Sunday, February 21, 2010

Generous To A Fault

This is a bit of a sticky situation in which some working professional voice over talent may find themselves. Actually, I'm not sure how often this particular thing might happen, as it does seem to me to be a bit extreme, and may be an isolated type of incident, but something to think about nonetheless.

I'm reminded of the Bonnie Raitt song "Women Be Wise" (Don't Advertise Your Man) - originally performed by Sippie Wallace .

As working voice over talent, we want/need to promote our work by listing projects and clients in our resumes and elsewhere. Sometimes, people may ask us who we're working for as well. But I had an interesting and uncomfortable situation arise awhile back that took me aback and made me think about what kind of information we want to put out there.

I like to think of myself as an open and generous person both professionally and personally. So, that may be the only reason this particular incident even made an impression on me and has caused me to think and rethink my response.

I have answered a lot of questions both from beginning and experienced voice over performers, and I've written "How To" pages for my web site as well as publishing many blog posts aimed at helping voice talent. I've sent voice over work to other male and female voice talent when I've had the opportunity. Awhile back, however, a male voice talent who I've met online contacted me on behalf of a female voice talent friend of his. He wondered if I'd be so kind as to forward a note she had written to one of my major clients who uses my services almost exclusively. In the note, addressed to my client, she introduced herself as a voice talent who was interested in working for his company......What? I'd never actually made this business relationship a published fact. I had not promoted my work for this client via any resumes, articles, etc. So, I was, number 1, curious as to how this particular female voice talent would even put us together, and number 2, flabbergasted that she would ask me to put her in touch with my client!

I had an inkling as to the answer of number 1 after doing some research to find out who this unfamiliar female voice talent was in that there was only one connection that I could think of between the male voice talent, this woman, and I, and that particular person had asked me casually in the course of conversation who I was working for. Upon describing to her the situation that followed, she was mortified and apologetic for her role in passing on the information that instigated it.

After thinking more about the request, I responded to the male voice talent - who, I might add, I would have recommended to this client in a heartbeat and who had not asked for an introduction for himself - that I did not feel comfortable being put in this position and also did not feel comfortable forwarding on the female voice talent's message as I did not feel that it was appropriate on any count. Later, I responded directly to the female voice over performer , who I had never met either "virtually" or in person, that I respectfully declined to forward her message to my client for the same reasons. I never heard directly from her at all regarding the situation - initially or after my response - although the male talent said he understood. To be kind, I'll call it a gutsy move on her part to ask through a 3rd party that I simply pass on a message seeking work to my client. It would have been nice to have received an apology from her, but given her actions, I suppose she didn't feel one was called for.

Was I right or was I wrong? I feel that in this business as in life, it is good to be generous and helpful, but we also have to protect our business and look after our own interests as well.

Warning Signs that the Job's Just Not Worth It

It's so hard for some of us not to pursue every avenue for work that is open to us, and for the most part, that's a good thing. But sometimes, even when potential clients contact us via phone or email after visiting our web site, and our first inclination is to cement the job, we might be better off to remain clear headed and just let the job slip away.

What types of things should alert us to the fact that the job may just not be worth the trouble or worse, might even leave us without proper pay or regretting accepting the job in the first place?

While most potential clients are completely honest and above board and are sincerely looking for a quality recording, there are some things that cause my hackles to go up after 6 years working via the internet.

I find that many of these relate to clients looking for telephone recordings, probably because they are most often least experienced in dealing with professional voice talent. Again, most are wonderful potential clients who appreciate what a professional brings to their business by projecting a totally professional image when customers contact them by phone.

Those clients who can be troublesome are those who are only looking at the bottom line and seem to balk at the rate you quote them for your services. While we can all appreciate budgetary needs, a modest but fair quote should not have to be defended.

So, although there are no doubt other things to watch for - and I'd be happy to hear from you with more - I'll just list a few things that may indicate it is better to let this job slide.


asks for quote and sounds defensive or stresses need for lower quote

suggests more work to follow if quote is "right"

requests additions of other company names in the script for no additional cost

balks at additional cost for music added to on hold messages

requests recording to be provided " to see what u can do on it" before sending complete script or completing payment process - keeping in mind this person came to you after presumably hearing your demo.

does not respond to explanation that you'd be happy to provide a brief sample to confirm style, etc., once full script is sent.

Note: I always seek that confirmation of style, tempo, quality, etc. prior to recording on my own, anyway. And although I do require payment before sending all complete audio files, I always stipulate that I'll correct any mistakes on my part at no extra charge.

While I've often found it beneficial for me and appreciated by my clients to follow up with them if there is a gap in time between the initial contact and ultimate booking, I've learned that sometimes, it's best to just let those slide that don't feel "comfortable" to begin with. There are too many wonderful clients out there who truly appreciate what we do!