We got ‘em. The VO power couple: Sheppard squared!
Erik and Lindsay Sheppard join Anne and Gabby this week for the VO B.O.S.S.’s first ever four-way! Both Lindsay and Erik have been in the industry since they’re late teens and have been killing it ever since! They are both voice actors, agents, activists, educators, YouTubers and parents! In this episode they share how they got started in VO, how they met, what they’re doing to help unify the VO industry, goals they have for the future and recommendations for EVERY voice talent!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Lindsay and Erik are the VO power couple
Keep up with The Outspoken YouTube Channel
Union vs Non-Union – we’re all in this together
Don’t waste your time marketing yourself to other voice talent
Lindsay’s Advice: Say NO more
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Subscribe to VO B.O.S.S. on YouTube!
Our podcast is recorded entirely using ipDTL. Get better than ISDN quality with: ipDTL!
VO: Today voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss. A VO B.O.S.S. Set yourself up with business owner’s 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 B.O.S.S.
Anne: Welcome, everybody, to the VO B.O.S.S. Podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my beautiful co-host, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby!
Gabby: Hi, Anne.
Anne: Gabby. I am super duper excited today because we have not one but two special, special guests with us today. A power couple extraordinaire, we have Sheppards squared. Lindsay and Erik Sheppard.
Anne: Yay, welcome, guys, to the podcast, thanks so much for joining us.
Erik: And the crowd goes wild.
Anne: It does. You know there’s so many questions–
Gabby: So, let’s–There is! There’s so many questions so let’s do a real basic recap for the folks–just so everybody knows exactly who it is we’re talking to. So, Lindsay and Erik, couple, they have beautiful children, voice actors, voiceover agents. Erik, of course, being the brains and mastermind behind The Outspoken – a very popular YouTube channel that you may have seen. They are activist in our industry. Obviously, supporters of our industry, educators. I mean, what haven’t you guys done?
Anne: I know, right? It’s crazy.
Gabby: Am I missing anything?
Anne: Tell us a little bit about how you guys got into the industry, and let’s just go individually. Let’s start with Lindsay.
Lindsay: Okay. I went to college for animation, too many years ago, for the drawing part of it. And I was the only girl in my class, so for all of our student projects I had to be the one to do the female voices, so I’m like, “Wait, this is more fun than drawing. I don’t have the patience for that.” So… that’s just kinda how I got into it.
Anne: And, Erik, what about you?
Erik: I been doin’ this forever. I did my first VO project when I was about 17, for a friend’s parent’s company, they had a law firm. And they wanted me to do their telephony setup, and they paid me a couple hundred bucks, which was, like, crazy amounts of beer money when you’re, you know, kind of a kid, and that was it. You know, I was hooked. And I’m still doing telephony today. So, nothing much has changed.–
Anne: I love telephony. Erik:–I’m boring and–
Lindsay: But I love telephony.
Anne: I like it too. Boring? Because he’s boring.
Gabby: So unbelievably humble and played down. The two of them.–
Gabby: So, how did you guys meet?
Lindsay: Do you wanna tell the story? Or should I?
Erik: Well, it was through the industry. It turned out–you know, we kinda known each other online a little bit. You know, on Facebook. I was askin’ her questions like, “How do you use this face thing?” ’cause I’m, like, a thousand. And you know, this was, like, way back in the day. Oh, I think the first time I saw you was at one my mixers. I used to do the voiceover, the New York Voiceover mixers,–
Anne: Oh yeah. Erik:–and she was one of the hundred of folks that was there. Just being the weirdo wallflower.
Lindsay: He was chancing some blonde around the whole night.
Erik: That doesn’t really narrow down which evening it was. That was pretty much every night before I met you, my love.
Lindsay: But, I found out a few months later that he took my business card and he usually writes, like, notes on the back about the person he met, and he wrote on the back of mine “cute” and that was it.
Gabby: Awe! Oh my gosh.
Erik: That was the important part.
Anne: That’s adorable.
Erik: Yeah. And then I invited her out with–
Gabby: I love that. Erik:–invited to some other voiceover thing, I don’t remember what we were doing. A bunch of us were meeting up at some bar in New York, and I was like, “Oh, yeah man, I’m gonna ask that girl.” And so I was like, “Oh, hey, you know it’s,” all playin’ it cool and whatever. Like, “You should come and we’ll hang out.” And she’s like, “Oh great! Can I bring my boyfriend?” Aw…Freak…man… Really? No, she goes, “Can I bring my friend?” And I was like, “Is she cute?” Like, being a total jerk, you know? And she was like, “Well, he’s cute.” I’m like, goddamn it. But she came with him and left with me that night and the rest is history. We haven’t left each other’s side since.
Lindsay: Don’t tell them that part. I seem evil.
Gabby: Love it!
Anne: Seems evil?
Anne: Can I just talk about branding? The two of you together and individually. I mean, my gosh, really. Explain a little bit about how you came about your individual brands and then you–you know, are you still maintaining that? Do you have a–your brand together, obviously, power couple, but tell us a little bit about your branding and how you came about it.
Lindsay: I think mine, we just sat on the couch and brainstormed ideas. Tryin’ to find something that– that described my voice. I’m like, “Well, bubblegum’s kind of fun and little bit sexy and sweet.” I’m like, “That works!” So, it was kinda during the whole food craze, but I stuck with it and I’m not planning changing on it anytime soon.
Erik: She’s a pink fanatic, and then we heard–
Gabby: Don’t you dare… Erik:–the term even, bubblegum voice, and it just–yeah, that just worked for when we kinda clicked on it. Just looked at each other, like, that’s your thing, man. That’s it. It’s done.
Lindsay: And if you look on Urban Dictionary, bubblegum voice means, like, an annoying teenage American voice. I’m like, “That’s perfect!”
Gabby: Oh my gosh. I didn’t even know that!
Anne: I didn’t either. I didn’t either.
Gabby: That’s outstanding. Holy cow.
Erik: We just rebranded the agency, you know we’ve been Voice Talent Productions–
Anne: Yes. Erik:–forever, because I started it as kind of a loose condra of talent that were helping each other out and we were doin’ different things, and then I just stuck with the name and it was confusin’ the hell out of people because, well, “Are you a production house?” No, we’re a talent agency and whatever. I just didn’t wanna change it ’cause it says this is gonna be a big pain. And it is, it’s still a big pain. But we changed it now with the Sheppard Agency. But so we had rebrand that. We–you know, this is just recent, so we went through I don’t know, about eight hundred million different font and names first, and then different fonts and different logos stuff that we were gonna do. And we go crazy over that kinda stuff, just eight million versions–
Lindsay: And how many different crowns did we look at for King Erik?
Erik: That was–you know, I was using other things like stars or whatever, and it was like an inside joke, almost, between the two of us. Like, who else but me would put a crown over my name. Like, I could just hear, like, millions of eyes rolling in the distance. You know, it was just too perfect we had to keep it.
Anne: I actually love that brand. And then what about The Outspoken, of course? I love the fact, number one, that your brands just totally, totally identify who the both of you are.
Lindsay: Well, thank you.
Erik: Yeah. Well, you know The Outspoken is more me. It’s just off the cuff and, you know, a little silly and a little hardcore and, you know, in retrospect, I maybe could have gone with more of a newsie type of vibe, but I, you know, wanted it to just be, you know, real and laid back, so I went with something a little rock n’ roll.
Gabby: I love it. You have long been, like, the Anthony Bourdain of voiceovers so I can’t think of a more perfect fit. I think it’s fantastic.
Erik: You know, it’s so funny. We’re just–
Anne: It’s a great fit. Erik:–That’s a compliment, thank you. We’re watching him the other night, and Lindsay’s like, “I don’t like him.” Like, what do you mean? I’m like, “He seems like a cool–” look he’s right there with, like, Obama. She’s like, “I don’t know, there’s just somethin’ about him I don’t like.” So, yeah, no, we probably have a lot–
Gabby: You married him! Erik:–in common, the two of us, that way. And you guys have had, the last couple of years have just been, I mean, I’m tired thinkin’ about it, hearing about it, but, I mean, it feels like it had to be a whirlwind moving, big move from New York–
Anne: Yeah. Gabby:–to Austen, Texas. New baby. Lots of different shake ups in the industry, lots of things happening there. What is–
Anne: Yeah. Gabby:–this all been like for you guys? Give us some insights. I mean, ’cause your holdin’ down both of your businesses independently and together plus a marriage and a family and holy cow.
Lindsay: It’s kinda like we’re in the middle of a marathon right now.
Erik: Yeah. You know, it was–there was definitely a lot of adjustment especially, you know, with the move. And the last time we moved, you know, she was like, you know, nine months pregnant. And the guys were movin’ stuff into the house and I was like, “Babe, just hold it!” Like, what? “Could you just not… Just let loose until, you know, the rooms are set up, for God’s sakes.” So that was all, you know, pretty insane. But then, you know, we kinda figured stuff out and tried our best to, you know, figure stuff out with the baby. But, you know, you can’t get complacent in this business, and especially now-a-days, you know, it’s just been absolutely insane with this rapid, you know, changes and problems that we’re facing. So, yeah, you know, we’re on our toes.
Gabby: I think everyone is. And it’s definitely… You’re right. It’s a time in the industry–not that we ever have much time where we can sit back and rest on our laurels, but now, especially, everybody has to hustle. And I can’t think of two people who do that more than you two on a daily basis. I mean, I know just from working with you guys, being a talent on your roster, you guys are always on top of it. Like, crazy, crazy amounts of hustle happening in the Sheppard household every day.
Anne: I love how, you know, for the industry you guys both are. And how you really, kind of, stand up to protect the rights of the voice actors. Talk a little bit about how that’s been for you guys. Especially through your Outspoken videos and through your actions in your agency.
Lindsay: We feel like we have to do something. We can’t just do nothing. You know, it’s not just for us. It’s for future generations too. Like our kids do–well, Hunter does voiceover. The baby, I hope she does voiceover too. And we wanna protect their future as well.
Erik: Here, we’re getting to a point where, you know, literally we feel that there may not be an industry left, you know. This is gonna be something where hobbits are doing this.
Lindsay: Or TTS. Like last night.
Erik: Yeah, exactly. And the pros are, you know, are just kinda pushed down because they’re not gonna to be able to make a living. And it’s happening already. You know, I’ve been sayin’ that for a while and folks go, “Well, uh, you know. Yeah, the sky’s falling or whatever.” Or “Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” And the bridge is crossed. Winter is come. It’s, you know, it’s the time now. Where I’m talkin’ to talent that have been doin’ this for decades and decades, and they’re goin’, “You know, man, I’m livin’ off of my savin’s right now.” So, it’s, you know, it’s really a problem. And we reached out to folks, you know, and said, you know, reached out to the union. Reached out to a bunch of people and said, you know, “What are we doing about this?” And they all kinda say, “You know, we’re fine.” No, we’re not fine. Man, I’m lookin’ at the numbers right here, you know? We’re in trouble. We’re all in massive trouble here. And there was this real sense of “Nah, nah. We’re cool.” Which was crazy. So I started talking about that a little bit on The Outspoken, and then some other agents were watching that, and then that turned into the Voiceover Agent Alliance. And, you know, we’ve been–that is where a lot of the work, lately, has been, you know, has been happening. So as of now, you know, unfortunately, we’re some of the only folks that are tryin’ to fight these trends, and educate people. Fight for proper rates. You know, let clients know, you know, this is–we can’t sustain ourselves as an industry any longer if we keep going the way that we’re going.
Anne: Tell our listeners just a little bit about the alliance and what it’s about. Just in case they don’t know, or they should know, but talk a little about that.
Erik: Well, we’re a group of talent agents. We’re all, you know, operate independently, but we’re all together under this banner of the alliance. And, again, these are other agents that feel the same way that I do. And we said, “Hey, you know what? In a way, we’re the gatekeeper.” You know, if you wanna get quality vetted talent that are right, you gotta go through us. So, we’re the ones that kinda put the breaks on here and go, “Hey, hold on a second.” And let’s get more agents involved. And, you know, other agents that are concerned. What we, kind of, distilled as the major problem that we’re facing is really a lot of unethical behavior. Unethical behavior especially from the Pay-to-Plays. Unethical behavior from other agents. Undercutting from other agents. Talent that are just saying, you know, “Hey, look man, whatever. Fifty bucks, I’ll take it. It’s better than nothing.” An’ just a lot of business practices, which are, perhaps, put a few dollars in your pocket today, but are destroying any chances of a livelihood, you know, come next week. So, again, these are likeminded folks. We all bound ourselves together and all said, “Hey, you know what? We are gonna operate ethically. If you go to the front page of our website there’s the pledge that we’ve taken. We’ll be transparent. We’ll let you know where every dollar is going. You know, we’re gonna opperate on the up and up, and we’re gonna try our damnedest to make sure that everybody else does as well. Because, you know, it’s all of our industry. If you gotta bad egg out there. If you got somebody who says, “Well I’m not gonna operate like that. I’m gonna take what I can and just run.” Well, you know, we gotta shine a light on them. ‘Cause it’s–they’re hurting all of us.
Gabby: And I love that you guys have never made this a union versus non-union debate or issue. That it’s really been about unifying. And it’s been about getting everyone together, on to the same page, to say, “Look, we have to do something different.”
Erik: There is a big effect that the union has because, let me put it this way, it– the line that’s drawn between union and non-union talent is a lot fuzzier than it used to be, with the exception of a handful of folks or some very, very, very high end, you know, Hollywood type folks, most union talent are doing non-union work. They don’t have a choice. Or they just wanted to anyway. Or they’re Fi-Core. And there’s plenty, which is, you know, one of the bells that we’ve been ringing the loudest. There’s so many clients now that are going non-union. ‘Cause they’re seeing how astronomically low talent or, you know, accepting rates for non-union projects, and so they’re create–they’re making the whole project go non-union. So, if you have talent that are Fi-Core, so they’re doin’ union project, if you have talent that are union but they’re doin’ non-union stuff, you know, where’s the line? It’s blurred. You can’t really say, well these are union talent and non-union talent. Like you could have maybe said, you know, 10 years ago, everybody’s kind of a talent. You know? We’re all in it together.
Anne: Well, I think it’s really wonderful that you have formed the alliance so that you can evolve along with the industry and the economy. It really is–it’s similar to what I remember, you know, when mp3 came on the scene, and what it did to the music industry. I mean, honestly, technology with the quick casting and Pay-to-Plays coming out, I mean, that’s really what’s changing the industry, and I think it’s great that you are at the forefront of helping to redefine, I think, an evolving industry that is going to be there to stay. And to fight for, you know, fair rates, I think that’s wonderful.
Erik: Well, if anything’s happening and I’m not there I freak out, so… Wait, what happened? What’d they do? What? What? Gah, I was right here, they didn’t even ca–What?
Lindsay: That’s why I’m here, because I tell him everything that’s going on. I’m like, “Oh, did you hear this?”
Erik: Yeah, she’s my eyes and ears. She’s like, “Did you see this on Facebook?” I got, like, 4,000 Facebook friends. I don’t know. “Well, this one’s sick, this one…Oh this one had a baby.” I’m like, “Thank you.” She’s got her– She knows what’s happening in the world. I know it’s happening in, like, a three foot bubble around me.
Gabby: Outstanding team work. I love that, guys. So what’s the next couple of years looking like for The Sheppards? What are the goals? What are the plans in action?
Erik: I’d like to go on a vacation, once.
Lindsay: That’d be nice.
Gabby: Oh that would be good. Yeah.
Erik: Yeah, that’d be nice. We haven’t gone in, like, years.
Lindsay: Now, what do you always say? There’s no vacations in voiceover.
Erik: Yeah. That is true.
Erik: You know what? At this point, you know, we’re really in crisis control mode. So there’s a lot of things that we’re working on to hopefully, you know, right this ship. And, you know, stop bringing on water in the entire industry. So it would be nice if we get to a point where, you know, we’re sleeping well at night. And we go, “Hey, you know, things are okay. You know, things are getting back on track.” And then, you know what? There’s always something. Again, you were saying, you can’t be complacent in this business. You can’t just sit there.
Erik: And then there are changes that happen that you don’t even think about. Or you’re just taken a shower one day and go, “I should start a YouTube channel!” Oh, you idiot! Now you got– you have something else to do. You’re like, “You know what we should do?” Uh-oh, here we go.
Anne: So, what will you recommend?
Erik: You know, you gotta–you have to stay active and on top. And top of mind, you know, with clients. There’s so many talent and they spent just an astronomical amount of time trying to stay top of mind to other talent. Like they market themselves to other voiceover talent.–
Anne: That’s true. Erik:–They spend their time tweeting, “And I did this job and I did that” and it’s all–you know, like, listen, man, they’re not hiring you. You know, if you’re gonna be active and you’re gonna be busy, be busy in a way, you know, that’s gonna be fruitful for you or beneficial for the industry. Hopefully, you know, I’m doing both of those to some degree.
Anne: Lindsay, recommenations for talent to survive in this market and in this industry.
Lindsay: Say no more often to the low paying jobs. To the things that just don’t feel right. The more you say no the more powerful you are. Just believe in yourself.
Gabby: How can our folks get in touch with you? Check out what you guys are just generally keep up with The Sheppards?
Erik: Wow. You go to sheppard.agency If you’re lookin’ to hire talent you could go to bubblegumvoice.com- if you’re looking to hire Lindsay. You can go to youtube/theoutspoken if you wanna see a bunch of nonsense that occasionally makes some sense. Of course, definitely make sure you check out the VO Agent Alliance, that’s voagentalliance.com. And then we’re all over the socials. You know, I don’t know how to, like, Instagram and Snap-whatever and–I’m old. But my child bride does a bunch of that stuff. But I’m on Facebook! So, you can find me there.
Lindsay: We should also give a shout out to The Hub, also. Have your agent check it out. It’s gonna be the future.
Erik: Yeah, it’s a new casting–
Erik: Yeah, there’s a lot of folks that are working on, you know, new platforms. To either try to replace or, you know, work along side a voice bank, and we’ve been talkin’ to these folks at The Hub and good stuff, man. They’ve–I got a kinda a private tour and became involved with them. There’s the full launch–
Anne: The Voice Casting Hub, right? Erik:–is December 1st. So–
Gabby: Yep. Erik:–check it out. I think it’s goin’ places.
Gabby: Yeah, we’re hoping to have them on the podcast very soon as well.
Anne: Yes! Well, you guys, it’s been so much fun having you on the podcast. Thank you so much for taking time, a little bit of time out of that busy schedule of yours, for joining us!
Erik: Heck yeah!
Lindsay: Thank you having us.
Anne: I’d like to give a big thanks to our sponsor, ipDTL, for that quality connection that you hear with all of us together. If you wanna find out more you can go to ipDTL.com.
Erik: You sent a link, and we clicked the thing, and it’s ok ipDTL, and it’s up and done and–
Gabby: I know!
Anne: And we sound great. Right?
Erik: And this ip-dittle, man, they got it together.
Gabby: Our normal three way is now a four way, I’m likin’ this.
Anne: That’s right.
Gabby: Erik now has his harem of ladies. I like this, it’s good. It’s good.
Erik: Ladies! There’s plenty of me to go around!
Gabby: For all things VO B.O.S.S. check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, of course the YouTube channel, and make sure to subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher.
Anne: Don’t forget to visit us on voboss.com for our new university classes and products and other exclusive offers. And, you guys, have a kick butt week and stay focused and rock your business like a B.O.S.S.
Gabby: Bye guys!
VO: Join us next week for another addition of VO B.O.S.S., with your host 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.