Perhaps because it’s Thanksgiving weekend, or perhaps because it’s almost December, but it seems like the right time to reflect on 2020 and think about what I want for my voice over business the last month of the year. While I am delighted that my puppy has now learned to behave as well in the booth as my older dog, I have many more reflections about how 2020 is unique and the implications this year has had on my voiceover work. So, here is my countdown of observations of what has surprised me in 2020:
5. The Ways in Witch People Connect for Live Sessions
In 2020 live sessions have been more important than ever. Sure some clients still want us to self direct, but as no one or barely anyone) is recording in person, the live session is more important than ever. What surprises me is that I would have guessed that every client would want the quality offered by Source Connect. This is not the case. Surprisingly, I am asked for zoom and given phone patch dial-ins more often than I am asked to use Source Connect. As a professional voice actor, most live sessions are for commercials, but I have done a few for eLearning clients recently. Interestingly, it has been so long that I have been asked for ISDN that I gave up my direct bridge through ipDTL as no one seemed to want that anymore. So, despite the quality that some connections offer, clients seem to like what is easy for them and what they are comfortable with.
Rates have been all over the place in 2020. I have had to turn down more jobs in 2020 than in the past 5 years combined. This may be because I am being found more, or it is because more people who never cast a voice talent are now casting and are not familiar with industry standard rates, or budgets are changing. As a working voice over professional, it is one thing to be flexible and have a range of acceptable rates, and it is another issue entirely to compromise one’s worth to pick up a new client. I have found that the biggest area that clients lack understanding in is usage for social media. They do not understand the difference between organic usage and paid placement, and they do not understand that usage across multiple platforms matters. My hope is that if voice talents continue to work together to educate clients this will shift in coming years.
3. Buzz words
The specs are changing and the buzz words that we are asked for have changed. When I started the millennial conversational read was the go to read. Now it seems that, for commercial voice overs, the authentic, natural read is what is wanted. A real person who sounds believable is the go to read. Interestingly, I think there has been a backlash from millennials who do not like or enjoy a lot of the characteristics that have been assigned to their generation, and the shift that we see is a direct response to that.
For those of us professional talents who are putting in the hours of work every single day, I am pleased and grateful for the abundance of work in 2020. Initially when the pandemic hit my business slowed in March and I panicked that everything would change. By April it seemed to bounce back and castings had picked up again. According to industry friends who are as established as I am or have been in the industry longer, this is the best year they have had yet. I realize it is Thanksgiving weekend, but I typically have an attitude of gratitude all year, whenever the bookings gods shine down on me. I realize that my clients have a choice and I am thankful when the choice goes my way, and this year it has happened more than last year. When so many businesses are struggling, in our industry and around the country, this is truly something to celebrate.
1. Direct Bookings
My direct bookings, bookings where clients come straight to me, are triple my pay to play bookings in 2020 and up 14% from 2019. I am really pleased with this. These direct bookings are a combination of clients that find my website, rosters that I am on because I found them, or repeat clients who were initially from a pay to play but not they continue to come back to me. I also have direct bookings from social media, including instagram and LinkedIn. The number of direct bookings being so high means that I am not dependent on pay to plays to survive. Instead, I use the pat to plays to add to my client pool. I am extremely thankful for all of the direct bookings.