Finding The Will to Make Your Way
Ask any new talent what one thing that is standing in the way of their dream vo career and I am sure that time and money are two things that are guaranteed to come up. And rightfully so, these are two things that if you have a shortage of either can produce obstacles on the track to your ultimate goal but one thing I have noticed is that people are usually better at putting these obstacles up than finding ways around them.
I know you hear this all the time but I am going to say it and I mean it literally, you have to learn to think OUTSIDE of the box, and when I say box in this instance, I mean the Sound Booth.
Time – There will never be enough of it. So you have to learn to maximize the time that you do have each day. But you can’t because you have a family, or you work two jobs? Now, not to play one up, but in addition to being married, having a small child, working in a law firm, and being a massage therapist, I’m also a personal assistant to two of Canada’s top female voice talents and even more, I am an aspiring talent myself. Yet I only have the same 24 hours in every day that everyone else but I find ways to incorporate VO into everything that I do, and I also realize that there is much more to being successful in this industry than what just happens in the booth.
Remember how recently studies showed that exercising in small intervals equaling an hour throughout the day had the same benefit as working out for an hour straight? Well, try taking that approach with your VO as well. Look for moments in your day when you can get 5 minutes of practice in here and there: the shower, the commute to work, cooking meals, running errands, telephone calls (I guarantee that you will never hear IVR prompts the same way as when you listen to them as a study tool and not an annoyance standing between you and the live person you are trying to reach). These are just some examples but they all provide an opportunity for you to hone your craft, even if in small intervals. After all, any practice is better than no practice and sometimes as much as our jobs are about talking, they are about listening too. How can you stay on top of current trends in the market if you are not listening to what is being put out there on a daily basis?
Now, let’s talk about money while still thinking about time. Working for the talents that I do has provided me with more insight, education, and ideas in this industry than I honestly think I could have ever accomplished on my own. If you want to be the CEO of a company, where is the best place to start? The mailroom. Learn the business from the ground up and when you are on the top you will know how important every single person that is part of the company is as well as what vital role they play and VO is no different. It’s a business and the more you know about the key players, in this instance the engineers, casting directors, agents, etc. the more prepared you will be. And believe it or not, that is going to set you apart from the other talent in the field.
On that same thought, education is expensive but it is a necessity. This is where you can save on money and maximize your time while still learning. What service do you have that you can offer a talent? Maybe they are not net savvy and you can assist with a newsletter or social media in exchange for a lesson once a month. Maybe you are an accountant and they need someone to help with the books. The point is, find something that can benefit them and in return benefit you. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a talent, they just need to be connected to the VO world. Now, on that same note you need to make sure that the agreement you reach is amicable and you are getting out of the situation as much as you put in but in no time I bet that you will see an improvement in your own skills.
Say you volunteered to help a sound engineer and as part of the process you got to sit in the booth during recording sessions. I am sure you could benefit and grow from seeing people’s auditions and hearing and knowing what is said and goes on on the other side of the glass (just remember to be professional and observe confidentiality). Maybe you work part time as an assistant for a casting director, you could easily learn the do’s and do not’s of agent/client relations without ever having to be on the short end of a do not. The whole point I am trying to make is that there are avenues out there once you break your mind of the traditional thought process of grind grind grinding away behind the mic. Make the time and the resources you have available to you work FOR you not against you.