Thank you, by the way, for all your support and well wishes. I got the sweetest messages from all over the world, and I feel enormously grateful for your kindness!
Now let’s return to my soap box.
One of the things I worry about is the general level of willful ignorance among those calling themselves voice-over professionals. Increasingly, people without training, experience, or common sense, are populating Facebook groups for voice-overs, asking basic questions.
They have no idea where to start, where to find jobs, how to set up a simple studio, let alone what to charge. They can’t wait to jump into the ocean, but have no idea how to swim.
These ignoramuses write things like:
“I’ve just completed a six-week voice-over training. I think I’m ready to start auditioning, but I have no idea how to market myself. Please help!”
It turns out that this so-called training consisted of one evening a week, spread out over a six-week period. If that’s enough to get a serious career started, it must be magical! However, no one bothered to even touch upon the idea of marketing, so I doubt this program was as comprehensive as the brochure said it would be.
Two things are really bothering me:
- The fact that someone is making money convincing impressionable people they can become a VO in six sessions
- The fact that people are still falling for these stupid schemes
USE YOUR NOGGIN
Whatever happened to critical thinking? Whatever happened to thoroughly researching something you’re interested in before you fork over a small fortune? Does it really take an extraordinary amount of brain power to imagine that a six-evening introduction might not be enough to break into a very competitive market?
Could this be a sign that the current wave of anti-intellectualism has overtaken our community? I know that for some of you faith and gut feeling play an important role in your decisions. However, our creator has purposely endowed us with gray matter unlike any other species on the planet. Wouldn’t it be sinful to not use it?
I know this is a huge generalization, but based on what I see in social media, critical thinking has left the building, and common sense has gone fishing, while more and more people expect the keys to the kingdom on a silver platter.
This year I made a conscious effort to no longer help and support people who aren’t willing to learn how to swim, and I implore you to do the same. “Isn’t that a bit harsh,” you may ask?
I don’t think so.
All successful VO’s have at least one thing in common:
They are self-sufficient.
EARN YOUR PLACE
They study up, and by that I don’t mean asking others to answer basic questions for them on Facebook. That’s not studying. That’s asking others to do your homework.
Please don’t tell me that I’m mean and egotistical by not willing to share information. I’ve been sharing information in this blog for over a decade! Free of charge.
I got my start in the late eighties-early nineties, and there were no resources available to the aspiring voice over. In Holland (where I grew up), there were only five or six people who booked all the VO jobs, and most of them were stage actors. There were no online tutorials, educational videos, VO coaches, or books about the business. At that time it made sense to ask those who did what I wanted to do for advice. But only after I had exhausted all my research!
These days, you can pretty much find the answer to any voice over related question by doing a quick Google search. If you’re too lazy to even do that, you’re not cut out to be an independent contractor, and you don’t deserve my help.
We don’t teach babies how to walk by holding them up by their arms and dragging them around the room. That way they’ll never develop strong muscles needed to find their own way. Same thing with voice over newbies.
I also want to encourage you to make smart business-related decisions that benefit not only yourself, but our community as a whole. Be more discerning! Stop working with companies that do not have (y)our best interest at heart. You know, the companies that turn your talent into a commodity, where the lowest bidder ends up working for the cheapest client. Do not enable them to increase their influence!
Stop bidding on projects without knowing how much to charge. Don’t settle for a full buyout in perpetuity without proper compensation. If you don’t have a strong backbone, ask an agent to negotiate on your behalf. Support the VO Agent Alliance. Join the World Voices Organization. Sign up for the Freelancers Union. It’s free!
And if you’re a member, keep pushing SAG-AFTRA to take voice actors just as seriously as the other actors they represent. Not just because COVID suddenly opened their eyes to the work we do as professionals.
Above all: stay vigilant!
BE THE CHANGE
Don’t hide your head in the sand hoping rates will magically go up, and “the market” will take care of itself. It doesn’t. Things get worse when people with good intentions sit still, hoping others will lift the first finger.
Question what you read and what you hear, especially on social media. Always take the source of the information into account.
Be clear on how you want to spend your time. There are too many forces competing for your attention, and most of them are useless distractions.
The best chance of changing other people’s behavior is to change what they react to, namely your own behavior, so:
Use your brain, and become the colleague you most want to be.
That’s the person I’d like to meet next time we see each other in person, or online!
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
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