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.
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.
When Gabrielle Nistico talks voiceover, be prepared to take notes. This VO Talent, Voiceover Coach, Casting Director, Expert Marketer, Author and Meet Up Group leader wrote the book on starting and growing your voice over career. Actually she’s written more than one book. I visited The Voice Over Vixen at her office and studio in Charlotte, North Carolina and had an in depth conversation with her on taking those key first steps in a voice over career.
Watch The Two Part Interview With Gabrielle Nistico Below
My first question to Gabby came from an email that I personally received asking for advice on how to break into voice over. As a voice over talent I get these questions all the time and often I fumble around to answer, because to me there is no sure fire way into the industry. But Gabby fielded the question like a short stop who had been served a routine ground ball. First she offered some great advice on knowing whether you are even right for voiceover work.
“Hi Dane. I am one of “Blanks” friends from college. She gave me your name because of a status I posted. Many people tell me that I have a voice that should be in radio, doing voiceovers or broadcasting. She mentioned that you do voiceovers & that maybe we could connect & you could give me some guidance with that. What do you think?”
We’ve all heard it before. You have an awesome voice. And the natural thought is that a person should make money from it. Maybe you should quit your job as an accountant and buy a bunch of recording equipment and start a voiceover career. But is that really what you should do. Not according to Gabrielle.
She points out that there are tons of people with great voices. And she likens the voiceover industry to the modelling industry where there too are tons of great looking people available for runway and print work. But simply being beautiful does not qualify you to be a model. So likewise, being a voiceover talent is more than just having a great speaking voice.
So what else is there? Nistico points out some very basic things that you should consider first; your acting abilities, your reading skills, your ability to sight read a script, your ability to interpret a script and what you do once put in the position of being behind the mic. All of these variables are things that your mother, best friend, baker or even total stranger had no idea were part of forging a voice over career.
So who should you listen to? If you can’t trust your friends and family, then who can you trust? Trust a professional like a voiceover coach or established voice actor. Your friends and family are probably not qualified to tell you what it takes to be a Voiceover Talent. Best bet to hear it from someone who has experience in the field of voice over. Casting directors, coaches, Voice Over Talent themselves and producers are all great people to ask. These are people who know what it takes and can differentiate between a great voice and a potential great voice talent.
And finally Gabrielle warns not to ignore great advice. The road to developing a sustainable Voice Over career can be far less painful if you heed her words. Gabby offers up a ton of tools on her website GabrielleNistico.com to help anyone who is interested in forging a VO career determine if they are have the passion and are right to go forward in voiceover.
I spoke with Gabrielle Nistico in this two part series where we talked about her journey to the top of the voice world, voice over marketing, VoiceHunter, the Voice Over Vixen and Radio Imaging. Be sure to watch both parts where she even allows us to watch her record liners for a station she contracts.