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    Marc Scott: VOs and firefighting

    Marc Scott is a full time voice talent from, Ontario, Canada. When his mic is off, he volunteers as a firefighter. In both cases,  he is ready for emergencies because voice auditioning and promoting his VOs  services keep him busy even during the night. Marc left the comfort of being a radio broadcaster to become his own boss at the head of his own home studio. It’s quite an engaging interview full of sound advice from Marc on customer service and e-marketing. Marc says P2P sites are useful to develop relationships with potential clients, but landing jobs is still hard with a rate of 20 auditions for one job.

    Marc, who are you outside the recording studio? Who is Marc Scott?

    Well, I was a radio guy for many, many years. I started for radio back in 1995 and that was basically the same time I started voice acting, although the two go hand in hand for a lot of people. I was a radio announcer and broadcaster for a number of years and when that came to an end, I decided to do voiceover full-time. I started that last year actually. I’ve started doing voiceover full-time for a year so that really becomes a big part of who you really is.

    In addition to that, I’m also a volunteer firefighter so if I’m not recording a voiceover, there’s a distinct possibility that maybe I’m out on a fire truck somewhere.

    How did you get into the voiceover industry? Was it something that you’ve always wanted to do since you were young or did you just stumble upon it and want to give it a try? 

    I always knew I wanted to do radio. From the time that I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to do radio. You know, as a kid, I don’t know that I actually understood what voiceover was or there was a thing as a voiceover. My very first experiences in radio before they ever let me in on air, I was working as a high school student. My job was doing voiceover commercials. They were handing me voiceover commercials every day. I enjoyed doing that.

    And, as my broadcasting career grew, I made more contacts through networking and things like that and before I knew it, people started using me for voiceover work and it was something that I never thought of sitting down and doing it. It just sort of happened and I enjoyed it so I decided I was going to do it on the side for fun. Last year, when the opportunity presented itself for me to give it a shot full-time, I thought, “Hey, what’s better than being your own boss?” So, it happened by chance that I ended up doing it full-time.

    In previous interviews with other voice actors I’ve learned that there is a broad spectrum of categories when it comes to voice acting. What are your specialties?

    I do a lot of video stuff: internet videos, training videos. I have a couple of long-term clients that I’ve worked with for a couple of years for doing e-learning stuff. Character voices, it’s something that fascinates me but something that I definitely do not do. So, no cartoons, no characters, no video games or anything like that.

    Let’s proceed to pay-to-play sites. I’ve been hearing about these sites and I’ve briefly looked into them. Could you give us more detail on the purpose of these sites? 

    I think if you ask five different voice actors about pay-to-play sites, you’re going to get five different opinions. I happen to think that they’re great for people who don’t live in major centers like New York, Los Angeles, or Toronto. I do think that they give opportunities and I do a ton of work in pay-to-play sites. I generate a lot of work. I’d say probably 70% of my regular clients now, those relationships started in pay-to-play sites. So, I think that if you’re smart about how to use them and obviously if you have a skillset because the common misconception is that anybody with a microphone can just get the money and become a voice talent overnight. That’s not going to work because you have to have a skillset to go along with it. I spend a lot of time in them. I’m auditioning every single day and I’m booking jobs every single week.

    What steps are involved in pay-to-play sites?

    Basically, the way that they work, you pay for an annual fee and for that fee, you get to put your profile in their system. You get to list every detail about your skills and your equipment. You get to upload all your demos to the site and then you will receive invitations to audition projects that match your profile. I think there are some that allows you to list yourself for free but you don’t have the opportunity to audition for jobs. You only get a job in a free listing is that if somebody contacted you directly from the site.

    Let’s touch the business side of the voiceover industry. For you, at what point does voiceover become a business?

    Well, I think for me personally, I’ve always treated it with a sense of a business because of the fact that I’m providing a service to a client. I want to make sure that I’m providing them quality service especially since they’re paying me for it. In that regard, it’s got a business sense to it and that’s regardless if you’re doing one job a month or one job a day. You still need to make sure that you maintain a professional sense about it.

    Now, as far as making the move of going full-time, it took me a long time. It took me a long time before I convinced myself that I could actually make a go for it full-time. What people fail to realize is that people think that it’s a very easy thing to do. You just buy yourself a microphone, you just buy yourself a computer and there you go, you’re a voice actor and you’re going to start making a lot of money. That’s not the case. I sometimes put in 10 to 16-hour days. Clients are calling me any hour from day to night. In that sense, it requires a lot of commitment and you have to treat it like a business if you want to succeed.

    Can you share some general business tips for voice actors who want to go full-time?

    You need to be committed. You need to have a skill whether it’s coaching or training because it’s not just simply having the voice and a microphone. You need to be able to handle rejection very well. I can tell you there are weeks where I submit 50-70 auditions and I might only book three of those. It’s not an easy thing. You just don’t book a job so you definitely need to prepare for that and you need to keep your attitude positive as well because if you look at those numbers and it’s really easy to get discouraged.

    But, you have to remember that there are a lot of people auditioning for this. You also have to remember that you’re not going to match every single job you audition for. It’s not perfect. So, you definitely have to have a thick skin when it comes to that. Persistence is the key. I’ve been doing it full-time for a little over a year. The first few months were never easy. I didn’t even know if I was going to pull it off. I was dusting off my resume and thinking whether or not it’s time to find another radio job again. You definitely have to have persistence and stick-to-it-iveness.

    I’m sure there are cases of negative clients and other complicated clients. How do you go about working with these sorts of clients?

    You know what, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in. Whether you’re a clerk in a grocery store or whether you’re doing voice over. There will always be people that you’re not going to be able to please. The thing that you always need to remember is that 99% of the time, it has nothing to do with you. They had a bad day. They’re just grouchy to begin with. I mean, there’s all kinds of reasons why that may be and I think that the most important thing that you can do is just kill them with kindness. Treat every client like they’re your best client. Some of them are going to respond, some are not but at least you walk away with your integrity and commitment to providing excellent service. I think that’s one of the reasons why I have so many clients that are really clients.

    I think that customer service is just absolutely essential. Just remember the times that you’ve gone out, a time that you’ve gone out to a restaurant and think about the time that you really had awesome customer service and how that made you feel. Now, think of the time that you had a poor customer service and how that made you feel. Just put yourself on the other side of the coin. Now is your opportunity to provide someone with really good service.


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