Conference for VOs Run by VOs
As a working mom, when I heard that there was a voice over conference with a focus on “the business of the business” right here at home in NYC, I did not hesitate to sign up, especially when I learned that Carin Gilfrey and Jamie Muffett were running it! From the start, VOcation was extremely well conceived. There is something so special about a conference run by voice actors for voice actors. It goes beyond the over all vibe. From the little details like having talents sign up to announce the speakers, to the clever swag they gave away, this dynamic duo thought of everything.
Panel of Working Pros
I can’t tell you how fantastic it was that the kick off panel on the main stage, moderated by Jamie, was three amazing women talents. Two of them, Elissa Zhea and Maria Pendelino, are union talents, and Joey Shaljo is a non-union talent like me. Simply put, these gals are killing it. They addressed all sorts of issues like when to make the jump to full-time, the unique situation of working in New York City and how leaving the city changes your business, and accounting. These women spoke so well. They set the bar high for the rest of us. Not only did they teach us well, they set a standard well for which we should all aspire to. In an industry where 65% of the bookings are male, I applaud Carin and Jamie’s voice to start the weekend with these women. It could not have been better.
Emphasis on marketing
Any solopreneur can tell you that marketing is essential to maintaining client relationships and growth, and the VOcation team sure had this in mind when they planned key sessions as well. I very much enjoyed Tracy Lindley, Joe Davis, Brad Newman, and Tom Dheere. I have heard Tracy, a LinkedIn expert, speak at other conferences too. To her credit, she always speaks about something different. This time she focussed on strategies for effective messaging. I hung on her every word and ate it up: it’s as if she knew just what I needed and was talking to me! Thank you, Tracy! Joe Davis of voice actor websites spoke about best ways to optimize your website for SEO. Joe’s team has been doing my website since 2015, so I enjoyed getting the most up to date tips from him. Like Tracy, Joe exudes a passion and genuine eagerness to help others, which makes him a true joy to be in the same room with. Good choice again, Carin and Jamie! I confess that I did not get to attend Brad’s break out session but to plan to attend at WoVoCon. I have the slides and they are incredible. Brad is super smart and I trust his business instinct any day of the week. He has been doing my hosting for years and I can’t wait to hear him speak. Last but certainly not least, was Tom Dheere. I was so excited to meet Tom and learn from him. I have a few industry friends who have been coached by Tom. I see why they all like working with him. Tom’s organized approach to Direct marketing would teach any new talent how to build a strong foundation. The marketing components of the conference were great!
The Future of VO
J. Michael Collins delivered the key note address on the future of voice over. JMC as we often call him is dynamic and inspirational. Everyone knows him and everyone loves him in our industry. At one point he remarked that if you think the sky is falling, move over. His talk was uplifting and optimistic. He gave hope and spoke of current trends. We are lucky to have such a competent talent walking among us. JMC is a good egg and his success brings success to us all. Like the women in the first panel, I believe he also sets the bar high. By keeping his standards high in the demos he produces and the talents he works with, this if good for the industry as a whole.
Like everyone, I had panels that I loved and could sit through over and over again and panels that made me wish I were shopping at Bergdorffs. Maria Pendelino’s panel on negotiations was a home run. It was my favorite panel of the conference and if you don’t know her you should. Maria is a rock star genius and major goddess of voiceover who is making our entire industry better. Both of the panels on casting were not my favorites. There was nothing wrong with them per se, they just lacked the scintillating genius moments that I tend to cling to.
Lastly, I have heard from friends who were not at the conference that they had friends who complained about the venue and the picnic lunches. My response is that they need awareness about NYC. There will never be a shuttle in NYC. It is not that kind of city. I heard someone complained it was near the subway. In New York, it is a luxury to be near the subway, so having the venue directly across from the express subway line was very, very smart of Carin and Jamie. Further, space and food are extremely costly in New York. Options for talent were either to go out to eat on their own as I did or the provided lunch. There is always a choice, you just have to understand your options. For those who are not local, perhaps a better approach might be to reach out to one of us in advance next time, I’d be happy to go out for lunch and go shopping:)