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Rugged Ridge’s AmFib Snorkel System – Jay Smack VO

I voiced this spot for Rugged Rugged Ridge in which they are (or, rather.. I am) talking about their AmFib Snorkel System. It allows off-road vehicles to aspirate their engines when crossing rivers and creeks while venturing off-road. Looks like a hell of a lot of fun. I asked for, and did not receive, a testing of the product in the form of an off-road adventure, backcountry-style.  Check out their bad ass products and find a local dealer here: Rugged Ridge.

Solo Entrepreneurs Are NOT Solo Acts – Express Your Gratitude

I’m a voiceover guy.  I provide a very specific service to my clients.  The service I offer is SO specific that I realize I’m not always the right person for the job.  A client might need a different voice, a different gender, someone with a different background or perspective, someone with a different overall vibe in their reads.  The list of why I might NOT get booked gives clients ample opportunity to go somewhere else for their narration, commercial, corporate of other voiceover genre project.  That’s why I value my clients so much. – especially regular and repeat clients.  They are EVERYTHING.

Are you a small biz person, solo entrepreneur, or whatever you call being in business for yourself, BY yourself?  The relationships you develop with clients, vendors, consultants, service providers, contemporaries/sounding boards, etc. – are so incredibly important and gratifying. They are, quite literally, the reason you are in business. If not your WHY, they are absolutely your HOW.

It’s essential that you stay in contact and let your clients and vendors know how much you appreciate them.   It doesn’t take much.  A short, sincere note or kind gesture goes so far when it comes to staying in touch and letting them know that you’re there for them and that you value their business.

If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to people or think it seems transparent, just remember to be as authentic as possible.  Speak from the heart.  You appreciate their business because they are helping you stay in business.  It’s as simple as that.  So keep it as simple as that.

Here are a few suggestions when relaying messages of gratitudes to people you interact with professionally or otherwise.

  1. No selling.  You’re thanking them.  Don’t make them regret opening that email or getting that card.
  2. Let the subject line reflect something positive.  Keep it simple.  “Thank you” is perfect and enough.
  3. It could feel selly, but a promo code or discount as a ‘thank you’ is fine.
  4. Send it quickly after an interaction, project or sale.  You’re still in their minds.
  5. Keep it brief.  Again, you’re saying thank you.  Don’t overstate it or make them search for the purpose of your email, card or letter.
  6. Make it personal.  “To whom it may concern” kinda defeats the purpose of a thank you, doesn’t it?
  7. If you’re sending a small gift or package, include a note that they’ll find immediately.  Don’t make them search for the reason why some unidentified person sent them something random.
  8. If you’re sending a letter or postcard, handwrite it.  If you haven’t actually written anything in a while and your handwriting looks like shorthand, typing and printing it but then signing it personally is ok.
  9. Include your branding if possible.  It looks more professional, but it’s still personal.  This was a professional interaction you’re thanking them for, after all.

Below are a few simple notes you can send in a card, postcard, coffee gift cert or some other token of appreciation that will hopefully brighten their day.  You can always email it too.  Short, sweet and to the point.  Although in this digital age, snail mail and a physical letter or card is very rare and always appreciated.

Personalize pronouns, sentiment and message to match your situation.

  1. Thank you for your business. Please let me know if I can do anything else to help!
  2. Just wanted to say thank you for your business. I’m so lucky to have customers like you!
  3. Thanks for being an awesome client.  I appreciate your business!
  4. Thanks for trusting me to help you with your recent project!
  5. I truly appreciate your business and look forward to serving you again.
  6. Just a quick note to say I sincerely hope you are satisfied with how the recent project turned out.  Please let me know if I can help with anything at all.
  7. Thank you for your business and your trust. It is our pleasure to work with you.
  8. Thank you so much for your business. I’m honored to have you as a client.
  9. You are the reason I do what I do. Thank you for being a (great, loyal, awesome) client.
  10. Thank you. We hope your experience was awesome and we can’t wait to see you again soon.
  11. Because of loyal clients like you, my business continues to grow.  Thank you so much for your business.
  12. Hope you are happy with the [recent] project we worked on together (name the actual project)! Thank you for being a valued [company name] customer!
  13. Thank you for making your first booking with me.  I hope we get the chance to work together again soon.
  14. Thank you for hiring me for your project.  I’ll always do my best to continue to give you the kind of service you deserve.
  15. Thank for your business. Hope to work with you again in the future.

So you want to be a voiceover artist…

As a professional voice talent, or “voiceover artist”, or “voice actor”, or whatever else it’s called, people often ask me how they can get into the business.  They’ve been told they have a good voice and they should get into voiceover.  Or they have a talent for doing characters or impressions.  The spoken word and people’s voices are something that we can all relate to.  It’s totally understandable.  “You get paid to talk?!”  Yeah.  Well, sort of.  I get paid to talk.. now.  I didn’t get paid to talk a couple decades ago when I was breaking into radio, then working in the advertising industry writing copy, developing marketing plans and recording and producing commercials and audio content, then working as a recording engineer and producer for studios and production companies.  More accurately, I was occasionally getting paid to talk because the voiceover thing was more of a side gig.  But truthfully, I was always doing it, always fascinated by it, always practicing it and studying it.  And I was always thinking that perhaps, one day, it would be my main gig.  Because in this weird, dynamic, ever-changing business a couple of the best and most useful things you can be is versatile and willing to adapt.

So if you want to break into voiceover, assuming you’ve got a knack for it and have been at least practicing and remaining aware of trends and such, the first thing you should do is find a coach.  Top tier coaches may not be the place to start.  Although you can try.  There are coaches in L.A. and New York and other big markets (where there are a lot of studios and production companies and talent agencies and CLIENTS) who are working with talent that consistently book national-level projects.  If you can get in with one of them go for it, but be prepared to be broken down before being built back up.  You probably want to start with someone a little closer to home or without such a long waiting list.  And there are a lot of great coaches who are very accessible and very affordable.  Talent knows no boundaries.  So ask around.  Join some Facebook groups.  Find other talent and see who they studied with.

Once you’ve found a coach, be prepared to work on your craft for a while – like, a couple years.  Seriously.  You might get good enough to book some gigs more quickly than that, or it could take even longer.  But you need to learn how to break down copy and have it become second nature.  You need to be able to see the writing techniques that copywriters are using as they lay there on the page and then interpret them via inflection, mic technique, mood, dynamics, speed, etc.  It is acting, after all.  And there are no eyebrows, wrinkled noses, smirks or incredulous looks to telegraph what it is you (or more accurately the copywriter, or even more accurately the client) are communicating.  Like anything else, it takes time to fill your toolbox.

After you’ve acquired some tools you need to make them yours.  You need to engrave your name on all those techniques.  Because even when it comes to characters you need to bring something to the performance that no one else can bring.  That something is you.  You need to sound authentic – especially now.  Today’s audience is extremely media savvy.  And when I say media I’m including social media, online content, video games, anywhere actors or spokespersons are relaying a message.  Today’s audience has seen and heard it all.  And if you come at them with anything other than a “conversational” delivery when that’s what’s being called for, they won’t even bother ignoring it because it will never have landed with them in the first place.  It simply won’t get through because it smacks of inauthenticity.

Oh, and be prepared to have failure be a regular part of your day.  And that’s not offered in a negative spirit at all.  Winning auditions are definitely about talent, but also about numbers.  Most of the jobs you audition for you will not get.  That’s just part of the business.  More often than not it’s just because you just weren’t what the client was looking for.  You wouldn’t hire Robert DeNiro to play .. I don’t know .. Thor.  Would you?  Well, he could probably pull it off, but you get the idea.

There are other hurdles, nay “opportunities” that come along the path to becoming a professional voice talent such as building a mic locker, software to record and edit, sound treatment, marketing, websites, representation, etc.  But most of that will reveal itself to you along the way as long as you engage and stay engaged with the voiceover/production/post-production/general creative community.

We haven’t addressed demos.  At some point you will need to have demos of various voiceover genres.  Demos are your audio calling cards.  Commercial, explainer, corporate, radio imaging – these are all different types of demos that will provide examples of what you’re capable of.  It’s often a good idea to either have your coach produce your first demo when you can both agree that you are ready, or find a qualified demo producer.  Don’t skimp on demos.  Good demo producers write scripts for you and emphasize your strengths and range.  Open with your strongest reads and keep clips short enough to keep it moving and long enough to get an idea of your abilities.  Five to ten seconds for each clip is a solid length.  And around one minute or slightly longer is a good length for the full demo.  But if potential clients, agents, etc., don’t hear something they like or something they’re looking for within the first few seconds of listening to your demo they won’t continue to listen.

I’ve included a couple interesting resources at the top of the post.  Check them out and feel free to share any you think might be helpful to other folks crazy enough to get into this amazing, fascinating, creative, exciting, crazy, unpredictable business.

 

Good Eye Podcast – Michael Farley – Proper Walk

Your definition of a “proper walk” is likely very different from Michael Farley’s.

BIO:
Michael Farley is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, a retired nonprofit CEO, and an adventurer.  He was the leader of Elk Hill, a human services organization based in Goochland VA, for 21 years.  Michael has also led adventure trips in the United States and Kenya for the past forty years.  Through both a global and local “lens”, he shares those adventures, the lessons learned, and relates how the experiences have helped shaped his own personal and professional values, his leadership beliefs, and his continued purpose in life to do good and have fun.

Michael has returned to Kenya over 30 times.  Since 2002, he has organized and led 13 Proper Walks in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley trekking over 2,000km and raising over $950,000 for the Makindu Children’s Program, which supports 560 orphans and is in the same area where Michael served in the Peace Corps.  He has known three generations of Kenyans and has seen firsthand the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Sahara Africa and the orphans left in its wake.

Michael refers to his Walks as Adventures for a Cause.  And they are real Adventures, complete with wild animal encounters, indigenous tribes, and ornery camels.   Over the years, the Cause has provided thousands of children hope for a much better future.

The Proper Walks have been featured in National Geographic Adventure Magazine and Newsweek.
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Subscribe to The Good Eye Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
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Contact Jay Smack
jaysmackvo.com
jaysmack.com

StudioB RVA – Doug Nunally – The Newlin Music Prize

Doug Nunally runs the online Richmond-area music magazine The Auricular and has spearheaded the creation of the new Newlin Music Prize,  “an award given to the best full-length album from the Richmond-Petersburg, VA metropolitan area based solely on artistic merit without regard to style or popularity.

Named after musical prodigy, VCU professor, and performer Dika Newlin (1923-2006), the prize launched in 2022 to award its first ever award for albums released in the previous calendar year. The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize in the hope of fostering future recordings and performances.”

Newlin Music Prize short list

The Auricular

StudioB RVA

Good Eye Podcast – Andrey Karpov – TrueAgilityRVA, IT4Causes

Andrey Karpov is Director of Operations for IT4Causes.  They provide IT solutions for nonprofit clients.  He also has a burgeoning life coaching business in TrueAgilityRVA.  We get into the weeds and talk about the path that brought him to America from St. Petersburg Russia, early influences, favorite books, wellness practices and his plans to grow TrueAgility across the country.

IT4Causes.org

TrueAgilityRVA

Books referenced:

Andrey’s must have list:

Additional:

Current Podcast Obsession and Old School Metal

I’m a child of the 80’s.  What can I say?  But not the 80’s you might think of when someone says “The 80’s”.  Not the Cyndi Lauper, Men Without Hats 80’s.  More of the Dio-era Black Sabbath, early Iron Maiden, early Metallica, Priest, RUSH kind of 80’s.  I grew up a KISS fan, but what I was really after was Black Sabbath which I actually discovered after KISS.  When I heard the song Black Sabbath I knew I had found my tribe.  I used to tell my grandmother (my earliest musical supporter – she used to have me write her poems which were often dark and mysterious, but she didn’t care) that I liked “mean” music.  And until I found Sabbath that meant the darker Beethoven and Stravinsky.

Martin Popoff is a Canadian music journalist, podcaster, magazine publisher and author.  His depth of knowledge is by no means genre-specific (one of his favorite bands is The Damned), but he tends to focus on progressive rock, hard rock and metal.  His podcast “History In Five Songs with Martin Popoff” is a total stroll down memory lane for me.  But his knowledge and references are very detailed and specific.  Topics include session musicians, one hit albums, drum hooks and early (producer) Mutt Lange.  To a music and production nerd like me it’s absolute heaven.  I have actually created a new Spotify playlist called “Referenced” which is where I put songs and artists he talks about so I can go do my homework on bands I haven’t listened to in forever or somehow missed.

Martin is often on another podcast which is actually a YouTube series produced by Pete Pardo’s Sea of Tranquility.  Pete’s knowledge is as deep as Martin’s and it’s a total blast watching these two old schoolers go down the rabbit hole.  And the vibe is totally chill and unpretentious.  And just because they often focus on older groups the newer stuff gets equal billing with frequent mentions and analysis of bands like Opeth, Dream Theater, King’s X and Porcupine Tree.

If you’re an unpretentious person who appreciates the tongue-in-cheek pretentiousness of prog and metal, check these out and let me know what you think.

Books by Martin Popoff

Martin Popoff’s Brave Words, Bloody Knuckles

Pete Pardo’s Sea of Tranquility YouTube Channel

Sea of Tranquility Website

Good Eye Podcast – Tom Dorney – Veteran Outreach

Tom Dorney is a Navy vet who served aboard the USS Enterprise and is the current National Director of Resources and Partnerships for ReGroup Foundation.  His mission is to advocate for Veterans and First Responders effectively and provide them with the programs and resources they need.  Tom also serves as President of the Board of Directors of Adam’s House, a Peer to Peer and Educational support program for grieving children and their families.

From the conversation:
ReGroup Foundation
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Smokin and Jokin Podcast
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SUCCESS… Your WHY Powers Your How with Richard Kaufman
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Convene Collab
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VetUnite.org – Mentoring for Veterans
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Mission22
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Good Eye Podcast
Jay Smack

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