Dane: I’m Dane Reid, The Voiceover Guy. I am here with the team from voice actor websites. Guys! (Team Introduces Themselves) (Dane) And I don’t have any labs that fit five people.
Dane: I’m Dane Reid, The Voiceover Guy. I am here with the team from voice actor websites. Guys! (Team Introduces Themselves) (Dane) And I don’t have any labs that fit five people.
I used to steal software and plugins for voiceover. I started my career with Cubase LE which came as free software with my Emu 1616 audio interface. As I realized the limitations of that software, I wanted to grow but I didn’t have the money to grow. But having friends in audio engineering, I found out that there were ways to get what was called cracked software.
My first cracked software was a Cubase SX. There was a company that was famous for cracking audio software called and I used to find their software either online or through a friend who had it. Cubase 2.1 was how I really learned to produce commercials. But a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is only as good as the plugins. So for that, I had to find more cracked software.
The hot plugins of the day were waves plugins. Waves were really good and really expensive. Of everyone that I knew who did audio, maybe only one of them actually bought any of the waves plugins legally. Waves plugins could run 10k for a bundle. Being who I am I had to have the best bundles. I had the waves platinum, mercury and gold bundles at some time in history.
As my career grew, I never really considered buying the actual plugins. They were still out of my reach in price. Plus, what was the point? I was getting them for free. Free beats cheap any day. So I perfected my skills with free software and even upgraded as more cracked software replaced the older versions. I went from Cubase SX to Cubase 2.1. Then I moved on to several Nuendo versions for a few years. Meanwhile, voiceover and commercial orders piled on. I had a nice workflow.
I never shorted on hardware though. I bought my first Neuman for $1500. UA LA 610 for $1400. I owned several computers. A Mac and a PC and a PC laptop. I had travel gear and swapped out several audio interfaces at that time.
So what happened? Well, one morning I got up to do my work. I had several commercials in the pipeline for the day. I fired up my computer and my trusty Emu and then started Nuendo and BAM. Nothing. It wouldn’t start. I tried it again and still nothing. So I restarted the computer hoping that would help. Nothing again. I tried a few times and no result. I was in a bad position.
I called a friend and fellow talent to ask if I could come to his house and record this work and he asked me what had happened. I told him. And his response was something I didn’t expect. He said to me “Why don’t you just buy the software?” I had never thought to actually buy the software. So I did. I bought my first version of Cubase, which was Cubase 5. It cost me $300 at Guitar Center. I came home that morning with my dongle and installed the software and BAM…. Nothing!!
At this point, I’m even more panicked. Installing and getting up and running was much easier with cracked software. So I called Steinberg to help me. I went over several things troubleshooting with the tech before I finally had to admit to the tech that I previously installed unauthorized software. He went silent for a second, and in a judgemental tone said “Well then you have to wipe your entire computer clean and reinstall windows to install Cubase properly.
You can imagine my horror. But I had work to do and the day was coming to a close by now. I got off the phone, backed up as many of my files as I could, and wiped my hard drive. I realized that I had to change at this moment. I did put the plugins back on the computer because I needed them at that moment but over time I began to buy them. I didn’t buy all of them but I bought some.
Over the years I replaced Cubase 5 with Cubase 7 Artist. I also bought Cubase 8 Elements for my mobile rig and then upgraded to Cubase LE AI Elements 9.5. I also bought Cubase Artists 9 for my desktop home studio. That version made all of my 32-bit plugins obsolete so now I had to buy all new plugins. That’s when I bought the Apollo Twin and then the Apollo Arrow with all the plugins for those machines. Now, I can’t steal plugins. I buy them. I also fell in love and buy the Izotope plugins. I have several of those bundles for mixing and mastering. I continue to buy software and plugins for voiceover. For Christmas, I bought UAD’s Manley VoxBox and Valley People Dyna-Mite.
You don’t even have to steal software and plugins. For plugins, there are literally thousands of free ones online. All you have to do is google free audio plugins. For a DAW everyone knows about Audacity which is free but you can also download a free version of Mixpad which seems better than Audacity.
In my opinion, I get the fact that starting a business or learning a new craft is very expensive, but with free software and plugins for voiceover available now, don’t steal. Don’t steal anything actually. People work hard designing this software and they deserve to make a profit for their efforts. I left some links in the description for Mixpad and Audacity.
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Everett Oliver is a shy, introverted booth director who got his start 25 years ago in the animation world….. And if you know Everett you know that there is absolutely nothing shy nor introverted about him. Everett is a no holds barred, unfiltered, instinctive voiceover coach and booth director who fights hard for the success of his clients.
As a booth director, Everett directs clients auditions to help them book jobs. Voiceover actors often have auditions that they REALLY WANT to book. Some of these auditions are the BIG ONE that can make our careers. Whether it’s a network promo job or an animation project, we know this can mean the difference between success and failure. We sometimes spend hours recording the audition and then second-guessing ourselves on the read, the sound, the tone etc. Ultimately this can result in paralysis of analysis. In those moments, what we really need is a second ear.
That Second Ear
Everett is that Ear. Working with a voiceover audition coach like Everett accomplishes several things. It cuts down the time you spend on auditioning and allows talent to submit auditions faster. Sometimes agents submit the first good auditions as they come in and those are the ones that are most highly considered. Working with Everett also gives you insight into what the client is most likely thinking when he wrote the copy. Everett knows that world and he has an incredible instinct for predicting what books.
Taking His Show On The Road
Everett Oliver has been touring North America, taking his brass brand of coaching to various cities. And talent are better off for it. In my time speaking to Everett, he explained to me about an entire world that goes beyond what most talent could even imagine. It’s a fast-paced, backroom world where the end result is what matters. Everett knows that world, having been in Hollywood for many years and being a part of it. It’s a world where talent is replaceable and feelings can be a liability.
He’s a Tough Mutha Shut Yo Mouth
Everett’s style is all in preparation for acting in front of those people who run that world. He’s hardcore, but when you speak to him one-on-one, you realize that it’s all in love. He’s like the mother hen who looks out for you until you are ready to fly before he himself pushes you out of the nest. And believe me, Everett Oliver pushes. His personality throughout his session was both tough and hilarious.
There have been so many voiceover jobs that I crossed my fingers and threw up 7 hail Mary’s that I didn’t get. Somethings are just perfect for you and you’d love to call up someone special and say “Listen to me on this”. And those are the voiceover auditions that I would call a booth director for. Those are the jobs that I prep for with a voiceover coach months in advance for. Those are the jobs that I now keep Everett on speed dial for. Now, my booth director is Everett Oliver.
On the surface of things, I may seem like the luckiest guy in the world. I’m a digital nomad who makes a living with my God-given talent, my voice. My voice has allowed me to travel all over the world, freedom to decide how I spend my days and has set me in the company of some pretty famous and interesting people. And my work is heard literally by millions of people every day. There are so many reasons Why I Love Being A Voiceover Talent. So what could a guy with so many great fortunes have to complain about when it comes to being a Voiceover Talent? Here’s my list.
When I think about the things that I don’t like about being a voiceover talent, most of it comes down to the business aspects of the job. But there is one thing that relates directly to the job itself and that’s auditioning. Imagine that you have an advanced college degree in something and you have years of experience in the field. Now imagine that every day you go into work and before you put in 8 hours you have to interview for the job you’ve held for years each time in order to even start work. That’s what auditioning is like. It’s like a job interview every day. It’s maddening for me.
I have heard of talents who literally audition for work all day every day. This is what they do until they nail the job. For me auditioning is frustrating. Literally, you are competing against sometimes hundreds of people for one position. And certainly, I have landed many pretty spectacular jobs from auditioning but the process can sometimes feel like a time-waster. Instead, I have based my business in voiceover in marketing my voice and cultivating relationships with clients. But still, auditioning remains a part of what I do.
Who Do I Trust?
Shady managers, agents, producers, websites, and coaches all prey on talent in the voiceover industry. Some of us know who they are. Some of us don’t. The voiceover industry can be a very lucrative field even if you’ve never stood behind the mic. Many people know that and make money legitimately from it. But there is a growing population of people who lack experience and worse, morals, who are guiding others’ careers. They have everything from profit-sharing schemes of talents entire income, to quickly made demos for talent who obviously are not ready to make one. As these snake oil salesmen penetrate the mainstream of the voiceover industry, it’s tougher to tell who is who as many reputable people are befriended by them. As a voice talent, knowing who to trust to help grow your business is becoming as cloudy as Manhattan smog in the early 80’s.
The Pressure To Perform
When you think performing in voiceover, you may immediately think about copy interpretation and executing the right voice or character. But no! The real pressure for a VO professional is to be what Marc Scott calls a VOprenuer. Day in and day out marketing of your voice. For someone who entered into this profession because of their talent, this can be difficult.
There are no guarantees in life but starting any business has a unique set of risks. There is uncertainty about the future of the industry as a whole and then there is a person’s individual uncertainty about competing in that industry. There are questions and doubts about how will you retire from this industry? How will I provide insurance for myself and family? There is also the everyday questions of “where will the next job come from?” In any small business, what you kill is what you eat.
Dealing With Scissors
I probably came into voiceover at a time when rates for VO services were at an all-time low. But that money was still great money for me. But for the professionals who enjoyed even bigger checks for many years before I arrived on the scene, these checks were barely enough to pay for their 7 Series BMW’s. I was an undercutter. 14 years later I struggled to pay off my Acura in 24 months with these rates. Well, the scissors are out again and this time they keep cutting. Rates are getting lower.
Websites who promise new talent work and at the same time promise clients extremely low rates have big budgets to help them rate at the top of google searches. These websites are corporate-minded, not individually concerned and so they have invaded the industry from multiple angles in an attempt to make talent and agents mere low waged hourly-like employees. This is, of course, a fight that as the talent we must push back on both collectively and as individuals.
Billing- I Am Not A F$%king Collection Agency
Whether I’m fighting with Paypal over a chargeback scheme by a customer or calling a client several times a day to collect on an overdue invoice, the part that I dislike about my job is being a collection agency. It’s probably the most disliked part of any business. Comcast wishes they didn’t have to have a collections division either. But unlike Comcast, I deliver the work with quality, on time and with great customer service. So I deserve to be paid on time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Many people are not content trying to drive the rates to almost nothing. They want to make sure that they actually get it for nothing. Others feel as if the interest is accruing on the money they owe me in their accounts so they should delay delay delay. This is extremely inconvenient because meanwhile, this puts me in the position that Comcast is calling me (I’m kidding.) Either way, I tire from having to collect money that is a given that should be simply paid to me.
I’ve added safeguards to ensure that I’m paid. I collect money from certain categories of clients before the work is performed. I also use services that confirm that the work was sent to and received by new customers. And I’ve reduced the number of clients who I accept PayPal from (Because PayPal doesn’t support it’s service providers). At the end of the day, the best way to get paid is to get paid upfront and avoid frustration.
Truthfully, I was having a bit of fun writing and recording this vlog. Some of it was a bit exaggerated. All in all the benefits of being a voiceover talent for me are greater than those things that drive me crazy about being a Voiceover Talent. It’s a great job to have. And had to give advice to anyone who is frustrated with voiceover or who is discouraged from continuing, I’d simply advise them to have fun. Release the pressure. Learn as much as you can. Just do it. It’s worth it.
I am not a Voiceover Expert. I am a student. I taught a class yesterday called “Intro to Voiceover” to a group of excited students who knew nothing about voiceover. Most of them were local Atlanta actors who wanted to break into the business or to wet their beak. But the first thing that I told them is that I myself, even after 15 years, am a student of voiceover. The second thing that I told themwas “this is an intro course and after this, you’ll need extensive training and coaching to really get into the business and I will recommend others who specialize in guiding your career.”
See here’s the thing. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing, but it’s that I know that every day I am learning and in order to keep learning and grow my voiceover business, I need to keep the humility of a student. The other thing that I know is that many people in the industry with a cell phone camera bill themselves as a voiceover expert. Some of this is driven by the ability to sell courses, classes and advice to new students. Some of it is ego-driven and done for likes among peers. A friend who does a lot of great coaching and demo production once confided in me that there is more money in voiceover coaching and demo producing than there is in voiceover itself. I think that’s telling and a warning as to how students should invest their money in growing their businesses.
I do interviews as a way to learn valuable information from long-established and well-respected voiceover experts. I started it also to meet people in our industry and to watch them first hand conduct their businesses. Joe Loesch taught me to wake up every morning, get dressed and go to work in work clothes as I would for a corporate job. Dave Fennoy taught me to give every character a past, present and future. Anne Ganguzza taught me the value of consistency in marketing. And Joe Cipriano reminded me that relationships in business will help propel you forward faster. These are things that I may have taken longer to learn, but listening to voiceover experts whose opinions I value, helped put these things in perspective.
I love motivating people to be their best as I love being motivated by others. It cost money to buy equipment and travel to people’s homes wherever they may be. But I enjoy doing it. It pays when people recognize me and thank them for helping jumpstart their careers, but private lessons are a minuscule part of what I do. And after several lessons with me, I refer students to other coaches. That seems counterintuitive, but my focus is on continuous learning and advancing education. As for actual profit from vlogging, I make none. No ad dollars. No endorsements and no courses to sell. In full disclosure, my content is a form of advertising my business, but I mostly do this because I truly just love content.
One of the biggest themes in my life has been learning and teaching. I am an avid learner. I grew up in a book store in New York that my father owned and learning was the central theme of my life. At a certain age, I realized that I had a passion for teaching people what I had learned. I eventually went on to work in the school system for 5 years. So, I love to impart information. In addition to wanting to share what I have learned in voiceover, I wanted to present that info in a fun way, in a way that you don’t see enough of online in our industry.
I wanted to fill a void that wasn’t being filled. There is plenty of advice in the voiceover industry. There are plenty of experts of varying levels doing podcasts, Youtube, Facebook Live shows and IGTV and I love a lot of that existing content. Some of the shows I enjoy are Ask Dave Fennoy and VO Buzz Weekly. But what I thought that I could do differently was to tell stories. I watch a lot of youtube videos from creators and enjoy the travel stories, the tech stories and the human stories that are told through video and narration. As a voice guy, I have always had a passion for verbally telling those stories. With a Panasonic GH4 in hand, I can tell those stories now cinematically as well as with my voice.
At the cross section of one of the most successful voiceover careers and the embodiment of talent, is one of the nicest people in VO, Joe Cipriano. I had a chance to meet Joe Cip (as he is affectionately referred to) a few years at VO Atlanta. He was signing copies of his book “Living on Air” which was co-written by his wife Ann. As soon as he spoke, I recognized that iconic voice. I was intimidated to speak to him. But after purchasing his book, myself and fellow VO friend Scott Chambers sat around talking to him and even sat at his table for the lunch session. He was so COOL. It made me want to know even more about “How Do I Become Like Joe Cipriano?”
Joe’s career is the admiration of most voiceover talent. It spans decades and thousands of very well known promo and radio imaging projects. You’ve heard him as the voice for promos for the Simpsons on Fox and he’s been the voice of comedies on CBS forever. But inspite of his success, Joe is incredibly humble. When I decided that I wanted a chance to interview him, I doubted that he remembered me. But I knew that Scott had kept in touch with him. So I called Scott. And Scott called Joe. And Joe gave the “ok”. This, I knew, was gonna be exciting.
Not every voice actor, podcaster or youtuber visits “The Clubhouse” where Joe cooks up nationally recognized voiceover. Joe has been the voice of the Emmy’s, Network TV and Game Shows and keeps a busy schedule. So, I was excited to get some of his time for this interview. Much of the prep time at the Clubhouse I spent shooting B Roll of Joe just simply working. His schedule is of back to back jobs. He goes from Game Show, to promos to Radio Imaging with the precision of a surgeon, never missing a beat.
Reading Voiceover With Joe Cipriano
But Joe is still one of the most talented guys in the industry. I had a chance to do a promo read with Joe which blew my mind and inspired the direction of my voiceover career for 2020. Check it out in the video at 9:28. Joe showed me how to break down promo copy. We talked about timing and the nuances of the script which indicate different inflections and points at which the VO talent should change moods, voices etc. The scripts are complete with info for everyone involved in the project from audio mixers, to the SOT and the video producers. Joe showed me all of that.
Watching Joe Work
Joe changed the way I do business. I watched Joe work for hours and what I was impressed with most was his level of organization. He was like a machine. Every job he did, he documented in his system and emailed his agent about. Joe explained to me that it was not only important in keeping track of getting paid, but also making sure you were doing the work you’re being paid for. I know from radio imaging that you are contracted each month to a certain number of pages. Joe keeps track of even the length of scripts and how much he had done that month. After watching him handle the administration part of the job, I went home and became more precise.
Joe credits his success to 4 things: Relationships, Talent, Luck and his wife Ann. Back in 1997 Joe was a radio guy in LA when he was heard on air by a television executive who was searching for the right voice for their new network Fox. He made a few phone calls and a connection of Joes made the introduction. That sparked a relationship with Fox that has lasted more than 2 decades. And similarly, a relationship that he had with a CBS executive that landed him the promo jobs at that network.
But it’s the relationship that he found long before he was nationally admired, with his wife Ann that he seems most proud of. Joe and I talked about his family as much of being a part of his success as he did his talent. Ann helped write his book Living on Air, which they released in 2013. The book explores Joe’s career as well as helps VO talent build their own careers. It takes you through the wild adventures of broadcasting life.
I walked away from the Clubhouse that day thinking about luck. When speaking to most people, they credit hard work exclusively to their success. But during my time with Joe, he was humbled by the fact that there were many key moments when he just got lucky. Obviously, Joe has more talent than most voice actors could hope for. But he very plainly expressed that if it weren’t for simply being given certain opportunities, that he might not be the Joe that we all know. For me, that was humbling.
Voiceover Branding and Marketing may be as important as the performance itself. In my lifetime I have seen terrible products marketed well that sold in large numbers. Equally, I have seen great products with terrible marketing and branding that had no traction. Recently, I sat down with long time friend, Marketing expert and podcaster Vanessa Kelly to chat about Voiceover Branding and VO in general.
I sat down with Brand Therapy for a lite-hearted conversation about a field that few even notice. We spoke about voiceover branding and how I started my career and how I’ve kept it alive this long. Additionally, we talked about what voiceover is and what it is not. We discussed marketing and voiceover branding. I educated the audience on how to find a qualified voiceover artist as well.
“Episode 3 features conversation with voice over actor Dane Reid of Dane Reid Media. With over 15 years in the VO field, Dane gives us his expert breaks down of exactly what VO is and isn’t, when you should hire a VO actor for your project and other fun tips
If you are some who works with, is in charge of, or are trying to build a #brand, voice over work should be a consideration for your next project.”
I started working on a plan to create a full-service, professional mobile voiceover and production studio comparable to my home studio about a year ago. It began when I purchased my Universal Audio Apollo Twin and began tweaking it to get the best sound of my career. Once I realized that Universal also made the UA Arrow, I began planning how to get the best sounding commercials out of a mobile voiceover studio.
Voiceover and audio professionals are very particular about their sound. While it’s the talent that gets you the VO gig, a persons sound can quickly ruin for them. Throughout my career I’ve had moments of sound issues. There have been times when there was noise from the background, or reflection from the room. But in all those moments I was able to fix those issues, except when it came to my mobile voiceover studio. Those issues are much harder to fix.
Because I travel for both business and frequent adventures around the world, it’s important to be able to record wherever I go. I have been caught off guard and had to even record a radio imaging voiceover in the bathroom of IAH moments before I boarded a 10 hour flight to Brazil. I had no other options. It was me, my cell phone and an echoey bathroom and a job that had to be turned in before I landed. I also once recorded in the parking lot at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica with my mobile voiceover rig. When I listen back on the sound of those recordings, they all sound bad. There are various problems with a mobile studio. The first of which is that you can’t control your environment.
Most talent aren’t recording in the bathroom of an airport. They are recording in a hotel room when on vacation. And mostly these environments are out of the control of and unknown to the voiceover talent before entering the situation. We use things like pillow forts and kaotica eyeballs to get the best sound but I’ve never been able to get the same sound that I get at home. I think part of the reason is that the home studio isn’t mimicked by the mobile studio.
Even though I have a better environment at home, I also have better equipment that filters the environment. At home for example, I have a DBX 166 exclusively to gate noise. As you can imagine, carrying that around “on holiday” would be quite awkward. So instead, whatever hardware I have for the mobile voiceover studio has to do the same as the home studio, but in a much more compact form.
I’ve tried the iRig Mic Studio, the Steinberg UR 22 and most recently the Focusrite 2i2 recording bundle, but none of them gave me the same warm compressed sound that I get at home. And none of them offer the same plug-ins. So when I found out that Universal Audio created a thunderbolt compatible smaller version of the Apollo, I was super excited. The only problem is that my PC was not thunderbolt compatible. So in September of 2018 I bought a Dell XPS 15 (9575). I loved the big bright screen and the portability of it.
I then purchased a gently used Rode NTG3. At home I have a Sennheiser 416 but didn’t want to carry that around with me everywhere I go. It’s a tough piece of gear but it’s also expensive. I was able to get the Rode NTG3 from eBay for only $300. Additionally I purchased several plug ins by Izotope like RX 6 and another Plug-in which cleans up audio that my good friend and colleague Jean Francois Donaldson swore me to secrecy about. Now all I needed was the same interface.
The UA Apollo has grown in popularity among voiceover talent over the past few years. I purchased mine in 2016 at the recommendation of an old High School friend who is now a world class engineer. The plug-ins that come with this thing are incredible and duplicate the sound of some of the greatest analog hardware in the history of gear. Plus the dedicated DSP chip processes the audio on the Apollo itself, relieving your computer of the strain.
The UA Arrow does the same but with one less DSP chip for slightly less power out the box. It offers the same on screen interface to allow you to control your studio like a pro studio. None of the other audio interfaces that I’ve tried had the same level of control. And out of the box, the UA Arrow has the same plug-ins that I mix with like the Precison Rack Strip. The Arrow also has the DBX 160 plug-in and the UA 610 which both recreate the effects of hardware that I use in my home studio. In fact included in both the Arrow and the Apollo are the:
UA 1176LN Legacy
UA 1176SE Legacy
Ampeg SVT-VR Classic
Marshall Plexi Classic
Precision Channel Strip (Precision Mix Rack Collection)
Precision Reflection Engine (Precision Mix Rack Collection)
Precision Delay Mod (Precision Mix Rack Collection)
Precision Delay Mod L (Precision Mix Rack Collection)
Pultec EQP-1A Legacy
Teletronix LA-2A Legacy
It’s still early. I haven’t fully tested the system with all of the components in an uncontrolled environments. But the elements are there and this is the best hope I have for having a mobile voiceover studio that sounds like my home studio. If you’re an established voiceover talent, please share your experience with the Universal Audio Arrow or with the mobile gear you use. I am always keeping my eye open for new audio tech.