Rudy Gaskins, right, shares a laugh with Alan Kalter, the popular on-camera announcer of the The Late Show with David Letterman.
Ask Rudy #4
Marketing & Branding Yourself:
Why Should They Choose YOU?
Top creative director/producer Rudy Gaskins is "on the other Q: Do producers mostly prefer male voices over
side of the glass" from voice talent - helping voice seekers nd female?
the right voice for their projects. So - what gets a talent's foot
in the door ... and a lingering welcome mat? It's a "delicate Individual producers may or may not have a say in
dance" of marketing, branding and networking, as Rudy whether the voice is male or female, so it doesn’t always
explains in Part 4 of this exclusive VoiceOverXtra series. matter what they think.
By Rudy Gaskins But let’s lump them into the category of “client” and
CEO & Executive Creative Director answer the question this way:
While the industry uses mostly male voices, the voice - For the past year, I’d put it at 10%. Before that, it was 5%.
male or female - is often chosen based on what the client
believes the product calls for. Q: Does it help my chances of getting hired if I send
the producer a well-packaged demo with picture and
Unfortunately, a noticeable bias for male voices does exist. resume?
I believe this bias will change as more creative profession-
als evolve in their awareness of women as equal partners. What you think is “well packaged” may be very di erent
from a seasoned marketer who is trained in packaging
But this is not a political change as much as it is a transfor- products.
mative change in how we perceive gender, power, persua-
sion, etc. Consider that even the hiring of the voice actor is part of
an overall marketing package.
On a positive note, the voice actor needn’t be concerned
about the male vs. female question. Just audition for as My point is that you’re handing your package to a packag-
many opportunities that come your way, and keep devel- ing expert. Invest some money in a professional artist or
oping your skills in the interim. branding expert who can ensure that you deliver a solid
Q: How much does the age of the voice-over actor
matter? Let the artists do what they do, unencumbered by your
ego and untrained eye about what makes good branding.
“Actual age” in voice-over usually covers quite a wide
range in “perceivable age.” IT'S AN ART
This is a good thing for voice-over actors for obvious A good artist will decipher what
reasons. you need and address the
overall marketing issues based
On the other hand, aging shapes the quality of one’s voice on interviewing you.
over time. It can’t be avoided. When your age becomes
discernable to the ear, you will be constrained to rolls When developing packaging,
where your voice is appropriate. keep in mind that clients are
hiring you for your voice, not
Now, a critical point to make in this regard is that the your face. If they see your face, it
voice-over actor can often take advantage of anonymity. is likely that unconscious stereo-
typing can occur in a way that
If, for example, you’re very young with a very mature goes against you. And once that
sound, the last thing you want to do is spoil your chances happens, the client may not be
by sending a picture and resume that might have the able to hear your voice because
client unconsciously stereotype you as “too young” or vice of the "noise" created in his
versa. subconscious based on seeing
This is a mistake many voice-over actors make because
they just can’t resist putting a great head shot on the Conclusion: While
demo packaging. your look has
nothing to do with
Q: How often do you use people with accents other your voice, it can
than American? have everything to
do with how your
voice is perceived. consistency,
Don’t risk confusion. a keen awareness of their role in the production
Q: How do I brand myself as a voice-over actor?
Q: Does it pay to network with producer/directors, or
First you have to understand what you have to sell in terms is it really up to the agents to get me the job?
of your voice-over capabilities:
It’s mostly up to agents, managers, and industry word-of-
mouth. But there’s a great deal you can do to give those
people good stu to work with.
and as a professional collaborator: I like to point out that as hard as the agent works, they get
only 10% of the money, and that leaves the talent with
people skills, doing the work to earn the other 90%.
That work doesn’t end with showing up for auditions and
Work this out with your agent, and keep your agent jobs!
apprised of new developments in additional training or
techniques you pick up over time. It means nding creative ways, traditional and non-
traditional, to put yourself out there in the best possible
Now that you know what you have to sell, branding is a light.
process of getting that understanding into the minds of all
with whom you come into contact. This is a delicate dance, especially when it comes to
networking with buyers (producers, creative directors,
A branding professional can be worth the time and money etc.), because these people do not generally spend time
here. Everyone thinks they can do branding, but it’s not a listening to and categorizing voices for later use.
They depend on agents for the expertise of supplying the
WHAT YOU'RE SELLING ... best voices.
If you must go it alone, the rst and foremost thing you’re SHUN HARD SELL
selling is “interpretive skill and sound quality.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t leave a lasting positive
Find whatever adjectives best illuminate and reinforce the impression on a producer. The best impression will
value and truth about your skill. probably come from just being a fun conversationalist
and not pursuing any ulterior motive.
Branding should point out the advantageous aspects of
your talent, and be a match with the real thing when the Most people recoil from the hard sell. Unfortunately, most
client is dealing with you in the studio. actors have a hard time understanding this approach, and
can’t wait to pitch themselves for hire.
Aside from talent, the attributes that keep me coming
back to the same actors are: Desperation may get you a handout, but it won’t get you
collaborative spirit, Q: What do you listen for in a demo?
willingness to explore,
First, the demo has to be in the genre in which I’m hiring -
promo, commercial narration, etc.
From there, I’m listening for a gment of my imagination –
the voice that I and the marketing team conjured up as the
magical personality that would best embody and give life
to the product.
Assuming I nd the voice quality, I’m also looking for a
high level of interpretive prowess, versatility and the
power to bring words and ideas to life.
Ask Rudy #1: On The Job: What Clients Expect
Ask Rudy #2: The Agent Relationship
Ask Rudy #3: The Casting Process
ABOUT RUDY ...
Emmy-winning producer Rudy Gaskins is CEO and
Executive Creative Director of Push Creative Inc., a
branding services company providing strategic market-
ing, graphic design and video/ lm production for TV
broadcast networks and corporations. Clients include
Lexus, FOX News Channel, BET, American Express, Spike
TV, ABC Television, History Channel, MSNBC, and NBC
Sports. Drawing on his former experience as a lmmaker
and writer/producer/director for PBS, Gaskins has
recently expanded Push Creative’s production scope to
include program development, and is actively develop-
ing projects in several genres. He also coaches profes-
sional and aspiring voice-over actors in the develop-
ment of performance technique. He is co-writer of
Secrets of Voice-Over Success by Joan Baker, with
whom he also partners in o ering voice-over training.
Voice-Over Training: joanbaker.tv/voice-
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