The Voiceover Meet Up Group... What Do You Do? - Sound4VO Blog

7 September 2011
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Dan Friedman, voiceover meet upThe Voiceover Meet Up Group… What Do You Do?

By Dan Friedman

The voiceover community is well known for being a friendly, helpful and social community. Considering we sit in isolation for much of our lives it is no surprise that we need to get out once in awhile just to keep our sanity (assuming we have some to begin with of course).  It is easier now than ever before to share our knowledge and seek the help of others when we need it. Seriously, how many social networking and meet up groups for VO are there now? Even with all of the technology that allows us to connect with one another over wires and through the airwaves, few things are more advantageous than actual face time.

There are at least three big events for voice talent coming up in the next several months, all before the end of this year (here in the US, I’m not sure about other countries) “Faffcon3” in September, “That’s VO” in October and the New York Mixer in December . They are being widely mentioned in social media and they all look really interesting and fun. I wish I could be at all of them (Anyone want to fly me out? Shameless… I know ;-)). But while all of these events will undoubtedly be filled with great information and amazingly talented people, this is about something a little closer to home… the local meet up group.

When I mentioned recently that I was going to be attending the meet up group in Charlotte, I received quite a bit of feedback from those wanting to be part of a meet up, start a meet up, or get one going again. I talked to Gabby of Voice Hunter (who organizes the Charlotte group) about all of the interest I had received and she said it was reasonably easy to get it going. The Charlotte group started out as a bunch of friends in the industry getting together and, over time, it developed into much more than that. I can only guess that this is how most of them start, but what information is critical to help keep the group going?

I began thinking about the various things that voiceover meet up groups could do to generate initial interest and more importantly, keep members coming back. For people already in the industry, getting to know other industry professionals can be informative or educational. For people new to the industry, access to working professionals is invaluable. Interest in voiceover as a career has never been higher and those who want to get into it need to learn from those who are already working professionals. Reading about the business is good; meeting and talking to people who work in the business is better.

Soon after I began writing this article I worked on a session with DB Cooper, who had recently attended a meet up/workout group in Los Angeles with Dave Fennoy. I heard Dave mention this workout group in an interview on the VAU. He emphasized the need for a comfortable environment to really work on scripts. This environment should be safe and confidential, so that everyone can succeed or fail, without worrying about clients or any of the bad stuff making it out into the public domain. Good thinking.

Everyone, new and experienced, benefits from the advice of guest speakers. Especially if these guests have information to offer that is outside the realm of expertise of the majority of group members. If someone is not local to your area, guests could easily attend with the help of Skype.

Performance is fun, but voiceover is a business and all topics related to business could certainly be beneficial to group members. Everything from accounting and billing to advertising, marketing, web design and even legal issues are critical to keeping a voiceover business flourishing.

Who can forget about the technical aspects of our business? Nobody. From microphones to mixing boards, there is plenty to discuss. Everyone in this business needs to understand the importance of choosing the right gear, how to set it up and what role room acoustics plays in overall sound.

Practice and in depth discussions on all of these topics can help voice talent with their careers. But, what I suspect may be the most critical element to keeping a meet up group together is support. Despite how it looks to the casual observer, voiceover is not an easy career choice. There are many disappointments, struggles and rejections. The competition is fierce. Having a local group of friends and trusted advisors, who truly understand what you do and can help you achieve your goals, is priceless.

I don’t personally run a group, although I have thought about starting one. Besides the groups in Charlotte and L.A., I know that Dallas also has a strong VO community and meet up group. I would love to get feedback from those who organize these and other meet up groups, and from those who participate. Share your knowledge, ideas and expertise over wires and through the airwaves (or right here in the comments section of my blog), to raise the bar for this industry and help other voice artists support each other much closer to home.

12 responses on “The Voiceover Meet Up Group… What Do You Do?

  1. Dan,

    If you start a group, you can count me in!
    I think you’ve nailed the benefits of interacting with others in the industry.
    While I love my online VO folks, when you are able to interact with people in person it’s a whole other experience.

    Lauren

  2. Thanks Dan for pointing out our meet up group in Dallas. It’s called The Dallas Voice Acting Meet Up Group, (not too original, but easy to remember!) I started this group in 2007 and to the best of my knowledge we are the oldest and largest Voice Acting “Meet Up Group” out there. We currently have over 550+ members, have held 96 Meet Ups with 116 Five Star-reviews!

    Most meet-ups fill within minutes of announcement, but I continue additional meet ups with the same topic until all interested members have had an opportunity to attend. Some times we go to Round 5! Once a meet up fills, I use the waiting list option to determine the next set of attendees, since wait-list submissions are time stamped. We cover the gamut of the industry and really concentrate on the “retail” side of Voice Acting. Interpretation, ownership of the copy, connecting to the copy and de-constructing the copy are just a few of the things members cover and practice. I also hold a tech-nigh, where I discuss all aspects of digital recording, software, hardware, microphone theory & applications, audio processing and of course LOT’S of direction and mic time at EVERY meet up. Every read is recorded with direction and emailed to each attendee within a day or two of the meet up. We have easy to very challenging scripts added monthly. I LOVE MY GROUP! It is a ton of work, a huge responsibility and one of my greatest passions. If anyone is considering organizing a Meet Up group, I’d be happy to chat. Most of you already know how to reach me. Last year, we we did a full-on radio drama production of A Christmas Carol with 100% of the proceeds raised to benefit Reading and Radio Resource of Dallas (Reading for the Blind). We are a strong and vibrant group of very talented, committed and driven individuals. Anyone coming to Dallas, PLEASE stop in and say hello! Did I mention that I LOVE MY GROUP!

  3. Susan Bernard says:

    I run a meet up group in the Dallas area for fellow VO people. The Dallas VO Actors Network Shuffle meets once a month for an evening of education, support, guidance, networking and social interaction. We meet at various locations and we have a growing list of 50+ members in just over 6 months. We have had special guests such as a casting director, a local expert in audio engineering, and we have met at an animation house known for upcoming Hollywood release. We believe each VO talent can bring something valuable to the mix. Our upcoming events include a combined industry mixer with VO talents, animators, audio techies, film collaborators, game developers, acting coaches, and whoever can add to the performance art mix and we will be doing a holiday party, too. Each meeting cost is a great bang for the buck at $7.00 per person, to cover a few basic costs. We welcome any VO talent to attend if you are just passing through or just want to see what the local scene is all about. We also encourage members to promote their latest gigs and foster better skills by supporting workshops with industry geniuses who come to town, like Pat Fraley recently. Brad Venable was instrumental in getting Pat to come and facilitated this amazing event! We try to be proactive, we try to cast aside negativity and judgement, and we strive for fun in a relaxed setting. IT WORKS!!!

  4. Phil Hwang says:

    I actually run a voiceover group for talent local to the Washington DC area. We meet via skype each month. We each upload a recorded script and then we provide constructive comments to each other and help each other improve. It’s great! I’ve actually referred work to other voiceover talent, and they’ve done the same for me as well through this group.

    • Mary Lehnert says:

      Dear Phil,

      I also am new to VO work and I would like to know more about your support

      group. I’m not currently living in the Washington DC area, but soon will be.

      Best regards,
      Mary Lehnert

      hm

  5. Toronto has an active VO community as well. We meet every couple of months for lunch and conversation. It’s very informal although we do have speakers every once in a while. It’s a great way to stay connected.

  6. Byron Wagner says:

    Hi Dan,

    Check out http://voicesanonymous.com and Bob Bergen’s Vox On the Rocks on Facebook – both are in LA, strong membership, lots of fun, and several years old…

    Byron Wagner

  7. Dan says:

    Thanks to all of you who commented and contributed. I really appreciate the feedback as well as your commitment to our profession.

    Have an awesome weekend!

    Dan

  8. Tonya Crawford says:

    Hello all, I am new to the VO industry and I live in Michigan. I neeeed all of the advice that I can get. There are a lot of people out there saying that they can help you be a successful VO artist for a fee. Please tell me who I should trust or what type of training I might need. So far I signed up with a company who gave me an hour of training by phone and helped me make a demo and I am still paying for it. My demo is good not great. I have Pro tools software, Mbox and Mic. I am not yet comfortable using it though. The VO industry is a great fit for me and I would really like to make this my career. Please help.

  9. Gabrielle says:

    Hey Dan – thanks for the mention – if anyone has questions about the Charlotte group or wants advice they can feel free to contact me – gabby@VOcareer.com or check out the group http://www.meetup.com/vocareer

  10. Tim Miller says:

    I too am looking for a group in the North Georgia, Chattanooga, Tennessee area. Skype would be the preferred method….let’s connect!

    http://www.TimMillerVoiceOvers.com

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