Voice Over Experts The Voice Over Training Podcast

Beyond the Demo Reel

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

September 25, 2007

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Join Voice Over Expert Johnna Gottlieb, with Joan Baker, as she introduces you to the concept of voiceover as a small business in her lecture "Beyond the Demo Reel". Find out what you'll need to do before pursuing agency representation and learn just how important it is to treat your voice acting career like a real business.

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Johnna Gottlieb, Johnna Gottlieb Consulting, JoGoCo.com, Joan Baker, Demo Reel, Voice Overs

Transcript of Beyond the Demo Reel

[Opening Music]

Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It's never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won't find anywhere else.

This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Joan Baker.

Joan Baker: Hi. I'm Joan Baker. Today I'm here to talk about building a voiceover career once you have that all-important demo reel ready to go. The fact of the matter is that the demo reel is just the beginning. Beyond the reel is what we're here to talk about today and with me to help us get to the heart of the matter is Johnna Gottlieb, President of Johnna Gottlieb Consulting. She covers all aspects of creating and managing a voiceover career.

For example, where to begin, how to get established, what it takes to sustain a career and producing the VO demo reel to perfection, I might add. A former New York top voiceover talent agent turned specialist, Johnna consults with individuals and talent agencies on their business objectives. She's also a professor for the New York University's Adult Education Department where she created the business of voiceover. It's a course which is the first of its kind. Also, Johnna is a judge for the Daytime Emmys.

If you're interested about information on Johnna Gottlieb Consulting, please check out her website at Jogoco.com. And so to get on with our show, let's say hello and welcome to Johnna Gottlieb.

Johnna, hi.

Johnna Gottlieb: Hey, Joan. How are you?

Joan Baker: Good. Well, welcome.

Johnna Gottlieb: Thank you very much. I love being here.

Joan Baker: Oh good. Okay, because I'm going to tell you something. I have a loaded question for you right off the bat.

Johnna Gottlieb: Oh, okay. Let me have it.

Joan Baker: Okay, here it is. What does it take to have a successful career in voiceover?

Johnna Gottlieb: Oh, that is a loaded question.

Joan Baker: I told you.

Johnna Gottlieb: Well, I think the first thing that you need to realize when you're about to pursue a career in voiceover is that it is a serious business.

Joan Baker: And what do you mean by serious business?

Johnna Gottlieb: It's an industry and it's a business so I always tell people when they're about to start a career in voiceovers, they need to think about it as if they were about to start their own small business. And they need to devise a business plan that will structure how to go about pursuing it as a business and then there are certain tools that you need in order to pursue it like a voiceover reel ...

Joan Baker: Yes.

Johnna Gottlieb: ... and things like that but you really need to know how much you're going to have to spend in order to start a voiceover career and who you're going to use to help you get things together like a voiceover reel which is probably one of the most important elements to pursuing a career in voiceovers.

Joan Baker: A good voiceover reel, yes.

Johnna Gottlieb: Yes, I'm glad you said that.

Joan Baker: Okay.

Johnna Gottlieb: Because I received - as a consultant now, I receive reels from people all across the country who have had them produced by whoever they choose to produce them with and they are not good and good is it means having a reel that's going to - just like a head shot for an on-camera actor, a voiceover reel needs to promote you in the best way possible because you're not able to do that for yourself so it needs to show what your signature sound is and what your strengths are and to showcase ...

Joan Baker: And like a range.

Johnna Gottlieb: And range.

Joan Baker: Yes.

Johnna Gottlieb: Range is very, very important.

Joan Baker: And also the production behind the demo, not just your voice but actually the music that's chosen. It has to be equivalent to what you hear on television, right?

Johnna Gottlieb: Yes.

Joan Baker: Okay.

Johnna Gottlieb: And I think that that is something that most people who produce demos who are not really involved in the business like we are ....

Joan Baker: Yes.

Johnna Gottlieb: ... They don't understand what the industry demands but it's so obvious that if your reel doesn't sound like what's on television and what's on the radio, then that's a substandard reel.

Joan Baker: Because - and then why would an agent be interested in that reel? They're not looking for potential. They're looking for a finished product that has been marketed.

Johnna Gottlieb: Yes. So it is key and that will probably be the most - the biggest expenditure of money that you're going to put out in starting your business that I always equate it when I started my own consulting business, there were certain start-up cost that I needed to allocate for you know, phone line or you know, fax machine. For a voiceover artist, the big chunk of money is probably going to be for a voiceover reel, a competitive voiceover reel but there are many steps you need to take before that as well.

Joan Baker: Like can you talk about one of the steps like training, for example.

Johnna Gottlieb: Training is key. I never get anyone into the studio to do a voiceover reel unless they've had the proper training and when I say training, I mean technique training.

Joan Baker: Yes.

Johnna Gottlieb: That you have to have an understanding of what you were doing as a voiceover artist. It is about reading and interpreting copy and I think that the most common misconception for people that are about to start a voiceover career is that it's easy and we know, having been in the business as long as we have ...

Joan Baker: It's not the typical pursuit of a career. It actually takes something of yourself and being able to expose that.

Johnna Gottlieb: It's so many elements that need to come together in order to have a career. It's not just talent. It's not just business sense. It's a combination of everything and choosing the proper people that you work with for technique coaching and for production of your reel to get all the necessary tools that you need to move forward and then even when you have that, it does take a certain tenacity and a certain aggressive personality to pursue the business because the business isn't going to automatically come to you. You need to go out and get the business.

Joan Baker: Accommodate it.

Johnna Gottlieb: And at the beginning, I think you really - once you've gotten your tools together, you really need to be your own agent.

Joan Baker: Okay. So, that's the next question actually. After you do have your reel and it's marketed, et cetera, what's the next step in terms of going out and getting an agent?

Johnna Gottlieb: So getting an agent is probably going to be one of your biggest challenges in pursuing a career in voiceovers up until that point you get your tools together. That's sort of the fun part, the coaching and the reel. That is actually ...

Joan Baker: Right.

Johnna Gottlieb: ... you know, that is the part of the business that's exciting because then you don't - you haven't implemented everything that you've done. So once you've done all of that, it is up to you to get business and an agent is I think a very key part of that depending on where you're located. Because you know, we're in New York so New York and L.A. are major markets but there are certainly many smaller markets across the country that there's voiceover work available but if you are in a larger market that does have voiceover agents, it would be I think key to pursuing a career in voiceovers to have an agent because a lot of the bigger jobs go through agent submission so you really do need to have an agent.

Joan Baker: So how would I go about with my reel getting an agent or at least the attention?

Johnna Gottlieb: Yes and I think just to hit on the point about the reel, you need to make sure that it is - you need someone objective to tell you, you know. You need to make sure that your reel is competitive.

Joan Baker: Okay.

Johnna Gottlieb: So let's take that - let's take that into consideration that you have a great competitive reel and now you're about to embark on ...

Joan Baker: Okay.

Johnna Gottlieb: ... finding an agent. You're - the easiest and the best way is to try to network with the people that you may know. Now everyone says, "Oh, I don't know anyone. No one can help me." The truth is we all know someone. Even if you know one person, knowing one person could be the equivalent of knowing five people.

Joan Baker: So in other words, your roller decks is important.

Johnna Gottlieb: Yes. Who you know is important so what I usually recommend to people that I work with is one of the first steps that they should do is just send their reel to everyone. Usually, it's on MP3 so you can e-mail your reel and just - I mean, e-mail it to everyone that you know. For some of them, it will be just you know, fun to hear your voiceover reel but for some, they may say, "Oh, well my neighbor actually is a producer at such and such." And anyone who has got any kind of a connection in the business could potentially forward your reel on to somebody that can help you.

Joan Baker: Absolutely.

Johnna Gottlieb: So before you do anything, you really do need to sit down and make a list also of who you might know because some people do. I think it's always interesting when I talk to people. They say, "Oh, I don't know anyone." And then we'll talk a little bit longer.

Joan Baker: Exactly.

Johnna Gottlieb: And they'll say, "Oh, my brother-in-law's friend is a producer at such and such." That's someone and you also have to get accustomed to asking for help. You cannot pursue any business ...

Joan Baker: Exactly.

Johnna Gottlieb: ... without help from someone else. You can't be an island and just do it on your own and I think for some people, that is a very difficult thing to ask others for help.

Joan Baker: Exactly.

Johnna Gottlieb: But you need to be able to do that. Aside from who you know and sending it out to everyone you know, I think one of the things that you have to consider is to do a mailing. You know, I recommend that people mail their reels to the agencies in their market because people do - agents do listen to reels. They may not listen to all of them in a timely fashion.

Joan Baker: Yes, yes.

Johnna Gottlieb: But they will eventually get to listen to your reel and it your reel is good, there is a chance that they will call you in and meet with you. Now, when I tell people to do a mailing, I always say that I think it's an important component to pursuing an agent but keep your expectations low.

Joan Baker: Yes.

Johnna Gottlieb: Because their standards for mailings and statistics were you know you can send out hundreds of things and maybe get one response.

Joan Baker: And that actually is successful.

Johnna Gottlieb: Exactly. If you get one response, that's very successful.

Joan Baker: Exactly.

Johnna Gottlieb: Because for the most part, you really should keep your expectations low. I think one of the key things you need to do is to expose yourself through as many avenues as possible.

Joan Baker: Johnna, thank you so much for your powerful answers and for such great information but unfortunately, we've run out of time. So, for those that want to get in touch with Johnna Gottlieb, go to Jogoco.com and I also want to thank Voices.com for this incredible opportunity as well.

This is Joan Baker and if any of you want to reach me, you can go to my website at JoanBaker.tv. Be well and keep talking.

Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.

If you're a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory or by visiting Podcasts.Voices.com. To start your voiceover career online, go to Voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.

[Closing Music]

Links from today's show:

Johnna Gottlieb Consulting
Johnna Gottlieb MySpace Website

Your Instructors this week:

Voice Over Expert Johnna Gottlieb

Johnna Gottlieb Joan BakerPresident of JOHNNA GOTTLIEB CONSULTING, Gottlieb oversees a one-of-a-kind company in the voiceover industry. A savvy and skilled expert on how to make it in this ultra-competitive, lucrative and exciting field, she offers her client base unparalleled knowledge based on years of in-depth experience at top talent agencies. Gottlieb's distinctive aptitude is two-fold: a talent agent's agility for creating an effective marketing plan and a mentor's ability to instill clients with the knowledge needed to navigate the voiceover business.

Gottlieb covers all the aspects of the voiceover trade for her clients: where to begin, how to get established, what it takes to make it and how to stay in the game. Gottlieb's clients include voiceover talent and talent agencies. For individual clients, her services include: general career counseling, marketing materials consultation, voiceover reel production feedback and guidance, techniques for networking within the industry and insider information about talent agencies specializing in voiceovers. Additionally, she works with talent on producing their promotional reels. Gottlieb advises talent agencies on how to maintain their position within the industry by increasing visibility, acquiring new talent and expanding their client base.

Gottlieb spent over a decade in the New York offices of top talent agencies representing the best artists in the business as well as celebrity actors with voiceover careers - James Earl Jones, Jason Alexander, Stockard Channing, Philip Bosco, Edward Herrmann, Nathan Lane, John Goodman, Julianna Margulies and Blythe Danner. She provided talent to top broadcasting companies including ABC, CBS, NBC, MTV, VH-1, The Discovery Channel, USA Network, TNT and Fox, among others.

During her years as an agent, Gottlieb supplied voiceover talent for such high profile TV programs as ABC-TV's "Primetime Live" and "20/20 Downtown," the "MTV Video Music Awards," series and specials on VH-1, HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" and she represented the signature announcers for NBC-TV's "Dateline," "Good Morning America," ABC-TV's "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings," "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Early Show" on CBS-TV. She supplied narrators for numerous documentaries on The Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel and she worked extensively booking talent for commercials and audio books.

At prestigious Don Buchwald and Associates she was an agent in the commercial/voiceover department. She started and expanded the voice over division at HWA Talent Representatives. At TRH Talent Representatives she was head of the commercial department and she ran the promo department at SEM&M (Schiffman, Ekman, Morrison and Marx).

In the fall 2005, Gottlieb joined the faculty at New York University where she teaches an in-depth course entitled, "The Business of Voiceover." She has been a frequent lecturer at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and Syracuse University.

About Joan Baker

Joan Baker is a sound to be reckoned with as one of New York's premier voice-over actors and creator of the wildly successful "Make Millions With Your Voice" through the Learning Annex, the ongoing Immersion Class Workshops and for the first time ever Directing &Working with Voice-over Talent at the Promax/BDA TV Conference 2007 was introduced to producers, writers, TV station managers and VO agents to a sell out crowd. Joan is also the author of "SECRETS OF VOICEOVER SUCCESS", a compelling collection of stories about the top voice-over actors in the industry, including the one and only, Don LaFontaine and many more. All proceeds benefit the Alzheimer's Foundation.

Clients include ESPN, Showtime, Chase Bank, American Express, ABC News and Sports, Lifetime, Lexus, SPIKE TV and Disney (she positively ROARED for the Lion King's national radio campaign!). Other credits include voiceover for HBO Family, WNBC, Nickelodeon, Delta Airlines, Fox 5, NBA Entertainment, NICK at NITE, Imus in the Morning, the ABC Super Sign in Times Square and countless more. Joan's extraordinary talent has generated the spotlight with feature articles in the Hollywood Reporter, Back Stage, Media Week, ADWEEK and Broadcasting & Cable to mention a few.

Enjoyed Johnna's episode? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Related Topics: Demo Reel, Joan Baker, JoGoCo.com, Johnna Gottlieb Consulting, voice over training, Voice Overs

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