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Business of VO – Are You Agent Ready?

So, we hate to break it to you, but…chances are – agents aren’t going to just start knocking down your door. There’s a lot you have to do before even approaching an agent and Anne and Gabby are here to break it down for you! Learn how to submit (and how NOT to submit), how you could blacklist yourself, what agents look for and more!



Takeaways

Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Make sure what you do is what the agent does!

  2. It’s a two-way street

  3. It’s all about research

  4. Make sure you’re submitting for the right reasons

  5. Agents want to see a proven track record

  6. Be careful what you post on social media. Your agents are watching!

  7. Beginners are probably not ready for major market agents

  8. DON’T CARPET BOMB AGENCIES!

  9. Agents talk amongst themselves

  10. You need them and they need you

  11. If you’re asking if you’re ready, you’re probably not

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Referenced in this Episode

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  2. Our podcast is recorded entirely using ipDTL. Get better than ISDN quality with: ipDTL

Full Episode Transcript

VO: Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss, a VO BOSS. Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success with your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS.

Anne: Hey, guys. Before we get started on today’s episode, we want to share some bossolutions and some of the ways you can have more boss in your life.

Gabby: Many, many moons ago, I wrote a little publication by the name of “How to Set up and Maintain a Better Voiceover Business.” [laughs] This is long before —

Anne: Yes, you did.

Gabby: Yep, long before we had combined our boss powers, Ms. Ganguzza. And it is an absolute must, not only for the business basics of voiceover and to help kind of get your boss butt in gear, especially if the business side of our world has always been a little bit of a strain for you, but also it’s gonna help you with your marketing, and branding, and helping you to develop your own personal brand in voiceover.

Anne: Find out more by going to voboss.com, and then click on that shop tab. Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my amazing VO BOSS bestie, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.

Gabby: Hey, hey!

Anne: Gabby, I just got a question from one of my students today, and I get this question a lot, and I’m sure you do too.

Gabby: Let’s do it together. You ready? This is how frequent this question is. OK, ready, so we’re gonna throw it out. Three, two, one.

Both: Am I ready for an agent?

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: So funny.

Anne: All the time.

Gabby: It’s all the time. If I had a dollar umm…yeah.

Anne: Yeah, right? [laughs]

Gabby: Holy cow.

Anne: And I know we talked about this in one of our, one of our presentations about diversifying your opportunities and having them come from multiple places.

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: And talk about the role of an agent first.

Gabby: Yes. We have talked about this, and talent agents are absolutely a viable part of a voice actor’s career, and of their portfolio, and a, and a way to get work. They’re not the only way, but they’re a very important way. But the key to it is understanding if the industry in the area of voiceover you are surveying aligns with the agent, meaning —

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: Is it promo, is it commercial, is it animation, is it something that an agent would even cast for? That’s a, that’s a huge piece to that puzzle.

Anne: A huge, very important piece, and I’m so glad that we started talking about this first because an agent serves a purpose. And I think that you need to know what that purpose is before you go, you know, frantically saying, “oh my God, I need an agent. I need an agent to get work.”

Gabby: Forget saying it. What about the people who are willy-nilly and who are out there just randomly submitting and —

Anne: Oh please.

Gabby: And blasting agents and throwing their stuff out there?

Anne: Just say no. [laughs]

Gabby: They, they haven’t even researched whether or not an agent can do anything for them. So yeah, I think that’s huge. And the other part of that is, is we can never lose sight of the fact that — come on, guys, it’s a two-way street. If you are sitting there thinking that an agent makes or breaks you, that an agent’s job is to discover you, to hone you, to take you under their wing and make you — you know, this is not “Pretty Woman.” Hello!

Anne: Gabby, I’m gonna tell you, I’m gonna admit to you that I was one of those people when I was initially in the industry that mistakenly thought that an agent was going to seek me out. Boy, was I wrong. You know? [laughs]

Gabby: Ohhhh.. Oh, Anne. Anne…

Anne: That’s why we are here to – you know, I’m glad we are talking about it because I want our listeners to know that honestly that’s just not how it works.

Gabby: My poor, pitiful radio ass thought that I was going to come down off of my throne on high from the DJ booth and, and arrive. And people would simply go, there she is! And that it would be immediate

Anne: We must have her.

Gabby: Hiring — yeah, I thought the same thing. I had no foggy clue that all of that’s BS, and that it’s not what you see in the movies and television, and more importantly that the industry had evolved so far away from that. Agents nowadays — yes, you need them, but likewise —

Anne: They need you.

Gabby: They have to need you. Yeah.

Anne: mm-hmm.

Gabby: You have to be offering something, providing something that they either don’t have, or need more of, or fulfilling some kind of need in that casting roster, so that, guess what, you make them money.

Anne: The first thing that voiceover talent do when they are thinking, even thinking about voiceover agents is to do some research. I used to tell people to go to, you know, that other place, VoiceBank, which existed with a lot of agencies already listed on there, but now it is just as easy to, you know, type in Google, “voiceover agents.” And you can certainly — and there’s a lot of voiceover agent websites out there — you can get information on what agencies are out there. And really just as in any good client research, you can research your agent as well to understand who they are, who they serve, what genre they serve, and what their roster is already like, and find out if you might fit a description of somebody that they don’t have.

Gabby: And the geography. Hello! That’s a big part of it, right? I, I agree with you 100%, 1000%, it’s all about research, and more so than any other area of voiceover, you should be researching agents that you’re planning on submitting to, or that you’re thinking about submitting to, to make sure that you are submitting for the right purpose, the right reason.

Anne: And that you’re a fit.

Gabby: We see this a lot. Right? So one of the things that we’re saying about please don’t assume that you’re ready is you have to be able to very objectively look at your body of work currently and compare it to the body of work of the talent they currently represent.

Anne: Right.

Gabby: If there is any discrepancy, if there is any moment where you’re like, “man, those people are amazing, and I don’t know if I am there yet,” then you’re not.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: You’re not. That’s your answer right there.

Anne: And, and you’re not there when you are new to the industry, and you just got your demo, typically. You’re not there because you haven’t actually done work. Because agents require — well, agents, agents are looking for work that you’ve done already in addition to a good demo um to see what you can bring to them in their agency.

Gabby: Yeah. They want to see a proven track record. They want to know that you’re hustling. They want to know that you’re out there, that you’re developing your own work. They also want to know that you are not 100% solely reliant on them to make something happen.

Anne: Oh gosh yes.

Gabby: Because again that feeds into that old stereotype and that old piece of misinformation that your agent does everything for you. Nuh-uh.

Anne: In addition to researching your agents online and finding out more about them, but you yourself and your business have to be ready for an agent, because today, a lot of times with this digital technology that’s out there, agents are, are also wanting you to have an online presence, to have the ability to work with them to acquire clients. Because it is, as Gabby, as you mentioned in the beginning, it is a two-way street. It is not just the agent serving you. It is also you serving the agent and working together in partnership with an agency so that both of you are mutually benefiting.

Gabby: Yes. An agent’s absolutely good — not all of them, but many do cyber-stalk potential actors.

Anne: [laughs] Yes, they do.

Gabby: They will look at your socials. They will go to your own website, and common things they are looking for, number one, do you have your own website? Is it thriving, is in quality, does it look well put-together? They are looking to see if you’re on a bunch of other rosters. Are you overrepresented currently, and could that potentially be a conflict for them? They’re looking to see if you have work. They’re looking to see if you have viable jobs. And also they’re, in many cases, yeah, they’re looking to see what are you posting on social media?

Anne: Oh, I was just going to bring that up. Be careful what you’re posting in those groups, because agents, they’re those groups. They are in that, those groups. They are looking at what you are posting, and if you are, are coming across as, you know, whining, complaining —

Gabby: Egomaniacal.

Anne: Exactly. Any one of those.

Gabby: Narcissistic.

Anne: Yeah, that will absolutely have an effect, and you may not even know it. That is what’s scary about it, because a lot of times these agents are just hanging out in the groups. They’re not going to announce necessarily that they are in the groups, but they are watching and seeing what people post. And I have, I have been told on many occasions and um know for a fact that there have been multiple conversations that have taken place that have not helped the voice talent at all in terms of getting representation with agents. So that I have had first-hand knowledge of that happening to certain voice talent, if they have come across as obnoxious, arrogant, whatever, complaining. Yeah. So watch what you’re posting, guys.

Gabby: Um yeah, very recently Bob Bergen, very I think smartly posted something where he was just “like, hey, everybody. Shut up!”

Anne: Yes. [laughs]

Gabby: It’s social media. Everybody can see it, and everything that you say or don’t say, everything that you’re talking about in relation to clients and jobs — and he was very specific about one thing, whining, complaining. He was like, “you know, people who are bitching about our industry, bitching about the state of things, bitching about rates,” he was like, “shut up. Just stop it. How do you expect to be a sense of a model voice actor or someone who’s going to be perceived as a, as a good business owner if you’re complaining all the time?” And I was like, “dude, heck yeah.” That was so on point, it’s unreal.

Anne: Totally. It doesn’t mean that you cannot still stand up for fair rates, or if there’s something that happened in the industry that you can’t discuss it, however, the majority of what’s posted on social media, right, if, if it’s in a group and it’s being discussed, could be um those controversial topics where people will end up becoming very inflamed. And so that’s what we see. That’s what, that’s what agents see. And I think it’s, it’s important to, to also understand that you can still stand up for things that are right and fair and not necessarily come off as being whining or complaining about the industry as it is today. It is just, you know, take a different perspective on it.

Gabby: Sure, and that’s how simple it is, is turn it around. It, instead of somebody complaining about, “oh, some, some client came to me and offered me a super lowball rate for a job, and I told him where he could stick it” —

Anne: Right.

Gabby: It’s the actor who goes, “so, yeah. I had a client approach me with a really lowball number, and we had a great conversation, and I was able to negotiate a fair rate.” That’s the person the agent goes, “you I respect. You get it. You are just moaning to moan.” And I want to go back to that research piece for a minute because I… just think it’s the most critical element of all of this. I think it’s really important to know and understand where you are in the span of your career and what geographic location, as far as agents are concerned, you should be approaching. If you’re years one to five, mmm… New York and LA are probably not gonna be your target or shouldn’t be your target, I should say.

Anne: I agree with you there.

Gabby: You’re not ready for that yet. That’s the upper echelon. That’s the top of the line, you know? It took me years to get a quality New York agent. It took me years to get a great LA agent.

Anne: Gabby, I didn’t have an agent — I mean, I was working full-time. I’m sorry, I was working four years in the industry before I even entertained the idea of getting an agent.

Gabby: Wow.

Anne: So it was —

Gabby: You are a rare bird on that one. Yeah.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: Yeah, I mean, most people, like, no, seriously, most people are like a few months in and chomping at the bit going, you know, “who wants to sign me?” Take a map of the country and sort of dissect it and really look at things, and go, “OK, major markets. Big, big cities: New York, LA, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia.

I’m probably not going to be their top choice right now. I need to wait until I have more to show them.” And instead, you can focus on smaller to mid-market agencies and companies that, you know, may be in need of your services. You just have to kind of again research their roster and know what’s going on. When you’re doing this, don’t carpet bomb. The number of actors that carpet bomb agencies, that just get out there and send, you know, 300 emails to every agency across the country, is mind blowing.

Anne: Yeah, and it becomes apparent. It becomes —

Gabby: Very.

Anne: Obviously, painfully apparent when you are sending the same [laughs] Email or submission to every single agent that’s out there. And if you think, if you think that agents don’t talk amongst themselves [laughs] think again. Well, it is a relatively small industry in terms of that, in terms of agents, because honestly um they are going to probably converse with one another about talent to see if, you know, “hey, you know, have you dealt with this particular person on this roster,” or “wow, did you see that post that so-and-so just, you know, said on Facebook, and yeah, no, that is not going to happen.” [laughs]

Gabby: I, I remember once years ago being at a party in LA, and three or four of the top LA agents of the time, all from different agencies, were sitting together at this same table having a drink.

Anne: Having horror stories.

Gabby: And — yeah. And the outside perspective, it was me, and there were a bunch of other voice actors, like we were staring at them like we were watching, you know, the mating ritual of some kind of rare species, some rare animal. Because we couldn’t believe that they were all friends, and then we kind of went, “ohhh. That’s how this works. Uh-oh.” You know, so, really important, and, and also along with that, I think it’s knowing and understanding that — and this has happened. I know people this has happened to. When you’re carpet bombing, certain cities, you know, they are not very big. There might the only two or three agents in their geography. Well, what do you do when you have multiple offers arrive within the same week from the same city? At some point, you have to fess up to those folks that, “hey, I also have an offer from this company.” Uhh none of them take you. They all drop you. They all go, “yeah, no, we’re not interested.”

Anne: Yeah, and you have to be careful. How many agents is too many agents? And try to get to know people. I mean, remember, agents or people too.

Gabby: mm-hmm.

Anne: It is one of those things where of course, I think that you should also have a certain amount of respect. I’ve actually seen lately, Gabby — I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen kind of a different take towards the agents right now because of social media, because of the Internet. Like, when I was first getting into the industry, it was something that, you know, hey, these are people who can help me get work, and I can help them as well. And so I had a certain level of respect umm and, and professionalism that I showed toward the agent. I’ve actually seen people really kind of take that a little bit too far and become a little too casual with agents that they are not necessarily familiar with. And I thought to myself, “ooh, that’s just getting a little too personal and a little too close.” And so, I think if you are, you know, new to the industry, try to — if you do your research, you are going to have, I think a better idea, and you will have educated yourself, and not make it so casual, or so obnoxious, or annoying or — you know? Remember that you need them and they need you, and it’s, it’s a reciprocal kind of a relationship.

Gabby: Familiarity breeds contempt.

Anne: mm-hmm.

Gabby: And, and so there’s a professional distance that you want to keep —

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: With those kinds of relationships. I’m very chummy with many of my agents because I’ve known some of them for so many years now.

Anne: For years, yeah.

Gabby: But it’s almost like we have two different relationships. If we’re out, and we’re at an event together, we might be just commingling voice actors, but when I’m at the computer, and they’re sending me an audition, that is very much my agent. That is a different relationship, and it, you know, I always have to be mindful of that.

Anne: Oh, yeah, myself included.

Gabby: Let’s bring it all the way full circle, Anne. So going back to that beginner, that person who’s saying, “am I ready for an agent,” how do you define that for people? What do you think is the answer to that question?

Anne: Well, I think number one, if you’re asking it, you’re probably not ready because you need to absolutely have your research done. You need to know what agency you might be looking into, and know that you have to have a substantial amount of work under your belt before the agent is going to look at you. Because number two, they also are wanting to make sure that you are serious about this, because if they fight for you, and go out and get work for you, they need to be able to depend on you.

Gabby: The, the thing that really is apparent for people when they, they know they’re ready for an agent, there’s a certain amount of swagger. There’s a certain amount of cocky that you bring to the table at that point, because you’re not devastated, and your career is by no means broken if an agency turns you down. I’m not talking about, you know, being egomaniacal, just a little swagger, that, that self-assured knowledge that you know what you’re doing, and that you’ve been successful at it.

Anne: Right. And understand that maybe they already have that voice on their roster. You know, I might have a mom sound, and there might be three other mom sounds on that roster, so therefore, their rejection is not necessarily because at this time is, is not because I couldn’t handle, you know, having them as an agent or doing the work. It’s because they’ve already got that voice on the roster, and that’s something I think you have to remember and not let it, not let it be like a huge rejection, and understanding that yeah, you’ve got enough confidence in your abilities to know that, you know what, they probably already had too many females, or they had as many females as they needed or  males or whatever it is. And understand, it is OK. Maybe I will try again next year, or I will look into a different agency.

Gabby: And I think there’s one other real important piece to this, and it’s an aspect of our industry that has been around for many, many years, but a lot of beginners don’t really know or understand, and that is the all-important referral.

Anne: mmm yes, very important.

Gabby: When your voiceover game is at a place where you are ready for an agent, other voice actors, your friends and colleagues in this industry, will go to bat for you.

Anne: And/or your coaches.

Gabby: Yes, and will be willing to refer you to agents that they believe you might be a good fit for.

Anne: That’s a huge consideration that you need to think about, when you want to be submitting yourself to an agency. Do you — can you get a referral, because that will help you immensely. And probably much more than just submitting blind.

Gabby: Yeah, and please know that a referral should be organic. It is not you approaching someone and saying, could I get a referral from you? Is that something you’d be willing to do? It really is a voluntary thing.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: It is when your friends are going, “hey, Anne, have you met this person? Have you met my agent so-and-so? I should get you together.”

Anne: Fantastic, exactly.

Gabby: Good deal.

Anne: Good stuff. Yes, big thanks to our sponsor ipDTL for our quality connection and our recording. If you guys want to find out more about ipDTL, you can at ipdtl.com.

Gabby: And for all things BOSS, you’ve got all of our social media presence, all of the majors, as well as all of the places that you can subscribe to our podcast, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, which is where we started, and voboss.com. Guys, we have so many cool things that can help you along your voiceover journey to improve with marketability, to improve your reach, to help sell your services, and eventually help you on that agent pathway, yeah.

Anne: Absolutely. Thanks, guys, for joining us. We’ll see you next week.

Gabby: Bye!

Anne: Bye!

VO: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved, Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.


 

Gabby Nistico no longer appears on the VO BOSS podcast.