Why Do You Love This Business?

Notice I didn’t say like, or admire, or even “Are you fond of”. I said love, because it seems to me like most of the people I have dealt with in the Voiceover industry “love” the business they are in.

Very recently a client had made amendments on an IVR I had recorded for him. They had added a company to their IVR system (a second company) so they wanted to add the new company to the system. But the way the gentleman was talking to me… it was like I was a rockstar… He treated me like Talent, with respect, appreciation and regard.

It was odd to tell you the truth as usually I have to deal with casting agencies who will peddle the job to the lowest quoting VO out there… Make me feel anything but talented and miles from appreciated.

Why Do You Love This Business?

the truth is, I don’t, not all the time. There are times when it’s 4 am and I have a delivery the next day and I’m so tired I can’t see straight. I’m not in love with being a vo then.

There are times when the script is so bad that I hate myself for accepting the job in the first place.

There are times when I have dealt with casting people who have made me want to take a shower from how slimy and gross they are to deal with.

so no, I don’t love being a voiceoverist then.

…the other times

and of course there are the other times when things just work, things just happen. You land a big client and you know things are going to change.

I am not the typical kind of human…. me Mahmoud Taji… I can’t go to a 9 to 5 job everyday knowing that I will be doing exactly the same thing as yesterday. That is why I gravitated toward the creative side of advertising. New challenges… new ideas. New ways of looking at something. I’m good at that… it is a chore sometimes but in the long term I love being different.

I’m Very Lazy

It’s true, I am, I would rather work on a 30 or 60 second TVC than on a 1000 word narration for the same price. It’s just human… I’m very human. I like getting paid more for doing less.

Is it weird that I’m being this honest? Actually we’re all more or less a very straight forward bunch. I have more of a temper than most but overall I can keep my cool when my client is being an ass. It’s even worse of course when your client’s client is being the ass because you know it isn’t the middle man’s fault and you might not be able to communicate what the problem is to the end receiver.

How Many Hours Do You Work Per Day?

See that’s exactly the point.. you work less you make more so instead of doing a 9 to 5 you work 2 hours in a day and make the exact same amount of money.

But here is the thing… it’s never like that is it. You get a long narration job… and it takes 2 hours to record and then another 2 to edit and then you send it … and then corrections come back and you go back into your studio and so on and so forth. You can easily pull of 10 to 12 hours a day if you don’t pace yourself.

Some get so excited about being so in demand they could easily burn themselves out. End up voiceless for a week… and then what? Sucks to be you!

The Roller Coaster Paradigm

Everything in moderation… you will experience ups and you will experience downs. You will deal with the good and the scum even amongst your peers in the industry. We aren’t all philanthropic angels. But the thing about Roller Coasters is the simplicity of the thrill… get in the car and hold on for dear life.

That’s how I see it…

Why do you love this business?


10 Comments


  1. Mahmoud,

    I love being a voiceover talent because I love telling stories. Some stories are more exciting and some pay better than others, but they are all fun at some level. From the challenge of getting the over-written commercial copy to come in on time and without sounding rushed to the challenge of taking an eLearning project about Internet safety and making interesting to the listeners, it’s all good.

    Yes, sometimes it’s more fun than others, but there’s never a moment that I don’t love my work.

    Be well,
    Bob

    • I once joked with Philip Banks that we do this job because we literally love the sound of our own voices. And to a certain extent I think this is true… if we didn’t like the sound of our own voices we’d stop doing VOs.

      No there has to be an element of narcissism, it isn’t the overwhelming element but it is there… more in some… less in others.

      The fact that people pay us to make our voices heard… that’s just a perk.

  2. In my humble opinion, Voice Over is a performance art. It can be very enjoyable or it can be frought with so much debris in your path that it’s easy to wonder why anybody would want to do it.

    Bob’s comment above speaks volumes about how to approach the craft. ‘Telling stories’ elevates the work from ‘mouthing words.’ Brilliant copy or ‘hack’ copy, the artist’s approach should be the same. “How can I breathe life into these marks on a page?”

    Yep, no matter how much joy there may be in ‘oral interpretation’ the realities of business means ‘it ain’t all fun.’ Even in a gourmet restaurant someone has to wash the dishes.

    Look for reasons to love your work no matter what it is you do.

    • While living in Toronto I got to know some people who one day asked if I needed a room mate. At the time I lived in a terrible immigrant’s ghetto apartment and getting a roommate meant that we can upgrade to a better much more livable area.

      As it where I was once talking to my roommate as people do when they are bored and there is nothing on TV and I asked him about his work… he says… I’m a civil engineer. I said that must be exciting… he said no… it’s a job, it pays rent, it buys me video games… but I don’t like it.

      That blew me away… as an Art Director I loved designing, I loved creating something new, to a large extent it had shaped who I was… As for voicework… well that wasn’t even work really… that was like getting paid to play… like being lucky… for a living.

  3. There are several reasons I love being a voice actor, Taji. First, it gives me the opportunity to use one of the talents that God gave me as a vehicle for sharing all types of information between people of all walks of life. Also, as you pointed out, it is a creative outlet that allows me to do something different, new, challenging; not just every day, but with each project. Additionally, I enjoy learning new things: while a lot of what I read tends to go ‘in one eye and out the other,’ there is a surprising amount that stays with me. Useful information is always good.

    I must also echo Bob’s sentiment that being a VO is sometimes more fun than others. But then there is always the bonus: I get to be in a family of so many talented people eager to share their knowledge, experiences and insights.

    There’s a lot of work that goes into being a voice actor, but I wouldn’t trade what comes with it.

    Thanks for asking.
    Mike

    • OK, there’s one other reason I love being a VO. And that is the ability to work from home. It’s just past 8:30 AM and it’s already 86 degrees, going up to an estimated high of 99 (projected heat index of 104). I’ve never been so glad I don’t have to sit in traffic to get to and from work than I am on days like today.

  4. If you love the art (and voice over IS an art), the creativity involved and have been blessed with the gift of being ABLE to do it WELL, – you’ll not want to do voice over, you’ll NEED to do voice over, much in the same way you need air to breathe.

    Best always,
    – Peter

    • I believe people can be creative in multiple ways. Some voice actors are frustrated screen actors who have found an outlet and of course there are those that truly are talented but take their talent for granted. I’ve met a few and they truly are brilliant but in their minds they want more than to be voice actors regardless of their skill.

      It is subjective, but I guess a little more subjective to some people than to others.

      taji

  5. I love the VO business because I enjoy the challenge of turning flat text into memorable, enjoyable copy by reading it out loud. There is nothing like “nailing” the client’s intended tone and feel, knowing you will reach their audience just how they wanted. I love that part of the process the most – giving those flat words shape and color and value, vibrancy. More please!

  6. Do I love the biz ? hmm..after nearly 20 years..yes and no..days when i get tons of auditions..love it..i get the chance to change and learn and grow and create..not booking..well..sucks..booking work..rocks lol.
    Do i like the sound of my own voice…NO…do i enjoy reading a script and creating 3 or 4 different takes of my own..YES.
    Could I be happy siting in my studio all day just reading..YES..i love the fantasy of the mind..its like acting but with your hands and eyes and mind..love it. Do i get picked alot for reads..NO..i get more NO’s Then Yes..and i hate it and there are days i want to say ..what am i DOING…then there are days that I just am in love with every part of this biz. Do I want to be the guy that sits in a studio and is on demand all day…YES..will that ever happen..Dont know..but is it still fun to meet others…network..grow each day..learn…make mistakes..grow gain…book..fail..book..fail….ANSWER..yes and no..but it beats siting at a desk for eight hours having someone else tell me what to do. I AM MY OWN BOSS..I am the guy that pushes me out there..I am the guy the runs my own studio..I am the guy that is the choice maker on what I do or DONT do to make me..so…its a tough biz..but i keep at it..and it and I drive each other….best to all and keep pushing for your “VOICE”..you will be heard.
    Best,
    Erick Abraham