A Few Seconds of your Time…

I record my voice professionally for any number of things.  It’s my job.  My business.  My life.  It’s what I do.  I learned the art of voice overs, radio commercial production and broadcasting when I started in radio.  I love it.  It brings me an innumerable amount of joy…but it also brings me an extreme amount of frustration.

It is hard to justify to someone who has not recorded anything why :15 or 15 seconds takes longer than 2-3 minutes to record.  They just don’t get it.  It’s hard to explain to someone who has not been in radio or broadcasting that you literally live and breathe by the seconds…not the minutes.  5 seconds of dead air is B.A.D.  It just is.

Case in Point:

I am a freelancer on several job websites.  It’s hard to compete with someone in India who only charges $2 an hour when you charge $30.  Your quality and product are better…but they charge way less.  I have a professional home studio where I do my work.  I invested heavily into my equipment, my room and my audio software.  It’s not something I just threw together and said, “Hey…that sounds good, let’s go.”  I try to record in a completely noise free environment…and if it’s not completely noise free, such as a “hum” I produce my audio to be clean.

I digress.

I got a job invitation on one of these sites to do a Voice Mail recording for $5.  I emailed back that I normally charge $20 for a Voice Mail recording.  I then uploaded my resume and sent over a sample of VM that I actually was paid $50 for.

This is the reply that I got back:

I looked on your work resume and you have did 3 1-minute voice recording at $5, $5 and $6. Are you telling me these job were posted by yourself or not real jobs you did? Look below at the jobs you did.

1)FEMALE Voice Artist Needed – 1 Minute Recording $5
Maureen did an excellent job with the voice-over. I highly recommend her for any voice over project. She is fast and professional. I will be doing business with her again soon.

2) FEMALE Voice Artist Needed – 1 Minute Recording $6
Maureen is the BOMB! She is fast, professional and her Voice is perfect for voice over projects. I will be hiring again very soon!

3) FEMALE Voice Artist Needed – 1 Minute Recording $5
I love Maureen’s voice. She did a great job and was professional and patient. Thank you very much! I will be hiring you again soon.

I’m asking for 30 seconds to 1 minute top of your time. You answered my last ad for voice over for a 30 second script at $11 you bid.

$22 isn’t much but for a voice mail that’s under 15 seconds it is. If you like I can send it using Paypal. I just need this done quickly.

So…my first response was..DUDE!  Are you serious?  You want me to record this job for you and you are treating me like this???  My second response was…UGH!  I knew I shouldn’t have taken those cheap jobs just to get some work experience on this site under my belt.  I knew it would bite me in the butt…but I took them knowing I was giving quality work for very cheap just to get some ratings.

Here is my response:

To clarify: Yes, those are real jobs.  The client had to hire me twice on one job because the client made a mistake in the name of the business.

Thank you for your interest, but I have to respectfully decline.

Good luck!

I thought it was professional and a lot nicer than the things I really wanted to say.  So then…I notice this job posted on the same site and the person has the gall to say this:

I need someone to make my voice mail recording. This recording should take exactly 20seconds to record. This means if this takes you 3 times to get right it should take up a total of 1-2 minutes of your time.

If this is all it took then EVERYONE could be a Voice Over artist, audio production specialist.  I literally laughed out loud in incredulity that this person had the cajones to write the ad.

Here’s a note if you are planning on hiring someone to do VO work for you; it takes longer than 2-3 minutes to record 15 seconds.  Sometimes, a 15 second liner can take up to an hour…yes, an hour…if you are having difficulties with sound, processing, recording…what-have you.  Now, normally a 15 second liner should take no more than 8-10 minutes to produce but assuming that it will only take 2-3 minutes shows a complete lack of respect for the artist.  You cannot just sit down and record 30 minutes of audio and expect it to only take 30 minutes.  Sure…the 30 minutes may take you only 30 minutes to actually record, but that is not taking into account all the extra stuff that goes into it.  To make it clean, noise free and sound full…that takes a little more time.

Generally…30 seconds of voice over work takes about 20 minutes to 1/2 an hour to do.  If you are fully producing it and adding sound effects, compressing or adding effects or music it can take up to an hour.  It just depends on what you are doing.  1 minute of production can take up to an hour and if music or other things are needed it can take longer.  It just depends on how the engineer wants it to sound.  And ultimately how the client wants it.

Ahh gentle reader, the life of a free-lancer is much harder than anticipated.  I am regretting taking jobs that compromised my monetary worth.  It’s biting me in the butt.  Sigh.  But I am not regretting the work I produced because it as good.  And I am standing firm in my faith that this is what my Lord wants me to do.  I am holding tight to His promises that that rejection (there’s a lot of it) and the frustration (ditto) will all be worth it.

Buyer beware.  You get what you pay for.

Going into Business

So…yeah.

I’m trying to decide if I should once again go into business for myself.

I have my studio set up.  My sound is good.  My experience is there.

I have resources up the wazoo…but…

It’s the getting started that scares the Bejesus out of me.

What if I fail?  What if it’s a whole lot of money invested…for a whole lot of nothing?

I am confident in my abilities.  I am good with my surroundings.

Sigh.  Making decisions is never easy.  Spending money is never easy.

Plus, this whole sequestration and losing 40% of our pay is starting to wear on me.  Like, really.

Yesterday, I was in a bad mood.  No reason.  Just in a bad mood.  And I could not get out of it.  It really sucked.

Today is a better day…but I am struggling with thoughts of pay and money…and feeling like I HAVE TO GET SOMETHING IN PLACE BEFORE OUR PAY GETS CUT!!!!!

Gentle reader…we are looking at losing over $2000.00 per month.  With reducing some things, I can cut out about $800.00 from our budget.  (Getting rid of Dish Network and getting rid of our savings…sigh.)  But that still leaves us with a $1200.00 short fall.

Sigh.  My husband has worked hard to get where he’s at and works hard everyday.  I know we are blessed with what we have…and I am SOOOOO thankful we can still give where we feel we can!  Praise the Lord for that!

And I am not being facetious, gentle reader.  We will continue to give.  It’s not our money anyway.  It’s His.  We are where we are because of Him.  All the glory and honor go to Him.

So, that being said…to Him I will continue to turn my countenance.  Look for His face in all things.  And once again cling tight to the promise given us in Jeremiah 29:11. (paraphrasing gentle reader)

For I know the plans I have for you, Plans to prosper you and not harm you…

Amen and Amen for those words.

How To: Start Recording your Voice

Unknown-2I was in radio for 3 years.  I know a little bit about the business. 😉 I was a news director at one time for three radio stations in SE AZ and I loved it.  The only reason I quit was that my hubs and I wanted to start our own business and I could not do both…sigh…I mean, I could have…because I am super-mom.  It wouldn’t have been pretty but it could have happened.  I help out a friend of mine who still works in radio with commercials and when he needs “dry reads” because he knows he can tell me how to say it and I will.

Anyway, while I worked at the station I had my 3rd child, my son.  We called him “Señor Poopy-Pants” because every single time I would go into the station to record the news and the afternoon weather and any other spots (commercials) my boy would ALWAYS crap his pants.  And if you are a mom (or dad) you know the stuff I am talking about…the kind that works it way from the tiniest little bowels in the world and manages to erupt up through the diaper, clear up the back and all the way into my son’s hair.  UGH!  Every.Single.Time.  The kind where you are equally gagging, crying and laughing because that MUCH crap should not come out of a tiny little baby.

So when I informed the station that I was preggo, we decided that while the baby was super tiny, I could start recording my news from home.  I currently use Adobe Audition, but I have friends in radio who prefer ProTools.  I prefer Adobe because it is the one that I have learned on…but my friends, who do MUCH more than I do with imaging, commercials and production, they prefer the ability of ProTools.

As one of them put it: “If you go with ProTools and you don’t have someone to teach you, you have a STEEP learning curve!”  ACK!  So…I stick with my trusty old Adobe Audition.

Now that you have had my backstory, I am sure whatever you have for recording your voice will be great for what you need.  Let’s get to what you really came here for…the nitty gritty of recording your voice.

First, when you start speaking into a microphone…get used to it.  Practice makes perfect.  And you probably will not like your voice.  Pretend: you are having a conversation with a few thousand close friends.  You do not have to have a “radio” voice…that will come later, I promise.  (I never thought I had a “radio” voice per se…until I started really recording again and I realize…OH MY WORD!!!!…I DO have a radio voice.  It was quite the shock and revelation, gentle reader.)

Second, mess around with your sound.  If you have Adobe Audition…they have a lot of presets to use.  Have fun with it!  Go to “Amplify” and play with the dB sounds.  3dB-6dB makes your voice sound full.  People in radio want that!

Third, make sure your recording area is devoid of sound.  Seriously.  A microphone…if it’s really good…can pick up the ticking of a clock, the sound of a fan…a dog barking upstairs.

Fourth, create a fake commercial.  Write about 5 lines of copy for anything…best place to look is in your local newspaper.  Many folks have print ads you can pull stuff from.  When you are typing it, put it in ARIAL BLACK IN ALL CAPS LOCKS.   Believe me, it makes for easier reading.  5 lines will be about 12-15 seconds of real-time audio.

Fifth, record your commercial.  Make sure you are careful with “B’s” and “P’s”…they can sound harsh.  When you have to say a word that starts with a “B” or a “P”, turn your head sideways.

Sixth, try not to record after you have something with a lot of cheese.  It can make your voice sound phlegmy.  Ewww…no one wants that.

Seventh, cut out the area that have breaths or no sound.  If you want to make a :30 commercial, then you can keep those in…just make sure they are not too loud.

Eighth, add your music.  You can find a lot of free production music (hint: type in “free production music for commercials” in google) and add it the track.

Ninth, play the two together and get the volume levels so that the music does not over power the vocals.  You can also do this by a process of “enveloping” which you can master the music to be quieter when you are speaking.

Tenth, do a final mixdown and you will have your finished product.

That’s about it…in a super simplified way.  Have fun…whether you are using Adobe Audition, Protools or Garage Band (which I still have not learned).

NOTE:  Be wary of sneaky background noise.  Turn up your volume and listen to your piece, especially if you are just recording a dry voice spot.  Something you cannot hear, a production manager might be able to when the volume is turned up.  If you cannot hear feed back or background noise…you should be okay.