Voice Registry Podcast-Tracy Pattin Talks Again to VO Marketing Expert, Tori Hartman (Part 2)April 14, 2010 by: Tracy Pattin
Tori Hartman began her voiceover work at the suggestion of her publisher, who wanted her to record one of her books on tape. Two weeks later, she was in a studio launching her new career. In 2005, Tori opened what has become The Garage 247, a full service voiceover recording studio. The Garage specializes in low-cost ISDN and has become a vital gathering place for new and established voice talent. She’s just launched her VO marketing teams where actors help each other with networking and marketing strategies.
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This is Part Two of my interview with Tori Hartman check out last week’s podcast for Part One
Tracy: Tori, how do you do that? I mean what advice do you give to voice actors in finding that truest self?
Tori: You know one of the best pieces of advice that I ever got was probably on Bo Weaver’s website and I love Bo Weaver and he is so talented. He said “You’ve got to give them the impression you’re not going to go away” and so the best advice I can give any voice talent is don’t be in a rush. Learn your craft and the more unlike this, any other section of this business is about peeling away the layers of who you are. We don’t have any thing else but the voice to go on.
Tori: So you have to believe me when I am talking to, you know you have to go “I am going to invest in that voice” in that moment “I believe her over her” and I am not always the best read, you know. Sometimes I am dead on when I am doing what I do but you know I’ll always bring me to the table and your either going to buy me or your not.
Tori: You know
Tracy: Hence the specs and dealing with the specs and often they don’t even go by the specs after the fact, right? You hear the commercial and go “wait, that wasn’t the specs” but they go with the authentic read.
Tori: I think the other thing is people really don’t know the difference between radio and television reads. They really don’t get that there are completely different reads. Like radio read you are the whole world and your voice has to be an actor’s voice, so on radio you are going to hear the voice, your going to hear a lot more actors. On TV your matching a product, so your read is as they say flatter, I love when they say “more energy” and what they are saying is that you are just not really committed to the copy.
Tracy: Oh yeah
Tori: See if your not committed to something, it’s like being in a relationship you can tell when that guy’s slipping away or if that girl is like “she’s not interested in you” because you feel it. And it is the same thing with copy, if you think you are going to get away with it your wrong, you know?
Tracy: Yeah exactly, it is interesting as voice actors we know when we are believable you feel it, you just know it.
Tori: And I think that gets in to the technique stuff but when it comes right down to it, it really is about forming relationships with people in this industry and that’s what I teach in the marketing stuff. It’s about people knowing you and trusting you because you are showing up to help them first, you know? There is a famous saying and I forgive me I think it was a Napoleon saying that says, it might of even be Zig Ziglar guys and he said “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want”
Tracy: That’s great
Tori: And it really is about, you know being there for people and that was the thing for me with the marketing team. To be honest I went into it thinking okay great this is going to be an extra source of income but at the end of the day I have lowered the prices so much that it’s not even much money. But what is coming to me the value of these wonderful people and this community we have created, we have a team of voice over people who are wonderful people to be around. And they’re all next Saturday they’re going to one guys house to do vision boards, so you know they have created their own community of friendship with you know, I am going to tell you something at the end of the day it’s much more valuable because we are learning that now, all we really have is each other. I mean I get a lot of repeat clients, thank you God you know and I think when the business gets tough people turn to entertainment so I do believe we will see more work and I am not worried about Voice123. People say “Aren’t you worried about it taking?” and I’m like “No just imagine being a producer who has to listen to six hundred bad auditions”
Tori: I mean and you know really will still pay for quality.
Tracy: I think you are so right, in fact I was listening to Warren Buffet yesterday talking about the whole economy and the economic crisis and he sang it’s all about being the very best. Great, that’s great news, so what we have to do is rise to the top and those people as he was saying get hired over and over again and also community.
Tori: Yeah and also listen and look at people who are doing stuff great. Look at people like Mark Row who does great demos for people, look at the top people in the business, listen and learn from people like Cathy Calmenson, listen and learn from people. Gosh Voicebank is a source that’s beyond not just your podcast but I mean I am constantly pulling up Voicebank and listening to the top top top. Listen to Bill Ratner, listen to Ashton Smith, listen to these guys that have unique sounds and that are just nailing it Steve Mackall he is so loose. I mean you want to listen to people who that, that’s the way to learn, to really listen to the people that have got it. And by the way people like Bill Ratner their constantly marketing, one of the guys on my marketing team went to lunch with Bill Ratner and had a lovely conversation and brought it back to the team and said “Bill was fascinated with you are doing with marketing because we forget that we’ve got to constantly be letting people know” we’re in the closet
Tori: Right, we’re not sending a headshot out “Hi!” you know and it’s just we’ve got to let people know who we are and that’s so important.
Tracy: And Tori, what are some pieces of advice in that way. Okay so we have the agents, we get the auditions, we do that part but this other part this marketing in part one building community as you said and what else in letting people know your there.
Tori: Number One
Tracy: Number One
Tori: Number One is Relationships and you have go to tackle your relationships and I am not talking about you know “Hi, can you help me?” but you know the first thing I do with the team is I say “Okay, call people you know, let them know what you’re up to and say, Is there anyone you think I should meet because is there anyone that I can be of service to?” And sometimes you know one of the guys on the team the gentleman we are talking about Paul. You know he comes from a golf background he knows tons of people and you know saying to him, everybody has different challenges like he knows people at a higher echelon of business but you know he is also able to step in and say “hey, do you think there are people you think I should meet?”
Tori: And it’s amazing how people will say “Sure”
Tracy: People like to help
Tori: They really do and I think we like to help each other.
Tori: I think the thing is that we get fearful that person is going to get my job and I think that at the end of the day the relationships you form. It was great we had one producer, I booked like five campaigns through this one producer and we hade one producer and I said to him “Listen Mark, would you mind even just doing a phone with the team” and he said “Sure, not at all”. So I put him on speaker phone and I asked him some questions and he said “Can I give you a great piece of advice?” and everybody is like “Yeah” you know they are leaning into the phone and he says “Find about five people in this business that can hire you to champion you” and he said “you will work all the time” and he said “because” he used me as an example “Tori is somebody who always had this one sound” but what happens is people try to do to many things
Tori: So we try to be too much for too many and what I would say is, what you really want to do is find you and that your first demo should really be about knocking people in I know who that is and I know who that person coming into the booth. Don’t over produce it, don’t let me hear a hundred things that are not what you can deliver. Do you know the number one problem with the demo is that person, when they walk into the booth they can not deliver what they did on the demo.
Tracy: Yeah, I have heard a lot of producers complain about that and casting directors.
Tori: And that’s the thing is that if you really want just nail down your type again and again and my current demo that is on my website the Tori Hartman voice over website
Tracy: Which is a great website by the way
Tracy: Check out her website it’s just torihartman.com right?
Tori: No its torihartmanvoiceover.com, that’s where my voice over stuff is.
Tracy: and they can Google your name
Tori: Mhm and so that’s where my voice over demo is and my voice over demo on there is a compilation of all of my work. So it seems a little out there but you start to get a story of who I am in it and you want a story of who the person is, listen to demos who are with the top agencies because they got there for a reason.
Tori: And I will tell you something listen to enough excellence and it can’t help but affect you.
Tracy: And there is another business tip I have heard this over and over again in business, in any business, whatever you want to go into find the people who are doing it at the top of their field and connect with them and find out how they, study them.
Tori: And that’s the thing that this producer said he said you know here is something where and I have to be honest with yall he asked me to do this whole narration series for a wine campaign it was a wine a campaign and I was like “Oh, no that’s not my thing, I am not narration, I am kind of perky and cute” and he said “No, I think you can do it” and I got to tell you when you are in the situation and you have the headsets on and the producer is on the other end of the line and he is saying “so just go ahead and give me a take” you just have to step into it with courage and just read. And what they do, what really good director, producers do is it’s like landing the plane with instruments because they tell you how they want you to land. And the key is to be flexible and open and step out of your own fear because I said to him “Geeze I don’t know this isn’t my thing” and he said “listen to me, I am going to tell you how to read, you just do it” and I said “okay” and he walked me through my first real narration piece and I thought wow and it opened up a whole other facet but I didn’t have that on my demo prior because it wasn’t an area I was comfortable in, due the stuff on your demo that you are really comfortable and confident in first.
Tori: You can expand as you get a great agent here in town and there are so many good ones, I mean really. AS you get a really cool agent here in town what is going to happen is they’ll kind of get to know your sound a little “And yeah I can bring Tori in for you know New York or I can bring so and so for the tough guy” you know or whatever and they’ll expand your repertoire. Don’t try and be everything on a demo because it confuses people.
Tracy: I think that is such good advice, I think it is such good advice.
Tori: And by the way that is your first demo, I want to say because if your in this business you’re going to do at least three or four until they don’t suck anymore. (Laughs)
I got to tell you cause like
Tracy: Yes (Laughs) Exactly
Tori: It’s like oh my gosh and I got to tell you, it doesn’t matter who does your demo the chance are pretty good your first demo is going to be like “Oh my gosh, did I sound like that?”
Tori: It’s sort of like you know being drunk at a party and going “what did I say?”
Tori: But it’s true your demo is going to be like (Gasp) “That was me!” I can listen to my first demo and “go (sigh) I could hear the awkwardness” you know and the hind sight is twenty twenty. That is only what ten years later I can listen now and go (sigh)
Tracy: You know in writing they say you have go to write the crappy first draft
Tori: Well I always say write it wrong, just do it wrong
Tracy: Yes, just get it out there
Tori: Make the commitment and everything I have done in my life and I will say this is that it’s always been when people said to me I couldn’t do it or I shouldn’t do it or am wrong for it, that I just go “oh, alright” and I just do it anyway
Tracy: Oh yeah, okay
Tori: Because if you let to many people, give you too much advice you will never get out of your house
Tori: I got to a point with the voice over thing, I did everything in order, I got a demo together it was okay but I couldn’t get an agent in this town so I got an agent in Atlanta and then I booked my first job in Atlanta and I didn’t have an ISDN and I went “what is an ISDN?” and they called me from my dial up’s and I was like “what’s that?”
Tori: You know and when I needed it, luckily I found a buddy of mine that lived in Simi Valley. I drived all the way out there at like six in the morning and I did the session in his closet, his ISDN and I thought this is crazy, if I need this other people need this. Which is how the original studio happened and so I created the studio to help actors.
Tracy: And this is a great studio by the way, it is lovely lovely.
Tori: Thank You, well I mean more than anything it’s like at the end of the day all that voice talent care about really, is can I get the job, is this going to make me money and do I get to work? Because you know talent we just want to work.
Tracy: Yes, exactly
Tori: What I did hear was I created a place where it’s $75 and hour for ISDN, people can come in we charge actors half hour rates our rates our higher to producers but when the actors pay and they do their own session, they can keep a gig in another city so we do a lot of that stuff. I have a lot of relationships with regional agents which is how the whole thing happened with the marketing team because initially people were like “I want agents in other cities” and so that’s what I was teaching but it became “wait a second guys, you need to be making a living in voice over”
Tori: So we have expanded that really the whole definition. The studio here, what I did was I wanted a place where actors didn’t feel like poor relatives that they could come in and work with pride that they were paying an honest dollar for their session. And you know you go to most studios in town and they would treat you like, you are our after thought, here voice talent is our main thought that’s what we are here for. It’s not always easy, if somebody said to me let’s open a studio now I would say “No way” you know.
Tracy: You’re here and it’s great that you are.
Tori: But it’s here and it’s what I am doing.
Tracy: And you have the most fabulous backyard too (Laughs)
Tori: Well, it’s nice because I have had, one of the things that have grown out of here is that we have had a lot of celebrities that like to come here and do their documentaries because they love sitting in the yard and it’s quiet so nobody bothers them and you know there is a nice team of people that come here. People who come gosh you know they don’t want to drive over to Santa Monica to their agency, so you know they come in here and do $1.00 a minute auditions but you know Huck does it too over at Voice Casters over in the valley and I think Voice Tracks does it too. So there is a lot of people now doing it but I will be honest with you I’m just glad, people go “aren’t you worried about competition?” and I go “no, I’m happy” because it means that there’s more work coming to LA and my mission is to make sure that we become a portal to LA talent, so that there is more work funneled here because we have a great talent pool, we really do.
This has been Part Two of my interview with Tori Hartman; join me next time for Part Three.
This Voice Registry podcast is brought to you by Voicebank.net