Groups are Gold

groupsThere is a point of diminishing returns in creating meaningful relationships whenever you become part of a population that’s too big.

For that reason, FaceBook Groups and Google Communities, and Twitter Lists, and LinkedIn Groups are where the real action is.

Even the Voice-Over Friends FaceBook group that I administer (now 1300+ members) remains fairly intimate because probably only 20% of the members actively post and participate.

Google Plus Communities are where it’s at as far as I’m concerned.  Because of Gmail, YouTube, and GDrive integrations, G+ Communities are becoming increasingly active, and in my mind are more productive…less fluff.  On Google Plus, feel free to join us by sending me your Google+ profile URL at courvo@courvo.com.

  • Google+ Voiceovers
  • AudioBook Narrators Club
  • Social Media VO
  • Transitioning to Full-Time VO
  • Derek Chappell’s Voiceover Blogs

BUT HERE’S THE REAL GOLD IN GROUPS:

Commiserating with your peers in groups is great.  As mostly independent freelancers, it’s nice to touch base with others who understand our challenges.

But you’re missing incredible marketing opportunities if you are joining only VO groups and communities.  On LinkedIn especially, join the professional groups you are hoping to target as client prospects.  Believe me, if you’re hoping to get work in Video Games, start joining any one of the LinkedIn professional groups that are populated with people who work in this sphere.  I just checked…there’s a Game Developers group…it’s private, so you have to ask to join, but most groups are pretty accepting.  There are over 650,000 LinkedIn groups.  If you can’t find the one you’re looking for, start one on your own.  It’s very easy.

Lurk in these groups for a while.  Get a feel for the tenor of the members.  Eventually, you may want to chime in with a question…or maybe as a voice actor you can contribute to a thread.  Offering links, information, and help is a great way to pay-it-forward on these groups.

Inevitably, people there will  come to recognize you and what you do.  The next time they need a certain kind of voice, they might just give you a call.  This is how it works.  Engaging in conversation creates eventual relationships.  Relationships lead to trust, and trust can result in work.

CourVO

It’s All About Relationship….

chuck&stacey…and an occasional selfie.

Some weeks are busier than others.  This one was a blur.  Luckily, smartphones are handy, and well, you know how that goes.  We take pictures of ourselves with friends, 2014-04-05 20.52.59’cause we want to remember the moment, and savor it later.  I’m grateful for that this week….because of the blur, the timeline, the demands of schedule.  Pics become a sort of visual journal.  This is mine from the last few days.

It began last weekend with my wife, Victoria, Joe Cipriano, his wife Ann, and their friend Stoney Richards.

2014-04-08 13.21.18Joe was here for NAB, and I ran into him at the convention, too, along with some other friends from the tight community of voice-over friends.  That’s Tim Keenan on the left, and Mike 2014-04-08 14.12.56Laponis on the right.

Joe and I are pictured at the BSW booth with ipDTL’s Kevin Leach.

Before I said goodbye to the convention, I found the two stars of GeekBeat.TV.  John Pozadzides and 2014-04-08 14.48.20Cali Lewis are going places with their popular online program.  They report on new devices & geek trends, and they have fun doing it.

At this point, I’m up to late Tuesday afternoon, and the day was not nearly done.  After traipsing all over the 2014-04-08 18.47.24NAB exhibit floor, I was expected as a guest and honoree at the annual Saks 5th Avenue Vegas Dozen annual event.  This was the scene I faced from the podium with the other 11 honorees as we looked out over the red carpet at the Fashion show mall.  2014-04-08 18.10.51

Oh, and one of the other “dozen” Las Vegas men being honored was Chriss Angel.  Yes, the same Chriss Angel who is the headlining magician on the Strip.

2014-04-08 20.23.33

On the right is a shot of my wife with one of the other honorees:  Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Stevensen Sylvester.  He grew up in Las Vegas watching me on the news.

My week was just getting started.  Wednesday evening, I spent an hour online with VO Buzz Weekly’s Chuck Duran and Stacey J. Aswad (seen above)  in a Skype interview for one of their upcoming shows.  They’re getting “off the couch” with their interview series, and I was jazzed to be a guest on their show.  I believe they said it’ll go up on their site at the end of the month.

2014-04-10 20.24.09Thursday was a visit from everybody’s favorite Audio Expert: George Whittam.  George and sidekick for this trip to NAB — Lee Pinney — came to watch a newscast and then joined me at Melissa Moat’s Vegas Voicers meet-up.  It was our biggest gathering so far:  30 people.  2014-04-10 20.27.43 HDR

Unfortunately, I found out that three of our group are leaving Vegas to live in other cities.  One of them is an amazing talent:  Jason Rooney.  He’s moving back to an area of the country I call home — near St. Louis.  We’re gonna miss him!

I have more pictures, but you’re probably bored already.  I’m so grateful for my life.  When I see these pictures, I see a full and hectic week, but I also see how richly blessed I am, and I know it’s important to count those blessings.

I hope you have a grand weekend!

CourVO

 

West Coast Mixer

From what I could see, the VO Atlanta event was a lot of fun.

We kicked it up on the West Coast this weekend, too, with an APA Mixer (Audio Publishers Assoc).

Held at the luxurious Deyan Studios in Northridge, CA…the event was enthusiastically attended by a representative mix of narrators, pubishers, producers, actors, and agents from all over the country.

Can you name the lovely ladies in this picture?

2014-03-23 14.35.26-a

Be Nimble (and quick)

nimbleThe other night, I met with some publishers about the release of my new book. Our conversation was involved and detailed, but what struck me most was a word the publisher kept using.

NIMBLE.

He claimed a small/freelance/start-up business can’t survive in today’s world without being nimble. In other words:  agile; quick to understand, think, devise, and be clever.  The publisher built a convincing argument for nimble-ness being the reason behind his success, and why his publishing business was my best choice for the new book.

That remains to be seen, but I appreciated his enthusiasm for the nimble concept.  To me, that’s the hallmark of most freelance voice-actors.  They adjust to challenges quickly, improvise, and move quickly to find the best way to plug into their clients’ systems.  At least the successful ones do.

Being nimble includes not sitting still, not sitting on your laurels, and not being content with the status quo.

The Website

As a personal example, here are my latest moves:  My new website is 99% done.  It’s responsive, meaning it reveals pretty much the same, and all the demos play, no matter what device, what format, what platform, or what operating system you’re using.  Being agile means accommodating the undeniable trend towards mobile browsing.

Video

The website also integrates by commercial demo site, and my blog.  Check it out and let  me know what you think.  Go to http://www.courvo.com.  The blog is http://www.courvo.com/blog or http://www.courvo.biz.  True to my frequent rant here on this blog, the home page of my new site includes a video window prominently displayed “above the fold”.  Being nimble means using video marketing to its full advantage.

Social Media

Continuing my insatiable need to understand Social Media, I’ve launched a new Google Plus community for Voice Actors to “optimize social media strategies for your voice-over business”: Social Media VO.  My equally-social-media-smitten friend Derek Chappell is my co-conspirator in this endeavour.  Send me your G+ profile URL, and I’ll make sure you get an invite.  Send it to me at courvo@courvo.com.  We plan to pack it with all the latest social media trends, infographics, stats, and marketing strategies.  Being nimble/agile means being on Google+ AND staying in touch with Social Media changes, and there is NO shortage of resources.

…the List Goes On

Need more convincing that nimble is desirable in our business? Consider the following trending topics that deserve some fairly agile adjustments to your business plan:

ISDN’s demise / the rise of ipDtL and or Source Connect Now and or SoundStreakMobile recording technologies on SmartPhone/Tablet
Online Cloud/storage/back-up advances
Challenges and changing paradigms in P2P offerings
The metamorphosis of union and agency representation
The Global marketplace with concomitant rate differences
The never-ending parade of new DAWs, Microphones, Pre-amps, and plug-ins.

What am I missing?  How are YOU being nimble in your business?

CourVO

The DeWees Magic

dewees-2This could spoil me…another Vegas weekend, another VO workshop!

2014 seems to be the year for ‘em. Before the Spring is over, I will have attended four here in my home town.

In a sense, local is good…because you can overdo the conference / meet-up / MasterMind / webinar / Stand-Up / Google hang-out shuffle.  I’ve verged on it a few times in my career so far.  Not that continuing education isn’t a good thing.  It is.   And I also totally understand the desire for voice-actors to find camaraderie and community in the real physical world when the virtual universe grows tiresome.  But the travel and the meet-up scene can get tedious if you do it too often.

And… there comes a point when you need to MOVE on all that you learn…to ACT, and not hold back or be reticent in your approach, ’cause you still think you haven’t truly arrived in the ranks of the pros.  Go for it.   All the while, you’ll still be learning, and you’ll still make some mistakes, but that should never prevent you from getting into the work world and start making your own mark.

This weekend was a “VO Revolution” workshop organized by Bill DeWees, and one of his business mentors:  Fred Gleeck ( a Vegas resident).  Bill is one of the nicest guys I know; a hard-working, successful voice actor, and a smart businessman.  More than 100+ of his YouTube videos on the theme of approaching your business with a certain dewees-1common-sense, pragmatic, savvy more than proves DeWees as someone with the “right stuff”.  Just search “DeWees” on YouTube, and start soaking-in the knowledge.  That’s another reason why I like DeWees…he believes in paying it forward.

Bill had invited me to speak on Social Media.   That’s a topic I’m certainly comfortable with, and I hope it helped to open up some possibilities for those who attended.  I’d characterize the group as pretty heavy on the side of relative newcomers to the business.

DeWees admits he is a hard sell on the issue of Social Media, and yet his work proves otherwise.  Bill has chosen his channel… and it’s YouTube.  You won’t find him on FaceBook or Twitter much.  But he does YouTube SO WELL, that it almost doesn’t matter.  I’m not satisfied with one platform, and try to be good at ALL the major top-5 networks (FB, Twitter, G+, YouTube, and LinkedIn)…but can’t claim the dedication and mastery to any ONE like Bill can.

dewees-3The day’s sessions ended with me joining Bill and the other presenters in a panel for general questions.  We talked some about rates, gender differences, passion, P2P’s, and many other concerns you run across in this blog and other forums.

My presentation covered what I called a Social Media Primer for Voice Actors.  I’ll be happy to send you a copy if you email me at courvo@courvo.com.  Most of what you’ll find in it is gleaned from the pages of this blog, but it’s a nice summary.

Among the main points I like to hammer home about using Social media is what I call the 3-Be’s.

1) Be genuine
2) Be generous
3) Be consistent

Honorable mention to the 3-Be’s is be unambiguous.  Most social media interaction is written, and the written word doesn’t suffer sarcasm, quirky humor, or anger very well.  Keep it straightforward.

In the days and weeks ahead, you’ll see me landing more often on the social media topics, and how voice actors can take advantage of the social media platforms.  I know you think I do that already, but I plan to move into that space even more aggressively, and my hope is that you will be the beneficiary.

CourVO

Source-Elements Debuts “NOW”

source-connect-aIn the midst of an unbridled enthusiasm for ipDtL… one of the first providers of non-ISDN remote, high-quality recording — Source Elements — is out with a compelling competing product.

Even as World-Voices Organization calls for an industry-wide end to ISDN, pretenders to the throne are emerging with strong statements as replacements.

ipDtL and SoundStreak are both gaining traction as alternatives.  There are others, but for years, Source-Connect has been a viable and working (if low key) solution to an ISDN workaround.

Now, apparently, feeling the heat of other contenders, Source-Elements has gotten busy with it’s own offering.

I had the pleasure of being in an active working online session for SourceConnect Now with Rebekah Wilson of Source-Elements.  At this point, registered NOW users cannot just sign-in and connect with other registered users; a Source-Elements customer service person has to initiate the internet transaction, but this is just temporary.

sourceelementsnow

screen capture of my live session with Source-Connect NOW showing simple and intuitive program interface

For this Beta test, I had to perform a registration, then a log-in (X2), but Rebekah tells me by next week, it’ll be a one-click process. After the log-in, it’s a truly brainless interchange… in seconds I was connected with Rebekah in a seamless, solid, and quality voice transaction.  You’ll see VU meters actively reflecting the voice from your end, and the other end.

Again, this was only so effortless because I was already a registered Source-Connect user.  She was not forthcoming with a pricing structure at this point, but I can only imagine that it is competitive (has to be).

I got the sense from Rebekah that they were on the verge of a public debut, and that’s why they’ve been so generous with granting interviews, and getting word out on social media today.  Word of this product was circulating under the radar for weeks, and with this revealing look, it’s clear Source-Elements is:

1) serious about being agressive in this space
2) clearly putting some forethought into design and marketplace
3) reacting to customer demand for an easy-to-use ISDN alternative for both talent and producer/engineer.

From the “NOW” Beta website, some specs:

Beta Features:

Opus codec
Set at 128kbps for professional high-quality audio.

ISDN-like workflow
Low-latency bi-directional audio.

Conference up to 10 connections
Only limited by your bandwidth.

For music and voice
Send high-quality mono, dual mono or stereo.
Mono: Voiceover and remote ADR sessions
Dual mono: Two discrete microphones or timecode
Stereo: High-quality music monitoring and review

Easy-to-make Connections
Self-configuring, easy-to-make connections
No port-forwarding required, works on most networks automatically.


Requirements:

Mac OSX, Windows, Linux or ChromeOS
Compatible with any OS that supports Chrome Browser.

Audio device
A stereo or multi-mono CoreAudio, ASIO or Linux audio device set to 48000hz sample-rate.

Chrome Browser version 32 or higher.
Chrome Beta 33 recommended due to audio bug where you cannot set your own output with Chrome 32.

Watch this blog for further developments on this exciting product very soon!  Nice work, Source-Elements!

CourVO

Vanessa Hart <3

vanessa1Vanessa Hart; loved by many…audiobook narrator par excellence, VO coach, friend, and lover of life has reached the end of her Earthly path.

You may leave messages for her family on her FaceBook page, which is being handled by her sister.

https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.hart?fref=ts

You may also leave comments for John Florian’s upcoming tribute to Vanessa on VoiceOverXtra.  Mail him here:  info@VoiceOverXtra.com

She will be greatly missed by a vast community of voice-actors and an Audiobook community who loved her.

CourVO

Final Stop…

locomotiveFunny how often things run their course despite our feeble efforts at change.

The ISDN train is coming into the station for the last time, and soon, it’s final passengers will wonder why they ever bothered with the old thing, now that all those brand-new shiny conveyances are available.

Besides… getting a ticket on the ISDN train is expensive, not just for the passengers, but for the companies that run the thing.  TelCos want to be done with it.  Voice talent — being more agile — are ready NOW to jump to the next new thing.  Producers/engineers/studios are the ones stuck in the mud.

I get it.  They’re mighty busy, and ISDN is too reliable for them to change.  But the smart ones will leave the train behind now, and get on something George Jetson would be riding, ’cause the momentum is there.

You can see from a long string of blogs I’ve written, what the next technology will be.  It’ll be an internet protocol-based, broadband remote-recording solution.  The one getting all the buzz right now is ipDtL (or “IppDittle”, as my friend Brian Amador calls it).  Source Connect has had the corner on this side of the market for years, but has done little in the way of marketing.  My personal favorite is SoundStreak.  Then there are some also-rans:  Skype for one, and ConnectionOpen for another.

Regardless, World-Voices Organization is deciding to take a big stand on this issue.  We’re your voice over industry trade group that you should be joining, remember?  Advocating, promoting, educating, and being the leader on issues-of-the-day is what we’re all about.

We say it’s time to dump ISDN.

The tide is in your favor if you are an independent free-lance voice actor living anywhere besides Los Angeles and New York.  There are a heckuva lot of us, and we think we deserve a chance at some of those juicy pies that only ISDN talent could get heretofore.  The advent of IP-based remote recording will be the biggest democratization of the voice-over marketplace in some time…and advances once more the evolution of this business due to the internet.

The next time you talk to your favorite studio, ask ‘em what they’re going to do when ISDN dies.  Press the point…even suggest your favorite alternative.  Then show ‘em the WoVO ISDN Manifesto I’m printing below.  Last stop for the ISDN locomotive.

(this doc also avaible on the World-Voices Organization website)

_________________

 The Emancipation from ISDN Proclamation
January 1, 2014

By the Executive Board of World-Voices Organization.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the first day of January, in the year two thousand and fourteen, a proclamation and challenge was issued by the Executive Board of World-Voices Organization, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

Whereas:

ISDN service is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Telecommunication companies are no longer installing or providing service in some regions.

Telecommunication companies are charging uniquely different rates for different regions, effectively making its use and access too costly to many voice talents.

ISDN is expensive to have and maintain for both voice talents and producers.

It limits producers to using voice talent only from certain regions or those that already have the technology infrastructure.

It’s an economic issue, it’s an issue of “fairness.”

Whereas:

There are many phenomenal talents in many places with poor or no ISDN access, limiting both them and producers from casting a wider spectrum of talents.

Leveling the field and making even more voices available to voice talent seekers are Internet-based studio-to-studio links that allow for superior quality audio at a far lower price. Source Connect, Sound Streak and ipDTL.

Tests show that these technologies are reliable and easy to use.

FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler has this vision:

“This is what I call the Fourth Network Revolution. History has shown that new networks catalyze innovation, investment, ideas and ingenuity. Their spillover effects can transform society think of the creation of industrial organizations and the standardized time zones that followed in the wake of the railroad and telegraph.”

We at World-Voices Organization, the industry association of freelance voice talent, agree and feel it’s time that studios, producers, ad agencies and other seekers of voice talent make the move now and start accepting these services for remote recording work. Keep your ISDN until it is gone, but open the market to more talents. This benefits everyone.

Free the talent, plug into more choice.  He with the most choices, wins.

 http://www.fcc.gov/blog/ip-transition-starting-now

Almost There….

wordpressHave you missed me?

Actually, I’ve enjoyed a bit of a hiatus from daily blogging.  It’s given me time to work on my taxes, and think about some changes I’m making to my business plan.

The blog/commercial website (what you’re on now) is almost done.  The next big move is to re-direct my COURVO.COM site to come up as the HOME page when you use that URL.  Right now you get my new courvo.com site when you type in courvo.com, and you get my old commercial site when you type in courvo.com.  Getting to my blog should be easier.  Details.  Details.

I don’t have any big corporate team working on this.  97% of it is the work of one man: Brett Bumeter of Softduit Media, with some design elements provided by DB Cooper.  I’ve been mostly a bother, I think…but bustin’ with pride to get this thing up and running.

It boggles my mind to think of the technical wizadry that goes into a site like this, and Brett’s mastery of it all.  Again, the underlying secret sauce in all of this is that the site is RESPONSIVE.  Meaning, it reveals more-or-less the same no matter what device, what operating system, and what plug-ins you’re running.  Gotta stay with the times, ya know:  people want to be able to see your demos on their smartphone these days.

You’ll be a big help if you can comment back to me below, or email me with anything that looks wonky to your eye….anything that doesn’t work right or misbehaves.  There are some content (wording) changes I want to make, but that’s pretty easy once the big stuff is done.

Thanks!

CourVO

Living on Air Redux

iphonevvideoWhen an event goes right, you may hear about it more than once.  Such is the case with Joe Cipriano’s visit to Vegas earlier this month.  Bear with  me.

You’ll remember, it was a dual-purpose weekend.  Not only was VO Coach and Producer Marice Tobias in town for an all-men’s weekend workshop, but Cipriano was stopping through to promote his new book “Living on Air”.

The World-Voices Organization arranged for Joe’s event, which included some live produced segments of the book read by Joe maricemen3himself… something not attempted at any of his previous book events in Washington, D.C. and NYC.  Many of the Las Vegas VO community were in attendance, as well as most of the Tobias VO Workshop visitors.

me,joe,mariceAs part of the event, I had arranged for a videographer to come and record as much of the event as possible — certainly the live reading of the book.  At the last minute, though, she informed me she was not able to make it in time.  No worries…out came the mini-cams, iPhones, Android Tablets, and other cameras from those in attendance.

Amazingly, Joe was later able to cobble together some concurrent video segments from all those digital devices, which were stitched together to tell the story, along with a musical intro done by Chuck Duran.  You might even see a couple of moments of yours truly MC’ing the whole affair.  Nicely done, Joe!

CourVO