New (Old) Music
(It's available for download, too, for only $0.99. In the player above, just click "Options", then "Store". Thanks!)
(It's available for download, too, for only $0.99. In the player above, just click "Options", then "Store". Thanks!)
I'm dating myself, to be sure, but my first introduction to the new format was on MTV in 1983, when Martha Quinn held up a prototype shiny disc and touted its promise. At the time, CD players weren't readily available in my area --- and those that were cost hundreds of dollars. I could be wrong, but as I remember it, there weren't even any commercial titles that I could go and buy.
Here's a promotional video, likely from '84 or '85, produced by Philips.
Billboard reports that In 2010, sales of compact discs fell by nearly 20 percent. This takes me back to about 1987, by which time CDs had already taken hold in the marketplace, and also by which time the recording industry was well on its way to burying the vinyl album --- citing simlar sales drops.
The parallels of these stories, however, are only skin-deep. Vinyl was readily ditched by the industry not only because they could market the CD as sonically superior, but because the latter took up less space in shipping trucks and in retail stores (true enough if one forgets the brief existence of the CD longbox). The higher price of the CD ---usually at least double that of the LP and cassette --- was defended by the industry as owing to higher production costs, which they promised would fall and take retail prices with them. As the 90s rolled on, they made good on the first part of the promise but not the second.
These days, CD sales are diminishing because the price was kept high, not because the industry was in love with the mp3 --- an audio format that didn't have its own dedicated physical conveyance (at least, not one they could directly control) and which the industry was slow to figure out how to monetize.
This history lesson is brought to you by my own melancholy, and also the assumption that you find this as interesting as I do. Even if only mildly so.
From the audioconnell site:
The American Red Cross is now taking donations on behalf of the Japanese Red Cross – helping those people impacted by the earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunami in the Pacific.
This PSA, written and produced by audio’connell Voice Over Talent from content taken directly from the American Red Cross web site, is available here from audio’connell Voice Over Talent for free download and general public use at no charge by any media outlet wishing to rebroadcast this audio clip only in its entirety.
Dan O'Day shares this clip of Christine Coyle demonstrating just what I referred to, teaching the kind of text analysis skills needed to get inside any script. (My friend Bob Souer is one of the participants.)
Wondering what it takes to get started on the right path to a career in voiceovers?
I've gotten a lot of nice feedback on my article about getting one's feet wet in the voiceover biz. Voice actor Smith Harrison has written his own superb piece on the subject of getting started in voiceovers, so I recommend you add it to your reading list if you're interested in laying the groundwork.
Voice talent Dave Courvoisier recently alerted the voiceover community about a scam artist, one who's been reportedly soliciting radio imaging liners and not paying for the work. Here's an update on the matter.
I had a minor exchange with this person last year. Ultimately, he didn't actually scam me out of anything (except the time taken to respond to his e-mail inquiries and provide a rate quote), but his behavior was suspicious to say the least. He contacted me requesting a quote for fully-produced liners to be used on his radio program; I gave him the quote and made it clear that partial payment up front would be required before any work was done. No reply. I followed up a month later asking if he was still interested. He replied saying he'd sent payment, which I knew was false (if for no other reason than a month had passed with no word from him). The reply was complete silence when I asked him to provide some kind of confirmation of the payment.
Dave's report seems to confirm that this guy is not to be trusted. This sort of thing is precisely the reason why, with some exceptions, several voice artists (myself included) request at least a partial payment up front for new clients.
So much has been written about Ted Williams in the last few days that this entry certainly appears late to the party. But, hey, this is still a voiceover blog, and the formerly-homeless baritone's story continues to unfold and gain steam.
Paul Strikwerda has written a piece on Williams sufficiently insightful and thought-provoking (and ultimately about far more than the man himself) to warrant a more dignified label than “blog post”, and I won't be attempting to top his efforts here. Nevertheless, here are a few thoughts.
After the story broke --- even before the subsequent media reports detailing Williams' less-than-angelic past emerged --- VO artists filled up boatloads of bandwidth with reactions ranging from effusive praise to grapes oh-so-sour. To that latter group, I say: debate over the various aspects of his story is fine. However, regardless of how one feels about his talent or whether he deserves the announcing jobs he's been offered, spending even a moment worrying about any voiceover career other than your own is to get on a speedy treadmill to nowhere.
After Williams was offered an announcing job by the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was supposed by some that he'd taken the place of an existing employee, who was probably cast aside callously so that the franchise could garner a share of the growing publicity. I'm confident that, were this the case, ESPN and other sports media outlets would be all over it like the fatigues sported by Williams in that first viral video. So far, I haven't seen any such reports.
For any still concerned that Williams may have unjustly taken (or, if you prefer, been granted) any jobs that might have gone to a “more deserving” VO artist --- ones equipped with an agent, a home studio, lots of C-notes spent on training and coaching --- consider something for a moment. It's already happening. It's been happening. It's going to continue to happen. “It”, of course, is the hiring of voice talents who might just not necessarily be ideal for the job. “It” occurs at all levels of the industry, from small-market radio to multimillion-dollar TV campaigns. These jobs were already being “taken” by others, and not for a moment did it ever mean that there wasn't still work to be had.
I say, hate neither the game nor the player. Embrace both and see what happens.
FaffCon is a voiceover "unconference"; instead of being locked in to seminar or workshop content dictated by others, you get to choose what aspect of voiceover work gets discussed/worked on/et cetera. Congrats to FaffCon's organizer, Amy Snively, on the success of the (un)conference!
Thanks and welcome to new client Learning House!
Check out all three new PSAs for National Voice Over Appreciation Month! Dave Courvoisier put it together with 16 voice actors, including David Houston, Tricia Basanyi, Linda Ristig, Liz de Nesnera, Lee Gordon, Jody Krangle, Justin S. Barrett, Lindsay Martell, Ken Maxon, Rowell Gormon, Mike Coon, Doug Turkel, Melanie Haynes, and Daniel Wallace. Also included: David Atwood, Mahmoud Taji, Jay Sawyer, Jim Barton, Ken Maxon, Morgan Barnhart, Dan Roberts, Trish Basanyi, Andy Boyns, Bob Souer, Dave Courvoisier, Mike Roberts, Edo Peters, CC Petersen, Jodi Krangle, Ralph Hass, and Michael Schoen.
More info at http://www.nationalvoiceovermonth.com!
Their Microphone Selector tool lets you compare mics in various price ranges and characteristics. You can select various criteria to pare your choice down from 59 different makes and models.
Image via Wikipedia
Didn't expect to see this today:
However you feel about the issues raised here, I hope we can all agree that it's a good idea to spell-check your press release. "Achilles heal"?
Sometimes you have a headline that makes the rest of the story superfluous, but here's the background. Actor Lance Baxter, otherwise known as "D.C. Douglas," currently known as the man who informs you how much GEICO can save you on car insurance, left a message last month with FreedomWorks in which he asked the group how many "mentally retarded" people it had on staff and what it would do when a tea partyer "killed someone." On April 14, FreedomWorks put his voicemail online.voices.washingtonpost.com, GEICO voice actor fired after insulting tea parties, Apr 2010
UPDATE: In-depth discussion and commentary here, and that's putting it mildly. It is, as they say, on like Donkey Kong.
Ro' takes the lead in Keepin' the Faith: Momma's Got a Boyfriend, an indie film from Lightyear Entertainment. Serious props to Ro' on this gig; with her work ethic, talent, and personality, I suspect she'll be going from DVD releases like this to the big screen with a quickness.
If you didn't watch the clip, or even if you did, read on. You might know Hicks better by his unintended nickname "Afro Ninja". (I confess that I hadn't seen the astonishingly popular clip until the Current TV piece aired recently.) The great thing about Hicks' audition isn't that it inadvertently led to publicity and an indie film --- though those things certainly aren't bad for him --- it's that after the spectacular face-plant and subsequent crashing stumble, he got up, gave it another shot, and landed the gig. Few could have blamed him if, after the disaster, he'd left the audition while apologizing for wasting everyone's time. Instead, he managed to forget about the mistakes and deliver a performance that earned him the job.
This, naturally, is not to say that every producer or casting director will overlook mistakes of such dangerous magnitude. I'm sure some would have crossed him off the list no matter how superb a second try he turned in. But if he hadn't given it another shot, with all the confidence and skill he could muster, he'd never have known.
Remember this the next time you find yourself going blank or mangling words at an audition. If that guy was able to put that beginning out of his mind and start over, surely you can do the same. Probably without even smacking yourself in the face.
Voice-talker and tea-biscuit-dispenser extraordinaire Philip Banks is a lovely fellow, really. It's just that the news team putting together this story on Philip were in an incredible hurry, and managed to print a photo that would unnerve even a Bond villain.
At any rate, the piece talks up Philip's appearance at VOICE 2010, coming in June to a massive voiceover conference near you. Congrats on the press, Philip, and I promise I'LL TALK! I'LL TELL YOU WHERE THE MISSILES ARE!!!
It's a great bit of self-promotion for Jeff, and it underscores the fact that working to market your VO business can pay off. Jeff had issued a press release on his blog about his jump from layoff-world to an audiobook career, and it caught the eye of the show's producers. Here's hoping it leads to more gigs for this talented voice-talker.
CAST: Philip Banks, Bob Souer, Todd Ellis, Bobbin Beam, David Houston, Peter O'Connell, Bruce Miles, DB Cooper, Donna Postel, Michael Minetree, Mandy Nelson, Dave Courvoisier, Andrew Frame, Jeffrey Kafer, Justin Barrett, Connie Terwilliger, Pam Tierney, and Tony Impieri
My good friend and VO colleague DB Cooper was in town a couple of weeks ago for the Austin Game Developers Conference. We've worked together long-distance, via phone and e-mail, but this was the first time we've actually met up in the "real world". DB and other conference-goers wrapped up the week at Guero's, so I happily crashed the party. With permission, of course.
Earlier in the week, DB shared her expertise for technology company Level 3's Red Couch interview series:
Voice Actors Record Senate Online Version of
Unique, Non-Partisan Reading of Health Care Bills Brings Critical Issue Directly into American Homes
A group of volunteer voice actors from across the country and around the world has now recorded the Senate version of health care reform legislation making its way through Congress. The recording, available at www.hearthebill.org, follows a successful recording of the House version that is fast approaching a million hits online.
The recordings are keeping pace with changes in Congress, and have now made it possible for voters to hear the Senate bill proposed by U.S. (D-Montana). All modifications to the bill, including those adopted in the hearing by the , are updated on the site, as will subsequent changes in both the Senate and House versions.
The audio is free online at the site created last month as a public service for the visually impaired and those who prefer audio to text, such as the tens of millions of people who listen to audio books. Since its launch September 3 with the audio book version of HR3200, the House , the site has had nearly 1 million hits.
“We have made a firm commitment to track any health care reform legislation proposals and get them out there on audio as quickly as possible," said Keesling. "It’s important that as the country debates this issue that everyone – from those who are visually impaired to those who want to learn more while driving in their cars or folding their laundry – have the option to learn what’s in these bills."
The site is a nonpartisan, educational project. The 84 volunteer voice actors come from all across the country, and some from Canada, the UK and Australia. They come with diverse political viewpoints – but also with a commitment not to share those viewpoints on the site.
"There has been a lot of back-and-forth on this issue. While each of the voice actors who have participated have their own opinion, our goal is to provide information so people can make up their own minds based on what’s actually in the legislation,” Havens said. “We want to provide a starting point for a truly informed discourse on one of the most important issues of our time."
Contact: Diane Havens
Contact: Kathleen Keesling
The HearTheBill.org project is getting more and more media attention, including this segment of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC:
I also added this quote to my download page:
"It's immensely gratifying to be part of a project that takes on an important political issue without taking sides or muddying the waters. In fact, it's my hope that this will help cut through much of the misinformation about health care reform legislation. While some have criticized the project for presenting an audio version of a bill that's likely to undergo changes, to my mind that makes it all the more important to allow people greater access to the political process in real-time."
You can hear my contribution here.
It's complete! HR3200, also known as the health-care reform bill that's dominated the news of late, has been put into audio form with a little bit of help from yours truly. HearTheBill.org is a project started by voiceover artists Diane Havens and Kat Keesling, and it allows those interested in the debate to hear the entire bill word-for-word --- or even just the parts they're concerned about. It's a non-partisan project, and whatever your feelings are about the proposed legislation, it's a great resource for anyone interested.
You can hear my nine-page contribution here.
Hiring a voiceover pro, in my humble opinion, would have made this presentation an unqualified success.
Audiobooks have been hailed as an ever-expanding market for voice artists to tap into, but recent numbers are telling a disturbingly different tale. A recent AP article notes that audiobook sales for 2009 are down 20 per cent from last year, with publishers seeing a whiplash-inducing 47 per cent drop in revenue from the medium.*
What's causing the audiobook to lose ground? Clive Young at ProSoundNews cites the ever-growing list of alternate media options, combined with popular titles' higher price tags compared to their paper counterparts. However, Young also suggests ways in which social media could play a role in reviving the format.
Information and entertainment mediums of all types are undergoing radical changes these days, and the audiobook appears to be no exception.
*The article notes that the Nielsen scan data used doesn't take digital downloads into account, but publishers are still not optimistic about the overall trend.
I'm late in posting this, of course, but I'd be remiss in not mentioning the passing of Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse for the last 32 years. Our fondest wishes to his friends, family, and all whom he entertained as the thoughtful caretaker of an animation icon.
P.S. I recorded my parts well before Saturday Night Live's Don Pardo announced his retirement from that show. Consider this a tribute of sorts.
P.P.S. Note to prospective clients: I'm not really that expensive.
CNN's list of "10 jobs cooler than yours" places Voice Actor at the bottom. I personally think it belongs at least in the top five.
The article lists the average annual salary at $47,000. CNN would have done well to include a disclaimer; I'm not sure how they arrived at the figure, but it's a little misleading. These are just my own estimates: about 80% of union voice actors pull in a tenth of that amount (or less). Only 10 to 15% earn the $47K listed, and the six-figure range goes to an exclusive 2%. Plenty of non-union work is available, but I'd wager that the disparity is about the same --- and since most non-union work doesn't pay residuals, the overall pie is probably smaller.
All in all, I'd still take this gig over "Storm chaser" at number 8.
NewswireToday - /newswire/ - Austin, TX, United States, 04/07/2009 - Professional voice actor and audio producer David Houston provides voice in new TV spots for Callaway Golf's "Comparison" campaign.
Professional voice actor and audio producer David Houston was chosen to voice new TV spots for Callaway Golf's "Comparison" campaign.
Austin, TX, United States, 01/26/2009 - The first episode of a new podcast from David Houston Voiceovers is now available.
David Houston, actor, voiceover artist and producer, has launched the Do That Voice! podcast. He has appeared as a featured guest on podcasts by voiceover artists Terry Daniel and Peter O'Connell. Sharing the same name as his voiceover blog, the Do That Voice! podcast's first episode opens with several character voices performed by Houston; however, as he makes clear later on, the podcast focuses more on the broad world of voiceover than on "funny character voices".
Episode 1 also features the voice actor reporting on presidential inauguration parade announcer Charlie Brotman --- far from a household name, but decades-long holder of one the world's most prestigious voice announcing jobs --- and also covers Podcamp Toronto 2009, a free conference for all those interested in all things podcasting, blogging and new media. Future episodes will feature more news about voiceover and the entertainment/media industries, as well as interviews with prominent voiceover artists. Suggestions, comments, and other inquiries regarding the podcast can be sent to podcast [at] davidhoustonvoice.com.
The podcast is available on iTunes, as well as the Do That Voice! blog.
David Houston (davidhoustonvoice.com) is a voiceover artist, actor, and audio producer based in Austin, TX. He has been heard on numerous national TV and radio commercials, and also performs industrial narration. Houston was originally cast as the voice of James Bond in Activision's "Quantum of Solace" videogame. He has appeared on-camera in episodes of TV's "Friday Night Lights", and will appear in the upcoming HBO film "Temple Grandin".
...are downtown-bound. (And elsewhere, perhaps.)
Here's a bit of background on how we ended up there in the first place. The judges liked her story, which has the benefit of being 100% true.
I just hope it goes for at least a few days before someone spray-paints a mustache and gap teeth on me.
According to columnist Mike Elgan, it hasn't got long. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, and how that outcome will affect voiceover artists.
Seen today in a Craigslist ad entitled "Voiceover professional for my voicemail":
I would prefer someone with a good english accent (preferably Male)
Or an older/mature voice that sounds something like Anthony Hopkins.
If you call this number it should sound something like this: [phone number listed]
I need it for my office phone (regular greeting and on hold greeting) and my cell phone
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
* Compensation: no pay
If I may quote the inimitable Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
I'm sure the reporter meant well, but an otherwise informative and well-written news article on the VO world is marred by the phrase "getting paid just to talk".
To its credit, the piece does point out that being a voiceover artist means running your own business --- a task not suited to everyone --- and that a single introductory VO class, promoted in the article, isn't enough to launch a voiceover career. Still, it'd be nice if the piece didn't promote the "anyone can do it" attitude right off the bat...unintentionally or otherwise.
[The website] gives fans access to some early concept artwork from the locations featured in the game, as well as the opportunity to sign-up to the community to vote on polls and ask the development team questions. This site will serve as the hub of activity for the game and will be updated on a regular basis.
Development studios are confirmed as Eurocom, Treyarch, Beenox and Vicarious Visions. The game will be released this Fall. Treyarch are understood to be heading up development on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, with Beenox producing the Nintendo Wii version, and Vicarious Visions working on the hand-held platforms. Eurocom are understood to be developing the PC version.
Speaking about Activision's direction with the 007 licence, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said "Bond is one of the great videogame franchises of all time and that really was a result of GoldenEye 64. I think the key to re-energising the Bond franchise is going to be ultimately the highest possible game quality."
Last November, Activision confirmed a second 007 title was also under development.
Since my last post on the subject, I've done a good job of refraining from any reporting on the status of the WGA strike. This seemed a wise move, given that my optimism at the time proved a mistake. Still, those with their finger on the pulse --- or at least those who talk to people who also talk to those who are close to others with their finger on the pulse --- are reporting positive things from the current informal talks between the WGA (the writers) and the AMPTP (referred to as "producers" in most media reports, although in reality they're the CEOs and moguls of the major studios).
Even if this should prove to be another false alarm, I maintain that the mere fact of informal talks taking place at all is a positive step, given that just a couple of weeks prior, neither side seemed interested in talking. Cautious optimism from here on out.
Another pun? Mea culpa. Sometimes I just can't help myself. If we're still friends, though, let me tell you what's up:
In an earlier post, I mentioned the mobile-exclusive animated series The Hyrde. The first episode is now available for public consumption, no phone required. I confess to being a fan of the series, and happily admit my bias for its voice cast: DB Cooper brings the sassy to the role of Ghoul Gal, while Philip Banks is perfectly cast as the group's wizened leader, Inspector Spectre. Show creator Robert Feldman rounds out the cast.
Check out Episide One for yourself:
Wii Wii Wii.
Okay. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me after that, take a look at the latest news in the 007 videogame saga:
Beenox Confirms Nintendo Wii Version
...if only because of the twist on said conventional wisdom found in another article on the same study:
"We found that men with deep voices have more children than their high-pitched counterparts," Apicella told AFP.
"But those children were not necessarily healthier, so it doesn't seem like deep-voiced men are passing on good genes to their offspring, as has been hypothesized in the past, but probably has to do with them having greater access to women."
I'd be more worried about the implications of this question, except that I'm still struggling to figure out just what the heck the French babies pictured on the second article have to do with the Tanzanian men & women of the study...
...you'll have an easier time going here and voting for your pal David Houston --- that'd be me --- to win the Unofficial NBC News Announcer contest. The cool thing is, you get to pick two other voices (so as not to feel guilty if you think my entry sucks.)
You have all year to call in the favor I'll owe ya, but voting ends soon. Snap to it! (Please.)
Nothing is certain, of course, but there are reports that talks between the WGA and the producers have quietly resumed; and even if there aren't any major breakthroughs at the moment...at least both sides are talking without rancor. Here's hoping this is the start of a deal both sides can live with.
Looks like a Writer's Guild strike is imminent, with the most recent reports indicating only the slightest chance of last-minute talks to avert a crippling walkout.
At first glance, the driving force behind this might simply appear to be a demand for wage increases. In fact, it's as much about the changing nature of entertainment delivery (DVD, streaming media, etc.) as it is about dollars and cents. From today's AdAge:
In the early '80s, the Hollywood's writers made what has become to be regarded as the worst deal since Manhattan was sold for some wampum and blankets: When the writers originally signed their pact with producers about how they would be compensated for work viewed on home video, they agreed that 80% of the revenue would immediately be kept aside for the studios, leaving only 20% of the revenue available for royalties. The upshot? While a film or TV show might sell for $19.99 on home video, a writer will typically receive less than a nickel from that sale.
"Welcome to class warfare," deadpanned Jonathan Handel, an entertainment lawyer at Troy & Gould who specializes in internet law, and who formerly was associate counsel to the WGA from 1994-1995. "The home-video agreement doesn't even make sense for home video anymore, let alone the internet."
Mr. Handel explained that the 80/20 split of home-video spoils might have been tenable in 1982, when video cassettes were a costly media to produce and often subsidized by studios seeking to create a new revenue stream. But the cost of manufacturing a DVD is now pegged at 25 cents; digital distribution is, he argued, even cheaper, because there is no physical media to produce at all. [I'm reminded of the 80s, when the music industry charged more for the "brand-new" CD format, even though production costs had plummeted fairly quickly after the format became a hit. --- DH]
Moreover, the studios are making more than they ever had before: Last year, all-media revenue from filmed entertainment -- money from home video, TV, theatrical release and pay TV -- grew 8% to a record $42.6 billion.
This is 100% speculation on my part, but there's a slight possibility that a writers' strike could push back the previously-mentioned videogame project I'm booked for. The game ties in with a movie release lated for 2008, but that film has (reportedly) already been delayed by script rewrites. I'll just keep my fingers crossed and continue to work as much as possible in the meantime.UPDATE: Well, per some information in the link (provided in the comments by my good friend Mary), it looks like my speculation was probably correct. The strike is hitting home, even here in Texas...
Over at Vox Daily, the question was asked: What Attracted You To Radio? While not all voiceover artists necessarily have a background as on-air talent, it's no surprise that many of us do. My response at the site:
I'd grown up as a fan of radio itself, not just the music it played. I've always been one of those who liked to look inside and take things apart to see how they worked, and like a lot of radio listeners, I figured "I can do that!" Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found out I actually could.
No doubt like many others here, radio proved not to be a gateway to vast riches. Still, I made a bit more than your average mic jockey (at least in the small market where I worked) once I learned I could write ad copy and produce spots.
Being an independent VO artist is easily the most satisfying and fun job I've ever had, but my radio days rank a close second.
As a voiceover talent, one's job is to serve the needs of the client. Some of us can lose sight of that at times, and a reminder from a different perspective can come in handy.
A few months ago, I posted my articles on getting started in VO to Helium.com, a site that publishes articles both pro and amatuer, on a variety of topics. Looking around the site to see if any other voiceover-related articles had been published, I found a keeper by Robert Dwyer.
Robert's article is titled similarly to mine, but his piece adds some important information that no aspiring VO artist should be without: don't bite the hand that feeds. It's a bit of advice found all too rarely in beginning-voiceover articles, and it carries the extra weight of his status as producer and director of voice talent for TV.
If you're getting your feet wet as a voice talent, read Robert's article twice and keep it bookmarked.
Recently observed by one of the VO-BB members: a string of movie trailers, seen at the Apple Trailers site, with no "traditional" voiceovers. The only voices used, when at all, were character narratives provided by the film's actor(s). This begged the question: " Has that revenue stream dried up altogether?" ("That" being movie trailers as voiceover work.)
It's a good question, but it seems that the answer is a qualified "no". As another VO-BBer pointed out, it may be that the Apple Trailer site doesn't carry certain trailers which would require them to pay royalties to the voiceover artist*; this doesn't necessarily mean that the same trailer shown on the big screen is without a voiceover. It seems likely that studios are producing voiceless trailers for Apple and other internet sites in order to comply with these stipulations and still promote the film. Considering that Don LaFontaine remains as busy as ever doing trailers, as do other top artists in that field, rumors of trailer-voiceover demise seem to be exaggerated.
Here's the caveat: there has been something of a trend away from the gravelly "In a world..." style of movie trailer. Standup comics have been lampooning it as a cliche for years now, and so have the trailers themselves. It's a tendency that mirrors a shift seen in radio imaging and commercials as well.
A while back, I decided to have a little fun with the official trailer for Clerks 2. The original features text in place of a VO announcer, making it perfect for an exercise in voicing a trailer in the right style. The irony, of course, is clear; I'd never have been able to use the trailer for that exercise had it not followed the trend away from traditional VO in the first place.
Lots of TV commercials follow that same style, but I don't think there's much danger of voiced spots disappearing altogether, nor is DLF's trailer-voice career in any real jeopardy. As I joked on the VO-BB boards: even if major-movie trailers were to completely forego voiceovers, the odds were against 99% of us voice talents ever being in that club anyway.
Not to say that we shouldn't try, just offering a bit of perspective.
*It's not yet clear what Apple's policy is on this. If you have additional information, feel free to let me know...
...then again, maybe not.
"But Dave", you say, "don't those voice actors on animated shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy make six figures or more?" Some of them, certainly. The voices of principal characters like Homer and Bart, or Lois and Peter, do make serious money.
On the other hand, you've got actors like Maggie Roswell. Unless you're among the twelve people on Earth who have never seen a Simpsons episode, you've probably seen Maggie's name in the end credits several times. She's provided many voices on the show, including Maude Flanders (wife of Ned) and Helen Lovejoy. Surely having even a supporting role on TV's longest-running sitcom is enough to ensure a superbly comfortable living, right? Think again:
Prior to the 11th season, actress Maggie Roswell left the show after a contract dispute. She had reportedly been making only $1500 an episode, even after 10 years on the show. To add insult to injury, Roswell lived in Colorado and was being forced to commute to Los Angeles out of her own pocket.
The network offered her a measly $150 extra per episode, which wasn't even enough to cover the cost of air-fares. Roswell balked. "I wasn't asking for what the other cast members make," she said. "I just wanted to recoup all the costs I had in travel. If they'd flown me in, I'd still be working."
$1500 may sound like a lot, but not when your minor character(s) can easily be absent from any given episode. (It's worth noting that her initial departure prompted the writers to kill off the character of Maude.) Also, it's not as if Maggie was a rookie; she'd been appearing in TV shows and movies for over twenty years before getting the Simpsons gig.
She did eventually return to the show in 2002, so she presumably was able to work out a more equitable contract. Still, it's safe to assume that her salary didn't approach the seven-figure sums of her more famous costars.
It's been estimated by longtime voiceover pros that only 5% of voiceover artists (everyone from animation actors to narrators to radio-imaging folks) will ever make "serious" money in this business. To some degree, this mirrors the SAG statistics which state that about 10% of actors make about 90% of the money. That's not to say that this business doesn't provide a comfortable living for many; there are people who are doing quite well voicing commercials, promos, narrations et al. in relative anonymity and are quite happy. For each of those, however, there are many more who are struggling, fighting for gigs, maintaining a day job while trying to get to the "next level" of their VO career.
There's money to be made, or not made, in this business. Either way, you'd better be in it for the love of the work. Me? Still head over heels with no plans to stop.