With over 30 years of experience behind a microphone, he knows the voice-over work industry like the back of his hand. But beyond the talent, it’s his work ethic and dedication to clients that set him apart. Read on to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.
I started doing voice-over work back around 1995—but with moderate success. I created a couple of audio commercials with a friend imitating the voice of the original “Visa, it’s everywhere you need to be.” They were very successful; I won an advertising award but I quickly figured out imitating other people was not going to get me where I needed to be. It took me a number of years to find my own style and by 2000 I finally started to see some success. The voice over industry isn’t easy, it takes a long long time to establish yourself and build a sustainable client base.
I started in radio when I was a freshman in high school and then went to college for a degree in electrical engineering. After college, I quickly found myself back in radio. I was running radio stations all over the country as a program director, bouncing around from location to location.
Once I had kids, the radio world wasn’t stable enough to maintain a reliable environment for them. At the same time, my voiceover work had really started taking off. There’s a saying in radio: ‘If you haven’t been fired you haven’t been in radio long enough’. Twenty-three years in radio was enough for me. That was the point I pivoted into working for myself full-time. And there’s been continued growth ever since.
Slow down and enjoy it. Entrepreneurship is not a race, it’s a marathon.
Oftentimes, challenges in my industry are entirely new problems that you’ve never faced before. I’m constantly researching and trying to figure out exactly how to accomplish new tasks. For me, it’s more of an art form than any kind of mechanical calculation. For example, maybe someone isn’t looking for a movie trailer style voice over we want the guy next store who’s angry at his neighbors and wants to move.
Also, my work can be very objective. My idea of how something should sound might not be the same as yours. A good writer not only has a solid grasp of the English language, but they also have a clear idea of the other elements of a project in their mind—the music, the look and feel. So if all I have is a script, I don’t know what was running through someone’s head when they wrote it.
And it’s not just the writer who has an opinion. There’s the producer, director and others who have a say.
There are a lot of stakeholders involved in most projects and everyone has their different opinion. The way I interpret copy is sometimes nowhere close to the way the writer intended it to be. It’s all perspective. You need a tough skin because nothing will ever be exactly how each person wants it. There’s always going to be a lot of back and forth in order to satisfy everyone. If you can’t take criticism or get discouraged easily, this is not the job for you.
Constant feedback, transparency and communication is key to doing good business.
When my clients come to me with a problem, I work with them to solve it, not just to meet their expectations—to exceed them.
Don’t think for a moment I take every piece of work that’s floated to me. There are business categories I flat-out refuse to work with at this point. It’s because I just don’t want to be ‘that guy’ that does medical commercials for example (7 hours of disclaimers doesn’t interest me *laughs*).
You have to remember: Sometimes turning down work actually gets you more work.
You have to remember: Sometimes turning down work actually gets you more work. Carving out your niche sets you above the next person that might do anything for anybody under any circumstances no matter what. Only accepting the work you value will actually add value to your brand.
What’s the biggest threat to your industry at the moment and how are you working to overcome it?
There’s a huge influx of inexperienced talent driving down the price of voice overs these days. So many of them are starting to use lower end technology and devaluing the art of the voice over by undercutting the seasoned pros. I think value is terribly forgotten nowadays.
I just keep focussing on delivery high-quality voice work in a timely manner. When I was in radio using voice over artists, one of the most infuriating problems to me was sending out copy and it taking days or weeks to get back the material. So, my voice over work ethic is that if I get something today, there’s a 95% chance you’ll get it back the same day, under any circumstance. Sometimes I’ll be recording until 10, 11, 12 at night.
I work exclusively from home in my soundproof studio. On a rare occasion, I may go on-location to do some live announcing, but I generally don’t do that too much.
I’m the voice of USA Sevens Rugby. Every year, they go with the big dramatic sports voice and that’s the delivery I’m used to. This year, they came and said they wanted a low-key, storytelling voice… but they still wanted it to sound exciting for the sport of Rugby. As you can imagine, this is a tough thing to deliver. It took a lot of pre-reading, re-reading and reciting the scripts. I’d walk around the house talking to myself for hours!
First and foremost, I stand by this mantra: ‘under-promise, over-deliver’. If the client wants something, they are going to get it (and then some). Whether that means providing extra takes or alternative options that they may never even use. But the idea is that my clients will never say I didn’t give them more than expected. I want my clients to respect the value they’ve gotten from me and feel it was worth the money they’ve parted with.
Publicly, my studio hours are 9-5 Monday through Friday. But if you’re a client of mine, you’ll have a phone number you can reach me at 24/7.
As far as balance goes, I’m doing pretty well. Especially compared to my life in radio, moving from city to city for 25 years. Everything for me is pretty well balanced. Good family, great wife, super kids. I get to work at home and spend time with them whenever I want. I also have the luxury of taking time off whenever I want. I have a couple of surprise train trips planned for the summer to take as a family. I truly wish I could tell you where these destinations are but they are a surprise!
I’m truly living the dream. I get up and talk into a microphone every day. It’s a fun job. I don’t need any motivation to get up and do what I do each and every day.
There’s always something next. I just don’t know what it is… the possibilities are endless and I’m open to them all. I’m comfortable where I’m at and I don’t need to rush forward into unbridled success and fortune. Although I’m in no hurry to peak in my career, I’m interested in taking the opportunities if they are the right ones. I just want to continue and sustain the slow and steady business growth I’ve been experiencing so far.