Archive for March, 2008

If it had happened this week instead of last week, I would have written it off as an April Fool’s joke:  a major company had a lapse in customer service…and gave its customers a rebate before many of them even knew there had been a problem!

When was the last time you ever heard of such a thing? 

Video-Rental giant, Netflix, suffered a huge meltdown in its website which cut off an untold number of subscribers for well over a full day.  In case you were unaware, Netflix’s whole business is based on the internet.  So, DVDs which had been scheduled to be mailed out on a Monday didn’t go out until Tuesday. 

No sooner had the problem had been fixed, than the company sent out mass emails apologizing for the disruption of service and offering a 5% rebate on everyone’s monthly subscription fee. 

And they did this without it being demanded of them.  In fact, they did it before many of those affected even knew there had been a problem!  (I knew, because I spend way too much time online!)

Now since I’m at the lowest subscription levels, this amounts to very little in money.  But

Again:  when was the last time you ever heard of such a thing?  And more to the point for Voice Actors (another business entity doing business online), when was the last time  you ever did such a thing? 

True, it’s still best to make a great first impression.  And it’s best to always strive to deliver your best.  Still, when you know your service has slipped…even a little bit…what value could you place on having your clientele realize you’d corrected a problem before they knew it existed, and sent a little “thank you” along with your apology?

Like another big company is fond of telling us:  “Priceless.”

— over and out — 

A Voice in the VOID

Okay, so far, my posts have all been of the “Giant Economy Size”…with “economy” applying to everything but the verbage.

But this time I’m pulling a page out of the Bob Souer notebook and simply posting a link to something that really says it all.

If you feel adrift, isolated, and totally becalmed in your career, this piece from “The Casting Corner” blog may speak to you as directly as it did to me.  Now all I’ve got to do is…DO something!

— over and out —

Radio Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

Peter O’Connell, in the VO business under the title, audio’connell, recently hit a nerve dead-on when he wrote about the demise of careers in what used to be known as radio broadcasting. I just had to join the list of those who had already commented with their experiences. And of course, since I seem unable to just knock off a short, pithy phrase and move on…it almost turned into a blog post of my own. In fact, after the fact – it did.  Submitted below.

– – – – – – – – – –

To borrow from the title of another story, “Radio Doesn’t Live There Anymore.” At least, that’s what I tell people who want to know how to get into radio.

There is no “radio”. There are only “satellite relay groundstations”.

Though I was never a rocker, my youngest years were spent in the company of Radio Personalities. During college I learned about what I had missed when radio had been Radio, but even in the 50s through the 70s there was still that element of entertainment in just about all the formats.

Similarly, I was never a good “DJ”, but it didn’t bother me because I was having too much fun in the production room and as a copywriter. And later, with my award-winning spots and my on-air characters on the morning guy’s long-running shift, I wound up with more real air-time than the poor “jocks” who put in all those hours of time/temp/and/call letters.

After 20 years, the business dumped me before I could dump it, but it really did me a favor, because I made the lateral move from production guy/non-DJ into production guy/voice actor. Through good times and lean, I’ve been at it for more than 15 years now… still having more fun on my worst days than the guy, regardless the level of talent, who’s making minimum wage watching over the computer.

And the ones who aren’t just watching the computer are fighting for on-air relevance, since the day the money-men figured out it was also cheaper to just open the phone lines and let the audience run the program…or worse — BE the program!

No, when people ask how i got into the voice business, I usually say something like, “I’ll tell you, but you won’t be able to do it the same way…it doesn’t exist anymore.”

Who knew then we were working in anything even remotely resembling a “Golden Age”?

— over and out —

“if you let everybody play…”

I doubt I’ll ever need a job-search website which only specializes in $100,000 a year minimum salaries…but this spot created for a company called “the Ladders” absolutely captured my attention the first time I saw it.  And it sums up the way I feel about the voiceover business in its current state.  (I hope the link isn’t pulled before you can see this!)

Watch the spot, and just subsitute a person with a microphone for anyone holding a tennis racquet.

That little :30 tv commercial completely reflects my feelings about the de-volution of the performing arts in general…from writing, to radio, to television, to music.  The day some genius discovered you could create radio profits much, much cheaper by just opening the phone lines and making the audience provide the material was the day Radio (at least the Radio I cared anything about) died.  Television and other media have, in my opinion, likewise suffered.   The longer it continues, the more the audience feels absolutely entitled to “be the star”.  This commercial puts a perfect visual on that phenomenon for me.

To be on the air, behind a mic, in front of the camera, or celebrated in print…there was once a certain level of ability, talent, experience, even (dare I say it) class and style expected.  Otherwise the efforts were derided as substandard, like jokes about the National Enquirer, or the “Goat Gland” broadcast mavens of the 20s, or “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour”…now known as “American Idol”.   Now, anyone with a computer and the price of an internet connection can level the playing field…and that’s not always necessarily a good thing.

[Perhaps it’s a bit disingenuous for me to write such things, here at my keyboard, posting it on the internet…but I doubt my own humble blog is taking eyes away from professional, established writers.]

What can professionals do about the invasion of our “playing field”?  Probably not very much.  But at the very least, we can still keep putting out quality work and pointing out the difference…even to an audience that’s so busy copying us (badly) that they may not get the message.

— over and out —

This might well be my shortest post, because I’m not really sure which way my opinion falls on this idea…but I freely admit it got me thinking.  Maybe it will do the same for you.

A British study (which earlier stirred up controversy over the effectiveness of anti-depressants) has also suggested that depression…not necessarily clinical depression, but ‘depression’…might actually be good for you.  Since most creative people I know have had at least some experience with the subject, I wondered if it might be valuable to post the news story from the BBC here as well. 

Here’s the link:

The gist of it seems to be that in its most basic manifestation, depression can spark something creative in reaction…or provide the “kick in the pants” to do something about it, and thereby bring about an improvement in life.

I don’t know if it qualifies, but in a current period of creative and financial lows this week, I finally made good on a decision to begin study with voice coach Nancy Wolfson.  The cynic in me says this will either provide a remedy to the creative and financial lows…or start a whole new cycle of them. 

The part of me who finally made the decision to try something different, and then read the BBC news story, is rooting for the first option.

Take a look and see what you think.

— over and out —