The Actors Voice > The Right Store

Okay, actors out there – how many of you have said that you are an actor of all trades, who can do any role in any play? “I can do anything! I am an ACTOR!” Well, reality check – as talented as you may be, in this competitive entertainment industry, it’s important to learn exactly where you fit in the marketplace, and to whom you should direct your marketing efforts. Bonnie Gillespie compares this process to shopping a product to various stores. It’s a neat perspective, and I think an important one to consider as you start out your career as an actor. Of course, when you’ve won your Oscar and achieved fame, you can pick and choose your projects, but until then, it would behoove you to stick to a specific niche.

Learn more by reading Bonnie’s article HERE.

A Survival Guide to Pilot Season

Check out this article on Back Stage by Tamara-Lee Nocutt: “A Survival Guide to Pilot Season”. It’s that time of year, and you must be prepared! Tamara-Lee says it’s important to treat pilot season like a triathlon – you are the athlete, and you must train every day if you want to win. Some of the words of wisdom in this article:

  • Focus
  • Be prepared
  • Come in with a character choice
  • Be on time
  • The casting directors are not the enemy!

For an in-depth look at this survival guide, be sure to read the full article on Back Stage.

Playing Along > Article on Back Stage

Have you ever been asked to do something embarrassing for an audition? Something that was just too crazy or seemingly pointless? Ever wanted to walk right out that door and never audition for that director again? What happens when we actors are asked to do something we may feel uncomfortable doing for an audition – do we play along or just say no? Jordana Capra writes about this issue in an article on Back Stage entitled “Playing Along”.

Jordana shares great advice on the importance of “playing along” in this industry and thereby land those acting gigs! Read the full article on Back Stage.

Have a crazy audition story to share? Thoughts? Comments? We’d love to hear from ya!

Grow Your ‘Natural’ Talent > Article by Mara Junot

ArtistUpgrade client (and our February Voiceover Client of the Month) Mara Junot wrote an article for VoiceOverXtra entitled “Grow Your ‘Natural’ Talent Through Discovery & Training”.

In her article, Mara discusses the importance of being open to new ideas and discoveries, learning from others, and building techniques in order to help grow your own “natural” talent. Check out her words of wisdom by reading her article on VoiceOverXtra.com.

What are your thoughts on “natural” vs. acquired talent? Can a creative professional rely simply on what they’ve been born with (ie – their voice, looks, physique)? What discoveries and new techniques have you learned that have boosted your career? We want to hear your thoughts!

Staying Motivated Between Acting Gigs > by Leslie Becker

Staying Motivated Between Acting Gigs
By Leslie Becker
Author of The Organized Actor®

We’ve all been there. We have all sat in that dead space between acting gigs, wondering when the next one will come along. In that space many things begin to appear…doubt, frustration and the inevitable fear of “what if I never get another acting gig?” But, contrary to popular belief, the moments between gigs can be the most important times in your journey as an actor. You will learn more about yourself in between gigs than you ever will while during one. And truth be told, there will always be another acting gig. It might not come exactly when you want it to, but another one will appear when you least expect it. But in the meantime, here are some creative ways to make the most of your time in between gigs.

1. Get back into class. Actors tend to NOT study when they are not employed because of the cost. But, when you’re not employed that’s the most important time to be in class. It keeps you in the game and keeps you working in front of others and stretching yourself as an artist. Why not take that on-camera class or improv class you’ve been talking about forever? It will keep you fine-tuned and confident with your skills, and undoubtedly will make you a stronger actor.

2. Overhaul your audition material. Whether you’re using monologues or songs for your auditions, take the down time to overhaul your book. Find a great coach who can help you assess what material really represents you NOW. There’s nothing worse than a tired old monologue that you’re bored with. Spend a couple of hours a day in the library researching new material. By the time that next audition comes around you might have found your “perfect” audition song.

3. Create an accountability team. Gather a group of your most uplifting, success-driven actor friends and form a support team where you all hold each other accountable to the goals you want to achieve. This can be one you form yourself, or an established one with a professional facilitator (check out www.OrganizedActor.com/actionteams.htl. There’s no better motivator than having 4-8 of your friends checking in on you and encouraging you to do what you say you are going to do.

4. Create your own project. When you’re in between gigs, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to be the creative artist you are by building your own project. This could be a solo concert, an evening of one-acts with friends, a series of YouTube videos, a one-person play or simply singing at open mics 2-3 times a week. There’s no reason you can’t be performing just because you’re not in a “show.” Who knows, your little project could grow to be something ever bigger down the road.

5. Start a business. Is there something you are better at than anyone else? Do you have a skill that others are always complimenting you on? Why not turn that special gift into a moneymaking opportunity. Take some time to investigate what it takes to start that kind of business. Sometimes focusing your efforts elsewhere can lift the fears of not having an acting gig. Not only will your confidence grow, but so will your pocket book!

Every actor has felt the scary pangs of not having an acting gig lined up. But utilizing your time wisely with one of these activities, or one of your own creative ideas will keep you in a good space for when the next acting gig shows its beautiful face!

Leslie Becker is a working actress and the author of The Organized Actor®, the #1 selling organizational tool for actors for 15 years.

Seven Deadly Singing Sins > Article on Back Stage

In his article The Seven Deadly Singing Sins, John Henry summarizes the seven biggest mistakes and incorrect beliefs that singers fall victim to, and teaches singers how to avoid them.

John Henry’s List of The Seven Deadly Singing Sins:

  • 1) Studying Opera to Sing Other Styles
  • 2) Trying to Sing from the Diaphragm
  • 3) Going for Power Too Soon
  • 4) Trying to Place the Voice
  • 5) Dropping Keys to Avoid High Notes
  • 6) Letting Style Be a Collection of Weaknesses
  • 7) Not Studying with a Teacher

If you’re a singer looking for some great advice, check out this article on Back Stage. Read it HERE!

Have you fallen for these deadly singing traps? Do you have any advice for other singers? Please share!

Demos: Your Top 10 FAQ’s > Article by David Goldberg

David Goldberg, founder of Edge Studio and friend of ArtistUpgrade, wrote an article on VoiceOverXtra.com that answers your top 10 FAQ’s about voiceover demos. The questions he addresses are:

  • How long should my demo be?
  • What type of demo should I make?
  • Where do I get demo scripts?
  • Can I use copyrighted materials?
  • What really goes on a demo?
  • Who should record my demo?
  • What format should my demo be?
  • How many copies of my demo should I get?
  • What artwork should go on my demo?
  • When should I update my demo?

For answers to all these questions, Check out the article!

June is Audiobook Month > Article by Elizabeth Holmes

Our Voiceover Client of the Month and wonderful ArtistUpgrade family member, Elizabeth Holmes, wrote another article for VoiceOverXtra.com. In this article, entitled Help Boost Audiobook Listening: Promote June ‘Audiobook Month’, Elizabeth shares information about the Audio Publishers Association’s annual Audiobook Month campaign to enhance the visibility and popularity of audiobooks. This year’s campaign is called “Get Caught Listening” and encourages narrators and listeners alike to spread the audiobook love in any way they can, including social media updates, photos, word of mouth, contests, and more. As an avid audiobook listener (she has listened to over a thousand audiobooks), Elizabeth is a voiceover artist whose dream is to narrate novels like her mentor, Carol Monda. Her other article for VoiceoverXtra – “A Perfect ‘Holmes’ Studio” – describes how she created her very own red curtained home studio. Check it out!

June 1st is still a little ways away, but it’s never to early to start planning how you’d like to promote audiobooks. I think I’ll be making a trip to the New York Public Library to check out a few. It’s an art form, and I greatly admire the narrators!

9 Steps to Getting Your Website Noticed > SEO Article by Andy Tilbrook

Many independent artists come to ArtistUpgrade looking for a website that can boost their online presence in the marketplace. We do everything we can here to ensure that your website is search-able by Search Engines such as Google, but there is no way for us to guarantee that your name will pop up first in an internet search for “female voice talent” or “new york city actor”. If you’re looking for Search Engine Optimization in that capacity, we suggest you invest in an SEO expert. However, there are still many free tricks and tools that we can apply to your website to boost your search rankings. In the February 2011 edition of The Costco Collection, Andy Tilbrook writes an article entitled Nine Steps to Getting Your Website Noticed, in which he outlines 9 steps you can take to reach a wider audience in cyber-space. You can read the full article HERE. Below is a summary…

1. Submit your site to Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Links:

2. You can also submit your site to dmoz, an open directory project that links to Google’s directory. Apparently, when you submit your site to dmoz, it will be checked by “real human beings”. That’s a plus. Although, as Andy says, “human beings” tend to “take their time”.

3. A sitemap gives search engines a list of your website’s contents. Andy suggests going to www.xml-sitemaps.com if you need help generating a site map for your site.

4. Content is king! Make sure the text in your website is relevant to what potential customers/clients may be searching for when they type into a search engine.

5. Keywords are hidden within the code of your website and should cover the search terms that visitors may use. At ArtistUpgrade, we use keywords (and meta tags, described in step 8.) on every one of our sites to optimize search results. Ironically, though, google doesn’t take any account of keywords. But other search engines do!

6. Photos can help search engines if you’re smart with naming them. Titling a picture “joe-smith-headshot.jpg”, for example, will help, whereas “myfavpic1.jpg” will not.

7. Links from other sites to yours can boost your rankings, so get involved with forums, social media, and the like, and link back to your site.

8. Meta tags, as Andy explains, “are optional HTML coding elements that provide information about a Web page.” Meta tags should succinctly describe the contents of your website, and each page description should be different. ArtistUpgrade always uses relevant and informational meta tags on all our websites.

9. Use relevant headings on your website – they are “essential reading for search-engine robots”. If they feature your site’s keywords, even better.

There ya go! Free ways to make your website search-engine optimized. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your name will be at the top of the list when someone types in “Awesome LA actress” in the Google search bar, but it will certainly raise your website’s profile in the infinitely large cyber-space.

The Art of the Pitch > Secret Agent Man Content

I was browsing through articles on Back Stage, as I do, and came across this really neat article “The Art of the Pitch” by the Secret Agent Man. By sharing his insights on how agents (like himself) go about pitching their actors, this Secret Agent Man actually gives some helpful advice for actors. AND what’s even cooler – he’s holding a contest, The Secret Agent Man Contest, through Back Stage, in which he invites actors to pitch themselves in 100 words or less. The winner receives a free 1 year subscription to Back Stage. 2nd and 3rd prize winners receive a free 6 month subscription. Pretty cool, eh? It’s a chance to practice pitching yourself when it comes time to meet an agent!

Entries are due by Friday, March 11. Check out the Article on Back Stage for more information.