How Do You ‘Solve For X’ ?

Posted on May 20, 2008 by


Are you ever curious as to why you have not booked work, even though you did your very best? One of the toughest things to deal with in this industry is simply ‘not knowing why you did not book a job’.

This is even more difficult to deal with when the reaction to your work was very positive. In the regular business world, you are occasionally given a courtesy phone call or email to tell you, ‘Thanks, but we are going with someone else right now. We will keep your resume on file.’

However, the creative business world does not always offer that consideration, if ever at all. The online world does not even give you a not-so-charming, ‘NEXT!’. The very first agent I freelanced with once told me, after I lost out in a commercial in the final callback, was ‘Steven! Talent-shhhmalent! Ya’ did ya’ best! That’s all ya’ can do!’.

What she referred to in her own NYC-savvy way is, ‘Not knowing’ is not easy to accept, but the truth is that people lose out on jobs for all sorts of reasons, usually for all the reasons we never expected or just do not sound right to us because we did everything that was asked of us. What was missing? What was the missing X factor? And where do you begin when ‘solving for X’?

Understanding the other side of the equation helps. Several factors might play a part:

  • The client was given what they asked for perfectly… and then realized they no longer liked it, or became bored with it.
  • The client wanted someone who sounded like someone they knew, but did not know how to describe it well enough. Therefore, the person was almost hired by accident for sounding like someone else.
  • Something, maybe a new experience, and/or a new epiphany caused this client to change his/her creative direction.

The creative industry is subjective, and therefore, people are booked for all the wrong reasons that we would never expect. This does not mean that the client does not recognize talent. It just meant they were not the right fit for the part. For that reason, you really can never explain to someone ‘Why didn’t I get the job?’, on a case by case basis.

Unless you want to hear strange things like, ‘That man sounded more like my sister than you did.’, you waste your time worrying about it. There is a creative team and idea behind every project. They come to talents to fill that need, and we are expected to know what they want all the time. That is impossible, but you can increase your odds.

  • Find coaches that help your voice grow as a product, and challenge you to become a better voice over talent. Attend classes to try new things, practice, and research things you may want to try in the future. Classes are a great safety net to try new ideas, fail miserably, and no harm was done.
  • Set goals for yourself, and treat your voice as a ‘business’ you are looking to sell. Figure out where you are now, and where you want to be in the future with your career. Just what types of voice overs can you do now, and what do you have to work on?
  • Market yourself efficiently. No one will know to come find you, if they do not know you exist. Learn what it means to market yourself online. It is very different from what we all did to get an agent’s or casting director’s attention.
  • Positive, supportive voice over friends & family, who understand what you do, to get professional and productive, unbiased opinions on your work. Explore the reasons for their feedback, and never take it personally.
  • Always make sure you are doing your best at all times behind the mic, remain flexible, while knowing just how far you will go, and what you will accept.

Let’s just say, you have been doing all this already… and even then, you may not sound like the client’s friend’s brother he met a party that told this funny joke… the whole inspiration behind the voice the client wanted.

Solving for ‘X’? It may just be the classic combination of hard work, a ‘never say die’ attitude towards doing something you love, and learning just how far you should go to achieve your goals.

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager

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