The Schmooze of The Voicegal

When I first started out as a voice talent, (OK, I’ll admit it: pre-internet) the extent of “savvy” marketing was mining the Yellow Pages, searching for local sound studios, talent agents, audio production houses and film production companies  to which to send your demo. Once those leads were pursued, that was pretty much the extent of your opportunities. When the idea of a home studio became a reality, I spend many hours at the library, researching similar leads in other markets — with emphasis on the US Market — and the “sell” of convincing audio engineers to accept a demo from an out-of-town talent was a considerable challenge back then.

Things, happily, have changed. The opportunities are limitless; connectivity means there is less resistance overall to the idea of remote recording, there is less insistence on the part of clients have the talent on-site and “behind the glass” and there are literally no boundaries limiting a well-set-up voice talent from working anywhere and with anyone they desire.

Yes, there are exhaustive leads to be obtained by generally surfing the net and approaching prospective clients via “cold e-mail” — but I have found that nothing beats the face-to-face connection with a concentrated gathering of industry professionals quite like strolling a convention hall floor. It seems like such an underutilized method to drum up work — especially in IVR voicing (my area of specialty) — I can’t recall ever seeing any other voice talent at any of the Telephony conventions I attend, and aside from the occasional IVR production agency leasing booth space to promote their own talent, I’m kind of a wild card; I’m not there to buy equipment from exhibitors; I’m not there to colocate my system with theirs — I’m there to promote my voice services as an *adjunct* to what they do.

And apparently a *necessary* one.

I can tell you from experiences today at IT Expo in Miami, that my efforts were not in vain. It would appear that I definitely seem to fill a niche; I lost count of how many exhibitors – when I proposed the idea that I could handle the requests they inevitably get from their clients about “Who Do We Get to record These Prompts?”, that they were greatly relieved to have a source to refer their clients to — many were relieved at the idea of *them* not having to voice the prompts themselves! (A great many of them confessed to having to do just that.) My association with being the Voice of Asterisk doesn’t hurt my street cred — a majority of attendees already knew who I was, many of them already run Asterisk, and the appeal of having a consistent voice doing their client’s customized prompts was not lost on them.I even posed for a couple of photos with one exhibitor who was oddly star-struck.

Feet are swollen, I’m hoarse, and my luggage will be dozens of demos lighter; nothing takes the place of in-person introductions in a venue where like-minded people gather in an opportunity-rich environment. I urge all voice talent who have refined their practice to a subset of expertise to do some research into which conventions the heavy-hitters in your area of expertise attend (interested in being a gaming voice, for example? A quick search reveals that the E3 Convention might be a great venue at which to promote your skills to those who develop and create video games). The cost of travel and hotel can easily be negated by one or two good contracts; and especially in a industry like ours, where the decision-makers are inundated with demos, a face-to-face intro can go a long way to setting you apart from the other talent.

Next week’s blog will focus in on a very bad habit I had which amounted to the single-most prevalent reason for having to re-do sound files: unbridled (and very unintentional) sultriness!

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