Our third Webcast where our host, Sarah Marince, discusses voice talent with three solid voiceover artists in the industry.

 

 

Discussion Topics

– How to better direct voice reads

– Pros & Cons of voiceover directories

– Feedback on voice auditions

– Fun projects & stories from previous work

Panelists

Sarah Marince

Sheila Hart

Paul Schmidt

D.C. Douglas

 

Panel Discussion

 

Sarah Marince:

Hello everyone. Happy Wednesday. I’m Sarah Morin’s and welcome to our crew talk. I’m super pumped about today’s topic because it’s voiceover and I’m a voice actor. That’s what I do. So tonight I am just like super pumped to get into it. Ask the questions here from our expert panel. We have some fantastic voice talent on the panel tonight. So thank you for tuning in and joining us this evening. This evening, this afternoon, I guess it depends on where you are. I’m in Orlando. We have some people on the panel from Los Angeles, so the afternoon for them. I have a list of my questions here later on we’re going to hear from you and get your questions. So start thinking about those now and as we go. But yeah, I’m just going to start off with some of our questions here. Hello everyone. Hello to our fantastic panel. Hello. Hello. So there are a lot of genres in voiceover to start off. I mean, there’s commercial, there’s corporate narration animation, which is huge. What do you guys do? What do you like to do? What do you do the most of?

 

Sarah Marince:

And anyone can start. Anyone can take the floor.

 

Sheila Hart:

Okay. I’ll jump in since nobody can right away. Okay. So I, I think you as a VO person, you kind of have to do a little, a little bit of everything. I’d love to do animation, but I don’t do animation. I mainly do commercials and narration. So like industrial narration and commercials. Yeah.

 

D.C. Douglas:

Oh, okay. So I yes, I agree that you have to do a little bit of everything because it’s, there’s, it’s, it’s almost, it’s almost impossible to make it from one thing unless you get really lucky, like you become the promo voice to certain channel or something like that. But cause everything always ends. Commercial campaigns and cartoons and that kind of a thing. So for me, I would be, I think my primary income has come from doing commercials and and a lot of the video game, animated cartoons, so kind of that stuff. I’d my favorite gigs though are doing legal tags on commercials because you go in and you record for 10 minutes and you walk away and your face, it’s very nice.

 

Sarah Marince:

Easy enough. What about you, Paul?

 

Paul Schmidt:

Again, a little bit of everything. What I don’t do, I guess because I’m unlike Sheila and DC, I’m on the East coast, I’m in Richmond, Virginia. And then you know, I think animation is probably the last really geographically specific genre. There is left a lot of the, the major animation studios likely to be in LA. So that work’s not really accessible to me, nor is it really on my radar. Because I love doing a lot of the other steps. So commercials, I do a lot of narration as well. I do a lot of eLearning and a lot of medical narration. The occasional audio book the very occasional IVR job, you know, interactive

 

Paul Schmidt:

Voice response and message on hold. So yeah, I cobbled it together just like everybody else, so.

 

Sarah Marince:

Very nice. Okay. So before we dive too deep into all the details, I want to take it to the very beginning cause I’m sure we have some people listening today or watching today that are just starting to get into voiceover or maybe very new. So somebody says, Oh, I get to, I’m told all the time, I have a nice voice. I think I should get into voiceover. What is the first step? What should you do first? Should you go make a demo first? Should you find a coach? Do you just hop online and start auditioning? What do you think the first step should be for somebody just starting in voiceover?

 

D.C. Douglas:

Pick another career. We don’t need the competition.

 

Sarah Marince:

Agreed. End of chat. We’re done. Thank you everyone.

 

D.C. Douglas:

I do I do a lot of Excel, also known for like some anime and video games. So I do used to before the academics just do a lot of conventions throughout the year to, to meet fans. And we’d have a, it’d be like Q and a panels. And that’s always a question that a lot of them ask cause they want, they’re interested in doing voiceover, but a lot of things they don’t think it through because they think the one kind of voiceover they want to do. So for them, they’re, they want to do animate well dubbing animate pays the least amount of money that you can make and you can’t really live off doing that live at home. And so it all depends on what, what they have in mind. But I always say the very beginning is take acting class even before a voiceover class because that’s going to serve you in every one of the the genres of voiceover that you decided to do.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And then I also suggest singing class because that also helps with knowing how to use your tool even better. And then from there I also suggest improv class because some of those commercial auditions and things and also animation, a lot of times they’re gonna want you to throw in some, some of your own creativity. Because they have lazy writers. And so, and then after that I say, then look at maybe doing voiceover classes. The demo reel is going to be the thing you do near the very end when you was like, I know employable. Because once you make contact with potential producers and agents and whatnot, that that demo reel is going to be the first impression they have of you. And if you think, Oh, I’m just gonna do a demo reel just in case it happened to land an agent first and don’t make a lot of money while I learn it. That never happens. Rarely, maybe like tiny percent, but it rarely does. And so you’ll probably be leaving a really horrible first impression and they’re not going to get rid of that first impression unless they, you know, busy enough that they forget you. So I always, so that’s the order that I usually suggest in general. So,

 

Sheila Hart:

And I, I’d agree with that because I think, you know, it is acting, it’s voice acting. So I think anytime that you can be really well grounded in that craft, then you can branch out and start doing things like, yeah, VO and, and, and other things related. So I completely agree with that 100%, but, and I do think that there’s a lot of people out there just don’t get the whole demo thing and they end up putting out a demo that really isn’t a demo. And so if you are at the point now where you want to put a demo together, find someone who does that for a living to help you through it, you know, to help you make a really kick butt demo. Yes. Okay. So we know the commercial demo is your calling card. That’s what the agents want to hear. That’s what you have. You definitely have on your website, you know, you can have other ones as well. Should you make your own demo, should you seek a professional to help you if you’re new at the game, how should you go about getting your demo? And also once you have one, how often should you refresh your demo?

 

Paul Schmidt:

So I’ll jump in on that one. I I’ve been producing audio for 30 years. I started in broadcasting as a matter of fact in radio. And so I have all the technical knowledge and knowhow to be able to put my own demo together and I don’t specifically for commercial. And, and the higher production value D genres. So if it’s a commercial demo, if it’s a radio imaging demo, if it’s a promo demo, you’re going to want to hire a professional for that. For a number of reasons. One, they’re going to be able to balance the production values of the demo to your voice. And to ostensibly your coach is going to direct you through your demos. And that’s a real key element of doing a great demo because to do a self directed demo defeats the purpose. You want a third set of years to be able to direct you in a pull your best performance out of you and you don’t want to have to worry about directing yourself any more than you already do.

 

Paul Schmidt:

So those are the two main reasons for me to, to not do your own demos. I think, you know, in some, in some very, you know, everybody will say, you know, you need very specific genre demos. At times I agree with that. And at times I think, you know, if you do have a production directors background or you know, an audio producers background and you’re doing a medical narration demo, you’re going to throw a bed under a really good read and you’re going to be done with it. So I don’t think every genre necessarily needs a professional, but I think the big ones do commercial radio, imaging, promo, things like that.

 

Sheila Hart:

And you know, anytime that you’re going to be starting a business, it requires an investment. And so actually hiring someone who is a pro that can take you through the process and get you the very best demo possible that that’s important. It’s like it’s your investment in your business. So absolutely.

 

D.C. Douglas:

I haven’t refreshed my reels in six years, no longer eight years. Right.

 

Sheila Hart:

I haven’t done very much with my, my main demo, but I have, you know, like put together an, I actually put together a British reel cause I do a lot of British dialect commercial type stuff, so, and narration. So I, I’ve just added like demos that pieced it together from things that I’ve added, like specialty demos, sickly. So, yeah.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And I also think it’s one, it also depends on like where you are, what market you’re working in. So for instance, like in Los Angeles union work, it’s like, must have an agent. They put the reels on their website for potential producers, but it’s so rare, especially since voice a voice bank got bought out. It’s, nobody’s really booking off the reels per se. It’s off of agency relationships is actually an entire changeover happening in the industry now. Everything is like really up in the air and the pandemic just accelerated it to the Instagram. So it’s like, we’re, like the business has been thrown back to the seventies or earlier where it’s about what advertising agencies have relationships with what agencies. And that’s kind of where it’s stuck at the moment. But so the real isn’t necessarily important, but on your website when you’re also looking, so for instance, I’m fly Corp, I do union and I do non-union.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And so for the nonunion business which is going to be like the hardware store in Oklahoma, the ones that the once radio commercial that happens to find me out online they will then listen to those demos. But there were so good eight years ago, that’s why I haven’t bothered teaching them up. So the only time I think really once your voice changes obviously, and mine is probably on the verge of that, but it’s good to change the reels. But the other thing is the commercial reels, like if you happen to like, mine is just basically comprised of all jobs that I have had. So whenever I have a new campaign it’s probably good to squeeze that in recognizable campaign. And so that’s about the only time I think, Oh, I should probably redo my, my commercial reel. I I haven’t had a really recognizable campaign in a few years, so I haven’t run them to change it yet. So.

 

Sarah Marince:

Okay. Very good. So we have done our training, we have our demo. What next? Do we try to go get an agent or do we do some auditions online? If so, what websites do we use? What, what do you guys think? What are some websites? I know I really like for auditioning. If you’re going to use a website, voice one, two, three has been really good to me. And then, you know, the agency side is something different, but what would, what order would you guys say to do

 

Paul Schmidt:

Wow. In terms of order? I’m always a big, big, big believer in myself. And so as a result of that, I’m not represented and I hustle for all my own work. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t ever that I wouldn’t, that I would rule out working with an agent or several. But I always feel like nobody’s going to work harder for me than me. And, and I do a lot of corporate stuff, so I’m able now, and you couldn’t do this 20 years ago, you couldn’t go to the audio video director of, you know, Joe’s fortune 500 corporation and go, Hey, I’m a, you know, a voice actor in Richmond, Virginia, here’s what I do. Be great if we can team up together. Now you can go direct to consumer. And so I try to take advantage of that. I think that you know, for some people, I think pay to plays are a good idea, especially if you’re newer. You can get a lot of auditioning in, in a very short amount of time. You’ve got to be careful about which ones you pick. You’ve got to do your research upfront because they’re not all reputable. There are a few reputable ones out there. But as far as you know, representation and agents, I think Sheila and DC are way more qualified to talk about that than I am.

 

Sheila Hart:

Did you want to look like? Oh, it’s so, so what I was going to say is that I’ve been at this for like a really, really long time and so I do have representation in various regions of the U S so like I have somebody in Texas, I’ve got somebody in Ohio, I’ve got somebody in Pennsylvania I’ve got, you know, like, so like I just have like tentacles out there. And it, and it happened over time, but I would agree with Paul in that you are your best representative. So I really, when I was first starting out and the best advice that ever anybody ever gave to me, of course now it’s a dinosaur, but when I SDN first came into existence, I had an audio engineer friend of mine and I was living in Michigan at the time where I had to travel sometimes like an hour, hour and a half to go work with, you know, like an audio studio in Lansing when I was in grand Rapids or whatever.

 

Sheila Hart:

And, and he was like, Hey, the next thing is this ISD and you need an ISD in line. And he literally helped me set up my own home studio. And this was years ago. And I got an ISD N line and when I was getting my ISD online, basically I called every audio studio in the world basically and just said, Hey, I’m getting ISD N I want your opinion. People always love to give advice. So that’s one good way if you are reaching out on your own, people love giving advice. So I would call these studios and I would say, Hey, I’m getting an ISD. I’m like, what kind of equipment do you use? What do you think is best? You know? And I just kind of build relationships with all these different audio studios all over the U S mainly and a few, you know, outside of us. And that helped me establish myself, you know just to have an excuse to talk to them, you know? So yeah, I do think that a lot of times you are your own best. If you’re a go getter, you can actually drum up work.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And ultimately it’s not a, it’s not really a choice of you do one or the other. It’s probably combination of everything depending on where you’re looking for. So even when you do get an agent doesn’t mean that’s the last time you go looking for an agent, unfortunately. It’s rare that you that you stick with one agent for your whole career. Also because the agents sometimes leave the agency and then you may follow them or stay with the agency or all sorts of things, but a lot of times they’re just not getting any work. So there’s that. Also again, like depending on if you happen to live in Virginia where they have a whole bunch of down studios that they have a lot of audio production there, so you literally like just within your own town, establish a lot of connections or you’re in some place that has, you know, Plano, Texas or something.

 

D.C. Douglas:

I don’t know. And from there then, yes, being online, I just be leery of a lot of these websites. There’s only a few that get a lot of the, here’s my experience with these and I don’t want to cook with them too much, but I’ve never really had great luck with them. And I’ve found voice one, two, three, seem to have a really good algorithm for awhile there. And actually for those one year where I did for like, like the okay with it, but still a lot of auditioning for projects that don’t actually happen. And so to me the ROI wasn’t that great. And since then I’ve recently this pandemic hit, I got a little worried. And so I actually wrapped on voice one, two, three, and our algorithms very different now. And it’s the only way to is it’s a renewable algorithm.

 

D.C. Douglas:

So the only way you can get, and I paid the upper region thing there. They’re expensive of membership and the only way that you can get the good ones, so when you first do that, I’ll, I’ll put it this way, when you first do it, listen to auditions, but this person’s looking for 50 auditions and I’ve already got 45. And I’m like, I just got this audition. And they already have, they’re not going to listen. It’s so rare they listened to all 50 of their auditions. And so it’s like, that’s kind of a pain. But the thing is, in order to get your algorithm up, you have to audition for as much as possible so that they like it. Even if they don’t use you. So then the algorithm goes, Oh, they liked them. So they’ll do it. But if you audition for a whole bunch and they never get to your read and never like you, then your algorithm goes horrible for you and all of a sudden you get even worse situation.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And I won’t put, I’m just like, Oh, this is like, I just wasted my signing up for this thing. So I quit voice one, two, three quite some time ago because of exactly what you’re saying. Yeah, it’s not, it’s, the algorithm is very faulty. It’s encouraging people to do just encouraging a lot of waste of time, I think. But then you can maybe find like w some of those websites that they, they only have like 20 or 30 voice actors and that’s it. And they actually, again, the opera a little bit like an agency and they start to bring in some clients that way and just have their small group audition for those that can do really well on. So and like Sheila said you, even though we’re in LA and I have an LA agent, I do have like a few other agents and, and other areas build a geography thing is, is as Paul was saying, it’s almost irrelevant now because it’s all internet based.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And so anyone from anywhere can can, can make stuff happen. You know, I started my booth in 2001 and I advertise as voiceover and I just called my voiceover guide.com. And because of that I was, when you searched the term voiceover, I was the first one on Google that first year. I got so many clients, the global clients I still work with. I got during that first year and then Google got smart and started changing their, the way that they I guess their algorithms and all of a sudden I had to fight to stay on that first page. And like at one point I lost the fight and I couldn’t do it anymore. So now it’s, and then of course, paying for the Google ads. So ridiculous, expensive. So now it really is about, you have to establish relationships with different individuals, studios or have regional agents or main agent that kind of stuff. And you have to constantly hustle in order to get, to get work and to maintain the relationships with those you do work with. So I don’t know if that answered your question cause I know it was.

 

Sarah Marince:

Nope, it’s great. We wanted to talk about, you know, websites heightened auditioning basically. But where you auditioned is important and for 99% of people it’s your home studio. And so let’s talk a little bit about home studio is what it means to have a broad broadcast quality studio because that’s what you see on a lot of the breakdowns is must have a broadcast quality studio source connect all of that. So can you guys break down a little bit about your home studios and what they kind of look like and what it really means to have a home studio? Paul should go first because we can see exactly

 

Paul Schmidt:

Well thank you. You want the honest? You want the dirty little secret? This booth is a converted bathroom and it’s five by five and a bathroom in theory is the worst room in the house to convert. But it was the only one I had that was the right size and it was an extra. And so I converted it as you can see with what amounts to be moving blankets. But the, the elements of a, of a broadcast quality studio are number one, you want a low noise floor. Okay. And when I say low, I mean probably at least minus 60 or lower. And that means when you’re not breathing, you’re not in your booth and you just have the mic on live. What is that noise floor? Where does that run in your audio software should be about minus 60 or below.

 

Paul Schmidt:

If you can get it to minus 70, 80, 90, you’re doing even better. That’s the first thing. And then secondly is being able to control the reflections of the sound in the room, the ambient noise. I would suggest for most people that don’t have an audio background, if you’re going to build a home studio, again, don’t waste your money. I would consult with somebody who is a, an a professional in studio design. Because you will, you will spend more than you will you, you would think that you would, but you will spend way less than you will doing this. Three, four, five rounds later on. It does not have to look great. You can do a lot and you can get started in a walk in closet and moving blankets if you can control the reflections in the room. And, and that’s where a lot of us get started. And again, you know, I’m working in a converted John for God’s sakes. You can’t tell now…

 

Sheila Hart:

Are you sitting on the toilet?

 

Paul Schmidt:

[Laughter] No, but it’s not the first time I’ve gotten that question either. So but you need to know, you either need to know what you’re doing or you need to hire an audio engineer. And then even when you have your room fairly dialed in, you should consult with a professional audio engineer who can dial your you’re, you’re processing in, in your audio software so that it accents your voice, optimizes, makes the room sound good with your mic and your voice. The three biggest things that affect the quality of your audio are number one, your room, your space. Number two, your voice. Number three, your microphone. If you have you know a great read is still going to sound awful in an awful space and it’s going to sound even more awful in an awful space with a great microphone because it’s just going to accent the holes in your, in your audio strategy. So that’s my ticket.

 

Sheila Hart:

So I have my studio, my walking closet, and I’ve been doing that. I even just moved recently. And so I, I bought, I get a place based on the walking closet at my old place I did have one that was kind of built for me, but then but then these last two places I’ve been at, I’ve used the walking closet. It’s been amazing because the clothes dampen the sound. And so basically my clothes are my, you know, like all that foam that people usually put up on the walls. I don’t need that because I’ve got the clothing to dampen the sound in the room. So I’ve been really happy with the sound in my, in my walking closet type environments. And I’ve, and I’ve got I’ve got three different mikes. I have I have a Sennheiser 416, but the one that I’m using, and I think I may switch to that soon, but what I’m using right now is a [inaudible]. And, but I also have an AKG 414.

 

D.C. Douglas:

Yeah, baby. Cool. Just excited by the AKG. Not enough people use it. Okay. So we’re three for three on AKG cause that’s what this is to close out for a minute there. So I missed the last half of your thing there. So that’s love. So I guess kg for 14 also. And actually that’s the only mic I’ve ever used since since from 2000 and I used that Mike for 12, 13 years and then, and it still was fine, but I got a new one just in case I just put the new one on cause I’m like, I don’t know when it’s gonna go, but wow. And yeah. So I started in my closet in an apartment in Hollywood and with towels and and I used to print out my scripts and I had a little music stand and I’d go in there and I’d record and then I’d snapped so that I knew that I could go back and then edit in ProTools afterwards.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And I did that for about two years until one day I thought, why don’t I just have a monitor in here, my monitor for, I don’t, I don’t print anything anymore. Well then it was like, Oh, like looking at the monitor, I could have a keyboard and if we could have a keyboard and a mouse, I can pretty much like do the entire sun. Now. I don’t have to like do the snapping. I’m just, I stop and start, stop and start as I go through and then I can tap through and edit afterwards. It makes it so much easier. But I had, when I moved to end up getting a house and I had a campaign with Geico for a couple of years, which was nice. Got a house in Laurel Canyon with a girlfriend and they had an old elevator shaft that went from the street.

 

D.C. Douglas:

This is Laurel Canyon, you know, Playboy time in sixties. So it went from the streets to the first level dining room and then to the bedroom. Yes. But the Northridge earthquake apparently had killed it and nobody had ever repaired it. So we gutted it. And and then that top floor, I kept it and put it in a floor soundproofing window because it’s so depressing to work in a dark room. And and that became my voiceover booth for about 11 years and then broke up with a girlfriend, sold the house, and then go to solving it. And so I finally went to an apartment, a really nice place here in studio city, and and I thought I’ve got it. I said, the last thing I can do, I’m sitting with 52 of them, I’m 52, and I’m not going back in the closet, so to speak.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And so I just couldn’t do it. So I, I, I plunked down, what is it with shipping and everything, seven grand for a whisper room and had had a guy from TaskRabbit come over cause I wasn’t gonna put it together. I’m not mechanically inclined. And the way I didn’t stall two days anyway, I had him come over and we put together the whisper room in there and and and it’s been, and it works. It works great. Just as good as although the saying that and of course I’ve got my EQs and all of that that I have for all my clients. But saying all of that, I have a promo gig that where I have to, no matter where I am, I have to send them in files and I wanted, and I was starting to do a lot of conventions and I wanted to do more to lose this client and then even went to Japan for a month and I’m like, I can’t lose this client life.

 

D.C. Douglas:

Someone turned me on to the chaotic of ball. I don’t know if you guys have seen this phenomenal. It’s the apex apex, Mick and a funnel and the chaotic ball. And I’ve got my and twisted wave and that I figured out, it took me about four hours to go through various versions of the queuing to get it to sound like the EEQ out of my booth when I send these promos to them. And literally I’ve played it on several different speakers and like, I’m sure like someone like Paul could like look at the wave form and go, well yeah, money, but you gotta look for the general years. Like, and especially for these promo people that’s in India. So they’re like, even if it’s a little distorted, they’re like, Oh, it’s great. It’s really present. But they’re like, they’re like perfectly happy. They have no idea what I’m sending from, from my mobile rig or from my, like $7,000 a booth. So yeah. So you, so you don’t necessarily have to start right out building out a booth or anything like that. You can start small test out the career that way and as it as it progresses, then you can start to invest in the next room, you know, booth or you know, transformed a bathroom, but keep the toilet because at the end of it take, you want to flush.

 

Sarah Marince:

Good advice. So how do you all prepare for a session? What’s the process?

 

D.C. Douglas:

I get drunk.

 

Sheila Hart:

I just open up the email, open up the script, do my, you know, turn my source, connect on or whatever it is I’m connecting with. And then, well then I just, yeah, so like I don’t, I don’t do any kind of deep like method type of, no. I just I think, you know, like after you’ve done it for so many years, it’s just kinda like you just, you just start reading. Yeah. What about you Paul?

 

Paul Schmidt:

I’d say, well probably 85 to 90% of what I do. I am self-directed. I’m not doing a live session cause it’s a lot of corporate work and what have you. But typically, no matter what it is, whether it’s corporate work or whether it’s, you know, commercial or promo or whatever it might be, first thing I do is grab a copy, scan it, Mark it up and start breaking it down. Because for me, that’s still, that’s still part of my process. So that is the most important part to me. And then there’s the secondary stuff. If it’s a, you know, if it’s a live session, then I gotta get that ready. You know, I’ve got source connect here in the booth as well. But breaking down the copy, analyzing the copy and being able to kind of run through that a couple of times and maybe give it a couple of different kind of, I want to get an idea where I want to go with it, but I don’t want to do it so much that I’m locking myself in by the time I get in the booth. So I want to be familiar, but I don’t want to know.

 

Sheila Hart:

I will say that I do prepare for some medical narrations. So if it’s a medical narration and there’s some words in there that are kind of funky, I always look them up and then I practice them, you know, the words so that I’m not like screwing up in the session. Yeah.

 

D.C. Douglas:

It’s interesting when I’m, when I do from home, I do. Yeah. There is no preparation except, you know, make sure that I have had my coffee and I’m awake kind of thing. But when I go to a studio even if it’s a remote session at that studio, there’s something about the fact that I’m going somewhere and that there’s a limited amount of time in that place and they’re paying for it gets me just a little bumps up my energy and and my conscientiousness. And so I will I’ll do some lip exercises, mouth exercises before I get there, just so that I know that I, especially if it’s illegal bag just so I know that I can like get in and kind of knock it out really quickly and that gives them more room to, to, to, to redirect throughout that, that they’ve lived with me for an hour or something like that is I just get a little weird, but what does my home studio, I’m like, Hey guys, we can sit here all day if you need to.

 

Sarah Marince:

Paul, you mentioned source connect for some of our audience who may not know what source connect is. Can you just give us a brief definition of source connect?

 

Paul Schmidt:

Sure. Yeah. It’s just a high quality digital audio connection with no latency, meaning there’s no delay between you and the other person speaking. And it’s source connect is the standard. There are others, there’s a IP DTL. Some folks are still using ISD and although it’s prohibited hip, prohibitively expensive anymore. There are other services out there that clean feed. So there are a number of different ones in the market. The only ones that I see, the only one that I see that is consistently requested by I do have some agencies that send me auditions even though I’m not signed with them. So my agency clients, they will oftentimes say, you know, this requires source connect. There’s two or three different levels of source connect. There’s source connect now, which is essentially kind of a free or a freemium sort of offering from source connect. A lot of the, you know, professional studios won’t allow you to connect with source connect. Now you’ll need standard or pro. But that’s, that’s source connect in a box in a, in a nutshell, rather.

 

Sarah Marince:

Thank you. Well voiceover, it’s not just, you know, the scripts and the reading scripts and all that stuff. It’s also a business, as you guys know, and you have to wear many hats and voiceover. You’re not just the actor. You sometimes are the editor. And you have to wear the business hat too, which isn’t always fun. I know that’s probably the least favorite part for me is the the business side, but it’s a very important side. And so how do you guys go about staying organized and keeping on top of the business end of things in terms of like taxes and invoices and things like that?

 

Sheila Hart:

Yeah, we’re very silent.

 

D.C. Douglas:

I would say that. When I when I started making really good money because of, because of a voiceover campaign I remember we’re going to do my taxes and finding, I’d hit the three, what they call the AMT or whatever it is. And I was like, wait, how much? And that, that freaked out. And so I talked to another person who said, you should really become a corporation at this point you made when you make a certain amount, it’s just way better because that’s so much more is deductible. And also I became a core set and then I’m set up through QuickBooks online. I think this is the easiest way to do it.

 

D.C. Douglas:

Payroll through QuickBooks, I pay the whatever it is, $39 or whatever. And so like now with all the taxes and stuff, it’s just so easy to, to just to hit a button and everything is, all the forms are filed. Everything’s taken care of once a year ago. I’m an accountant and boom, it’s, it’s taken care of. So I think that is the, that’s the best way we, and essentially you just think about it this way, it’s like, can you afford $800 a year? Because that’s, at least in California, I don’t know what other places it is to have a corporation. It’s 800 bucks. And then of course the taxes and everything is based off of what you’ve made that year. So it’s, to me it’s really worth it.

 

Sheila Hart:

So what I done for many, many, many years is I have a bookkeeper and she basically does all of my invoicing for me because I hate the business side of it. And so to me it was way, way worth it to have her like handle all of that stuff for me. And she’s someone that I trust and so yeah, I mean that’s my out. I just have her do everything. What about you Paul?

 

Paul Schmidt:

So for accounting, I use QuickBooks self employed. I think D C is right. I think everybody, if you’re going to get into this in any serious way, should at least be a single person LLC, which has only a couple of hundred bucks. I think, you know, it’s even cheaper than becoming an actual corporation. But that protects your personal assets. In other words, should somebody, let’s say come after you for breach of contract and they can’t come after your personal assets if you performed under the LLC. That’s one of the main reasons to do it. I’ve always approached this like a business and I’ve had businesses before this. I owned a comedy club for for a few years. And so I, you know, I’ve, I’ve picked some of this up over time. I love invoicing because that’s how I get paid. So if I get a chance to send an invoice today, I send it today. You know, I even love the, I have a sales background as well. I love the prospecting. I love the let’s go out and find some work today. And I make that, I get up generally around five o’clock, and that’s

 

Paul Schmidt:

In the morning, in the morning. And that’s my prospecting. I think

 

Paul Schmidt:

Time because clients aren’t at work yet. Prospects aren’t at work yet. I can find the folks that I think that I can help online. And it’s the first thing that I do every day. So it always gets done. And it’s the most impactful thing that I do for my business because it is literally new business development. And so I, you know, I’m, I, years ago I made that a priority. That’s, you know,

 

Paul Schmidt:

If the whole day falls apart after 9:00 AM I still got my prospecting.

 

D.C. Douglas:

One thing about the, cause I’m assuming that your audience is people that are looking to get started in voiceover that everybody’s different about this. And, but especially when it comes to union worker, this somebody who’s repping me, they’re going to be able to, to be, to, to, to be the dog, to track down that bone for me. If it’s not been paid in 15 days or 60 days or whatever, those, those kind of deals start, which I ate. But all of my individual clients that came to me for the longest time I worked on, I did the job and now send the money, send the money, please send the money, are you gonna send the money? And try and keep track of all of those little, especially when there were little jobs here and there, you know, 300 bucks here, 30 bucks there.

 

D.C. Douglas:

It was like, you got insane. And then I got stiffed really badly by a particular company. And in that moment I said, that’s it. You pay me as we go. And I figured out a way that they could listen to the file, but they couldn’t download it but they’d have to pay for it. So now my whole system is set up that way. I send you a link, you can hear the file. If you like it, you click a button, you pay with a credit card to pay pallet from my merchant and then it sends you a download link and you can download the file. So I always work as a pay as I go with every client, unless I happen to know them longterm really long term and it’s easier for them. But if whenever, a lot of times when they say, Oh no, we work on a 60 day or a 90 day Pat or whatever BS thing they’ve got.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And I’ll say, I’m sorry this just when we’re creating them I appreciate you thinking of me for the work. And then they usually come back and they go, I have, they’ve got a work around for it. And their work around is that they put it on their business credit card and then the company reimburses that and it’s like good you take the risk because you work there. I don’t work there. I literally had a company that I can pro trailers for here in LA that they were supposed to send me shit and I trust them cause I’m like you’re a big trailer from here in LA. They’re going to send the check thing that they didn’t it year and a half later. I finally, at that point I was like I, I am like a square cause I took the square but I, I like I was like I didn’t give an F and I decided, I went down there and walked in there and I went to the sepsis. They go, hi, I’m not going to leave until you give me $900 cause that’s what your company is owed me and here are all the emails saying that you were going to pay me. You haven’t paid me. So here I am. And it took them 45 minutes and the lady came out with such attitude to give me money that was owed me. And she’s like, and she’s like, she’s like, we’ll probably not be using it again. And I go, Oh yeah, I won’t be working for you again.

 

Sheila Hart:

I’ve been stiff too. And I’ve had a couple of painful strippings that have been really big for like a big job with a big name that you would know what, who the company was except for that. It was the agency that was working for them that didn’t, yeah. So yeah. No, I love, I love your idea. I’m going to have to talk to you about that one. Yeah. Brilliant. Brilliant. I love it. So

 

D.C. Douglas:

Really simple. Just look up the companies sound. Sounds good. I’ll come out in a second.

 

Sarah Marince:

We’ll come back to that. So I want to know what is one piece of advice that you three got early on in your career that stuck with you or helped you throughout your career? You can take a second to think about it.

 

D.C. Douglas:

The, the, the one piece of advice. Sure. Cause I came to LA to be an on-camera actor and I, and I still do on camera acting. But it’s, I mean obviously obviously I’ve made way more money doing voiceover. So, but it’s the advice works for either career because you as, as Paul and Sheila were saying from the get go and you’ve gotta kick your own butt, you’re the only one who can like make it happen. No one ever comes out and says, I will. Even if you get an agent, that agent’s not going to change your life. They’re just going to go basically the agents going, Hey, look to make 10% off of whatever you can possibly get. And but the biggest thing is that it’s not a race. It’s a, it’s a marathon. The longer that you are here or U S for here because of ballet, but a little longer you were in the career, the, the higher your chances are that you’re going to get worse.

 

D.C. Douglas:

But if you marry that with kicking your butt, kicking your butt, and you stay the course, you will eventually start working. And then you will have repeat work and then they will refer you to other people and to get new work. And if you’re good for those people, it’ll be repeat work and it builds upon itself until one day you go, Hey, I don’t have to go into my job at Walmart or whatever. I’m going to stay. I’m going to do voiceover all day. So it can happen. That company by the way is called Soundgine, like sound engine, but it sounded G I N. E if you look them up and you’ll, you’ll see.

 

Sheila Hart:

Love it Soundgine as in sound engine. Okay. Okay, perfect. Thank you. Advice Sheila. Well, like I said previously, to me the best advice I ever got was to get ISD and at the time because that just like, I mean my business went from, you know, local to worldwide. So that was the best advice I’d gotten.

 

Sarah Marince:

Would you say for people who are watching not to invest in source connect until you need it now or should you get it? And kind of have it, yeah.

 

D.C. Douglas:

If they’re past the, I just pop it on that way. If you’re past the taking the classes or learning a craft and you’re at the point where you’re actually, you’re built your website, you’ve got your little home studio thing and you’re looking to get work, that’s when you think to get it. But, but not before because then you’re just gonna be paying 30 bucks a month for nothing. So. Okay. What about you, Paul?

 

Paul Schmidt:

I think for me the best advice that I ever got and the best advice that I think I still give when people that are newer asked me is you’ve got to prepare yourself in so many different disciplines. To be a working voice actor, you’ve got to have the technical, you’ve got to have the performance, you’ve got to have the business savvy. So work on all of those things. But I think the most important part is when it’s time to interact with that customer and to give that performance. Always try and go over and above, try and make, not just the performance, the great thing because that’s the product that you’re selling, but you’re also a service. Be easy to work with, be kind, be friendly you know, be as flexible as you possibly can. And you know, within reason, obviously you have to protect yourself and that’s why you need the business savvy. But the better customer service that you can give a longer to DCS point, you’re going to keep those clients. And you know, the longer you’re going to stay in the game and, and it’s everybody talks about, well, you know, you’re in the voiceover business or your product or your service, it really doesn’t matter because you’re really in the relationship business. And if you can keep that in first and foremost in your mind, I think if you give yourself the highest chance of success.

 

Sheila Hart:

Yeah. So I think I totally agree with that. I would say being accessible and being agreeable are huge. Huge. Yeah. Everything you guys said is so spot on and like amazing advice for everybody who’s tuning in. So I want to move on to some of the questions that we got in our Q and a box. And it’s a great question and kind of goes along with, since everyone’s quarantine, maybe this can help some people out. Are there acting classes that can be done online or is in person the best option? But I think there’s a lot of stuff happening online right now. I know, especially with voiceover, they’re holding a lot of different, a lot of different companies are holding a lot of different like zoom classes kind of like this. For voiceover, what do you guys think?

 

D.C. Douglas:

Oh, absolutely. There’s lots of it. For voiceover, I will, I just want to plug somebody right now if you’re like, if you’re into animation and video games and that stuff. My friend Steve Blum has a class. It usually advertises on Instagram. Steve bloom, last name B. L. U. M. He’s been everything. And he’s a Susan, one of the kindest people and he a generous person and he does a workout group a class thing. I’m not sure what the cost is, but I know that there are also, there’s a couple of companies, there’s one out in New York. I can’t think of the name right now. Yeah, I know. I don’t know if they’re good or not. So the thing is, is there are some not so reputable people out there also. So always good to like, you know, check out the reviews and see what other people say, who’ve been through it and all of that. So there’s some good stuff out there and then there’s some not so good stuff.

 

Sheila Hart:

Right. And there are coaches too. I mean you have to like, like you can always hire a coach, but it can get pretty pricey when you hire a pro coach.

 

Paul Schmidt:

Well, even within that spectrum, Sheila, there’s, there’s some pro coaches that really only work with working pros and there are some that openly work with, you know, folks that are just starting out, just beginning and don’t have their feet yet, feet wet yet. And I feel like, you know, you need to do your research upfront and, and figure out who those folks are joined the Facebook groups, you know, lurk and listen for weeks, if not months before you just start pulling the trigger haphazardly because unfortunately our business is like every other and there are, there are some predatory folks out there do your research. Yes, they will also, no, that’s okay. Also, it’s really expensive. Not just the classes but everything around being a voice of rent, very expensive. So you don’t, you don’t want to get, you don’t want to be spending more money than you need to for things like, like for instance, the booth. You don’t just start off and you know, spending thousands of dollars for your booth start off with, like I was saying, the chaotic thing, it’s something simple. But with the classes, it’s like and also like these websites and things, you know, you can join this website but it cost you $1,200 a year and you’re thinking, Oh, well if I spent 1200, I’m probably getting better options than for the one that’s only $200.

 

D.C. Douglas:

And it’s like, ah, no, that’s usually not the case. It’s very, no, I don’t even know if that is the case anywhere. Additionally, with the classes, it’s like some classes could be really inexpensive by the way. Some can be workout groups, others are doing it and there is no fee. You’re all just getting together and then giving each other pointers. You can learn from that. That’s one of the, one of the first things forget this, this goes back to your other advice line thing, which is like whenever you think I can’t be in class right now and all of that, well, you know, it doesn’t mean nothing stops you from picking up a magazine, looking at the copy of an advertisement and just start saying it out loud. That’s, you just started. The more copy you read, the easier it gets. The, the the where you can start to feel the rhythm of pieces of pieces and the words that word color and all of that, but then getting into a free workout group, you can learn from that too.

 

D.C. Douglas:

You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to be learning at least initially. But if you all of a sudden decide, Oh, I really want to work in this specific area and I really want that kind of hands on help, then definitely research the people that you’re going to be studying from before you hand over the money. Voiceover extra. Oh, sorry. No, that’s okay. Go ahead. I was gonna say voiceover extra is a great website for a lot of resources, like articles and different things. And also Atlanta voiceover studio hosts a lot of workshops every week or every other week and they’ll have different hosts come on to help with different genres, but there are really great resources as well. All I say, gosh, sorry, go ahead. No, go ahead to that.

 

Sheila Hart:

All I was going to say is that another thing that I’ve always done throughout all of the years is that when I hear somebody doing a spot and I like the way they sound or I like their cadence, or I like their rhythm or I just like the style of their voice, I kind of follow along after them and just repeat what they’re saying. Like maybe a couple seconds after. That’s a really good way to like begin to explore options aside from the way you normally speak. So that’s another way that, that another thing that you can do for free is you just like listen on the radio and after them or on TV, commercial or whatever.

 

D.C. Douglas:

So there’s also a voice actor by the name of Dee Bradley Baker who’s been in every animation film cartoon who’s specializes in animal voices. You literally can tell him, I want to be you to be a Cocker spaniel who’s in a rocket ship and there’s no gravity and he will do it. [inaudible] The sound is amazing. He has a website called, iwanttobeavoiceactor.com. I believe that’s what I want to be a voice actor.com. And on there he’s got, it’s, I mean it’s a not the best design website, but it’s got a plethora of links to different articles and things that he’s got information on on the business. That’s really, really helpful. So, and then to Sheila’s point the following along, listening to people, very, very helpful. What’s also funny is sometimes I’ll hear a read and I’ll go and I’ll like repeat and I’m like going, that’s really bad.

 

D.C. Douglas:

Why did they hire that guy? And then I fly back to what I my first probably gave was a CVS during their summer, daytime. So we did the soap operas ones, soap poppers once. Anyway, the but the campaign for that year was hot enough for you is that was the thing. So you’d think you’d think out enough for you, right. Sexy, hot enough for you. So everybody was going into audition that way. This lady who had this campaign at a very specific thing in mind, and I heard her, the beauty was is we got to sit outside the city so we can hear her direction. And I’m like, Oh, she just wants you to change the emphasis. It’s a weird one, but okay, I go in there. This is the emphasis you want it. It’s you know days of our lives hot enough for you, which makes no sense, but I booked it. I, you know, there’s some voice of a person who is listening to my problem is going, that’s not how you say that. That sounds stupid. You never know. You never know. Yeah.

 

Sarah Marince:

The next question I have here is from Doug Morris. I’ve used studio center for VO talent in the past. Are there newer and better resources for finding VO talent?

 

D.C. Douglas:

Dcdouglas.com. Oh wow. That’s very funny.

 

Sheila Hart:

Theres a bunch. Really. I think there’s a bunch of like studios that kind of have rosters of people.

 

D.C. Douglas:

It used to be that you could throw your audition up on the voice bank and then you get that all the agencies in LA in New York wouldn’t have been done. Chicago and Atlanta, they send their people and you say, just send me your top five or whatever. But that doesn’t seem to be a thing now anymore. So it’s about like what agency you contact with. What I, what I would recommend is, especially now this is a lot of these agencies are, you know, national, even though they’re located in your local town, wherever Mr. Morris is located I bet you you can, there’s an agency, a voiceover there, then they have talent that’s from around me that States, but then you’re like, you’re, you’re helping get a giving, you’re helping somebody locally, but then also getting some national talent. So, but otherwise I think all of us would say, Oh, my agent.

 

Sarah Marince:

Yes. Perfect. Well, one last question from our Q and a box. I’m curious to know what networking is like these days given the Covid-19 restrictions. I know a lot of conferences were canceled. That’s another thing. You can look into conferences in the future when we’re allowed to have them.

 

D.C. Douglas:

Yeah. It’s funny as the, I would say the one thing that I’ve noticed going with all the others, just to get through my agency and, and hearing about all my friends who did, they do both on camera and voiceover and the mad scramble of everyone trying to put together their home booths. Now that is the one thing that’s pandemic is like, it’s, I’m like, Oh, I’ve been like, I guess the three of us were like, we’ve been set for years. It’s like, but there was so many that weren’t, that were just doing it haphazardly on their iPhones and sending in their auditions when they couldn’t make it into the right and see the audition and now everybody has to have it. I think that that’s definitely gonna change competition stuff, which is good and bad. It just means that a lot of the the people that weren’t serious, they’re going to be kind of out of it. But that also means that all the people that are good are, are, are there to stay. So you really got to go up against them. But for networking, I would I think this is where people like Paul shine more than, than well I don’t know if she lived with me in LA. I’ve gotten very lazy and I kind of rely more on bold clients and my agents to do, to do all of that. So, but Paul, you’re, nothing’s changed for you. You’re still doing your same thing, aren’t you?

 

Paul Schmidt:

No, I mean, it literally, when you say nothing has changed, the only thing that’s changed is, you know, in the back of my head I always had plans B and C. And when the pandemic came, my plans B and C got crushed like a bug on a windshield. So I, you know, I, I always thought I was all in on my voiceover career and I found out how much I wasn’t, and I stepped it up. And so you know, and it’s had very Swift and very positive results. And so I learned a lot about myself, but I think that, I think you’re right. I think that a lot of the, especially in New York and LA, my impression is that not everybody had the home setup because it’s very difficult logistically in New York because everybody’s on top of one another, small spaces, a lot of street noise.

 

Paul Schmidt:

And so for example, one of the agencies in New York that I had already gotten two, three auditions a month from, I’m now getting sometimes two and three auditions a day because I’m set up, I’m remote, I’ve got source connect and I’m ready to roll. So it was, you know, it’s actually been a quite a windfall in some ways. And it, it feels awful to say that because I know a lot of people both inside and outside of voiceover are just struggling. You know, nobody saw this coming and suddenly we’ve got what 10% of the country is out of work. So I’m very, I’m very conscious about being grateful so far for the, you know, the way things have broken for me. But but I’m always conscious of the folks that, you know, but they didn’t have as fortunate a way to go as I have, so, yeah.

 

Sarah Marince:

Right. Well, we have another question that popped in tomorrow, so we’re going to try to wrap this up before, well, eight o’clock here. Are there any rituals or specific diet that you consume or avoid to protect your voice?

 

D.C. Douglas:

Well, I’m a Satanist, so the rituals we do are unless you’re doing a character that’s gotta be really kind of late like that, don’t drink milk before your session. I think that’s but I think for the most part, if I’ll speak for other people, I tend to be really like wake up, you know, drink coffee and walk into the booth and I’m pretty good. So, and every now and then I have to eat an Apple because I’m getting the sound, but otherwise, yeah.

 

Sheila Hart:

Yeah. So I, I think for me yeah, dairy, dairy is something that you would want to probably stay away from. But mainly I just stick with lukewarm, you know, like temperature of the room, kind of water, you know, like I don’t do cold water. I just,

 

Paul Schmidt:

For me it’s just staying hydrated. There are some days where I’ve got a warm up a little bit more than others. The other benefit about doing my prospecting in the morning is it gets me up, gets the blood flowing, you know, I’ll, I’ll have a phone conversation or three. So I warm up a little bit through the course of my day and then by the time 10, 11, 12 o’clock rolls around you know, I’m pretty warm and ready to go. I think the big thing for me is, is staying hydrated. And man, when I keep up with my running, my breath control is so much better and yet I still have to push myself to keep up with my running. So that’s a constant struggle for me.

 

Sheila Hart:

Hydration is huge, I think.

 

Sarah Marince:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You want to always want to have that water with you next to your mic, but not spilling on your equipment, which I didn’t know exactly on that. What are some market opportunities that may not be readily apparent to the average Joe, where do you see a growing need for your services? Oh and Oh yeah. Where do you see a growing need for your services?

 

Paul Schmidt:

Right now I feel like it’s really [inaudible] specific where the shifts are taking place because of the pandemic. For example, you know, advertising is way down. It just is. That said, if you were properly positioned or even luckily positioned, you may be picking up some ad work because of some of the shifts that are going on that I talk about before. I feel like e-learning and medical narration, especially e- learning is about to explode. Major I feel like major education systems and universities and corporate training departments got their eyes opened in the last three months. And I think you’re going to see a lot an explosion really of online content that, you know, if we thought it was big before, it’s going to be even bigger now. So I feel like only if you install a bidet in my booth. How about that?

 

Sheila Hart:

Yeah. I, I think that what has been growing for quite some time is obviously every small business on the face of the earth is wanting like either an explainer video on their, on their website. I mean they’re, people now are having a lot more access to being able to say, Oh, I can have a video on my website and you know, with somebody narrating and all of that. So I think that’s been exploding for quite some time and I think it’s just going to continue to continue to grow.

 

Paul Schmidt:

Yeah. There’s more work now than there ever has been in the history of this business and I feel like it’s only going to get bigger. That said the competition too to DC and Sheila’s point earlier, everybody’s jumping in the pool. So the way you have to differentiate yourself is be better, you know, work really hard at what you do and then work really hard at making that experience great for the customer.

 

Sarah Marince:

Well, I’ve asked all the questions we had in the Q and a box and I think we’re going to wrap it up, but thank you guys so much for joining us today and thank you to our audience for tuning in and listening and asking your questions. This was very informative and I hope it was super informative for you as well. Is there anything that the three of you would like to add before we head out?

 

D.C. Douglas:

I think all of us would want to plug our websites, DCdouglas.com and also and to thank you, Sarah for having us. I really appreciate it.

 

Sarah Marince:

Thank you very much. This was really, really fun. It’s always nice to meet new VO people.

 

Sheila Hart:

Yeah, of course. I think it’s fabulous because a lot of times we’re just stuck in our home boots, you know? But yeah, my website is, shetalks.com.

 

Paul Schmidt:

I like that. Really well done. I love Sheila’s website. I checked it out before we came on today. I’m at PaulSchmidtvoice.com. It’s S C H M, I, D T and on social media. I’m usually @PaulSchmidtVO.

 

Sheila Hart:

And I’m at @shedreamsbig.

 

Sarah Marince:

Oh, wonderful. I’m @SarahMarince on everything and SarahMarince.com. Thank you again everyone for joining us. See you on the next shoot. Stop video webcast and have a wonderful rest of your week. Bye everyone. Okay, I can stop it. We’re just going to end it. Okay. Thank you. Alright, take care. Bye.

 

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    Waveryclemons

    Outstanding, I read it. I didn’t watch the video. Paul helped me so much. Also the guy who shared about how to share your files only after payment received. WOW, I never knew that and I will use it.
    I had an appointment scheduled but after getting started listening to this, I cancelled my appointment.