The Dreaded Overexposure

Boy, it sure is nice to book a bunch of gigs, isn’t it? They’re rolling in like something rolling in quickly (sorry, I’ve been on a trip back east with my family and can’t come up with anything terribly witty). The mic is fired up and you are going guns-a-blazin’. Congrats. I love hearing when voice talent (especially my peers in Portland) are knocking in gigs. But what happens when it may be too much of a good thing? What about those stretches when there you hear yourself way too much? Overexposure. Here was my classic problem — and it happened early in my career: 1) I was one of a tiny talent roster at a small radio group in Portland, Oregon in the late 90s. 2) I was the “young sounding” guy. 3) 70% of the scripts that came in called for a “young read.” Male. You know, that “edgy” read. For the record, I do not have what one would call a “classic” voiceover voice. It has its quirks. It has its tattered edges and delightful scars. But that’s what was given to me. And I love it. It stands out for the right reasons most of the time — and stands out for all of the wrong reasons if there is too much of “me” in the mix. I’ve been told that my voice is pretty “recognizable” which is a good problem to have when cutting through clutter. But it can also be problematic. Going back to my radio example — one of the news anchors (sweet fella, by the way) came in and said, “Gee Doug, I... read more

The Awkward Cold Call By Voice Talent

I’m putting on my other hat here first: the producer. As a producer, I have a shortlist of talent that I generally lean on. I trust them. I know that they can deliver the reads that I really want and need. On one hand, this is convenient. On the other, am I missing an opportunity to expand out my roster? Possibly. But I’m not what one would call a “heavy” producer at this chapter in my story. A few years ago? Absolutely. And I looked around for some new talent. As a producer, the options for voice talent are dizzying. And it’s good to know who is out there. That said, I take a bit of umbrage with the voice talent “cold call.” These are the emails that generally pop up out of the blue from voice talent that pretty much lays out their entire life story: who they work with, what microphone they have, whether or not they have Source Connect or ISDN — all done with no personality or inkling of what I’m about. It’s highly impersonal and is incredibly transactional. There is no story, just a list of things. It is both literal and figurative spam. Delete. I don’t mind when people reach out to introduce themselves. I really don’t. But I want them to introduce themselves to me. Not give me a laundry list. The email intros I like? A simple, “Hi, my name is (blank). I do some voice work and was wondering if I could send you a link to my demo?” Humor works with me too. That’s it. I LOVE these. And I will... read more

Are You Getting “You” Into The Read?

From time to time, I send auditions off to my agent down south to get a little feedback. I love the fact that she asks for these as it gives me a chance to finesse and improve. She can hear things objectively (and subjectively) that I can’t. My favorite bit of feedback from her, last time I met with her was this (and I’m paraphrasing here): “I want to hear more ‘Zanger’ in your reads. Get into the ‘Zanger’ mode and give me a ‘Zanger’ read!” There was a big hug following our conversation because a raft of other wisdom came tumbling down my way. It was awesome. So what does she mean? It means that, much of the time, we don’t necessarily get ourselves into our reads. We are generally trying to conform and fit to specs that were given to us. What’s funny is that those specs we get can be borderline bizarre, misleading or just not workable. We often get outside of ourselves and forget that we all have something unique to offer. It could be quirky, bold, edgy, classy — the list goes on and on, and some terms are cliche — but we are so focused on trying to deliver the perfect read based on the specs that we just lose our natural spark. What’s funny is that the producer/writer/client oftentimes has a voice in their head (hopefully not literally) before they hear any auditions. Then, that one talent does something that separates them from the rest. All bets are off from there. That spec you worked so hard to emulate ends up becoming... read more

What Is The Trick To Marketing Voiceover?

I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. If you came here expecting a magic bullet, then I apologize for disappointing you. However, I can share some of the things that I’ve noticed that might be worth considering. The lens I’m looking through is the idea of booking a consistent flow of business, not the one-shot gigs. Additionally, these are things that take time, effort and, in some cases, investment. Keep Your Friends (And Consistent Clients) Close If you have clients who are consistent, make sure that you are checking in with them. There is a delicate balance between saying “hi,” and annoying the living bejezzus out of them. I’ve noticed that quick little outreaches to my out-of-market clients once a month seems to be about the right amount. Additionally, if you are going to be traveling or otherwise unavailable, it never hurts to let them know. This will give them a chance to think about what’s currently in the mix — that hopefully ends up in your lap. And don’t forget the holiday “thank you” cards. You can’t do that enough. If you have clients close to home, go see them in person. Have coffee. Just hang out. Talk about things other than just voice work. Yes, this has become a commodified business, but the more that you can convey that you’re a real human being, the better, I’ve found. Build An Actionable Plan With Your Agent(s) And Manager(s) What’s the end goal? Well, it’s to book consistent gigs, right? Of course it is. But how are you going to get there? If you’re relying purely on auditions, you’re... read more

Dear Advertisers, No Assembly Required = A Sale This Holiday

It is flat-out Griswoldian. And something that has played out for parents since the advent of more-than-one-piece toys. The nighttime/early morning assembly. Last Christmas, I spent 90 minutes putting together a Toys ‘R Us Imaginarium train set that I knew was going to become disassembled in under an hour. There were twists and turns. There were tiny little screws. It was one in the morning and even my bright headlamp couldn’t help. This gift from my mom was the one that I knew was going to take every bit of patience. I wished for smaller hands (though I do have pretty small hands). I wished that the box had been lost in the mail for a moment. I wished I was asleep. But duty called. I got the thing put together. Finally. And through the excruciating back pain (this happens after 40, by the way), I was able to take a step back and savor the moment: my first in-depth assembly experience outside of an IKEA run. After a good three hours of sleep, I woke “refreshed” and ready to show my son his new train set. He was thrilled and, to my great surprise, he didn’t tear it down in an hour. It was 70 minutes. I still find little pieces of the thing under couches and in the backs of cabinets. A reminder that a great deal of assembly can result in a great deal of scatter and clutter. So this holiday, I am going to place more emphasis on things that require little or no assembly. And here are some friendly tips to advertisers hoping to woo me with their... read more

Why I Switched From Pro Tools To Adobe Audition

I have produced audio since the mid-90s. Fortunately, I was more of a digital audio native. I missed the “Golden Era” of recording, cutting and taping on tape. Yes, I still used the old reel-to-reel machine and had to send dubs out on tape from time to time, but I didn’t sit with a trusty razor blade and a pile of petroleum product behind my chair. I started with the first round of digital editing software, mainly for radio commercials, using a program called Session 8 from Digidesign. Though it was a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), we still had quite a bit of equipment in racks — processors, interfaces and the like — and the tool, though wonderful at the time, had some limitations. This was most likely due to the fact that computer technology wasn’t nearly what it is today. The upside? No tape. Easy to use. Multiple tracks. Made the audio editing job much easier. Then came the “savior” of many a radio audio editor, Cool Edit from Syntrillium Software. This Windows-based program was a snap to use. It was flexible (though it still had a few limitations) and though it still required some kinds of native processing, it allowed for beefing up of the audio. What stood out to me was that I could edit quickly but still accurately. For anyone in radio (especially on Fridays), going fast to get out of the building before 7pm is a bit of a big deal and Cool Edit fit the bill. In 2003, Adobe purchased Cool Edit and released Adobe Audition later that year. It was Cool Edit in a... read more

Back At It — With New Outtake

Yeah, yeah. I know. I have been enjoying time with my kids this summer here in Portland. But duty calls. So let’s recharge with an outtake, shall... read more

My Favorite Trees This Time of Year

On SW Horizon Blvd. in Beaverton, the blossoms are out. This is my favorite time of year (aside from tax season) and this little stretch of road between Scholls Ferry and Barrows has some of the most stunning shows nature has to offer. If you’re headed to Cinetopia or Big Al’s, make sure you take this little drive before the wind blows them all... read more

We’re All In Sales. So Get Over It.

This post originally appeared on Canada’s finest advertising place, The AdBuzz. Empirically, repurposing this post constitutes cheating. Kind of. The dreaded “s” word. Sales. For creative people, we try to run from the word like the plague. We avoid it at all costs. We shun the mere thought of it being part of our vocabulary. Visions of a 1982 Don Cherry wardrobe, standing in a used car lot in Mississauga waiting for that next sucker is the common thought. I once asked a group of colleagues to tell me the first thing that leapt to mind when I said the word “sales.” “Slimy.” “Seedy.” “Shady.” Those were the common responses, until it came to someone I have known for years and highly respect. “Necessary.” Telling. Accurate. He looked at everyone and said, “don’t kid yourself. We’re all in sales. We just go about it in different ways.” So true. I recall my favorite program director once telling me, “you know what that song on the radio is for the artist? It’s their sales pitch. They’re saying ‘buy my record, come to my concert, pick up a t-shirt or five.’” What gets lost in translation is the difference between the role and discipline of sales. The role of sales is simple. You sell. It could be outside sales, inside sales, retail — you name it. You know exactly what the role and goal is — and you go after it. The discipline of sales is a bit more nuanced and goes all of the map. You may actually sell without knowing it. But plenty of people in the creative end... read more

How’s That For A Break From Blogging?

Wow. That was quite a stretch of going dark. But there was a good reason — and she’s almost 4 months old. One of my colleagues noticed and asked me if I was concerned about being away from blogging for so long. Not at all. I have this theory about that. Work will always be there. These moments with my family won’t. I hear parents tell me how little time they spend with their kids when they get older. It’s just the way it is when kids grow up — that independence is not too far off because they really do grow up that fast. From December, I have seen so many changes in both of my kids and I just wanted to be in the moment and be part of that. “But what about marketing yourself? Won’t you miss opportunities?” I was asked. I would feel worse if I missed the opportunity to see my daughter smile for the first time. I would feel terrible if I didn’t see my son get better riding his little bike. I would never forgive myself if I didn’t take those little walks around the neighborhood or cuddle with the kids in front of a cartoon or two. Those are the opportunities that can’t be missed. So it’s back to getting in front of the blogging “mic.” But I am thrilled that I took a little time. Because the work will always be... read more

Another Random Interview: Joe Piscopo

I often wonder about my odd intersection of interview opportunities. Here’s yet another, a conversation with Joe Piscopo. I loved him on Saturday Night Live (below is one of my all-time faves). I dig him because we both share a common New Jersey gene. I like him because he was just enjoyable to talk to. Bing National Tailgating Championship – Joe Piscopo by... read more

Ruby Carolyn Zanger Arrives

Short and sweet. Our daughter arrived today at 12:15pm Pacific Time. 7 pounds, 1 ounce. 20.5 inches long. Mom and baby are doing great. Much more to come.... read more