You? Even if you don’t want to, you are going to be you.
Stacey Stahl, my manager and friend, emailed today with a link to Drew McLellan’s blog A nickname does not make you more cool. Reading it right after I read my friend Peter O’Connell’s take on lowball voiceover rates got me thinking about the voiceover business.
In 1983 when I started doing voiceovers professionally there were lots of men and women doing voiceovers, but no where near the number there are today. For a plethora of reasons, voice acting has become a “cool” thing to do. A whole cottage industry has grown up of voice actors offering training to those who want to get starting doing voiceover work. I’m not saying that is bad. More attention and activity and focus has led to more work for all of us. (And as my friend and mentor Philip Banks has been saying for a few years now, there’s an ever increasing rush to quality in this business. He’s quite right.)
Each of us has a unique place we occupy in the voiceover universe (speaking of which and I hope you’ll forgive the bunny trail, you really should be part of Voiceover Universe) with our own areas of expertise and ability. Joe Cipriano is a great promo voice. Wally Wingert is a great animation voice. Nancy Cartwright is best known as the voice of Bart Simpson. (She even has Bart as her favicon!) Each of these stars does lots of other work, of course. But they have a focus, not just on what they’re known for, but who they are. Every successful voice actor, ever successful performer of any kind, does.
I love telling stories. I love narrating documentaries. Audiobooks. eLearning. Corporate training or marketing. It’s all good.
There’s room for all kinds of voiceover pros. There’s even room for folks trying to pick up a little pocket money to supplement their meager radio salary. But, if you want to make a living in the voiceover business, forget about trying to find some “cool” way to re-position yourself. Forget about trying to “become” whatever is “hot” right now.
Find your focus and feed it. (And if you need some help with that last idea, the very best person to talk to is my friend Kristine Oller.)