Ventures in VO
(With Josh musser)
Updates about Josh's journey in the VO industry sprinkled with random thoughts, anecdotes, advice for newcomers, and more.
As the famous philosopher, Dikembe Mutombo once said, "No no no no no. Not in my house!"
The word "no" is something you must get used to hearing in this career. Much like the man mentioned above, just about everyone in voice over seem to hand out rejections like candy on Halloween. Those of you reading this who are actively pursuing a vo career know that a huge chunk of your time is spent auditioning... and likely the majority of those auditions end up being fruitless. As you push yourself further into your career, you will likely start presenting yourself to agencies, casting directors, producers, creative directors, etc... and unless you are one of the few who are lucky enough to know the right people in the right places, you will receive a huge and eclectic amount of rejections from all of them.
"Unfortunately, we are not currently accepting new talent without referrals."
"We are currently not in need of your particular vocal style."
"At this time, we are concentrating on our current roster and are not interested in adding new clients."
"We believe you need additional experience and could use additional training. Feel free to contact us again in 6 months."
Most of the time, you will get no response. This is because the people you are contacting are usually very busy and it's nothing personal. That said, it still sucks because you're left with a shred of hope and zero knowledge of their interest.
As I mentioned in my first post, this blog is fairly free form and I add entries and cover topics based on my feelings or recent events, etc... Recently, I made a push to contact several agencies who cover various markets in the U.S. (I will likely cover agents in detail some other time) and inevitably, without referrals, so far I have received only rejections. One in particular kind of stung. The agency actually took the time to not only send back a rejection, but also feedback explaining why they were not interested. At first thought, I was actually kind of happy that I was getting some information about how to improve myself in order to better my chances. However, once I read their explanation, I couldn't help but be a little bitter about it. Here's the direct quote from the email:
"We're going to pass at this time. Your demos needs some work as does your diction. We think you're still pretty new to your voiceover journey. Continue to improve your acting skills and diction and resubmit to us in the future."
First, I would like to say that I hold no ill will against this particular agency. The feedback was honest, but professional and they even invited me to contact them again. The reason I got a bit upset is because I take a lot of pride in what I do (as should anyone in this industry). For the first time, I was told that I was rejected for something quality based rather than bad timing and it hit a bit harder than I expected. Second, to this point my demo that had been sent to them had gotten me gigs and no one had ever mentioned my diction before. I've also been doing this for almost a decade now. Maybe to someone who's been in the business for 25+ years, it's still "new to your voiceover journey", but to me, that's a decent chunk of experience. Lastly, my demo was professionally produced and I've had nothing but good feedback from past clients so my next thought was: Why are they hearing me differently from everyone else?
Honestly, I may never find out. What it really comes down to is the fact that all of this is relative. It's relative to the agent's situation, their personal taste, maybe even if they had a bad day or not. It doesn't mean they are wrong or right. It just means it's the wrong place and wrong time and no matter what, voice actors should always be striving to improve. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
One important thing is that you get over yourself after the initial reaction and make sure you handle yourself with grace and professionalism. This is absolutely not an industry where you want to be burning bridges. Something else that is very important is your self confidence. Trust me when I say that I understand the personal pain of rejection, especially when it seems to critique something you thought you had a strong grasp on. I personally have a huge issue with "Imposter Syndrome", which I'm sure is amplified by anxiety. If your someone in the same (or similar) boat, do yourself a favor and try your best to think about the major milestones of your vo (or any) career to this point. A recent one for me is that I actually do have an agent! I was picked up a few months prior to this post by a fantastic up and coming agency in San Francisco called Shortlist Model + Talent (For those of you wondering why I was contacting other agencies recently, it never hurts to have a few different agents to work with. Just make sure they are spread apart and covering different markets). The fact that I was picked up by them and specifically, Lana, my agent who invited me to work with them means that I am in fact, talented enough to do this and that other people believe that too. Lana is a professional who has worked in different parts of the industry for a while and knows what she's doing. In the end, Shortlist is a business and if she felt I wasn't going to make our working relationship mutually beneficial, I wouldn't have been asked to join their roster.
The point that I'm trying to make is that those of us in the vo field are going to experience a ton of rejection, but we have to take it in stride. Have confidence in yourself and know that someone, somewhere appreciates what you do and how you do it as long as you strive to work and improve, rather than self sabotage and implode. This translates to any career, by the way. If you find yourself down in the dumps know that I believe in you and your ability to push forward. Just keep putting in the effort. If you know someone else in that situation, let them know that you believe in them. We're all in this together so let's raise each other up and coax the best out of those we care about. Besides, even Dikembe got dunked on every once in a while. ;)
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