What makes it different is that it uses actual voice over artists to read the articles from major national and international newspapers and magazines, so they can be heard via mobile phones.  And I’m one of those voices!

After getting the booking (I’m one of a number of voices here and in the USA) through an audition on Voice123, I was allocated my publication – Conde Nast Traveler.  I’m delighted to be recording apps for such a prestigious mag and, while I’m not the only voice of this particular publication – I know of at least two others – I’m hoping it will turn out to be regular work.

If my first features were anything to go by, my knack for foreign languages might come in useful as well.  One piece was about a resort in Costa Rica, so I was able to throw in a little Spanish pronunciation, while another was about massages in Thailand – both getting and learning how to give them.  Thai isn’t part of my repertoire, but I think I got the place names about right, even if one or two of them took some rehearsing!

When the finished versions of my first recordings have been uploaded onto my website, I’ll post the link so that you can listen to them.

A number of international and national magazines, as well as daily and Sunday newspapers, will all be available on Kaliki, read by different voices, of course.  To find out more, check out this article from last autumn on CNet, http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20118201-48/with-kaliki-you-could-listen-to-this-article-in-your-car/, which also includes a link to a Kaliki demo.

And, before you ask, there’s been no mention of location recordings.  With the wonders of modern technology, I have to say the chances are slim.  Hey, you can’t have it all!

The Other Italian Job

….. and not a Mini in sight.

If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans, so they say.  I’ve probably been a constant source of hilarity over the years, and I may not be the only one.

I’m sure he was chuckling away the other evening.  With six months’ worth of being a voice over artist under my belt, I thought it was about time I started to review things and look ahead at the same time.  Should I continue doing this full time for a while longer?  Should I start looking for some PR work and do voice overs in my spare time?

One of the first things I needed to do was to assess the various websites I’d joined in an effort to land myself work.  How were they performing and were there any that simply weren’t doing it for me?  There was certainly one: the number of potential auditions was noticeably low compared to the others and, once I eliminated all the opportunities that were looking for a transatlantic style of English – which most definitely isn’t me! – the resulting number of actual auditions struggled to make double figures.

So, with about a month to go on my subscription, I let them know I wouldn’t be renewing.  Job done.

But just a couple of hours later, an email arrived – via the very same, unproductive site.  An Italian production company wanted to know if I would be able to do a 45 second voice over for a training animation.  The job was to be in English and I agreed.  The following day, the script arrived and, in the space of about an hour, the job was done and I’d been paid.  Sweet.

Except that the irony of the booking coming from the site I’d just discarded wasn’t lost on me.  It seemed that the Law of Murphy had prevailed: I pull the plug and the site comes up with the goods.  Chances are that, once my subscription expires, there’ll be loads of gigs I could’ve auditioned for.  Cue mirth from on high.

But, thinking about it, this isn’t so unusual.  You send in an audition for a job thinking that, at best, your chances are 50/50 and you forget all about it.  What happens?  You get it.  You do another which you think is really in with a shout – and it falls on deaf ears.  I guess it’s just another instance of learning to live with the unknowns and the unpredictable nature of the voice over life: you enjoy the highs of getting bookings and cope with the lows of rejection.

Actually, instead of coping, maybe just moving on is a better approach.  But that’s a subject in its own right, and something for another time.

I am, I should add, sticking to my guns.  The gig was fun and the way it came about certainly did my confidence no harm, but it’s still the only one that the site has produced.

Of course, in saying that, I might be tempting providence.  The offers could start flooding in, just from that one source.  Or could they …….?