Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

The Difference Between Audio Engineers and VO Talent

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

May 3, 2007

Comments (23)

Recording Engineers and Voice TalentsNot all audio engineers have the vocal gifts to be voice over talent and not all voice over talent have the technical knowledge and experience to be audio engineers.

But, when you do get the desired combination of technical skill and artistic competence, something special happens...

Just how important is it to possess a mixture of the qualifications described above as a professional voice over talent working online?

What’s the difference between audio engineers and voice over talents?

Remember: People who advertise for voice talent often do not realize the recording studio requirements of a project. If inexperienced, the person hiring the talent thinks solely of “a person to voice this job.”

That’s why talents and prospective clients need to be better informed on this subject!

Learn more from one of the industry’s most highly regarded voice over instructors, the award-winning International voiceover performer and renowned voiceover coach, professional audio producer engineer and recording studio owner, Bettye Zoller!

Bettye sent me an email recently (I’ve asked her permission to publish excerpts from the original here) and she brings up a crucial topic that needs more attention in voice over circles.

The question Bettye asks is:

“How do you know you’re really an audio engineer? How do you know you’re capable of producing a job you audition for on our site? After all, you should strive for client satisfaction! It will be a disaster for everyone concerned if you accept a voice job you’re incapable of producing and recording correctly!"

I can appreciate where Bettye is coming from for a couple of reasons:

1. I have a Bachelors Degree in Musical Arts from UWO (instrument is voice).
2. David is an Honours Graduate from OIART (Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology), a school he lectures at annually.

I know from recording the VOX Talk Podcast that there is a big difference between being able to speak eloquently and purposefully into a microphone and actually being the person responsible for the recording, editing, mixing and mastering of a finished product, performing all of the technical tasks associated with audio production.

We’re fortunate that we have an excellent pairing of abilities and skills that allow us to serve and entertain you through our company podcast. Our talents are best put to use as a team. Don’t leave me to figure out Garageband or ProTools!

I’m grateful that David fully governs that aspect of VOX Talk and I can simply manage the creative with regard to writing and hosting the show.

Now, let’s delve more into the story at hand.

Here’s a sampling of Bettye’s Soapbox:

It is obvious to me that too many newcomers and beginners to the Voiceover Business are uninformed, or not adequately informed or trained or skilled about the intricacies and the expertise levels required to put equipment on one's laptop or cranky old home PC who suddenly become a "recording studio and a professional audio engineer." They're not! They may have rudimentary equipment to record voice, but that's not being a professional audio engineer... far from it!

We engineers are experts at what we do with many, many years of experience. There is a big difference! Often, one must record with various types of audio files.

Do you know what those are and why one would use them for particular projects?

Often, a particular medium such as website work or telephone messaging or corporate training projects or audio book recording takes very, very intricate audio engineering; it can't be done by a novice on a laptop!

I have students in my workshops and friends in the biz who tell me problems with recording, the simple things, such as "how do I buy a microphone" or "why can't I get my volume level up when I record on my laptop?" Ask them to use MULAW files or convert tapes to CDs, edit intricate materials, do the audio engineering on an e-learning corporate project of two or more hours' duration, or an audio book of 3000 pages and they're lost. They have a recording program installed and not the foggiest idea of how to really be a professional audio engineer.

In fact, there are many beginners in voiceover who really shouldn't be tackling intricate voice jobs. Not yet at any rate, however, they bid on the jobs and bring down the price. Oh, oh that's another subject...

A co-problem with this situation of everybody in the world being an "audio engineer" all of a sudden is the online VO sites, who do not distinguish between a "voiceover talent... a person who, good or bad, experienced or not, is capable of reading copy with various degrees of proficiency" and a proficient audio engineer who knows how to perform complex engineering tasks.

Just because a person can read a sheet of copy does not mean that person is an audio engineer with experience for certain types of projects, yet no distinction is made on these types of web sites.

I have been doing a great deal of thinking about this current situation. The industry needs to distinguish levels.

Here's how (well at least, it's a start):

1. Who is an audio engineer with major experience, a professional audio studio owner?

2. Who is a voiceover talent but a person relatively unskilled as an audio engineer?

3. Who Is a novice… a BEGINNING voice talent…and who is a seasoned pro?

Many of the jobs listed on these sites require quite advanced audio engineering, yet, the job posts go to people who are not possibly capable of engineering them.

A disaster looms, as I see it... and it should be rectified.

And I'm tired of us audio engineers with long careers now being "lumped in with" the newbies who don't have our knowledge, our expertise, and who have not poured into their studios the vast amounts of money over time that we pros have invested in our recording studios!

Let's fix this!

There should be levels, for example (open to feedback and alteration):

Categories:

1. A voice talent with no personal studio at all but who has access to a studio and someone to help who is an experienced engineer (they’ll expect to be paid for services!).

2. A voice talent who is a beginner at both voiceovers and at audio engineering with limited experience. These people should not be bidding on VO jobs that require advanced audio engineer skills.

3. An audio engineer with limited experience as a voice talent but who can obtain voiceover talents for clients.

4. A voiceover talent who also is a professional audio engineer with a professional audio studio and clients who rely on him or her to engineer complex projects. Someone who has many years of experience in both areas and is capable of voicing and engineering complex and difficult jobs for major clients.

Bettye

~~

Wow, that’s a lot to think about.

Something that may be of comfort to many of you is that Voices.com does have a section where you can detail your recording studio equipment and note your level of proficiency.

While there are many pros out there who are probably dancing in the streets that this issue has been publicly addressed by Bettye Zoller and Voices.com, there are many of you out there who need to reevaluate your studio setup and abilities behind the scenes when producing voice over recordings and finished works for clients.

There is support out there and it isn’t difficult to find. Take the Master VO Blog, for instance.

Dan Lenard, also known to many grasshoppers by the persona Master VO, provides comical and useful solutions to a variety of technical ailments from how to build a proper home recording studio to the actual execution and techniques used to create topnotch audio productions.

Another resource available to you is the VOX Talk Podcast (subscribe for free!), the Tech Talk segment, specifically. At present, two very savvy and inspired gentlemen, Adam Fox and Colin Campbell, contribute to the segment with tips, advice, and suggestions on how to make the most out of your studio and get the best sound possible out of your recordings.

Something I love (and many others appreciate too) about these two men is that they have extremely different perspectives and a diverse means of expressing their content.

Colin Campbell of AffordableAnnouncer.com gives candid advice that you are not going to find anywhere else about equipment and software, also responding to fan mail with a wry, down-to-earth, straightforward delivery.

Adam Fox provides a unique interactive component, answering your PodMail (emails sent to Adam regarding the podcast) while focusing more on elements of production, including music and personal experiences in the field such as his “Humble Beginnings” segment, asking you to send in pictures of your first home recording studio setups to host online at DefiantDigital.com.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to how you can use your gifts and that you know and respect your limitations.

If you have amazing vocal talent but need some TLC in the technical area of your business, don’t hesitate to seek help from a colleague or recording engineer. Take a course if you can.

If you are a super star recording engineer, but are not as vocally blessed, you can take lessons too and find out what you can improve upon and identify where you shine.

We all need to remember that this is a business, not a hobby. Everything you do as a voice over professional demands 150% of your dedication, skill, and talent. Not only do your clients expect this of you, so does the industry as a whole.

Any comments?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best,

Stephanie and Bettye

©©©iStockphoto.com/Shuyan Liu

Related Topics: garageband, how do I, how to, industry, recording studios


Comments


    Stephanie,

    Thank you (and thanks to Bettye) for another thought-provoking post. Perhaps the key point to remember is "don't be afraid to ask." We can't know how little we know until we admit we don't know it all. Only then can we discover enough about our own technical skills to know if we can or cannot handle what's needed for a given client.

    Because, if we book a job that's beyond us, we risk not only losing that job; but any work from that client ever in the future and the bad publicity that will inevitably result from such a debacle.

    Be well,
    Bob

    Posted by:

      Thanks Bettye, but no thanks.

      Perhaps a little more "balance" in your comments would be helpful. Obviously not everyone is a 'Pro' as you claim to be.

      I can appreciate your high standards when recording for a demo or audition, but I don't appreciate your high sense of criticism - Newbie or not!

      We (voice Over Artists/Voice Actors) know how to handle the technical side of getting a quality job done - at the very least!

      Blair

      Posted by:
      • Blair Wilson
      • May 4, 2007 9:03 AM

        Ditto what Bob said.

        I disagree with lumping people into categories as Bettye has suggested, however. I agree, if we book a job that's beyond us, we risk losing that job and potential future work from that client, and risk getting poor ratings/publicity.

        I think what comes around, goes around, and the pro engineers shouldn't worry too much about the "competition." Similarly, the pro VO's shouldn't worry too much about the "competition" either.

        Caryn

        Posted by:

          I think voice talents need to consider what the final application of the jobs they audition for will be used for. Is it a radio/TV spot? IVR prompts? Corporate narration (Flash web demo or large multimedia video?)

          The audio quality required for IVR prompts will be vastly different from what is required for a national radio broadcast spot. Most home-based studios with relatively decent equipment (not a Radio Shack mic plugged into your soundcard but something decent under $1500) can handle the vast majority of IVR/voice messaging projects (since by the time you deliver those files at 8KHz, sound quality has been greatly reduced), podcasts and other web applications. My studio is perfect for these applications as well as for most corporate narrations. However, should I book a gig for a broadcast spot, I have the good sense to know that I need to go to a professional studio that specializes in this in order to get the job done right.

          In essence, people (including newbies) need to assess honestly what their capabilities and limitations are and set up alternative resources for themselves if they fall short in certain areas. This should not however preclude them from bidding on a job if they don't have pro audio engineering experience - if they have the resources to get it done right, why shouldn't they if they have the right voice for the project?

          Therefore to categorize voice talents based on this criteria is unfair. If the client has very stringent requirements for audio quality, it might behoove them to go through an approval process first, i.e. request a sample audio demo from the talent's studio prior to being awarded the job.

          What I mean is, once they've narrowed it down to say 2-3 talents, they could go through a 2nd selection process. I realize this can bring up a new set of challenges but if you notice the majority of the jobs that are posted online, most of them can be done in a decent studio.

          Just because a talent can't afford thousands of dollars worth of pro audio equipment with all the bells and whistles or is technically-challenged doesn't mean they should be categorized as being less valuable.

          One last note. A client once told me that he refused to work with anyone unless they worked from a pro recording studio because he had countless horror stories of VO talents delivering audio files filled with background noise such as planes, traffic noise, chairs creaking, computers humming, you name it or sounding like they were talking from a tin can.

          So a note to voice talents: PLEASE listen to a professionally produced/recorded audio clip of your voice and if you have a home studio or are about to set one up, work on matching that quality as perfectly as possible with your home studio and DON'T use your home studio for professional gigs until you can.

          Common sense - but it's surprising how many people don't heed this.

          Posted by:
          • A Voice
          • May 4, 2007 3:59 PM

            The point is honest evaluation of one's abilities, and communicating that with one's Clients.

            If you've never engineered, edited and mastered a project of a particular type or audio-length, be sincere enough to tell the Client. It will then be their discretion whether or not to allow you to finalize the project, or just to deliver raw audio.

            I've spend over three years editing/producing works by narrators such as Scott Brick, Barbara Rosenblat, Andy Andrews, Gary Chapman, and many others. As acclaimed as they are as voice talent or authors, they'd never be picked to edit or engineer their own work. Its not an insult, its a fact.

            I believe MORE voice-talent, (especially novice/beginners) would be hired for projects if they told the Client up front what level of engineering efficiency they held. If it is truly your voice that they feel adds value to their product, they'll find someone else to master and finalize the raw audio. It should never be taken personally.

            Remember, one's worth is never found in one's abilities.

            Posted by:

              Hi Bettye,

              I have a decade as a professional audio engineer, recording mostly "basic" (drums, bass, keyboard, rhythm guitar etc.) tracks for Hollywood studios, at my own facility.

              I have over seven years on-air as a radio personality, and six+ years as production director and lead commercial voice for a cluster of three radio stations.

              All that plus $2.75 seems to get you a latte. I have submitted about twenty demos, and no love. Maybe my vocal sound is no longer "in"? (It's a deep deep basso, which used to be in vogue.) I do have a few clients for whom I work, voicing and producing radio ads, but it seems awful difficult - regardless of experience - to break into the "independent" market.

              Any thoughts?

              Posted by:

                Thanks for the plug Stephanie!

                Bettye is right on.

                Different categories. A novel idea.

                I'd address Blair's comments but I think better of it. Just remember, one talent represents all of us in a way. Make sure you do us all proud.

                Bettye Zoller is as much a pro as she claims to be and much more. Much much more.


                Posted by:

                  Thank you for bringing this up!

                  I am also a writer--something most people believe they are. I certainly understand Bettye's frustration with audio production expertise. SO often I have to rewrite the copy before I can even voice it--poor grammar, no subject/verb agreements, run-on sentences, partial sentences, you name it. Same thing!

                  All you really need to do is listen closely to the voice talents' demos to know if they can also produce the audio. There is a HUGE range of expertise. Pick a few of your favorite voices. Is it the VOICE you especially like, or the way the demo has been produced? A really professional, slick demo is an AMAZING selling tool. I hear some of the demos on Voices.com and think "Why should I even bother? This person will get ALL the work!"

                  Besides being in radio for many years, where we all had to learn to be audio engineers, both on the air and in the production studio, I learned everything I could from the experts--those production houses where I did voiceover work for years and years, beginning with reel to reel tape decks to carts to DATs to CDs and ISDNs... so when the time came to set up my own studio, I'd tested 20 or so different mikes, and had a handle on what a great voice processor can do. And I am still learning every day.

                  Best of luck to you all,

                  Robin Rowan

                  Posted by:
                  • Robin Rowan
                  • May 4, 2007 6:45 PM

                    First off, let me say that those who have lamblasted me (oh...I LOVE that word!!!) for "putting people in categories" or "damning novices," misunderstood my post... you are off the mark. And some of the posts have an "attitude" about them. Methinks you protest too much, as Shakespeare once wrote... I hear an "offended" tone in some posts as if you think I'm criticizing YOU... I don't KNOW YOU. You are wonderful, perhaps, and perhaps not... but do you know your strengths and weaknesses honestly? I DO!!! A wise person told me once that "it is MORE important to KNOW what you DON'T KNOW than what you DO KNOW." I have always loved that and hope you adopt it and share with others.

                    For those who don't know me... I am a teacher -- voice, speech, broadcast, radio-TV, on-camera, news anchors, voiceover talents, actors, dialect coach--- who has trained GENERATIONS of broadcasters now--- at SMU, UTA, Missouri U, Univ. of Texas, Dallas County Colleges, radio stations, TV on-camera coach, dialogue coach for movies, so much more. I coach dialects and accents, cartoon and character voice actors, narrators for audio books too.

                    Say anything you want...but because I've been a teacher so long, you're off the mark totally when you say that I "darn newbees" or I criticize newcomers. Far from it. I mold and help new talents... 34 years now as an educator!

                    Everyone started somewhere... me too. In a very dark closet in my home, there is MY FIRST VO DEMO. It is terrible. It got me a little bit of work. I dragged my feet putting in my own studio and my various VO agents in various parts of the U.S. kept urging me to have a studio of my own. I was SO BUSY as a voice, I didn't do it. Then, one of my sons who is an audio engineer (then in Hollywood, now in NYC) came to my home here and built it for me, Bless Him. That was five years ago. I do NOT build studios, by the way. I seek expert's opinions on the equipment I purchase and use. I am an audio engineer... not a studio builder. There is a big difference!!! So, you see, I don't know EVERYTHING and I KNOW WHAT I DON'T KNOW!!

                    My thrust in my remarks was this: Many POSTS from voice seekers are off the mark because the voice seekers are ignorant of the fact that all VO talents are not ace audio engineers.

                    The people seeking VO talents need to be ADVISED that they need, on their post, much MORE than a voice talent with rudimentary beginning recording equipment and skills. They need, for a complicated engineering job such as an audio book or corporate e learning with 189 separate files or the narration to an IMAX film or certain types of telephony work requiring certain types of files etc. an experienced audio engineer. That's the bottom line... but happy you read my info and maybe it will have some good effect with the people who understand what I was trying to say. Yes... there should be categories for job seekers and VO talent seekers... not just lump them all together. A voice talent is not always an audio engineer and vice-versa. OK?

                    Kudos to Robin: Read her post here if you've not done yet...

                    Robin Rowan wrote:

                    For years, beginning with reel to reel tape decks to carts to DATs to CDs and ISDNs... I learned everything I could from the pros I worked with, so when the time came to set up my own studio, I'd tested 20 or so different mikes, and had a handle on what a great voice processor can do. And I am still learning every day."

                    Wow... my experiences exactly. I was Creative Director of three major production houses from 1978 to 1993 (off and on...with freelance time in-between because I always made MORE MONEY being freelance!)

                    And Robin continues:

                    "I am also a writer--something most people believe they are. I certainly understand Bettye's frustration with audio production expertise. SO often I have to rewrite the copy before I can even voice it--poor grammar, no subject/verb agreements, run-on sentences, partial sentences, you name it. Same thing!"

                    Robin, I always teach, in my voiceover courses and workshops, that so much copy you'll get as a VO talent is so poorly written but yet, a talent can't be too critical because he or she will not be favored if making too many bad comments about the writing. Big egos here! So what is one to do? A wonderful comment that "everyone thinks they can write..." Oh, Robin, hear hear... right on!

                    I'll be responding to other posts regularly and thanks everyone for the dialogue. It's stimulating and caring and I wish you all the best life can bring!!!!

                    Posted by:

                      Thanks to pro and award-winning VO talent Bob Souer who wrote,"Because, if we book a job that's beyond us, we risk not only losing that job; but any work from that client ever in the future and the bad publicity that will inevitably result from such a debacle."

                      Right on.

                      And Tim Lundeen's post:

                      "I believe MORE voice-talent, (especially novice/beginners) would be hired for projects if they told the Client up front what level of engineering efficiency they held. If it is truly your voice that they feel adds value to their product, they'll find someone else to master and finalize the raw audio. It should never be taken personally."

                      This is absolutely correct!!

                      And thanks, Dan Lenard for the vote of confidence in my experience... back at ya!!!

                      Jorian... you wrote here on this blog about your deep basso voice and I will give you information on how to transform that into a lighter sound. Yes, while it's true that the basso profundo announcer man is out of favor sometimes now, I know one man who makes many thousands with that voice and all of you out there probably do too... he's famous... and there are still deep voiced guys doing spots that pay great... however, there are ways the voice pitch can be manipulated a little and also not "bearing down" on the voice so hard can make it more soft or gentle.

                      Email me privately please and I'll say more.

                      My best to you all.
                      Bettye Zoller
                      www.voicesvoices.com

                      Posted by:

                        Thanks everyone for valuable and insightful comments about this.

                        Surely a lot of this responsibility rests with the client.

                        I see a variety of different leads on these sites, some of them specifically request audio producers, most of them request VO talent, and a few request "both" where talent are required to produce, say a jingle, with VO and music, and all the production.

                        However, if you audition for a job, the client already has a sample of what your voice and your studio sound like, right? So if they go ahead and ask you to do the final job, they are making a decision about not only your voice, but also the quality of your audio, from your audition.

                        Also - most of the clients on these sites are paying lower rates than most professional rates for the VO - so is it reasonable for them to expect anything else but a clean , raw voice recording, with the actual recording device costs included at no extra charge ?

                        To me it seems like the buyers are getting a huge bonus here already, in that if they hire a VO talent to record on their own gear- they aren't paying for that gear the way they would normally have to pay a studio.

                        What I would love to see in the future is something like this on an invoice, I know some of us already do this:

                        For example, for a 10 minute job:

                        VO rate: 250

                        Home studio rate , 1 hour at $75 /hr : 75

                        OR

                        Outside Studio Rate : $120 /hr
                        (with the buyer booking the time and taking care of the outside studio payment themselves) and so on and so forth.

                        This would justify the situation a bit better. Unless otherwise specified ( and paid for) it's the responsibility of the buyer to do all the production once they have received a clean, professional raw voice recording, because that's all they are paying for, isn't it?

                        For most jobs, the clients are corporate entities, with real budgets for all this media , and they are going to be using your voice on their professional website, or radio or TV spot, business or sales presentation and so forth.

                        Do you think that when they hire writers for their corporate brochures that they expect the writer to provide all the graphic design and printing for free as well?

                        All the best to everyone,

                        Adam

                        Posted by:

                          I whole heartedly agree with some sort of posting of qualifications of competency in audio engineering. Voices are one thing. If you are a client, you either like a particular voice or you don't. When you hear the right one, you know it, even if you may not be in tune to the intricacies that determine a great voice from a good voice. Then, there are those clients who also do not demand perfection. Good is good enough. At least a client can audition the quality, to some degree, simply by listening for what he or she likes. Whether the voice is the right match for their project is a new topic of issue.

                          But how can a potential client gauge the engineering competency of a person bidding on a job? They rely on what the bidder says, which usually isn't much.

                          I myself have been in the video recording business for over 20 years. I have worked mainly with prosumer gear and mostly non-commercial clients. I have made a very successful living doing this, but I'm the first to admit I could not go into a broadcast network TV studio and start working right away without some training on commercial equipment. I have to say, if someone was willing to give me the opportunity and the time, I'd be up to the challenge.

                          Likewise, although I have a good deal of technical knowledge about video and audio I would never bill myself as an audio engineer. Sure, I can record an audio track, edit out the unwanted clips, clean up the EQ, make a wav, aiff or mpg, but that's about it. So if that's all a client needs, I am fully capable.

                          As a result, I adapt my abilities to client needs. If it's a real challenging job that demands equipment I do not own, I don't bid. If it looks as if the client can be content with the product I can create, I bid. Working with clients in this manner, I'm often discover during the process that they need a little more. After developing an honest working relationship, I can attempt new challenges with them. Usually, we both advance our learning curve and prosper from the experience as we tackle a new challenge together. This has generated some of the best long term clients I have.

                          Posted by:

                            As a voice talent you need to understand that owning a great mic and Pro Tools does not automatically guarantee you a decent recording.

                            An audio engineer knows how to get the best out of the voice, gear and software because he/she understands audio at its core. Things like subtractive EQ opposed to additive, compression ratios, signal to noise ratio, bit/sample rate, competing audio frequencies from a track, even dealing with +4 and -10 gear are all things that professional recording engineers understand well.

                            One comment from a person said you don't have to worry too much about voice for IVR because the end product is low resolution. This is not correct. As the old saying goes "you can't polish a turd." In fact, if low resolution is the final application then it's even more important for the up front audio to be clean because all the "crap" will only be enhanced.

                            I've engineered thousands of voice recordings and mixed spots for every application possible over a 10 year career as an audio engineer, all before I became a voice talent. And there is definitely something to say about this subject. The most important thing is to be aware of your own knowledge and skills. If the client just wants a clean voice track and is planning on doing the final mix at another studio it's a much different issue than if they're expecting the audio to be ready for air. A HUGE difference. So, know what the deal is and be confident in what you can or can not deliver.

                            Now I'm a voice talent with a home studio-however because I'm not wealthy I can only afford the basics. So, I don't bid on certain jobs that I know I can't deliver. My engineering career gave me the knowledge I need to understand what I can and can't deliver.

                            I don't know about this whole categorizing thing. It seems a little ego affirming to me. The good engineers know who they are, and those who think they are and are not will learn through experience like we ALL have. Again, the key is to know what you don't know. And be honest with the client.

                            A good sounding audition can get you the job but just make sure you know what the client is expecting from you.

                            Again, a clean voice over track is still light years away from a final mix ready for air. This is crucial and what needs to be understood for everyone to be smiling in the end. :)

                            Posted by:

                              Wow lots of chest beating in this blog, "as for me I was there when RCA opened doors".

                              I think most clients who offer work through this site get what they pay for. They want to pay $150 for 30 secs local Radio buyout and you get a reasonably clean wonderfully voiced piece in the format of their pleasure. If they valued their gig enough they would not approach this site they would go to a professional Ad agency to gather the talent book the studio time, direct and produce it to the tune of some $2000.

                              For those of you that have a great home studio, and engineering experience, as for me I am Pro tools certified, hehe, bid accordingly. If you want to convince the client your files are going to be better than the next guy or gal bid a high price.

                              Lets face it, there is no more steel in a Mercedes than a Hyundai yet there is a big price difference. Lets not consume ourselves categorizing, I believe the clients seeking talents from this site get MORE than a bargain & for those who let their clients down, they'll know it and either sink or swim!

                              Posted by:
                              • Alex Kalajzic
                              • May 6, 2007 5:47 PM

                                Hi Alex,

                                I'd like to address your comment regarding the quality of voice over work that clients anticipate receiving at Voices.com.

                                We serve literally thousands of professional advertising agencies many of whom are top tier in New York including Ogilvy, BBDO and other Madison Avenue clientele.

                                To put a blanket statement out there saying that our marketplace isn't a venue where true professional work is completed is not accurate as many people who use the Voices.com service can attest.

                                The clients you may be referring to do often go to advertising agencies, you're right.

                                Creative projects and elements are nearly always outsourced to other firms, and the exciting realization is that these creative powerhouses are hiring talent at Voices.com and have already embraced the simplicity and benefits of working with a professional voice talent (with professional engineering skills or studio relationship) as part of their marketing mix in efforts to streamline the process while enjoying more artistic control.

                                When working directly with someone, a client or ad exec has a unique grace and privilege that usually is not granted in a situation where there are multiple parties outsourced to.

                                This is the beauty of Voices.com.

                                Professional voice talent can be contacted and hired directly to achieve the desired sound or image that a client is looking for, perhaps even more so than if working through other people with different visions and agendas for the way that a client's budget is spent.

                                I appreciate your thoughts on the matter and was pleased to add my .02 to the thoughts circulating here on this post :)

                                If I misinterpreted your comment, please let me know.

                                Best regards,

                                Stephanie

                                Posted by:

                                  I think Adam is right on.

                                  I too am an 8+ year radio veteran I've worked TV and do podcasts and have been a professional sound engineer and sound system installer (yes I do build studios) for about a hundred years. Well maybe a few years less but boy it sure seems... well, I digress.

                                  Most of the jobs posted here are low paying, non scale jobs. The clients here expect a finished product for their 100-250. Regardless if your studio costs 80 bucks (usb mic and audacity) or more (we all know and dream about the more studios) the bottom line is you get what you pay for. And as far as the market place goes.... a poor product won't get bought regardless of how it is recorded. You can sell a job with poor quality but you can't build a career.

                                  I've listen to many demos on this site that are OVER produced with limited bandwidth that sounds compressed and just awful recorded by "pros."

                                  I remember when we got our first "Optimod" and pumped up the processing of our on air signal so it was the loudest on the dial. It just reached out and touched you!! But , it really sounded baaaadddd compared to those good old records. Not even close to CDs. Over engineering can ruin a project just as bad as under producing. And lets face it old timers ...... If you are not up on the newest technology you are way behind. This is not to say that basics aren't basics. I love it when I mix live and take time to actually listen to the instrument before micing it and the other guys are looking at me so funny. "Come on ... what are you doing" they say. And then are totally amazed when my eq is basically flat, I have no feedback and it sounds great.

                                  And now it's even easier because we have digital consoles where we have compression, EQ and effects on every channel and for the home studio M audio has a 10 in and out firewire console for under 1k.

                                  The audio renaissance is here. Embrace it. I've got a better studio in my house than in my first 3 stations. And at a fraction of the cost. And trust me, mine is nothing special!!

                                  To think that there should be ratings of VO talent by their recording expertise is folly. Who is going to tell the difference?

                                  I'll tell you who .... the client. The end user. and IMHO for this site and it's 100-250 jobs, clients want the best for what they can spend and at 100-250 they get the best and the worst. I'm sure we all have auditioned for these jobs and the people who get them do the best with what they have. The decision is made by the client. They don't care how much experience you have as a VO talent or as an audio engineer. They only care about how the end product can help them do their job. Period!!!

                                  May I submit that those that wish to categorize talent by their engineering experience are just scared. They are looking for an edge up on the competition and are grasping at the "I've had this much experience" card. As I've said and I agree with another poster Jorian - I've got tons of experience and that and 2.95 will get me a coffee.

                                  Don't worry about the other guys and their lack of experience or recording prowess. Just do what you do the best way you can do it and give superb service to the client. IMHO that is the ONLY way to build a career in VO or anywhere. Oh and constantly keep improving yourself. That means if your weak in your recording skills ... and want to have a career ... get some help!! Same thing with the voice!!

                                  I'd love to get some feedback from some of the biggies on this site like Bettye and such. I do appreciate your comments. Sorry mine happened to differ here.

                                  All the Best,

                                  Dave

                                  David Bryan Smith
                                  America's Gentleman Hypnotist and Hypnotainer TM

                                  Posted by:

                                    Stephanie,

                                    I know this may not get posted but I hope it does.

                                    I read your post about the number of jobs and the pay and how the big agencies are using Voices.com. I think that's great.

                                    However, back down here on my planet - you had 11 jobs posted and only one was in the 250-500 range with all the rest at 100-250. and I'm on for all but the movie trailer, jingles (don't do them) and translation services.

                                    I say again that the majority of these jobs at this site are in the under 500 budget and most between 100-250.

                                    I hope you post this but I'll understand if you don't. And I do wish you the best of success. If you are successful then we will be successful. I just hope you are truthful as well.

                                    Dave

                                    David Bryan Smith
                                    America's Gentleman Hypnotist and Hypnotainer TM

                                    Posted by:

                                      Hi David,

                                      Thank you for your two comments. I'd like to address them both now, as they are inter-related, both regarding the calibre of jobs posted at Voices.com and the integrity of Voices.com.

                                      I took a couple of moments to look over your Profile and the information listed there as well as your preferences for job notifications.

                                      May I suggest that completing your Profile is a great way to increase your visibility and job invite opportunities. Uploading a few more samples of your voice would also be a great idea and may just bring some of the bigger jobs to you directly.

                                      You have the ability to View My Jobs as well as View All Jobs. That may give you a different perspective and appreciation for the number of and quality of jobs posted on a regular basis to voice talent as a whole (not just the jobs you specifically are qualified to apply for).

                                      There are many other jobs posted in the upper echelon, perhaps not as frequently as the introductory budget ranges, however, they do exist and prominent clients post here at Voices.com to get the job done right.

                                      As I post this comment, there are jobs in the $1000-$10000 range among other sizable amounts.

                                      What I would like to point out is that for every job posted at Voices.com, there are 10 separate direct contacts from unique clients to voice talent through the search engine, the Featured Voice Talent Directory and the Voicerank Movers and Shakers list.

                                      Also, the top companies prefer to pre-cast on the website before they hire, meaning that they will use those tools mentioned above to streamline the process and find a talent that they want to work with right away. Talent who are hired in this manner (which encompasses the majority of opportunities and projects as I've revealed above) have made thousands of dollars on a single transaction and find ongoing work through these opportunities and relationships established at Voices.com.

                                      Prestigious job offers are almost always made by direct contact, especially if it is a high profile company who prefers to work one on one with a professional in private on a project that potentially has confidentiality agreements that need to be respected as well as privacy regarding competitors.

                                      For example, if you were Coca-Cola, would you want Pepsi to find out about your latest innovation or campaign before it is released to the public because you posted a job on the web? Not likely.

                                      As for asking me to tell the truth and be honest with you, I would like to reiterate that Voices.com is a company of integrity with business ethics and morals that we are proud to implement and live out in our everyday lives and mission for what we do.

                                      I am not insulted that you asked, however it is discouraging to hear that you would doubt what I said as if I was fabricating stories to make our service appear better than it is to you or anyone else reading this blog.

                                      We maintain relationships with incredible people and organizations and would never compromise our values or ethics and damage those relationships in any way, which means being forthright and communicative with our customers, just as I am being with you right now.

                                      I chose to approve your comments because this is a place where you should feel safe to express how you feel and it also gives me a way to publicly acknowledge your opinions and perhaps provide more insight that may help you to discover what we are all about.

                                      If anyone else felt the way David did before reading this, I hope it has helped you, too. That is another reason why I approved the comments and addressed them in the open as we have nothing to hide.

                                      Thank you for reading this and I trust I didn't misinterpret what you meant. If I did, please clarify so that I can answer you more accurately.

                                      Sincerely,

                                      Stephanie Ciccarelli

                                      Posted by:

                                        Interesting dialogue and in some posts a 'diatribe." But hey...

                                        Yes, I totally agree with our Stephanie from this site, one of it's execs...who reminds you all that there are jobs posted on this site ranging from $1000 to $10,000. And also, there are jobs on this site that are for clients like IMAX and major corporations such as Microsoft. Yes, there are small jobs too and that's fine. But what I'm talking about when I originally opened up this "can of worms" about audio engineering capabilities not being the SAME as being a voice talent is this: Some clients who seek voice talents on this site have COMPLICATED audio engineering requirements. I know this personally. I have had studio bookings in my recording studio from talents who got hired for a job off this site they had NO IDEA how to engineer. And I have heard from people many times in emails and in phonecalls asking me to please help...they are in "over their head." THE CLIENTS need to be educated that a voice talent is not necessarily capable of engineering a complex studio job. That's really it...not rocket science everybody...and all of the posts here saying, "yah, but some jobs posted here are real simple low paying ones and the clients don't expect much for such low pay"...you are RIGHT.
                                        Hope this helps. And again, really love reading the posts and this discussion goes on.

                                        Posted by:

                                          What does this mean? 10 separate contacts?????

                                          Stephanie says

                                          "What I would like to point out is that for every job posted at Voices.com, there are 10 separate direct contacts from unique clients to voice talent through the search engine, the Featured Voice Talent Directory and the Voicerank Movers and Shakers list."

                                          And thanks for actually posting something that is true but not that flattering. I'm sure there are jobs that don't get posted and there is one job that is in the 1k to 10k range on my list. (just added).

                                          That means that from time to time those are available for auditions. As you have stated, most don't. And that's fine. That's how this site and this biz works. People find people that they feel comfortable with and stick with them.

                                          If you would like to add a category for those of us that have audio training like the top 100, that's fine as well.

                                          I'd suggest that you start with people that have a college degree in at least communications, have worked as an engineer, have done on air work, have their own studio, and are hypnotists .........oops that would put ME at the top. (snicker) ;-)

                                          As I said before and you have now confirmed, the marketplace decides about your overall product. Regardless of you engineering level. They pick you. Sometimes without posting a job.

                                          I'll bet that those people that got some big jobs and did not know how to produce them were smart enough to say "I need help." Bettye has already confirmed that. To me that just means they knew what they were doing and knew what they couldn't do.

                                          Noah didn't know how to build an ark (whats' a cubit?) but he did it and I think the client was pleased. And no I don't think that job got posted either. ;-)

                                          Dave

                                          David Bryan Smith
                                          America's Gentleman Hypnotist and Hypnotainer TM

                                          Posted by:

                                            Hi Dave,

                                            Thank you for replying.

                                            When I said for every job that is posted, another 10 unique clients approach talent through the website, I meant to say that for every one job that is posted to everyone (in other words, a public lead), there are 10 completely different clients who opt to visit the Voices.com website to handpick talent as opposed to post jobs.

                                            So, for every one job that is posted (results in the hiring on one person), there are 10 clients who hire talent on their own, resulting in 10 voice talent receiving work via those methods.

                                            Let's say there are 7 jobs posted in a day, just as an example.

                                            Remember, these jobs go have to meet our standards for approval (very high standards) .

                                            OK, let's keep going.

                                            If there are 7 jobs posted in a day, there will be 7 people hired from those job postings directly as a result.

                                            Now, keeping in mind that for every job posted, there are 10 other voice talent hired for work outside of that process, there could be 70 people hired in a day by means of clients simply contacting them directly without posting a job.

                                            At the end of a day where 7 jobs are posted, there are 77 voice talent who stand to profit from those opportunities.

                                            I hope that cleared things up for you.

                                            Best,

                                            Stephanie

                                            Posted by:

                                              Stephanie,

                                              Thanks for the reply.

                                              Wow ... you guys must really be doing well with the site!!

                                              You did a fine job of explaining the mud.

                                              And thanks again for actually posting ... now about that hypnosis ranking......... (grin)


                                              Dave

                                              David Bryan Smith
                                              America's Gentleman Hypnotist and Hypnotainer TM

                                              Posted by:

                                                Bettye is right to call out VOAs who over-promise on what they can deliver, or do not take seriously the responsibilities of engineering when they assume them on behalf of the client. I don't support categories for engineering proficiency related to voices.com - mostly for the reasons put forth by Adam Behr. I do think it's unfortunate that Bettye complains of people that doth protest too much, and then does/doth exactly that. Of course, she never misses an opportunity to slip her credentials into her selfless sharing of information. As I was reading through all this I was just waiting for the needless exclamation marks, capitalization, and references to past work...lo and behold, Bettye delivers once again.

                                                As for me, I won't spill the beans on my credentials, they're not anything extraordinary, but I intentionally started as an audio engineer as a road to learning the VO craft. I wanted to be around the talent, the producers and directors, and see how they worked together. Let's just say that I certainly worked on enough national spots and broadcast documentaries to put a decent foot forward...now it's up to me to deliver for my clients and learn more about both voice acting and audio engineering each day. It's always changing - and that's something to keep in mind when thinking if one is really qualified to provide audio engineering services to clients.

                                                Anyhow, the bottom line is: don't stretch yourself too thin, play to your strengths, and be honest with your clients and with yourself.

                                                Posted by:

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