Anybody who knows Rosi and me knows that we were performing musicians long before we embarked on our voiceover career. This year, in fact, we’ll celebrate 20 years with our current ensemble, Sol y Canto (www.solycanto.com) and 30 years that Rosi and I have performed Latin music together. With such longevity in our musical endeavors, why the switch to voiceover? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, our babies grew into teenagers, and we realized they needed us more than our touring schedule would allow. The second reason can be summarized in an old adage: How do you make a small fortune in the music business? Start out with a large fortune. Once we threw ourselves fully into building our VO business, one of the most pleasant surprises was “Hey, you can actually make a living at this!”
I have no regrets about our transition from music to voiceover, yet while we’re still performing occasionally, I have to admit that there’s a lot I miss about doing music full-time. In order to stay closer to home, we’ve had to do more engagements in smaller ensembles, as a duo or trio rather than our full sextet, and one of things I miss most is working regularly with that wonderful group of musicians. Not only for the camaraderie that comes from living together on the road, but also for the musical magic that happens when you play with the same people for a long time. You kind of start reading each other’s minds; you develop a trust that if you make a mistake your bandmates will have your back. Everyone does a completely different job, and the whole is much more than the sum of the parts.
After enjoying all kinds of friendly, satisfying and challenging collaborations with clients, agents and colleagues, I’ve come to realize that a lot of the same things that make a musical performance soar are also present in the process of adding our voices to different kinds of productions. Everyone has a job to do, and when they’re done well, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Here’s an example of how a “voiceover band” can put on a great show.
The producer: Much like the musical director in a band, the producer is in charge of making sure all the parts fit together. This entails clear communication between members of the creative team and coordination of schedules and jobs done.
You can’t play great music from a lousy score. A good producer knows that the VO talent, like all the professionals who work on their project, needs good copy, whether it’s for a commercial, e-learning, industrials or any other genre. We always find it helpful when the producer is willing to listen to our suggestions if we feel something could be expressed more clearly.
Experienced producers also understand that voiceover is a profession, and that VO talent need to be paid a professional fee. While we’re always willing to try to work with a producer to come up with a mutually acceptable fee, sometimes it becomes clear that they’re not willing to make the investment necessary to create the kind of work that we want to attach our names to, and we just have to let it go.