Must-See Numbers

Graphs, and statistics…data and research results…they can all be misconstrued until…

…until the preponderance of the data starts leading to much the same conclusion over and over.

THEN you know you have more than just conjecture, you have about the closest thing to predicting the future that there is.

I came across some information this week that blew me away.  It’s a SlideShare presentation, and there are 88 slides in all.  Honestly, I didn’t look at them all…YET.  But I’m going to be darn sure I do!

KPCB: Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, Byers, is a Mega Venture Capital firm with its hands on plenty of data.  They’ve sifted the info down to the impressive SlideShare you’re about to see.

It’s all about internet stats.  You know…the internet…only the most significant cultural phenomenon since the wheel, the bible, peanut butter and electricity.  The internet…the technological game-changer that has transformed the voice-acting business and many others.

The presentation is broken down into four chapters:

  • Basic Stats (don’t ignore this section)
  • Re-Imagination (of everything)
  • Asset-Light Generation
  • USA, Inc ( a lot to be excited about in Tech…a lot to worry about in other areas)

Why should you care about internet/technology/global market trends?

If I have to explain it to you….

OK, OK… look at it this way.  You want to be out front…you want to be able to give your business the best chance it has in what is now a global economy.  Seeing “it” coming, will not only keep you from being blindsided, but it puts you on the vanguard of change.  Change is constant, and change is opportunity.

Besides, it’s just fascinating research…I guarantee… more than one of the following slides will make you raise your eyebrows.  See below.

CourVO

 

 

 

Tablet Transformation

Tablets are a game changer.

Sure, your iPad is handy for swiping through copy as you read…easy to catch up on email while waiting at the doctor’s office…but tablet computers are about to explode on the scene in ways you didn’t expect, and the jury’s still out on how that effects the business of voice-acting.

Yes, Apple’s iPad is still King, and coming out soon with a Prince of a smaller pad with a 7″-screen and at the $200 price-point that made the Amazon Kindle FIRE such a hit.  Add to that a plethora of Android-powered devices from Asus, Acer, Samsung, HTC, Sony, Fujitsu, Lenovo and others… and you’re onto some serious competition.

But wait…there’s more!  Google will soon launch it’s own mid-size tablet the the Google name on it, called the NEXUS, and early reviews are glowing…like…really good!…also around $200.

I’ve also come across some recent deep research that shows how consumers are changing their behaviors due to the increasing penetration of tablet computing in our culture.

Here are some key points:

People primarily use their tablets for consuming content. (in order)

  1. Watching Video
  2. Checking Weather
  3. Getting News

Tablet Users are trending older and more evenly distributed between the genders.

  • 74 million tablet users, up 31% in one year
  • Increasingly users are from high income households
  • Tablet penetration on course to reach 47% next year, 16% are new buyers

Android device penetration is now even with iOS

  • Kindle Fire prompted the surge
  • Samsung proliferation on Android OS contributed

Tablet Users are very satisfied and using more

  • Average use is now 14 hours/week, evening dominates
  • 74% use their tablet daily

Content is King (as always)

  • 94% access content/information
  • 67% access the internet (1/3rd outside the home)
  • 66% check email
  • 61% play games

More and more users are showing Cross-Platform tendencies 85% on 2 screens at once, 66% on 3 screens

 ALL THIS IS CREATING A HUGE NEW MARKET FOR CONTENT…ESPECIALLY SHORT-FORM NEWS & ENTERTAINMENT VIDEOS…61% of tablet owners PURCHASED content on their tablet…and the top 3 areas are entertainment, sports, and weather.  (see http://www.online-publishers.org for data)

What’s your takeaway as a voice-actor?   Indicators are that it bodes well for us.

The demand for more content invariably leads to more need for the human voice in different delivery streams.  It’s still the unsynthesized human voice that brings the best emotions out of consumers when it comes to ads, content, entertainment, information, sports and weather.

Just be ready for the agent, client, or company to say: “…we’re putting together this program for our customers on the iPad, and…”

CourVO

Bi-Linguage

Having grown up in white-bread middle-America in the 50′s, I never imagined a future for this country that accepted anything else but English. I won’t mince my words: I think it weakens our country to be bi-lingual.  That sounds odd coming from me.  I’m the son of a Swiss Immigrant, whose native tongue was French, and my mother spoke German in her Iowa farmland school and church through sixth grade.

But back then it wasn’t cool to speak anything else but English.  The elegant French pronunciation of my last name — Americanized — was:  Kor-vuh-seer’.  My father almost NEVER spoke French around the house.  He wanted to be an “American”…and that meant speaking English.

That sentiment is apparently gone, now.

Having said that…and getting back to reality…there seems to be no turning back. And besides, the arrogant attitude in America of the 60′s. 70′s and 80′s where the education system only gave lip service to learning foreign languages has hurt us all on the world stage.

So now, it seems cool to be able to hang out your voice-over shingle with the words: “BILINGUAL” or “Spanish AND English VO”.  I’d be jealous, but I’m having enough trouble enough accomplishing English.  So is it likely in my late-50′s that I’d be able to master a 2nd or 3rd language?  I’ve always been great with pronunciations (you might be surprised how many broadcasters are NOT), but believably delivering copy in two languages seems daunting.  There are so many Spanish dialects…French lilts…British acccents…American twangs.  Where would I start?

IF you’re a bi-lingual voice actor, I’m interested to know how you market yourself…whether it doubles your exposure, your opportunity, your income.  Is it twice the headache?  Do you have two rate-cards?

Please participate in my brief survey posted in the Voice-Over Friends FaceBook Group.

Or…feel free to react to THIS blog article in the comment section below.  I’d like to know your thoughts.

CourVO

Speak Text For Me

The issue of Synthetic Voices has garnered as much or more attention on this blog as any other one topic.

There are unique challenges and advantages in this area to the voice actor.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, a little backstory:  I’ve blogged about this at least 6 times in recent years:

*Synthetic Voice: Revolutionary or Repugnant?

*‘Touched a (Synthetic?) Nerve!

*More Writing On the Wall

*Synthetic Voices — this time with digital code!

*This VO Issue Won’t Go Away

*Convert Text Speech

Well, here comes another one.

Speak Text For Me.com and the Speak Text iPhone app lead you to the same service…a software solution that claims to read out loud anything you highlight on a website or a document in 20 different native languages, and that can translate from English to 30 different languages.

Google translate offers much the same functionality, but not spoken (that I know of).

Certainly the technology exists, and it’s better than ever.  The best examples of this sit at the top of a long history of software development that essentially defines the best of artificial intelligence based on powerful algorithms.  Dragon Naturally Speaking, now owned by the Software company NUANCE, is advanced in this.  From the start Amazon’s Kindle has offered the feature of text-to-speech.

But Speak Text For Me seems to go one better.  From their site:

Innovative Features:
1. Speak & translate the touched words on web pages and documents.

2. Speak & translate the whole page from start or touched words to the end sentence by sentence.
3. Search and speak the whole page from matching words to the end sentence by sentence.
4. Switch to available Google or Microsoft translating service automatically.
5. Support powerful speaking repeat, pause and speed options.

Features:
- Speak & translate web pages and documents
- Web pages
- Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint
- Apple iWork: Pages, Numbers, Keynote
- eBook (epub)
- Text, RTF document

Why VO’s should care:

#1.  Growing acceptance of synthetic voices may cut into our services.  These new innovative software products often feature outright computer-simulated human voices, replacing the need for a real human voice.  Critics claim listening to these artificially-created voices becomes monotonous and tedious.  Others listeners like it for it’s neutrality.

#2  Growing acceptance of synthetic voices may create more VO opportunities.  Example: Siri…the new artificial intelligence app in the iPhone 4s.  In every country where this app is sold, a voice-actor was contracted to speak the thousands of responses.

#3  These programs can aid in quick pronunciation help.  Sometimes in audiobook work, I spend valuable narration time doing research for foreign or difficult technical pronunciations.  A program like Speak Text For Me can be invaluable as a resource in this task.

What’s your take on all this?

CourVO

 

5 Reasons Why VO’s Should Use Google+

Take Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube,  & FriendFeed, and integrate them with a host of free Google apps… then stir in some creative new organizational designs, and some Skype functionality, and you have the new Google+.

This is the internet giant’s third and best attempt to be a Social Media player.  (The others, were — forgettably — Google Wave, and Google Buzz, now both discontinued).

Officially called the Google+ project, and still in limited Beta, “G+” as it’s coming to be known, is available to private individuals on an increasing basis, now, if you can get someone to invite you.  Send me your (preferably Gmail) email at courvo@courvo.com, and I’ll send you one.

In the first two weeks of limited membership, G+ has grown to 10-million members — mostly guys, geeks, early adopters of Social Media, and no business accounts.

While FaceBook is not shaking in it’s boots at those numbers (FB is closing in on 800-million),FB  CEO Mark Zuckerburg is noticeably silent on the upstart social network (BTW, he IS on G+ and has more followers than anyone…even more than Google’s founders).

NO MINUSES
Google+ developers obviously did their homework, and the platform had a host of polished features right out of the chute.  Google employees are visible everywhere on the site, and are listening.  In fact, you could almost think they’ve been assigned as monitors of the site to help answer questions and concerns.  They deny that, saying they’re only proud of the new project, and want to make it successful.  Either way, there are daily tweaks and improvements to the site — many from the suggestions submitted by new members.

At the bottom of this blog you’ll find a bunch of links I’ve been collecting to give you a lot more hints and tips to make your Google+ experience easier.

You may wonder whether another Social Network would be of value to you when FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are challenging enough.  That’s a  fair question, and one only you can ultimately answer.  There’s only so much time in the day, so G+ may be just another time-suck OR the perfect combination of features that you’ve been looking for to best utilize your time in Social Media.  I wouldn’t mislead you on this… G+ is worthy of your evaluation.  Just remember, it will require some effort to get things as you like them…which can foster a “start with a clean-slate” attitude — OR — a “here we go again!” roll of the eyes.

5 WAYS TO APPLY G+ TO YOUR VO BUSINESS

1)  Near-perfect format for furthering the conversation.  G+ has a timeline like Twitter, without the 140-character limit.  Not only that, you don’t have to go digging for others’ responses and your comments…all those are just stacked below your original post in chronological order (a la FaceBook).  Furthermore, unlike FaceBook, you can go back and edit your original post all you want.  No more of that “OMG, I typed the wrong word…delete the post….and post again.”  Even more, you can choose whether to even allow comments to your post, or whether other can re-post it!  Lots of options for engaging…and engagement is the new buzzword in social media.  Without engagement, you’re just blowing hot air…and no one wants to listen to a blowhard.

2) Pictures, Videos, Links, Geo-Location.  G+ just makes it easier to include all this in your posts.  For instance, while FB lets you add pics, vids, or links to your posts, G+ automatically connects to your Picasa photo library, and lets your choose your uploaded pics (not on Picasa?…you’ll want to be with G+…it’s free, and Google has big plans to build new features into this picture-sharing service very soon).  Geo-Location?  Not everyone wants to be nailed on a map, but this can come in handy…and that’s a feature FB does not have.  And when it comes to linking your videos to a post, don’t forget Google OWNS YouTube, so you know that’s gonna be a cinch!  G+ also lets you upload pics and vid from your phone (so far, only Android).

3) Circles.  The most noticeably different feature on the G+ interface is CIRCLES.  It’s an easy concept to grasp.  As you add friends, you drag and drop their profile into categories or “circles” designed and named by you.  I have a circle for people I know in Vegas, VoiceOver, Social Media, Family, and so forth.  Great.  Now what?  As you post, G+ gives you ultimate control over who sees your message.  The default is “public”…but the decision can be yours to only send the message to your family…or to all your friends in VoiceOver…to several circles at once…or even one individual.  Imagine how this may work in your favor to get the word out to all the people in your “Clients” circle when you need to tell them something like you’ll be gone for the next two days.  Instant newsletter!

4) Google Integration.  In case you haven’t noticed, Google is coming on strong.  Its integrated suite of online tools is growing, and finding influential partners.  Just the other day, Box.net announced its already successful service will be shared with Google Docs.  Google will be weaving their many apps into Google+ in ways that will make your mind swim.  Look for the G+ interface to be seamlessly integrated into Google Docs, YouTube, Maps, Google Reader, Google Analytics, Picasa, Google Translate, Calendar….OMG…I think you get my drift.  In this sense, Google has it all over FaceBook, which has to go out and curry or even pay for these relationships with other providers, and the integration is not always pretty.

5)  Hang-Outs.  Talk to 9 other people from any of your circles in real time, with video and sound… instantaneously.  Skype and even Fring offer this, but it costs.  With Google, it’s just another free feature of the platform (built on their Google Talk technology).  It works.  It’s easy.  It’s addicting.  During the session, you can type memos to anyone in the Hang-out, and all of you can simultaneously watch videos or share information that any of those attending want to call-up.  Hang-out is getting probably the most positive feedback from early adopters, and this may also be one of the key features you can incorporate into your VO business.  Collaborate in real-time together with your client, your agent, your editor, your producer, and another talent on a shared project, and it’s not just a phone call…you can see all the nuances of body language during the Hang-out.  I’ll let your imagination run with this one.

Honorable mention:  Development, 3rd-party software, apps, and free plug-in contributions were immediate, helpful, free, and innovative.  More stuff is coming out by the day…Chrome extensions, widgets for WordPress, methods for porting over your contacts from FaceBook, add-ons to the interface.  In other words,  geeks have spoken, and they’re enthusiastic.  They like the direction Google is going here, and there appears to be tons of support in the online and social media community.

Caveats:  Google is carefully controlling their baby.  No business accounts (yet), no open advertising or promoting allowed.  There have been a few application glitches, but they seem to be mostly minor and quickly fixed.  No add-on applications like FaceBook’s rich offerings (yet).  This means — for instance — that your SoundCloud app doesn’t work here…but you can still post a link to your shared Sound-Cloud mp3′s.  No Groups…a feature I find quite worthy on FB.  I don’t quite see how “circles” offers the same functionality.

In short, G+ is quite engaging (engagement…remember?), easy-to-use, enabling, and just…fun!

Below, now, my aggregated list of G+ online articles that help explain a lot of the detail and offers a few add-ons.  Let me know of other resources you’ve found…or tips and tricks that I’ve blatantly missed.

CourVO

Google+ Grows Quickly

The Great List of Chrome Extensions for Google+

Collaborative Google+ doc – Online guide

Official Google+ Project Support

Google+ Statistics

The Best Google+ Tutorials

Why Bloggers Should Consider Engaging on Google+

Inside Google+ – How the Search Giant Plans to Go Social

The Google Cheat-Sheet

5 Chrome Extensions that Improve Google+

How to Make a Google+ Desktop App

How to Upload iPhone Photos to Google+

How to Get Your Own Google+ Vanity URL

How to Import Your FaceBook Contacts on Google+

Google+ WordPress Plugin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Booshaka League

One to keep a watch on.

So far, Booshaka! has been a handy tool to search trending topics on FaceBook — according to Mashable“…with ranking based on popularity, number of comments, and recent activity….”

All fine and good…that hasn’t exactly been FaceBooks forte’, and Booshaka made a splash last Fall in most tech-circles.  But now, things are brooding over at the Booshaka! offices.  When  you visit the Booshaka.com website, you get a simple message asking you to log into FaceBook to be on an invite list for “something bigger and bettter coming soon”.

BTW, to use Booshaka’s traditional functionality (not too shabby in it’s own right), the trends/booshaka.com site is here.

What’s the probable new Booshaka!?

Likely it’ll be a service that harnesses brand advocates for word-of-mouth marketing.  By running an analysis on pages that use Booshaka, posts, comments, shares, and likes target preferred online supporters.

As a marketing tool, you could ostensibly use Booshaka, then, to enlist teams or fans to compete for points and prizes.

Or not.  No one really knows, and that’s why I say Booshaka is one to keep a watch on.

We’re in the middle of a boom.  A boom of information sharing, community-building, and online tools the extent of which can only be imagined.  A new frontier.  I’m loadin’ up the Conestoga Wagon!

CourVO

VO Infographic from Voices.com

David Ciccarelli of VOICES.COM’s been busy crunching numbers again.

He writes with some of the latest stats he’s compiled for our business.  (I hate calling it an “industry”.  That term is so….19th century!) Let’s face it…a business that doesn’t keep track of its numbers isn’t really playing it smart.  (R U keeping track of your website traffic?)

This latest release includes figures on:

* Number of Jobs
* Average Payment Per Job
* Highest Payment Per Job
* Total Amount Earned by Voice Talent
* Which Job Categories are in the Highest Demand
* Which Languages are Most Requested
David says these numbers are based upon the last several years of data they’ve collected at Voices.com.

See the graphic on their website…below is the info in narrative form.

  • 155,915 Voice Over Jobs
  • This figure represents the total number of public, private and direct message job opportunities that have been awarded to voice talent at Voices.com.
  • $252.97 Average Payment for a Voice Over Job.
  • From business recordings, product demonstrations and online tutorials to phone system recordings, :15 and :30 second radio commercials and even podcast intros and outtros, many of the projects posted at Voices.com range between $100 and $500, resulting in average payments of $252.97.
  • The Highest Paying Voice Over Job was $37,000
  • The highest paying project to a single voice talent that we are aware of was for $37,000. This voice talent prefers to remain anonymous, however several others have earned five figure sums for extensive eLearning applications, a 50,000 word phone system, national television commercials and other dream projects.  Other projects which have involved multiple talent have even reached into the six figure realm and recently Voices.com has launched the new Enterprise Edition to serve some of the largest organizations in the world.
  • $39,290,580 in Total Earnings by Voice Talent at Voices.com
If you have been wondering about the jobs being posted or if talent are booking on Voices.com, this number is of great comfort. Voices.com is fulfilling its mission to connect businesses with professional voice talent all around the world. 10,000+ people have earned a respectable income from doing voice overs with Voices.com serving as a key part of their marketing strategy.

Thanks Ciccarelli’s!

CourVO

Behind Ted Williams is ex-wife Patricia Kirtley, the story’s real hero

We’ll be hearing more and more about Ted’s past. His celebrity will shine a light on virtually all things now that a hungry media is being turned loose on his life. In many ways, his is an American Story worth hearing…not to admire or aspire to, but to learn from.

CourVO