Dane: I’m Dane Reid, The Voiceover Guy. I am here with the team from voice actor websites. Guys! (Team Introduces Themselves) (Dane) And I don’t have any labs that fit five people.
Dane: I’m Dane Reid, The Voiceover Guy. I am here with the team from voice actor websites. Guys! (Team Introduces Themselves) (Dane) And I don’t have any labs that fit five people.
I used to steal software and plugins for voiceover. I started my career with Cubase LE which came as free software with my Emu 1616 audio interface. As I realized the limitations of that software, I wanted to grow but I didn’t have the money to grow. But having friends in audio engineering, I found out that there were ways to get what was called cracked software.
My first cracked software was a Cubase SX. There was a company that was famous for cracking audio software called and I used to find their software either online or through a friend who had it. Cubase 2.1 was how I really learned to produce commercials. But a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is only as good as the plugins. So for that, I had to find more cracked software.
The hot plugins of the day were waves plugins. Waves were really good and really expensive. Of everyone that I knew who did audio, maybe only one of them actually bought any of the waves plugins legally. Waves plugins could run 10k for a bundle. Being who I am I had to have the best bundles. I had the waves platinum, mercury and gold bundles at some time in history.
As my career grew, I never really considered buying the actual plugins. They were still out of my reach in price. Plus, what was the point? I was getting them for free. Free beats cheap any day. So I perfected my skills with free software and even upgraded as more cracked software replaced the older versions. I went from Cubase SX to Cubase 2.1. Then I moved on to several Nuendo versions for a few years. Meanwhile, voiceover and commercial orders piled on. I had a nice workflow.
I never shorted on hardware though. I bought my first Neuman for $1500. UA LA 610 for $1400. I owned several computers. A Mac and a PC and a PC laptop. I had travel gear and swapped out several audio interfaces at that time.
So what happened? Well, one morning I got up to do my work. I had several commercials in the pipeline for the day. I fired up my computer and my trusty Emu and then started Nuendo and BAM. Nothing. It wouldn’t start. I tried it again and still nothing. So I restarted the computer hoping that would help. Nothing again. I tried a few times and no result. I was in a bad position.
I called a friend and fellow talent to ask if I could come to his house and record this work and he asked me what had happened. I told him. And his response was something I didn’t expect. He said to me “Why don’t you just buy the software?” I had never thought to actually buy the software. So I did. I bought my first version of Cubase, which was Cubase 5. It cost me $300 at Guitar Center. I came home that morning with my dongle and installed the software and BAM…. Nothing!!
At this point, I’m even more panicked. Installing and getting up and running was much easier with cracked software. So I called Steinberg to help me. I went over several things troubleshooting with the tech before I finally had to admit to the tech that I previously installed unauthorized software. He went silent for a second, and in a judgemental tone said “Well then you have to wipe your entire computer clean and reinstall windows to install Cubase properly.
You can imagine my horror. But I had work to do and the day was coming to a close by now. I got off the phone, backed up as many of my files as I could, and wiped my hard drive. I realized that I had to change at this moment. I did put the plugins back on the computer because I needed them at that moment but over time I began to buy them. I didn’t buy all of them but I bought some.
Over the years I replaced Cubase 5 with Cubase 7 Artist. I also bought Cubase 8 Elements for my mobile rig and then upgraded to Cubase LE AI Elements 9.5. I also bought Cubase Artists 9 for my desktop home studio. That version made all of my 32-bit plugins obsolete so now I had to buy all new plugins. That’s when I bought the Apollo Twin and then the Apollo Arrow with all the plugins for those machines. Now, I can’t steal plugins. I buy them. I also fell in love and buy the Izotope plugins. I have several of those bundles for mixing and mastering. I continue to buy software and plugins for voiceover. For Christmas, I bought UAD’s Manley VoxBox and Valley People Dyna-Mite.
You don’t even have to steal software and plugins. For plugins, there are literally thousands of free ones online. All you have to do is google free audio plugins. For a DAW everyone knows about Audacity which is free but you can also download a free version of Mixpad which seems better than Audacity.
In my opinion, I get the fact that starting a business or learning a new craft is very expensive, but with free software and plugins for voiceover available now, don’t steal. Don’t steal anything actually. People work hard designing this software and they deserve to make a profit for their efforts. I left some links in the description for Mixpad and Audacity.
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Everett Oliver is a shy, introverted booth director who got his start 25 years ago in the animation world….. And if you know Everett you know that there is absolutely nothing shy nor introverted about him. Everett is a no holds barred, unfiltered, instinctive voiceover coach and booth director who fights hard for the success of his clients.
As a booth director, Everett directs clients auditions to help them book jobs. Voiceover actors often have auditions that they REALLY WANT to book. Some of these auditions are the BIG ONE that can make our careers. Whether it’s a network promo job or an animation project, we know this can mean the difference between success and failure. We sometimes spend hours recording the audition and then second-guessing ourselves on the read, the sound, the tone etc. Ultimately this can result in paralysis of analysis. In those moments, what we really need is a second ear.
That Second Ear
Everett is that Ear. Working with a voiceover audition coach like Everett accomplishes several things. It cuts down the time you spend on auditioning and allows talent to submit auditions faster. Sometimes agents submit the first good auditions as they come in and those are the ones that are most highly considered. Working with Everett also gives you insight into what the client is most likely thinking when he wrote the copy. Everett knows that world and he has an incredible instinct for predicting what books.
Taking His Show On The Road
Everett Oliver has been touring North America, taking his brass brand of coaching to various cities. And talent are better off for it. In my time speaking to Everett, he explained to me about an entire world that goes beyond what most talent could even imagine. It’s a fast-paced, backroom world where the end result is what matters. Everett knows that world, having been in Hollywood for many years and being a part of it. It’s a world where talent is replaceable and feelings can be a liability.
He’s a Tough Mutha Shut Yo Mouth
Everett’s style is all in preparation for acting in front of those people who run that world. He’s hardcore, but when you speak to him one-on-one, you realize that it’s all in love. He’s like the mother hen who looks out for you until you are ready to fly before he himself pushes you out of the nest. And believe me, Everett Oliver pushes. His personality throughout his session was both tough and hilarious.
There have been so many voiceover jobs that I crossed my fingers and threw up 7 hail Mary’s that I didn’t get. Somethings are just perfect for you and you’d love to call up someone special and say “Listen to me on this”. And those are the voiceover auditions that I would call a booth director for. Those are the jobs that I prep for with a voiceover coach months in advance for. Those are the jobs that I now keep Everett on speed dial for. Now, my booth director is Everett Oliver.
I am not a Voiceover Expert. I am a student. I taught a class yesterday called “Intro to Voiceover” to a group of excited students who knew nothing about voiceover. Most of them were local Atlanta actors who wanted to break into the business or to wet their beak. But the first thing that I told them is that I myself, even after 15 years, am a student of voiceover. The second thing that I told themwas “this is an intro course and after this, you’ll need extensive training and coaching to really get into the business and I will recommend others who specialize in guiding your career.”
See here’s the thing. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing, but it’s that I know that every day I am learning and in order to keep learning and grow my voiceover business, I need to keep the humility of a student. The other thing that I know is that many people in the industry with a cell phone camera bill themselves as a voiceover expert. Some of this is driven by the ability to sell courses, classes and advice to new students. Some of it is ego-driven and done for likes among peers. A friend who does a lot of great coaching and demo production once confided in me that there is more money in voiceover coaching and demo producing than there is in voiceover itself. I think that’s telling and a warning as to how students should invest their money in growing their businesses.
I do interviews as a way to learn valuable information from long-established and well-respected voiceover experts. I started it also to meet people in our industry and to watch them first hand conduct their businesses. Joe Loesch taught me to wake up every morning, get dressed and go to work in work clothes as I would for a corporate job. Dave Fennoy taught me to give every character a past, present and future. Anne Ganguzza taught me the value of consistency in marketing. And Joe Cipriano reminded me that relationships in business will help propel you forward faster. These are things that I may have taken longer to learn, but listening to voiceover experts whose opinions I value, helped put these things in perspective.
I love motivating people to be their best as I love being motivated by others. It cost money to buy equipment and travel to people’s homes wherever they may be. But I enjoy doing it. It pays when people recognize me and thank them for helping jumpstart their careers, but private lessons are a minuscule part of what I do. And after several lessons with me, I refer students to other coaches. That seems counterintuitive, but my focus is on continuous learning and advancing education. As for actual profit from vlogging, I make none. No ad dollars. No endorsements and no courses to sell. In full disclosure, my content is a form of advertising my business, but I mostly do this because I truly just love content.
One of the biggest themes in my life has been learning and teaching. I am an avid learner. I grew up in a book store in New York that my father owned and learning was the central theme of my life. At a certain age, I realized that I had a passion for teaching people what I had learned. I eventually went on to work in the school system for 5 years. So, I love to impart information. In addition to wanting to share what I have learned in voiceover, I wanted to present that info in a fun way, in a way that you don’t see enough of online in our industry.
I wanted to fill a void that wasn’t being filled. There is plenty of advice in the voiceover industry. There are plenty of experts of varying levels doing podcasts, Youtube, Facebook Live shows and IGTV and I love a lot of that existing content. Some of the shows I enjoy are Ask Dave Fennoy and VO Buzz Weekly. But what I thought that I could do differently was to tell stories. I watch a lot of youtube videos from creators and enjoy the travel stories, the tech stories and the human stories that are told through video and narration. As a voice guy, I have always had a passion for verbally telling those stories. With a Panasonic GH4 in hand, I can tell those stories now cinematically as well as with my voice.
When people ask me how I got started in voiceover, I know what they are really asking; How to get started in voiceover and more importantly, how do they get started in voiceover? I also realize that they are listening for an easy answer. Since noticing that, I ask whether or not they are interested in doing voiceover, and from there, that shapes the way I answer the question. I either explain that their path in 2019 will be different from my path in 2004 or I tell them the actual story of my journey.
If the question is truly ” How I got started in voiceover ” then the real answer is long and complex. It started with my professor in College, Bill Clark mentioning to me that I should do voiceover. It was really early in the days of the internet and little info was available about…… really anything. I search the local newspaper, found nothing and quickly gave up. But as time went on and I graduated with a major in mass media, the word voiceover continued to resonate in my mind.
Fast forward a few years and I was working in the Fulton County Georgia School system. It was a job I enjoyed but it was never meant to be permanent. Voiceover seemed to continue to come up and I kept hearing big voice radio imaging guys like Mitch Faulkner, Pat Garrett, Mike Johnson, and others. I would imitate them and frequently said “I could do that”
But the catalyst to me actually getting started was being in New Orleans with my dad in the lobby of our hotel when I began thinking seriously about doing voiceover. I was still with the school system but what Bill Clark had advised me to do years prior was heavy on my spirit. At that moment, I concluded my thoughts when just shortly after, my homie Dolvett called me from Atlanta and said immediately upon me answering the phone, “Yo, I don’t know why I was thinking about this but, I think you should do voiceover”. I had never spoken to him about this prior.
When I returned to Atlanta, I got to the much-matured internet of 2004 and called the first voiceover talent I could find here in Atlanta. I wish I remembered her name, but she advised me to get a demo and send it out. She also told me a great studio that did demos. (That’s not advice I would give an aspiring voiceover talent today. Go get training first) So, I followed her advice. I called the studio and scheduled a time to record.
The studio session, much to the surprise of the engineers went so well that they gave me my demo free. The owner told me that I was the first aspiring voiceover talent, out of hundreds, to record with them who he actually thought had a future in the business and so he wanted to pay it forward by helping to launch my career. I was excited. I sent that demo around to different studios and agents and landed my first voiceover job on local radio playing a robot in a health product commercial. It paid me $75. I was also signed to a local agency, Arlene Wilson Management.
That year for Christmas, my then-girlfriend bought me my first microphone, the Rode NT1A. I, of course, had to buy an audio interface to go with it so I purchased the Emu 1616, which at the time was cutting edge technology. The Emu came with multiple recording programs, which included Cubase LE, which I became so accustomed to that it made Cubase my lifelong DAW. I worked this set up for 6 months when I found one regular client who paid me weekly which afforded me the ability to buy the TLM 103 microphone.
Throughout my early career, I attempted many things to make money in voiceover. I started a very expensive voiceover ringtone website which I profited only $6 before Apple’s Iphone killed the ringtone business. I sold my bible verse call-back tones to a company in Canada. But I also began doing radio commercials for local nightclubs, a skill I learned from a mentor in radio imaging named “Postman.” In 2006, I stopped working in the school system to do voiceover full-time.
By 2008 I published my first audiobook called “Dana The Procrastinator.” It was a physical hardcover book combined with a CD which was produced by my brother Omari and voiced by yours truly. Dana the Procrastinator was loosely based on my lifelong struggle with procrastination. It combined my two favorite pastimes, voiceover and writing. The book was great for me but was short-lived. I visited schools and bookstores from Atlanta to New York speaking and conducting workshops. Being an author even took me to Jamaica where I read to children at the Jamaican Public Library. But by 2009, the sales came to almost a halt and I was struggling financially.
At the end of 2009, I had lost the girlfriend who had encouraged me in my career up until then. While tough, it was the motivation I needed to push me to succeed and make bolder moves. As an introvert, I was forced to leave the house to find what I no longer had socially. My girlfriend was my crutch and I had to encounter other human beings which made me go out more. This meant using my business as a reason to attend more functions and meet more people. A new network could help make me more successful. While I lost love, I expanded my network. From there I began traveling outside of Georgia to find work. This was the formula which proved to be fruitful.
I’ve done a lot of things since 2010 keep my business going and growing. Training and educating myself to understand the voiceover industry has been helpful. Additionally, I have broadened the types of voiceover that I do. I’ve taken on much more narration work in the past few years. I started blogging and interviewing established voiceover talent to increase my own visibility in the industry. Also, I wanted to learn from other pros.
I have grown greatly over the years from how I got started in voiceover. My journey will not translate the same way into your journey if you are just getting started. The industry has changed. Technology has changed. The world has changed. My hope is that even if voiceover itself no longer exist 15 years from now, that I can be comfortable from the work I have done in this industry. And that I continue to be proud of that work.
#voiceover-career #african-american-voiceover-talent #How-to-get-started