Business of VO – The Economy

Milli Vanilli blamed it on the rain. The Jackson 5 blamed it on the boogie. Jamie Foxx blamed in on the alcohol, and Calvin Harris blamed the night.  But voice actors…blame failure on The Economy. Are you? How big a role does the economy really play? Bosses don’t make excuses, we make changes! Anne and Gabby show you how to navigate the economic changes that can affect voiceover actors. The music industry did…so can you!


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Don’t play the Blame Game

  2. You can grow your business in any economy if you have a product people find value in

  3. When the economy does take a dive, advertising budgets get cut

  4. Know what stays and what goes ahead of your budget being cut

  5. Untrained, unqualified people will never weather an economic climate change

  6. When times are bad, it’s time to work on your business skills not necessarily performance skills

  7. Refusal to accept technology will hold you back

  8. Mind your business to keep your store healthy

  9. The people who are succeeding, aren’t the ones complaining

  10. Know when it’s time change strategies

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Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Charge Fair Rates in Any Economy with the GVAA Rate Guide

Full Episode Transcript

Announcer: Today’s voice over 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 you 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 going, I want to talk to you about some amazing, new, bossalicious products we have that are really going to help you up your game. For both beginning and advanced VO talents, we have our BOSS University.

Gabby: This is like our podcast on steroids, guys. This is me and Anne at our best, doing what we do, putting our BOSS brains together, right —

Anne: Totally.

Gabby: — and giving you all kinds of webinars and ways that you can improve your bossness and bossibility and make more money.

Anne: Go to and just click on the shop tab. Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my amazing, intelligent, wonderful, awesome bosstie, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby. [laughs]

Gabby: Keep going. Tell me more fabulous things about me.

Anne: Gabby, there is so much fabulous about you. [laughs]

Gabby: Aww, thanks.

Anne: So much. I’m always, I’m always saying how fabulous you are.

Gabby: Awww, you too.

Anne: Thank you.

Gabby: We’re just, we’re just so fabulous together. [fake laughs]

Anne: You know, Gabby, I have had so many people ask me questions about this voiceover industry and how to make a living in it. It probably would be good for us to talk a little bit about the economy and how it affects our, our voiceover industry.

Gabby: Look, at the end of the day, right, it’s all everybody cares about. It’s money. It’s how do we make money, how do we make enough money, how do we make more money? Because it is a business. But I think it, the, the economy or the idea of the economy plays a really big role in two things. One is people’s perceptions. And the other, well, it is not so kind. It gives them an excuse.

Anne: Oh yes, yes, absolutely.

Gabby: The state of the economy, real or otherwise, can, can give people sort of a way to just place blame elsewhere.

Anne: It’s maybe a form of denial, or maybe people who aren’t really looking at some things in their business, like they really should, in order to really progress and advance, before you point the finger and blame things [laughs] in the economy for not, you know, allowing you to grow in your business, I think you need to really open your eyes and take a hard look at what it is that you’re doing in your business to grow it. One of the very basic essentials is really understanding do you have a product to sell that is of value to people, that people find value in? And part of that is a mindset. You know, what type of client finds value in your, in voiceover and in what you do? If you’re not seeing those clients or finding those clients, maybe it’s time to shift directions and try to look for the clients that do see the value in your product. That is I think number one when you are forming a business. Usually you form a business because you have a product that you think will benefit others. And that really has to be where that, I think, initial mindset comes from, that you are providing something of value to others. And if others do not see the value in it, you then have to shift the product.

Gabby: What you are talking about really is supply and demand. So there is your supply. The demand piece is, is it in demand enough right now that I can —

Anne: Right.

Gabby: — make a substantial living with it? That I think is the ebb and flow that goes on in voiceover all the time. The past 10 years have been really, really interesting. 2008, of course, we had the big market crash. We were in a true recession —

Anne: mm-hmm.

Gabby: — at that point, and that lasted for right about four years. It was really ‘08 to ‘12, maybe even into 2013 that we were feeling the effects of that. Now something I’ve found fascinating because of what our listeners know of the two of us and the types of voiceovers we typically both do, right, you being the more corporate voice actor, and me being the more commercialized voice actor. When the economy started to shift in ’08, commercials disappeared. And the reason for this is of course because when things get tough, and when the economy truly takes a dive, advertising budgets are the first thing to be cut.

Anne: mm-hmm.

Gabby: All companies will initially figure out, where can we afford to scale back?

And advertising is usually the quickest solution. Right about the same time in voiceover, we had a lot of people saying things like, ”oh, there’s a finite number of commercials. Where the money is is corporate, and it’s in narration because there’s so many of those types of products. It is limitless.” Well, on most days I considered commercials to be pretty limitless as well. There’s no shortage of advertisers. There’s no shortage of advertising options. But it was indicative of where the economy was at that moment. Yes, commercials were very scaled-back. So it kind of made sense. A lot of voice actors had to shift gears.

Anne: Also I’m going to tell you, corporate budgets were slashed too. So in the true recession, back then, in a bad economy, as a girl, right, I always say, “OK, so what’s important, hair or nails?” And so when my budget is slashed, right, what stays and what goes?

Gabby: Big decisions.

Anne: It’s kind of the same thing. I would say back then in the true recession, we had to kind of find a way to still continue running and operating our businesses. And interestingly enough, you and I both survived. What was it that allowed us to kind of ride the waves through that bad period of time in the economy?

Gabby: Not only did we survive it, there are tens of thousands of people that didn’t.

I referred to it for a long time as the purge.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: Because up until that point, you know, we really did have, you know, every yahoo with a microphone coming out and going, “I do voiceovers.” There were all these unqualified, untrained people in poor studios and all kinds of things. So many of them disappeared and dropped off because it simply got too hard. They didn’t have a way to be competitive. Now ironically we’re kind of coming back around where we’ve swung the other direction, and we’re seeing that again. There’s sort of that resurgence, and every yahoo with a microphone wants to get into voiceover. The reason that we and a lot of our colleagues survived all that is because we were competitive, and we were highly skilled professionals. We had the great studios. We had the skill set. We had the training, the professionalism, because that’s the thing. Clients aren’t very forgiving. Right?

Anne: Right.

Gabby: They’re not going to take a risk with someone who’s not as skilled. They want the best that they can get for at that point the most reasonable amount of money.

Anne: Well, yeah. And I’m going to say for like the umpteenth billion time I think, here’s the time when having some business savvy and understanding um what’s going on around you and in the industry is going to be that thing that will help you to, to move through it, and to be successful. I think this is not, you know, when times are bad, I don’t think it is the time to be necessarily working on performance. [laughs] It could be the time when you really have got to take a look at your business savvy and your business acumen and really work on being able to ride that bad period out in your business. Whether the economy is in a recession or not, it’s just something that you need to have and you need to develop. And I think that there’s so many people level will just so quickly say, “I can’t make a living, it’s…” whatever they want to point the finger to. You know, people don’t want to pay fair rates, or it’s the pay-to-plays, or whatever it is. I think they’re looking at that, and that becomes what you mentioned in the beginning. It becomes an easy way to kind of excuse maybe —

Gabby: Sure.

Anne: — what is going on. I’m always telling people to keep your eyes open. You need to understand not just what’s happening. You’ve got to really take a look around you, take a look at how the industry is shifting, take a look at advertising. Take a look at the market. Take a look who’s buying your services, and see what it is they’re requiring, and really try to shift your business and your product around that vision.

Gabby: It’s how you avoid becoming the old, crusty curmudgeon entrepreneur. We have all met that person.