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HEAR, HERE: The Downfall of Reactivity

Sail boat on the water

Living in a space of reactivity is a consequence of having unclear goals.

Without a clear and measurable idea of what you are working toward, you latch on to every opportunity that you think might be the "magic formula" leaving you with a lot of half-thought-out executions that are not working cohesively. You'll always feel like you are working to catch-up and may find yourself overwhelmed because you can't see the bigger picture of what you are working toward.

When you are proactive, you start from a place of confidence because you have a game plan -- a strategy that uses both your time and resources efficiently to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Working from this place allows you to see what is ahead and "name the game" instead of taking what is handed to you because you don't know what is coming next.

Do yourself a favor and set a timer for one hour. During this time, set one measurable goal that you want to achieve by the end of the year and list three tactics you are going to use to make that happen, with due dates. Find a way to hold yourself accountable. Not sure how? Take this quiz for a hint.

The sprint to the end of 2018 begins now. What will you do in that time?

HEAR, HERE: Five Things On Our Mind Today (and Every Day)

Sail boat on the water

It's difficult to embrace the idea of "community not competition" in the VO industry. There are a finite number of jobs and slowly dwindling budgets in a space saturated with people who want to make money talking into a mic. But we'll continue to champion the idea that "the rising tide floats all boats" because that's when the magic -- and the real change -- happen.

Five Things On Our Mind Today (and Every Day):

  1. The decisions we individually make on a small-scale have big-scale impact.
  2. Together, we are stronger, but only when everyone contributes and makes their voice heard.
  3. Consistency is key.
  4. Information is power. Arm yourself with the facts and share them liberally.
  5. Communication. Communication. Communication.

HEAR, HERE: Seeing Change as Opportunity

A fall scene (feet in wool socks, pumpkin, blanket, and coffee)

The time has come for a change in the seasons!

In the same way the new year seems to invite a sense of renewal, the fall leads us into a state of hunkering down and getting back to work after a summer of play. It happens every year, so we don't fight against it (though those who consider themselves sun babies may grumble a bit). We take in the information of our new surroundings and adjust -- switching out tank tops for cardigans and flip flops for boots with cozy socks.

But what if, instead of welcoming the arrival of fall, we chose to resist it? To dig our feet in and chant "No! Warm weather is here to stay!" and keep on living in our eternal summer? Well, for one thing, we'd probably get awful chilly. But, we'd also miss the unique elements and energy fall presents in our lives -- colorful leaves, cozy blankets, and a slower pace of life...change.

By ignoring change, instead of adjusting to it, we miss the opportunity to create something different. Isn't it more exciting to reinvent and shift in response to new things than to just stay stagnant and never grow? Embracing change can cause us to think more creatively, instead of settling for the way we've always done it.

"Change is inevitable" is a saying for a reason. So -- instead of resisting it in your life, lean in, and take it for what it is - an invitation to innovate.

HEAR, HERE: How Can You Provide Value Without Lowering Your Rates?

Coffe Cup

Trust us, it’s easier than you think.

Be Knowledgeable

Do your research - on the product, on the company, on the agency - so that you can speak the same language as the others in the room. Know who you are going into session with and what kind of work they’ve produced (or voiced) in the past and if you like something, tell them!

Be Generous

Go the extra mile by adding a little sparkle to something that you already do in your business process. Or even just sharing fun conversation as you get into the session – know the best BBQ joint in the city they mention they are traveling to? Let ‘em know! This is more than just a business transaction.

Be Thankful

At the end of a session thank each person involved in the process by name. Everyone in the room is working to make everyone else look good. You came together and you created something – revel in that!

Be Excellent

By working every day to be better than you were the day before, you are providing value not only to your clients, but to yourself.

The short version: focus on building relationships based on mutual respect for what each person brings to the process. Those connections will go further than any discount or flash sale.

Every. Single. Time.

HEAR, HERE: Exercising creativity or checking off a to-do list?

Aim High

When something is inexpensive, it's often not well-made and easily broken. It's the first thing to get tossed out when you "Marie Kondo" your space -- or your business. When you pay little for something, it often holds little personal value.

When voice talent become a commodity, it perpetuates the idea that they are cheap. They are seen as "just one more piece" to the project and not a valuable member of the creative team. When talent undervalue themselves and work for well under acceptable rate standards, it's difficult to see them as worth more - and fewer and fewer budget resources get allocated to hiring the very best.

Talent or otherwise: YOU ARE NOT A COMMODITY.

Repeat that into the mirror three times every morning, if that's what it takes. This applies to the producers and agents out there too!

When you are paid your value, you show up in a different way -- you are made of different stuff than when you aren't. You bring your creative ideas, flexibility and joy into the project, as opposed to just clocking the time and checking a "done" mark next to your to-do list item. Which version of yourself is more likely to get hired a second time? If there is no value, there is no loyalty either. For most, it just becomes a numbers game instead of creative process. The less you are getting paid for a project, the lower your ROI. So, why invest more than it's worth?

Which would you rather have: Working on four one-off $250 projects (where you know your value is greater than what you agreed to), so you just show up, get it over with, and move on to the next? Or a $1,000 project where you are paid fairly -- bringing your ideas and your talent, and have a connection with the other players in the room that builds a business relationship?

Aim higher.

HEAR, HERE: It’s All About Value

Add Value

There’s a reason that fast food restaurants call them “Value Meals”.

And there’s a reason most people are quick to answer “That shirt looks great on you!” with “I got it on sale!” We get a little adrenaline rush when we feel we got more for less.

In verb form, “value” means to “estimate the monetary worth of something”, but in noun form, it means “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance worth, or usefulness of”. We’re talking about that kind of value. This type of value is more meaningful and contributes to building long lasting business relationships, where the other type of value is a quick transaction that actually can hurt the sense of the noun type of value. (Still with us?)

Giving a discount isn’t the only way to create value.

An exercise for you (producers and talent, both!) – write down your client process from beginning to end. Choose one section. How can you enhance it to give your clients the “above and beyond” feeling without adding a ton of extra work on your end? Something that gives it a bit more “sparkle.” For example, every time we work with a new client at IBE, we send them a branded “thank you” note with a fun, inexpensive gift. And you’d be surprised how many write back commenting how cool that was!

We challenge you to choose an item from your brainstorm list and commit to implementing it this week.

And stay tuned for the next E-Letter – we’re going to dive into ways that you can add value to your clients, without adding any additional services to your business. (Hint: Be excellent is definitely going to make an appearance on that list…)

HEAR, HERE: It's a Small World

Globe with pushpins

🎶It's a small world after all 🎶

... and that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the way that the internet and media is shifting how we communicate. In seconds you can be watching the latest funny animal video (#whatthefluff, anyone?). You can take a free class from MIT. And you can talk to any person, of any culture, and hear their story through any number of platforms -- even the comment section, if you dare.

With a smaller world comes a blending of languages, ideas, and voices. More than once we've seen "global" included in the specs of a casting call, as advertisers look for voices that can connect with audiences of different ethnicities and backgrounds.

And it's all thanks to the devices we carry in our hands every day.

But, our world isn't just getting smaller thanks to connection. It's getting smaller as advertising shifts to be more customized and personalized. An ad is served up, just for you, based on your likes/dislikes, favorite websites, and Facebook check-ins. People want to hear from people. People who sound just like them.

And our agency is growing to meet that need. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the coming days by following us over on LinkedIn.

HEAR, HERE: What a Talent Can Do

#JustDidIt

Last week, we shared a bit about what we do as a talent agent. And we’re all about selfless service, but we do have a couple favors to ask in return:

  • List In Both Ears on your website It’s the simplest way to show that you are proud to have IBE working and fighting for you every day. It also shows any client that is tempted to reach out to you directly that you have experience and legitimacy in your corner – they’ll be less tempted to ask for “favors” If you are represented by us, download the IBE logo to add to your website.

  • Send new (or old) direct clients our way ...or at least let us look over your contracts. Did you know you can send a contract our way for review and let us handle billing for you? As long as the rates/terms are up to IBE standards, we’ll only take 10% commission and we can both rest easy knowing that you’ve gotten fair terms and rates in exchange for your talent.

  • Stay excellent through continual practice and coaching Never stop learning and growing as a talent. Amateurs stop when they achieve something. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning.

HEAR, HERE: So What Does A Talent Agent Do?

Ink covered hand

It’s always a guaranteed question when we introduce ourselves at cocktail parties. And just the idea of being an agent can conjure up some interesting images for people but, at least at In Both Ears, we’re far from Ari Gold.

Though we can’t speak to what everyone is doing, we thought it might help to know what the 20% commission we take on non-union work is covering. Usually, we prefer to be silent ninjas, working seamlessly enough that it seems as if the audition landed in your inbox without a flourish, but today we are pulling back the curtain and sharing some highlights.

  • We’re creating relationships. We have a network of clients that see In Both Ears as their “go-to” agency. We’ve worked hard to position ourselves as the most fair, transparent, and nicest agency to work with. Our reputation precedes your audition before it even lands in their inbox. In fact, we’ve heard before that when all things are considered equal and there is a chance to work with an IBE talent or not, our consistency in delivering excellent talent and service can tip the scales in our (your) favor.

  • We’re getting our hands dirty. ... so you don’t have to! Is negotiating rates your favorite part of being a voice talent? (Really?) Or is it getting in the booth and bringing the copy to life? You worked hard to attract an agent to represent you, so why not let us take care of the negotiating/booking/invoicing so you can spend your energy focused on why you got into the biz in the first place – telling stories with your voice.

  • We’re educating. The VO biz is like the wild west out there. And every day we are educating producers at ad agencies, big and small, on how to hire a VO talent and how much they should be budgeting for quality talent. And this education comes full circle back to creating relationships that lead to more work, that deepen relationships, that ... you get the picture ;-)

We’re all about selfless service, but we do have a couple favors to ask in return. Stay tuned for the next Hear, Here to find out how you can help us out!

HEAR, HERE: Thinking Without The Box

Together We Create

Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable —William Pollard

We want to change the rules. The rules of pricing voiceover in a world (see what we did there?) where agencies don’t have the capacity to track new media as they adapt to the ever-changing landscape of advertising. In a world (we couldn’t resist!) where VO talent and agents are struggling to find the balance between fair compensation and making a living with voiceover budgets declining.

We have to recognize that the current pricing model is based on a time when TV ruled the eyeballs of the nation, the internet was a wild west of unknown potential, and streaming services hadn’t even been imagined yet.

Instead of being afraid of this change, let’s embrace it! Let’s be the ones to manage the inevitable and make sure the rate structure is working FOR us. ALL of us. If we are always reactionary, we lose the chance to really listen to each other and build something new. And isn’t it always exciting to be on the ground floor of something?

This is a call out to YOU. Let’s take our collective knowledge, collective problems, collective concerns, and work together to design the new model of talent pricing that allows talent to make a living and producers to succeed with in-the-moment advertising.

We’ve got some ideas – and we want to hear yours, too! Hit “reply” on this email and let’s start the conversation.

Working together - not against each other - is how we are going to build the future. Tweet It Out

P.S. – Join IBE and many other talent and agencies at the free VOAA Town Hall | State-Of-The-Industry Webinar hosted by the VO Agent Alliance, World Voices Organization, and the Global Voice Acting Academy on June 13th from 5pm – 6:30pm PST. RSVP here.

If You Build It, They Will Come.

Dreams

As iconic as that line from Field of Dreams is, it’s not quite how things work. You have built the thing, but then you TELL people about the thing, and THEN if they trust your recommendation they might check it out and be introduced to something that makes their life better/easier/magical (looking at you Postmates).

Right now, there are over 1400 producers registered and looking for talent on Voicecasting HUB! It’s THE place to find quality voiceover talent agents (like you! and us!). So, what’s the magic fairy dust to get them to hire you there? TELL them you are there! No one can make them pick your agency except you.

Word of Mouth is the most powerful marketing tool there is and, as agents, our producers trust us to point them in the right direction. It took VB years to build their reputation as the place to find quality voiceover talent (a big part because agents sent producers there), but they are now deader than a doornail and replaced by a site that is undermining the industry and our work as agents. The HUB IS NOT VB and isn’t trying to be (once more for the balcony)! IT IS an improvement on VB that mimics how we work and streamlines it. Created by agents and producers, for agents and producers.

It’s up to each of us to power the word-of-mouth machine and TELL every producer we know about The HUB and direct them to find us there. The more people talking, the faster the growth will be and the sooner we will see the floodgates open on casting calls happening there — and showing up in your inboxes. One day producers contacting us through The HUB will be the new normal.

IBE stands proudly with those improving the industry. But we can’t reach every producer on our own, and neither can The HUB creator Matt Dubois. Stand with us and commit to letting the producers and talent you know that they can find you — and your agents — on The HUB! #HustleToTheHUB

— Stacey Stahl

Inspired by Dave Courvoisier’s Article

Low Rates – The Chicken or the Egg?

Chicken

What drives talent rates down?

Producers offering low rates for voiceover? or Talent agreeing to work for those low rates?

Answer: both.

As a general rule, producers are working to keep the costs down for their client. No one can argue that “How much can we get for as little money as possible?” is lurking unspoken in most budget conversations.

Talent are hoping to make themselves more attractive to clients by being accommodating and saying they can do the work – perpetuating the expectation that you can get a quality product for less than it is worth.

And in both cases – the producer and talent may be working from a place of not knowing all of the details.

So what needs to happen next??

Do talent refuse to work for less than a fair wage? Do producers have candid conversations with clients about the true cost of creating a quality product?

Yes.

And it has to start somewhere. This is our humble request to let it be with YOU.

It’s time to realize that we’re all in the same boat – and the boat is sinking. Let’s stand together and plug the hole.

HEAR, HERE: Who are the Real Pros?

Microphone

We've heard over and over again that the VO industry is saturated with so called "pro talent". But you know - and we know - who the real pros are. You can hear it. 

Real talk - The industry has changed so that clients can find almost any sound they want at a bottom-of-the-barrel price. Why pay more to hire a true pro?

  • TRAINING - Pro talent are prepped and ready to give the performance you are looking for in fewer takes, saving production teams time and money.

  • INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE - Pro talent know more than just the lingo - they know the demands and nuance of delivering a trailer, instructional video, and :10 TV spot. You are hiring someone who knows the business in and out, how to incorporate your notes, and deliver a polished product.

  • THEY MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD - Pro talent are more than just a voice, they are part of your creative team. Nothing is worse than inviting a high rolling decision maker to a session and running into tech difficulties, a million takes, and ending up with a product "that will do." Skip that and jump to the fun of hearing your work spoken aloud and collaborating on a project you'll all be excited about.

So if you're a pro talent, or producer - prove it. Prove it in the casting process. Prove it in the budget. Prove it in the booth.