This past weekend was the last Voice Over Atlanta conference…except, it wasn’t. On the last day it was announced that J. Michael Collins and his wife Anna are taking over! The future looks bright for the biggest VO conference in the world, after all.
Still, up until Sunday, the whole voice over world thought this was the swan song for VO Atlanta. I didn’t go. I had been to the conference the last 5 years and enjoyed every minute of it. I have talked on The VO Meter podcast, a lot, about how that and other conferences changed my career and life. I was a little sad I could not make it this year. On Sunday, I always get a little nostalgic at the conference, and this weekend was no different. Though I wasn’t there physically, I still was into all the posts and pictures I saw on social media of my good friends who were. I also chimed in on a few.
As I was driving to the University of Maryland to announce a softball game, the closing ceremonies of VO Atlanta were going on. So I thought to myself, wait a minute? You are actually going to do one of the DREAM jobs you aspired to do when you started in voice over and went to your FIRST conference. Isn’t that crazy? Here I am, sad that I can’t attend an event, whose entire purpose is to train you to work in the voice over field, WHILE on my way to voice over job I never thought I would have. I’m announcing at the biggest school in my state, that is a member of The BIG 10, one of the largest athletic conferences in NCAA Division 1
So it got me to thinking, what other mileposts have I reached, or blown right by and never taken the time to appreciate? Sean Daeley, my podcast co-host and I did an episode about this, but it’s always fun to put down on paper, your accomplishments and achievements. So, here is a list of a few milestones or career goals, I had when I first started thinking about voice over.
- Book a paid job! This sounds simple but I’m sure there are people who think voice over will be an easy “side hustle” try their best and never get paid before giving up.
- Getting an Agent! I thought this was the end game when I first started. I think a lot of voice actors do. Get an agent, book a national commercial, move to Hollywood, right? Well, it doesn’t quite work out that way. I am represented by several great agents now and I love working with each of them! They get me opportunities I never could get on my own.
- Book a job in a certain genre. When I first started, my dream was to be on radio or TV. Check and Check. Over the years I think I have booked jobs in just about every genre you can think of. Commercial, e-learning, IVR, TV, Radio, podcasts, live announcing, dubbing. I’m sure there are more. The only one I can think of, that I have not worked is audio description.
- Hear my voice on TV or Radio. This has happed as well. It’s totally just an ego trip, but like the Wonders (or is it Oneders?) in the film That Thing You Do, the first time I heard my voice on the radio I was like a kid in a candy store. I turned it way up, and smiled from ear to ear. It didn’t hurt that some friends texted/emailed me and said, “hey I just heard you on the radio!”
- “See” my voice on TV. Last year I did some dubbing for Netflix. Being able to first of all, say that, then witness it on my own television with my wife and kids around me, was pretty darn magical! I’ve also been on CBS’s The Amazing Race.
- Announce in a large building or venue. My voice has now been heard in 12,000 seat stadiums and arenas and this weekend will bellow out in the 54,000 seat Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium.
- Aspirational gear. When you are just starting out in voice over there are certain pieces of equipment that everybody needs. Then there are certain “must have” brands that everybody aspires to have.
- Booths. Whisper Room or Studiobricks booths, specifically. Voice Actors dream of having one of these so that they can record in peace, whenever they want without having to worry about interruptions from outside noise. I am proud to say I have, or currently have owned both!
- Microphones. Sennheiser or Neumann. As you may know, I have owned dozens of mics. Maybe over 50 by now. There are 2 particular mics that people aspire to own, however. They are the Sennheiser MKH 416 and the Neumann TLM 103. I have owned both!
- Audio interfaces. Not as sexy, but believe me, there are aspirational audio interfaces as well. One that comes to mind is the Apollo Twin, which allows on-board real-time effects. I owned one of these as well.
- Finally, industry recognition. I didn’t set out looking for this, because I’m a pretty humble guy. Still, when a few certain accolades were thrown upon me it was pretty neat. I have been asked to present at 5 industry events. My podcast has been a partner for another 5-6. And, just this past year I was a finalist for an award at the One Voice Awards, USA in Dallas.
Even as I read this list again, I’m a bit blown away. I don’t say this to brag, but because I am so genuinely surprised I have made it here. When I first decided to pursue voice acting, I would have been happy with any one of these milestones. It’s only, in taking some time to be introspective, that I even realize I have hit these mileposts and in most cases, blown right by them. Sometimes it nice to stop and reflect.
So, what mileposts have YOU reached or passed without even realizing it?