Auditions: Online, It's Not War!
The Mistakes We All Make ...
By Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager, Voice 123
I have been doing more and more Quality Assurance on auditions submitted through Voice123 (the online voice-over audition and casting service) and at the same time, I answer emails from voice talent who express to me that they have not gotten work.
Whether they are experienced in offline voice-over casting or not experienced at all, many manage to make the same mistakes that I have seen cost them voice-over work.
I am basing this article on information gathered via:
EXPERIENCE IS BEST TEACHER
From those three factors, I get a sense that some may get emotionally charged up, which is EXACTLY why you should keep reading.
Also keep in mind that I am describing mistakes made by everyone at some point. I have now seen it happen, and I blush because I made the same mistakes at some point, while using Voice123.
I understand where a talent comes from. I also know that the greatest education comes from those who have made mistakes, and then learned why they were mistakes.
Working Online Is Not War!
Working online carries with it a greater need for understanding.
If you approach working online as if it is "Me vs. Them," you will find yourself unemployed.
I have seen notes and emails go back and forth between clients and talents such as:
WHY START FIGHT?
For a voice talent, seriously, if something upsets you, it is best to walk away from the audition.
Do not waste energy or time on being aggressive online. It is too easy for people to fight back and remember you.
If you want to start a fight, you will get what you want, and then some.
- or Aggressive Slating
I think this is the most common.
What many voice talent do not understand is that working with computers instantly means you are dealing with people with short attention spans.
A study showed last year that from "mouse click to frustration," you had a time frame of only 3 to 20 seconds.
Keeping that in mind, if you are a buyer or producer, with even as little as 10 demos to listen to, how often can you take the following slates before you just get frustrated:
Those 'slaaaaates' are killers!
Not only is the first one displaying that a voice talent may be paranoid - a sign of inexperience while working online, but they both go on for more than 10 seconds.
EXPERIENCE IT ...
Try this, which lends itself to why it is not a bad idea to know about online customer service:
Walk into a store and ask where to buy soda. If the guy behind the counter explains every single detail of the store for two minutes before telling you what you originally asked for, you may just walk out.
Online sites: their interfaces provide your name, and the client is about to hear you anyway, so there is no point in explaining for 20 seconds, what they will hear for the next 20 seconds.
When online casting started, watermarks made sense, but not so much anymore.
Plus, if for some reason they try to take the audio, web sites have that covered, too. How do I do it? I am not telling. It took me years to figure out how to catch people, so I won't shed that skill in public.
So, what do I see talent doing?
Not Following Directions
The common response I get when I mention this is, "Well, they do not tell me enough to go on."
That happens, yes, but I am referring to specific times when a buyer asks for something in a description, and the voice talent thinks it is a good idea or OK to submit whatever the talent thinks is best, and to make up a reason as to why it was done.
If you do not understand how that feels to the buyer, try this:
Working online is like "being your own business," so how do you think it makes a buyer feel when you do the opposite of what they requested?
How would it make you feel, if you were hiring?
'Give & Take' Of Working Online
Like it or not, auditioning online carries a heavier burden of reassurance that a job can be done.
It is not about, "I auditioned! Now, someone will call and tell me what I have to do next!"
You need to have a business plan in place, because when you work online, you are directly in contact with the buyer. There is no agent-filter or production house to report to on a certain date and time.
It is all about you, from A-Z.
WHAT HAPPENS ...
This is "give and take" ...
As the "seller" of your voice online, you have to own a professional online business known as YOU, which you present to buyers of your voice-over skill.
You have to be the "giver" because this is a new playground, with a new way of doing business in voice-overs.
I will not lie. It is not always easy, and it does take some time to learn how to communicate online.
Not Seeing The Forest
For The Possible 'Greens'
Working online is about building relationships - not "paying to play." If you want to pay-to-play something, try online poker.
I say this because the budget you see from the voice seeker may be lower because the person simply has no idea who you are, and what you can do.
Everyone is equal when you work online, even those with decades of experience, so those budgets may be just teasers. Once the voice seeker knows you, and knows you can do what they need, the real money will come in.
GET REPEAT BUSINESS
I have been told several times that Voice123 shines because of the repeat clients, not the job postings.
These voice talent know the difference between playing online and working online.
A tip: I did something recently to help a very experienced offline talent of many years. He explained to me that working online was difficult. I told him the following:
He swallowed his pride and ego, and we agreed he could tell me I was wrong forever. But he did as I suggested, and booked his next online audition, after a two-year drought.
I take no credit. I give credit to the young man who re-wrote the text for his uncle to make it more net-savvy, short and sweet.
The idea came to mind because I wrote my brother's Yahoo personals profile, and the next day, eight women showed interest. I have always believed that the arbitrator tells a story better.
Whatever Has You Upset
About The Web Site You Use,
Don't Mention It
They know already, trust me. They deal with it too, and tell us about it.
If you want to relate to someone, do so on a positive level.
Voice123 works on issues all the time. We have constant communications, with over 10,000 emails a month.
For instance, what do you accomplish with an audition remark like this?
Your purpose was to be hired, not file a complaint, and the seeker knows it is an audition process, anyway.
A Phony Accent
When a voice seeker requests an accent, please take care to not offend someone's nationality.
Understand that when a person is highly offended, they might feel compelled to hit back, and not say why.
People who audition and hire talent from Voice123 tell me what they hear, and I'll pass along these tips:
These are innocent mistakes made because sounds and images are stuck in our subconscious mind, and we may mean no offense. But still, I have seen how these errors offend people greatly, and when working on an international stage, it helps to be aware of what your buyer feels.
Certain "characters" in the North American culture of entertainment are deemed highly offensive in other countries.
I have learned this through my years of traveling. I also worked in Times Square for seven years - considered the crossroads of the world for good reason.
As we all know, people can be very sensitive while working online, no matter who you are, so there has to be a level of understanding that we are all starting over in this online playground.
Yeah, we can all audition. But we can also be much more than just a voice talent.
ABOUT STEVEN ...
Steven Lowell is a voice actor based in New York City, and public relations manager for Voice123, the online voice-over marketplace that provides online auditions and work for its members.
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