Pay an Expert

I’ve been banging away at my voiceover career for several years now with moderate success.  When I was working full time, it was hard to commit to 2 different aspects-on camera and voiceover-of the same career.  Serving more than 2 masters isn’t easy so the VO was put somewhat on the back burner.  That all changed last May when I left the corporate world.  I could finally focus full time on VO.  Which also meant I had to be my own audio engineer a lot more.  I might as well have been splitting the atom for all I knew about being an audio engineer.  That didn’t stop me though.  I did some things with the equalizer and figured that should do the trick.  I blithely sent off audition after audition.  After a while I started wondering that the deal was.  I wasn’t getting hired off of these auditions.  Hmmm.  Maybe I needed to work more on my performance.  So I did.  And still nada.

Finally about a week ago I got some feedback from an agent that my auditions weren’t up to snuff.  I was devastated.  Maybe this wasn’t for me.  She sent one back to one of my VO coaches, Nancy Wolfson, for her opinion.  Nancy copied me on her response to the agent that while the performance was on target, this was most certainly not up to audio technical standards and I needed to get the help of an audio engineer STAT.  I was incredibly relieved.  This was fixable.  It wasn’t my performance, it was everything else.  I contacted George Whittam at Eldorec Studios who’s a great engineer and after he used this cool program to get into my computer, he tweaked a few of my settings and Voila!  I sound like I’m supposed to sound, not like a hamster on helium.  Instantly I went from not even being in the running to being finalists for several jobs.  Best money I’ve spent this year.  What a difference it made.

The moral of this story is when your business depends on something that you do not have any knowledge about, find an expert and pay them for their time to get you back on track doing whatever it is that you are an expert at.  You’ll be thankful you invested in your business that way.

Back to Basics

As you know I’m an actress as well as a voicetalent.  I very often audition outside of my home but I also have a fully equipped home studio where I audition and record jobs from.  This is a wonderful improvement as my commute used to be 25 minutes driving and then walking about 1800 steps each way to get ot my office.  Now I just walk about 17 steps to my studio.  This has wrecked havoc on my daily goal of walking 10000 steps for my health but I’ve adjusted by adding a run now that the weather has finally broken.

So my day is spent, when I am able, auditioning for various voiceover jobs from my home studio.  I record, edit and email them off to various places and hope that people like what they hearand hire me to voice their job.  I get my auditions from various places-a few agents, some online sites and from a coach of mine, Nancy Wolfson.  Once they are sent off, I don’t think about them again unless I am awarded the job.  Except this time.  Fortunately Nancy followed up with the submission and found out that while my performance was spot on, technically what I’d sent in wasn’t up to standards.  To a layperson, what this means is since I would be recording the job in my studio and then sending it off to the client, this technical failure would eliminate me from consideration as it wasn’t up to broadcast standards.

One of the things that has occurred in this transition is I’ve had to become a wearer of many hats.  One of those hats is I’ve had to learn all about is audio production.  And quite frankly, all I’ve mastered is how to turn the dang equipment on.  I’ve done some other things but it’s like trying to do surgery having only cut a steak.  I really shouldn’t be allowed to touch the equipment.  It’s too dangerous!  Fortunately my friend Bob took pity on me and gave me some settings that I could lock into my system and process my auditions using these settings.  I also put up some additional sound absorption panels in my studio which should help the overall sound in the room.  I think the problem has been reduced somewhat.  Time will tell.

I’ve been so concerned with my performance recently that I overlooked a very basic requirement.  One that can eliminate you right away but is so easily fixed.  Thank heavens Nancy followed up and forwarded to me what she learned.  Otherwise I’d still be sending out a good performance that no one could hear. Paying attention to details like this are so important and shouldn’t be taken for granted.  It’s back to audio 101 for me.

Stupid cheap

Much to my annoyance and I’m sure my Father’s ever-loving delight, I have become a bit of a tightwad in my advancing years.  All those stern lectures about money not growing on trees in my youth are coming home to roost.  Yes Daddy, it does make a difference when it’s your own money you are spending.  Especially when you are launching your own business (Pam Tierney Voice Over) and the paycheck’s aren’t coming in every 2 weeks from the MAN.  Couple that with a strong feeling of “I can do that” and “How hard would it be to just to it myself” and you have a recipe for a lot of trains coming off tracks.  Bunnies being chased down rabbit holes.  Distractions that take away from building business and investing in success.

This was brought home to me recently when I was redoing my commercial demo (did I mention I was starting a business?) and the rates for local studios rental were higher than I wanted to pay.  I needed a studio with Source Connect so I could link with my producer, Nancy Wolfson, in LA.  After striking out with local talent private studios, I figured I’d just purchase the software myself and use my own private studio thus acting as my own engineer as well as talent.  Genius, right?  After all, I engineer my own auditions all the time.  Multitasking isn’t always the best idea, especially in an already stressful situation that a demo recording usually is.  Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and I was strongly advised to not wear both hats.  I was able to negotiate a better rate for the studio, the demo recording went off without a hitch, and I could concentrate on performance alone.  Which is what the client will be evaluating when they look to hire me, not whether or not I used my own studio, saved money on rental or engineered it myself.

Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should be doing something.  Sometimes I need to get out of my own way and let the pros do what they do best.  Being frugal is a smart thing, just don’t be stupid cheap.