The Double Divas and Livingston Studios

Our friends The Double Divas are teaming up in Toronto to do another weekend workshop. The details are below. Note: it’s being held at Livingston Studios, a new facility in Toronto aiming to be a hub for voice talents and coaches. I was invited to their grand opening last month and the space looks slick. There was a tasty buffet of appetizers and a juice bar at this event. Good mingling with Toronto VO people. I would have preferred a real bar but you can’t have everything.

All the best to the folks at Livingston Studios and to Deb Munro and Elley-Ray in the workshop below:


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Random Agent Musings (RAM) #2: Favorite client lines

This week…A few of my favorite client lines from past and present:

“We always budget $500.”
After inquiring about the availability of a talent on my roster they want to book, and having received approval of this voice from their client, I ask what they have in mind for the rate. They quote $500. I say we usually charge $750-$800 for that. They say “We always budget $500.” I don’t care what you budget! You’re coming to me, asking to book one of my talents. I am telling you what we charge!

Runner up to this is: “We based our quote on what another agency charges. Can you match them?” Why do I have to? You are coming to me to book a talent on our roster but didn’t come to me ahead of time for my pricing. Imagine going to Starbucks and saying “But Tim Hortons only charges $1.50.”

”He’s only going to be in the studio 20 minutes.”
This is always said when the client is trying to get a lower price then what I’ve quoted. And that is relevant to the rate how exactly? Part of the reason he may only be in the studio 20 minutes is likely because he’s good. So, because time in the studio is somehow a factor, you would pay more for a talent who made lots of mistakes and took twice as long? This is also the reason voice talents should never charge by the hour. You get penalized for being fast/good.

“The writer wants to be at the session. He’s particular about the read.”
Sorry in advance to the talent on my roster who gets this gig!

“We are looking for a voice like Tina Fey.”
No you’re not. Tina Fey is an incredibly talented writer who has also become a good performer (usually acting in her own scripts). But I don’t think any of these clients could pick her voice out of a line-up of voices unless she was doing her Sarah Palin impersonation. What they mean is they want someone to have the wit and sarcasm of Tina Fey, but this trend of referencing actors/actresses who don’t have unique voices has really escalated in recent years.

And my all-time favorite: What happened when a client came to me 45 days after a recording session and tried to get me to lower the rate:

Remember the PN Agency motto: I work for talents, not clients! (But we do love most clients, don’t get me wrong)

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Random Agent Musings (RAM)

A new feature here at Voice Over Canada for 2014: What I call RAM – Random Agent Musings. These will be little odds ‘n ends about this wacky world of voice over that don’t fit neatly into a longer piece. I am going to try do this every Sunday so make it part of your Sunday routine to check back here, won’t you?

-I get a lot of cover letters. Every cover letter I’ve ever received that contained the phrase, “I’m a really creative person” displayed no trace of creativity.

-Wondering if talented voices who don’t have their own websites, home studios and client base aren’t more appealing from an agent’s perspective (Perhaps more on this in a future piece).

-I don’t understand the talent agency websites where you need a password to access the roster. Talents don’t pay agents commissions to be hidden.

-Most “character” reads these days are not crazy cartoon voices, accents or celebrity impressions. They are real people, exaggerated slightly. You know, like characters you meet in real life every day.

-“Do I have a good voice?” may not be as relevant a question compared to “Can you read well and interpret script?”

-Don’t ever fall for the line: “If you can just give us a deal for the first one, there are going to be a lot more of these to record in the future.” That sentence implies more money for the ones that follow. There are rarely ones that follow and when there are, the rate has already been established for the first one.

-Do on to agents as you would have done to you.

-I have a couch in my office. It would be cheesy if I was involved in the casting of anything more than voices.

-It really does for the most part come down to the voice demo.

-Voice industry fact: Having a home studio is overrated; Taking an acting class is underrated.

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Secrets of An Agent Man: What are you looking for?

As an agent I get the question, “what are you looking for?” more often than any other with the possible exception of, “where’s my check?” What are you looking for? I’m not sure I can answer this question any better professionally than I could personally, when I was single!

Once an agent has an established roster, we’re never really looking for anything – unless a strange casting call comes in for, say, a talent who sounds like a combo of Irish and African-American. Then I’m looking for that.

But if you’re a voice talent, I don’t think you should ever ask the question, what are you looking for, because it implies you’re potentially willing to present something that isn’t authentic. Is my answer to that question going to change your approach, what you do or what’s on your demo? You need to do what you do – and do it well.

I mean, if I said I’m looking for a guy who can voice grandfather roles in radio & TV spots, and you’re 27 years old, what would be your response? You’d probably send me your demo anyway!

Or if I said I’m only looking for voices who sound 20 years old and you’ve been in radio for 30 years, that’s where the conversation ends. So the short answer is: An agent is always looking for – or at least interested in – an exciting, unique, professional voice who doesn’t care what the agent is looking for!

By the way, I did cover the topic of what agents look for in a voice demo in a previous Secrets of An Agent Man post. Read it by clicking here

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Classic Videos – Chris Rock at The Oscars

An animation casting involving a number of our voice talents made me think of this: Chris Rock presenting at the 2012 Oscars, for Best Animated Film. While some voice talents might be offended, I think he’s pretty hilarious with his assessment of the level of difficulty of doing voice work in animation.

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Love That VoiceOver Podcast

The charming Rebecca Michaels Haugh – an L.A. voice talent – hosts the podcast Love That VoiceOver where she interviews voice over industry types from all over the world. She was kind enough to invite me on to her show and you can listen to the results below:

Check Out Entertainment Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with LoveThatRebecca on BlogTalkRadio

To keep up with the furious pace of the Voice Over industry and get a side order of radio tidbits as well, follow Voice Over Canada on Twitter:


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