MixWerk

by | Jan 26, 2012 | International, Interview | 6 comments

Germany.  Home of the Fraunhofer mp3 algorithm, Steinberg audio, and Neumann microphones.

Now add MixWerk Studios, Berlin to your Deutsche dictionary.

MixWerk showed up on my radar, when the founder — Uwe Engel — posted a complimentary comment to an article on my blog.  Not having heard of MixWerk, I began a brief email correspondence with Uwe, which resulted in the Question & Answer session you will see below.

Engel’s replies to my queries constitute a fascinating peek into a branch of opportunity not enough North American voice talent are taking full advantage of:  foreign markets.

Take a moment to read through Engel’s insightful answers as you plan your European marketing strategy.  Pay special attention to his answer to question #5 (I also appreciate the sentiment in his answer for question #8)

Uwe Engel’s brief bio: 20 years voice recording, mainly vocal and speech recording in Germany.  Founder of Mixwerk in 2004.  Since then, over 200 clients in 20 countries. Mixwerk offers voice recordings in 2 ISDN studios in Berlin/Germany with  voices from 40 countries

Thanks Uwe!

CourVO

Below, our Q & A:

1)  Would you please give a brief history of Mixwerk…how did it start?  Who are the principle founders?  What are the goals of your business?

Mixwerk was founded in 2004 in Berlin. We started as a voice over producer for Native Instruments, which develops well known Software Instruments. Our first challenge was to record their tutorial DVD for “Traktor”, a DJ Tool, in english and Japanese. Since then we worked for over 200 clients all over the world in 40 languages. Mixwerk was founded by Uwe Engel, who had 20 years experience in music recording. Now we are 4 people working to produce high quality voice recordings for our clients.

2)  What’s your business model?  Who are your clients?  What does Mixwerk principally do?

Clients are big brands and advertisement agencies from Europe and the US.  Our clients get full service, which means we offer them voices from our database, record them and finalize the recordings in the post production. Our core competence is to work very reliable with state of art audio equipment and do this within a very short timeframe. We do a lot of ISDN recordings and ADR even with picture.

3.) Do you keep a “stable” of preferred male and female talent for your clients?  If so, what languages?

We do not have preferred voices although we mostly do know which voice talents fits which clients needs. We have in our database voice talents in 40 languages.

4.) Do you see the opportunities for voice over talent in ALL countries and languages to be greater in the years ahead?

Principally we all are globalisation “winners”. Furthermore the production costs for voice over are going down. So more and more clients want to localize their content. So yes, all countries we have a benefit of that.

5.)  Is Mixwerk actively seeking talent of all languages for global clients?

We are always seeking very good voice talents from all over the world.

6)  What are the main challenges for North American voice talent in entering the global marketplace?

Our main challenge with North American voice talents is that for our German clients they need to speak some German words, like cities, names like Germans do. Our American voices that are living here in Germany know how to speak german words in English. So for our big clients like the automobile industry, they tend to use people who know the German culture or country. On the other hand many clients wants to attend the recording session and see everything in real. So it is always a bit difficult just to do it via ISDN or Skype.

7.)  Would you recommend ISDN for North American talent who are serious about growing their international client base?

We would recommend to have a software for ISDN like Source Connect.

8.)  Are you familiar with Bodalgo’s business model?…and if so, would you consider them an ally or a competitor?

They are not our “ally”. They have clients which do not pay the prices that we demand for our service. Of course, they have an official price list, but nobody knows the final price that a voice talent agreed on with the client. Secondly it is not a good relationship to the customers when the payment is based on a “myhammer” model. We now some voice artists that get some clients from this online platform and others, like all the “good earning voice talents” that we know are not working with them. But the market for the online voice over business is growing faster than the “premium” market. This is why one could have the impression this online market will be the big thing in the future. We believe that all business models will grow in the future, so there will be place for all business models.

9.)    What suggestions would you give talent in Canada or the USA if they were interested in finding more voice work in Europe?

Make an online research and simply apply to the relevant companies. Or better – if you know some professional voice here in Europe asked them to introduce you to the main important agencies.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Paul Strikwerda

    There are some great nuggets in this interview, Dave!

    I echo Uwe’s words when it comes to being able to pronounce foreign words correctly. There’s a big difference between the French pronunciation of “Notre Dame” and the American “No-derr-Dame”.

    The rest of the world is willing to learn and speak English, so, there’s no real incentive for Americans to study other languages. I think your educational system has something to do with that too. In my impression, more people from the U.K. are able to speak at least one other language.

    Personally, I’d like to compare voice-overs to opera singers. Singers spend years learning the pronunciation of different languages. They immerse themselves in the culture of countries like Germany and Italy. It’s part and parcel of a professional preparation for an international career. In my imaginary Voice-Over Academy, I’d make language studies part of the curriculum too!

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Paul,

      Imaginary voice over academy, huh? Hmmm. Do I sense a career offshoot? 🙂

      Thanks for the comment… Engel’s admonition struck a chord with me, too. In the news, we’re expected to “Americanize” most foreign terms, but that’s getting harder and harder to do in the SW’ern states, and hold on to Hispanic viewers. The same holds true for VO.

      best,

      Dave C

      Reply
  2. Rick Lance

    Very interesting little interview here, Dave! And appreciate your comment , Paul, regarding proper pronunciation and language. I’ve noticed that for a long time most Europeans have been learning English since grade school… as a requirement. When I’ve been overseas it never ceases to amaze me watching the arrogance of Americans not even TRYING to understand the language or culture they are visiting as GUESTS. But this is another matter for another time.

    I am just as guilty wrestling with scripts filled with city names, people names, etc. that need to be properly pronounced. Many times I’ve just opted out and passed on the audition. Yes, a cop out. This, of course, is why Uew relies on local American/UK talent to hire for his clients.

    Looks like the question regarding Bodalgo (I’m a member) hit a nerve with Uwe. Feeling that he would rather pay for better talent than may be available through that site. He’s come to know his business well … and his market.

    Good to hear this perspective! Paul, I knew you would chime in quickly. You’ve touched on this subject before. Maybe you can elaborate for us in a future blog.
    Forgive me if you already have. Remember, I’m just a dumb American!

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Rick,

      Your final comment makes me think I’ll start a social media group called “Justa Dumb American”, and we’ll sit around and mispronounce things! (kidding!!)

      Thanks for your contributions, here…you’re right, I kinda got the feeling that he wasn’t too keen on Bodalgo either.

      best,

      Dave Courvoisier

      Reply
  3. Paul Strikwerda

    As an American citizen, I would never call my fellow-countrymen (and women) ‘dumb’. Because the rest of the world has adopted your language, there is less need for or interest in learning another language. I understand that.

    I was privileged to be born in The Netherlands. It’s such a small country, the Dutch just have to learn other languages in order to survive and thrive. Kids in Holland grow up watching foreign TV stations, listening to many accents. That really helps.

    Had I been born on this side of the Atlantic, I might have had the same linguistic challenges as some of my colleagues seem to have.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Paul,

      I know…I know…I said I was kidding! I’ve always found it a lamentable deficiency in the American education system that foreign language-learning falls so far down the priority list. It’s made Americans LOOK dumb sometimes…or arrogant. I sometimes wonder how long English will enjoy the status it has on the world stage. Just think…how many seemingly insurmountable differences in our world could be solved by a common language! A Pollyanna view to be sure, still….

      Dave C

      Reply

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