Choice: The Evolution in Voiceover Rates

confused 3d character standing under direction boardHaving choices is a good thing. When I get my car washed I have a choice of three different levels. Silver, Gold, or Platinum and each level provides a bit more than its lower-priced sibling. I see the value of Platinum when compared to Silver and typically settle for Gold. I determine the value of my purchase and decide which suits my needs.

The idea of choice is something I’ve been considering for my studio. Offering three price points for professional services, each building on the services of the previous, just like the car wash. Would this give clients the perception of better control of their purchase or just confuse the process?

Currently, my rate per project includes a full range of services for one base price. This example is for non-broadcast and the size of the script and intended audience would impact the final rate.

SampleServices

Breaking things down into price point levels would look something like this:

The rate for the Green Package would be what I’d typically charge for a job. For example let’s say my current rate is $200 for up to 2-minutes of explainer video narration. With the tiered levels Green would be $200, White would be only 10% less than Green or $180. Purple would be 25% more than Green or $250.

I’m guessing I’d want the step-up between White and Green insignificant enough that clients would feel it was a good value for the small increase in price. The value proposition should still be in place between Green and Purple but maybe one that the client has to really consider before selecting it.

Another option is to create perceived value by pricing the Green and Purple identically. Numbers could be $200 for White, $250 for Green, $250 for Purple. According to a study by Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics, when a group of MIT students were presented with price points like those outlined above, Green was totally ignored and Purple was identified as the best deal.

However, when Green was removed, the students selected White because there was too much contrast between White and Purple. The students became bargain hunters and convinced themselves they didn’t need the upgrade. Hmmm…

Is there another rate method that might work better? I’d like to know your thoughts and ideas. Please share your suggestions in the comments box below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

A Fish Story and Your Studio

Lake Quinalt Lodge
Lake Quinalt Lodge

A few weeks ago, Cameron and I traveled to the Olympic Peninsula to spend a few days at the beautiful, historic Lake Quinault Lodge. The weather was unseasonably perfect with sunshine and comfortable temperatures. It was a perfect getaway.

Before we made it to the lodge, we took a detour to Neah Bay to enjoy the Makah Museum and grab some smoked salmon Cam read about in Yelp. The museum was spectacular with many Native Makah artifacts and loads of historical references and information about the Makahs. It was well worth the drive.

TakeHomeFish
Take Home Fish Co.

Our other destination, Take Home Fish Company, was quite a surprise. When Cameron told me about it, I imagined a well-lit store with a refrigerator case packed with smoked salmon and other delicious Pacific Northwest treats. To my shock, my imagined fish shop was nothing more than a garage, slightly modified to be used as a fish shack.

Diesel flavored smoked salmon swam through my thoughts.

We walked in feeling skeptical about the offerings. Diesel flavored smoked salmon swam through my thoughts. The guy behind the small counter presented us with a number of options, which were neatly vacuum packed and ready for immediate sale.

This was it? I admit, I hadn’t taken the time to check out Yelp to see what this place was about. I was close to walking out without spending a dime. Cameron was a more willing customer and decided on two vac-packs of smoked fish, one salmon the other deep sea black cod.

Makah Bay
Makah Bay

As we drove away from Neah Bay with our purchase, I started thinking about the many voice talents starting out who create their magic from a closet, spare bedroom and other home areas that don’t resemble a studio, even remotely. If an area can be treated and used to record and the result is flawless fidelity, what does it matter?

I’ve read studio descriptions from established talent who don’t record in a closet or bedroom but have an acoustically designed booth of some sort. I congratulate them for making the financial decision to invest in their recording area. But, it’s uncool to trash talk those who work out of something less and still deliver amazing audio.

Evidently the clients don’t care as long as it sounds good.

The deliverable is what the client is most interested about. I’m pretty sure they care 1% or less how or where their ready-to-use sound was created. They know what sounds good for their project. I’ve read about jobs being done in hotel rooms with comforters, blankets and pillows used to create a satisfactory recording environment. Evidently the clients don’t care as long as it sounds good. It they did care where it was recorded few people, if any, would record on the road.

Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault

And, as for the smoked fish? Best. Smoked. Fish. EVAR! It was tasty and the perfect first meal at the Quinault Lodge. We gobbled down the fish along with some cheddar cheese, sourdough bread and a few glasses of port. Kimm, the owner of Take Home Fish Co. didn’t need a fancy store or state of the art tools to create what will be tough to beat by anybody else smoking fish. He had talent and an understanding of how to best use his workspace.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

Your Best Narration is Just a Breath Away

 

monkeysDo you find yourself meticulously removing every breath in recorded audio like a chimpanzee nit-picking fellow chimps? You may be afflicted.

It starts with difficult breathing brought on by nervousness and stress. It’s recorded as gasping for air or a huge sucking sound.

Common studio remedies include removal or the significant reduction of breath noises. This process can build to neurosis, where beginner to professional voice talent compulsively delete every obnoxious, normal and subtle breath recorded.

If this describes you, you may be suffering from Spiritus Aveho.

Spiritus – The Latin word for “Breath” and defined as: breath, breathing / life / spirit.

Aveho – The Latin word for “Remove” and defined as: to carry away / remove.

This OCD variant troubles many professional voice-talent and producers from beginner to expert.

Well, take a deep breath and relax.  Help is available. With treatment and self-help strategies, you can break free of the unwanted thoughts and irrational urges and take back control of your life and your breath.

Have you ever been asked not to breathe while talking? Have you experienced a conversation where you’ve been asked to repeat what you said, but to do so without taking a breath? Of course you haven’t.

Like conversation, narration is suited well for the inclusion of breath sounds. It’s OK.

Preventive Treatment

Most times, treatment is as easy as becoming familiar with your script and minimizing stress. Taking only a few minutes to prepare the words you’ll be reading with indicators to breathe will make you sound more natural and full of life. And, reduce stress by including deep breathing exercises as part of your daily warm-up routine.

Wake in the morning feeling alive and free to breathe and keep Spiritus Aveho out of your studio.

Killing the Microphone by rawmarius

Not to be confused with other oral noises such as mouth clicks, lip smacks, tongue ticking or spit bubble pops. Tummy noises may also happen during sessions, so make sure to eat ahead of recording, but avoid the foods which cause mouth clicks, ticking, smacks and pops. Staying hydrated and getting enough sleep also helps reduce stress.

Avoid Spiritus Aveho and breathe life into your scripts. Don’t become an unnatural sounding breathless voice-over zombie.

 

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!

MrGoogle2The Google search box begs me to type in a question whenever I pop open a browser. The code-smiths of Google have spent years creating and refining their cornerstone service. Of the search engines available, Google is by far the most robust and powerful answer retriever available.

Google made search non-geeky by allowing the use of simple phrases. That’s helpful to me when I’m working in my studio; I’d rather reserve my brain power for creativeness behind the mic. Here are a few tools I use regularly that you should try.

Say WHAT?!

Whenever I get a script that has a word I don’t know how to pronounce, my go to helper is Google. The results include entries from several sources including Forvo.com, howjsay.com and others. This comes in handy for audition scripts when the client isn’t available. And, it’s particularly helpful for audiobook production. In the search bar type in…

How do you pronounce [word I’d like pronounced]
(How do you pronounce discombobulated)

At the Tone, the Time is…

I’ve got clients all over the planet and the multiple time zones are difficult to keep straight. A quick way to check current time info is to ask Google. The current time, date, and time zone displays taking the guess work out of calling a client at an appropriate time. Type in…

What time is it in [City] [State] or [Zip Code]
(What time is it in Pie Town NM) 

City and State, Please.

When I’m crafting one-off marketing e-mail to clients, I like to check out what’s going on in their town so I can personalize my message. Google makes getting quick details a snap! I get the basics, including time and current weather, plus points of interest, upcoming events and more. Type in…

[City] [State]
(Poughkeepsie NY)

It’s How Far?

Got a gig at a studio in another town? When your travel expenses include mileage and you need a quick way to calculate the distance, Google is the undisputed source for speed. Type in…

[Starting point] to [Ending point]
(Left Hand WV to West Thumb WY)

Convert this!

With clients all over the globe, I occasionally have one that want’s to pay me in their local currency. Google has a mind for conversion and has no problem returning a value based on the current exchange rate. Type in…

[Amount] [Currency 1] to [Currency 2]
(1500 USD to GBP)

Let Me Google That for You

Could an answer be just a Google search away? You probably know somebody who asks questions that trigger you to think, “Why don’t you just Google it?” To help them see the laziness of their ways, use LMGTFY to create a search and send it for them to use.

This is my fav… http://lmgtfy.com/?q=How+do+I+become+a+voice+talent%3F

 

Those are the ones I use the most, and of course there are many more Google tips and tricks to discover. What is your favorite Google shortcut or tool—one you couldn’t get along without in your studio?

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

10 Tips for a Healthy Studio

LittleSneezeI sat in a restaurant the other day and watched a grade-school sized child endure a massive coughing and sneezing fit. By massive, I mean a series of sneezes followed by a volley of gurgle filled coughs and then more sneezing. While I felt sorry for the tyke, all filled with snotty goo, I was happy to leave her behind as I walked out the door into fresh air.

According to Weather.com Cold and Flu Facts, cases increase during the fall and winter months, then taper off in March and April. Homes with children are more susceptible to these seasonal visitors and women have more colds than men. If you’re a 60-something, your chance of having a cold drops considerably, less than once a year on average.

If you work from home in your personal studio, your chances of coming into contact with a cold or flu carrier is lower, significantly lower if you live by yourself. And, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t get ill if you live in a cave. Some caves have good ‘coustics!

However, if you are a parental unit with a spouse and kids, your chances are pretty good that you’re going to get exposed to somebody who is beta testing the latest strain of cold or flu. You’ll have what they’re having and you’ll pass it on to your studio.

Your studio is the money maker. Sure, you’ve got the pipes and sound super cool when you’re recording whatever it is that gets producers to write you a check. But, without your studio you’d be reduced to using string and cans or traveling to somebody else’s hood to record.

Think of your studio as a living being, one that you have a symbiotic relationship with. You both rely on each other for survival and just a bit of common sense will help keep your studio free from nasty cold and flu bugs.

With that in mind, here are some tips to keep your studio in healthy, usable shape through the season.

Maintain a Perimeter – Your studio is sacred and should only be accessible by the truly healthy. Reduce the potential of ill-inducing germs getting in your way by limiting or eliminating access to anybody who has symptoms. That includes you. If you’re sick and only working because you “feel” you should, don’t. Take time to repair, stay away from the sickos.

“…give your pop filter a rise with warm soapy water.”

Clean Equipment – Once a week, give your studio a cleaning. Clean you monitor, wipe down your keyboard and mouse. Use an electronics-friendly cleaner and a soft cloth on your other pieces of gear such as speakers, audio interface and control surfaces. Finally, give your pop filter a rise with warm soapy water.

“…when I get congested I sound like poo.”

Work Station – Dust makes me sneeze and when I sneeze I get congested and when I get congested I sound like poo. Use a clean cloth and surface cleaner to pick up the week’s accumulation of micro-particles. Your studio will appreciate your hands-on approach to keeping its surfaces clean.

“…stress will take a hike and your efficiency will improve.”

Studio Area – Stress is more than happy to give cold and flu a hand when it comes to plying their ickiness. Keep stress to a minimum whenever possible. Keeping your area organized and clutter free will reduce stress and even make you feel more on top of your game. With you studio in order, stress will take a hike and your efficiency will improve.

“…wash your hands first before heading into your studio.”

Wash Your Paws – During my early years in school at Belgrade Elementary, the teachers were constantly reminding me to wash my hands. Not just reminding me actually, but everybody. At the time I thought it was a dumb idea and a big time-waster. There were more interesting things to do.

OK, so, now I get it. Washing hands reduces germs. When you come in from the outside world (that’s any place that’s not your studio) wash your hands first before heading into your studio. If you find yourself hand washing a lot, use cooler water. Hot water strips away oils that keep your hands from getting chapped. Regardless of water temperature, make sure to use a hand soap you like. Maybe a nice vanilla almond or lavender.

“…their potential for carrying seasonal germs IN while carrying the garbage OUT is quite high.”

Garbage Patrol – It’s like washing your hands. Nobody enjoys emptying the garbage can. It’s just one of those things that you have to do. Remember to keep your perimeter up and empty it yourself. While one of your child slaves might have the weekly duty, their potential for carrying seasonal germs IN while carrying the garbage OUT is quite high. Don’t allow them to pollute your space.

“Your Sneezes and coughs increases air-born gunk that other people can breathe in.”

Be polite, Cover Your Pie-hole – You’ve done everything I’ve suggested in this list of paranoia and still managed to get sick. Now you’re taking it easy to recover so you can get back into your pristine studio. Your Sneezes and coughs increases air-born gunk that other people can breathe in. Do what you can to reduce that from happening. When spontaneous histamine triggered expelling occurs, do it into a fresh tissue and then toss the entire mess away. No tissue in  sight? Sneeze or cough into your shirt sleeve, at the crook of your elbow.

“…they wont stop until you are feet up in bed and ankle deep in bunny slippers.”

Don’t Stick Your Fingers in Your Eyes, Mouth and Nose – This should be obvious. In case it’s not, your hands collect a lot of garbage, hence the hand washing. If you stick a finger or your small one sticks a finger in any of the above mention places, you’ve just released the hounds on your immune system and they wont stop until you are feet up in bed and ankle deep in bunny slippers.

“When you’ve captured a cold or flu virus, staying hydrated is doubly important.”

Stay hydrated – Drinking several ounces of water a day is just part of what we do. It keeps our pipes in working fashion, reduces mouth clicks and keeps our thirst at bay. When you’ve captured a cold or flu virus, staying hydrated is doubly important. Your body uses the water for everything and when you’re sick, it uses more of it.

“Stress will raise its ugly head when you’re feeling cold and uncomfortable.”

Feel Better – While you’re recovering, there are a few things you can do to feel better. Hot drinks with honey and lemon are a start. There are some home remedies that suggest adding a shot of your favorite spirits to a cuppa something. While it sounds good on the surface, alcohol is a dehydrator, which will work against your hydration process. I’m a fan of the herbal tea ThroatCoat or something a bit wilder like Bengal Spice or Orange Spice. And, your body will benefit nicely from extra rest and sleep. It’s working hard to get you back in the studio so give it a chance with some time. Also, keep warm and comfortable during recovery. Stress will raise its ugly head when you’re feeling cold and uncomfortable.

Start counting down the days until warmer, more humid weather. Mark the first day of spring as the un-congested light at the end of the cold and flu tunnel. Then you and your studio can relax. Until then, can I offer you a vitamin C or zinc tablet?

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

Watch and Learn – 6 Video Series for Voice Talents

Are You A Watcher or A Listener?

It’s possible you prefer one over the other when learning or discovering new ideas and methods. I’m more of a watcher and appreciate professionals who take the time to produce enjoyable content.

In my three prior posts 12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss (Part 1, Part 2) and 5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss I gave you a number of podcast choices that related in some way to the business of voiceover. I received comments about several video selections that people enjoyed as well, and that is the subject of this post. Watch and learn.

 

VO_Buzz_WeeklyBy far, the watchable with the most recommendations was VO Buzz Weekly, hosted by Demo Producer/Director Chuck Duran and Voice Actor/TV host, Stacey J. Aswad. Each weekly episode features entertaining guests and deep-dive interviews. You’ll be fascinated with the backgrounds and journeys that many top voiceover professionals have made. Past shows include Townsend Coleman, the man behind the voice of TMNT Michelangelo; voiceover educator and active voice actor; Pat Fraley and voiceover coach Nancy Wolfson.
VO Buzz Weekly on YouTube

 

East West Audio Body ShopConsistent and unpredictable (in a good way!) best describes East West Audio Body Shop. Almost every Monday (6PT/9ET) The Home Studio Master, Dan Lenard and VO Studio Tech, George Whittam host a live 90-minute webcast that covers a wide range of interesting VO topics. From audio processing, hardware selection and mic technique to interviews with established audio and voice talent professionals. Recent shows covered demos, new voiceover awards and a fan roundtable. As an added feature, a chat room gives you instant access to the hosts where they can read your questions, comments and opinions.
East West Audio Body Shop on YouTube

 

2011-George_Whittam-headshot

When your voiceover appetite is leaning towards something more geeky and technology based, George Whittam has you covered with Edge Studio’s, Whittam’s World. George is the go-to guy when it comes to the studio side of your voiceover business. Each week he discusses a specific topic in depth and provides real world advice and suggestions about how to get the most out of your personal studio. George is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and Audio Technology, which makes him a welcome specialist.
Edge Studio’s, Whittam’s World, on YouTube

 

AMY-WALKER-LOGO-AWOLfinal21

There are days when a voiceover pick-me-up is called for. Amy Walker delivers with a fun, sometimes quirky weekly video. She’s talented and has no hesitation going over the top with her brand of entertainment. Known for several videos featuring convincing accents, Amy is also a comedian, a singer, and a motivational spirit. Her latest submission is a Joan Rivers tribute and Amy does an amazing job of channeling the energy of the recently passed comedian. Her videos are like a good bag of chips without the nasty calories. Once you watch one, you want to watch another.
Amy Walker on YouTube

 

Bill DeWees

Could it be possible to know so much about the voiceover business that creating an ongoing, weekly without repeating content appears effortless? Check out Bill DeWees from Voice-Over-Training.org. Each week Bill reaches into his bag of experience and pulls from it an interesting observation on just about any aspect of a voiceover business. Suggestions on dropping the announcer sound in favor of creating a real sounding voice is one of his most popular videos, along with building a money saving home studio, and a tip about reducing narration mistakes. Many hours of voiceover education from the convenience of your computer screen. The second best part is it’s free.
Bill DeWees, The Voice Over Expert, on YouTube

 

music-radio-creative-radio

Do you use Adobe Audition? Would you like to dabble in production? Mike Russell will teach you how to get more out of Audition and encourage you to go beyond just recording your voice. The series of Music Radio Crative videos expertly covers many areas of Audition you may not have considered. Several episodes cover podcasting and production tips and tricks to use with your studio recordings. Make your voice sound better; general Adobe Tutorials, and adding effects to voiceovers are a few from the list of Mike’s most popular videos.
Music Radio Creative on YouTube

These are only a tiny number of mind expanding videos related to voiceover and I’m sure there’re more. What one video do you watch that’s been a huge help for your voiceover business? Leave a comment below. I’d like to know about your recommendations.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

podcast largeThe previous two posts (12 Voiceover Podcasts You Should Not Miss Part 1 and Part 2) focused on podcasts I thought would be interesting for your voiceover business. Listenable, VO goodness easily enjoyed by strapping on a pair of earbuds.

Recommendations you left in the comment section of those posts and other social forums opened my eyes to new content. Most I’d not heard of, so I was eager to give them a listen. I was presently surprised.

Here are the recommendations readers provided, complete with a link to each podcast. I hope find one or two that’ll be perfect additions to your podcast list.

Andy Boyns, suggests The Person Behind the Voice. This podcast is a series of conversational interviews with voice artists and others involved in the voiceover industry. Conversations highlight the many different ways people have advanced in their chosen profession, and serve to remind us when challenging the demons within that others have probably had similar experiences. Andy is the producer of this entertaining series.

 

From Canada, Garnet Williams recommends the podcast he and fellow voice artists Dave McRae and Mike Pongracz produce, called The AmiVOs & Friends “Super-Funtastic-Happy-Hour VOdcast.” The 3 AmiVOs offer entertaining and educational episodes in a delivery that’s informative while laid back. Expect a smorgasbord of news, tips, interviews and humor. Each show offers a 3AmiVO’s Iceberg Tip or Fun Fact!

 

Mike Broderick thinks highly of the 3AmiVOs as well, saying their podcast is “hilarious!” He also highly recommends Love That VoiceOver with Rebecca Michaels. Reader, Justin, also suggests Love That VoiceOver, commenting, “Rebecca interviews folks from all parts of the industry, and I’ve found her interviews with agents and producers to be professionally informative, and her interviews with talent to be inspirational as well as entertaining.”

 

Trisha Beausaert, Voices.com Public Relations Manager, let me know about VoxTalk, which is back from a 5 year hiatus. This podcast is described as valuable programming for both aspiring and professional talents. Each multi-segment episode features guest contributors and covers business, news, technology and many other areas relative to the voiceover profession. The repository of previous episodes contains many gems and is worth investigating.

 

One of my new Facebook friends, Joseph Bevilacqua, produces The Voice Actor Show podcast, and he recommends that you check it out. In the most recent episode, Joe and his wife Lorie interviewed voice actor Fred Frees, and featured a number of clips of voice acting geniuses from the past several decades. Included in the mix are cuts from several popular radio drams and comedies.

 

It was fun to hear from so many readers who had comments about what I’d recommended and to hear about new podcasts I hadn’t considered. There was one other suggestion and I’m going to use it as the seed for an upcoming blog post.

If I’ve missed a podcast related to voiceover, directly or indirectly, I’d like to hear from you.  Leave a comment below.

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

Are You Available?