Two short months from today (4-12-12) the 4th rendition of VOICE will kick off in SoCal.
#1 was in Vegas in 2007, #2 in 2008 in Century City, #3 also in Century City in 2010, and now VOICE2012 at the Disneyland Hotel, June 13-16 (but the Red Carpet reception is on the 12th). I’ve been a host or co-host for all of them, and now a presenter for the second time this June.
I say all that not to thump my breast, but as someone who’s been on the inside, and who knows all the personalities, challenges, and logistics of putting on an event like this.
I wanna be brutally honest my in myth-busting today, ’cause I’ve heard the remarks, and the questions whether this is a worthwhile investment, and who benefits from the event.
Myth #1: VOICE is just for newbies. Wrong. Newbies probably have the most to gain, but voice actors of all experience-level will get a strong return-on-investment. While the up-and-coming novice will fill their plate with the tips on making a good demo or audition secrets…the more experienced can look for new niches and keep up with trends. Commercial voice actors might want to attend an audiobook seminar to take advantage of this red-hot sector. I’m not gonna lie…some of the presenters are looking for new students to build their classes. That’s OK. I don’t see one coach on the schedule who hasn’t earned their stripes. My presentation on Social Media with Terry Daniel and Trish Basanyi barely resembles the info we shared in 2010.
Myth #2: James and Penney make a killing in profit on this event. Neither of the gracious executive producers of this event have shared their balance sheet with me, so I have no definitive answer for you. However, I’ve seen the work they put into this. Hours and hours. They started planning well over a year ago. There are endless details. Endless. They have a paid staff. They invest upfront dollars. They cross their fingers people will even show up. There is overhead, headaches, and heady issues to deal with. Did I mention how much time they put into this? I’m not sure what profit comes into their pockets in the end, but as far as I’m concerned, they earn every dime, I don’t think anyone would bedrudge them a net gain for the the risk they take and the time they invest.
Myth #3: The event costs too much. Have you done a weekend workshop with Pat Fraley, Bettye Zoller, or David Goldberg? These are some of the top VO coaches in the country, and they’re not cheap. A weekend with any one of them equals your price of admission to VOICE2012. But you’re not just getting the three I named…you’re getting about 25+ others, and the personal one-on-one access to them that comes with your attendance. Then there’s the conversations with peers, hallway chats, and after-hours schmoozing. I know an East Coast attendee can plan on dropping about $1500 for this trip. I can’t think of a place in the VO universe where you could get a better bang for your buck. It’s an investment in your business and tax deductible.
Myth #4: Disneyland? Really? Mousketeer jokes aside, it makes not one bit of difference where this event is held as long as there are adequate meeting rooms, decent restaurants, and reasonable room rates. I know a number of attendees who plan to bring the family. That way EVERYBODY has a good time, and doesn’t have to put up with mom or dad’s stuffy conference. There are still opportunities to match up with someone seeking a roomate, and just about every airline has special rates for Disneyland vacations. From what I’ve heard The Disneyland Hotel is bending over backwards to meet our needs. James and Penny had doubts at first, too, but when they saw the facilities and accommodations being offered…they said it was a slam-dunk.
Myth #5: The Conference is too long. I can see the argument. If you arrive for the Red Carpet event on Tuesday, and leave on Sunday, that’s a good chunk of a week. Day passes are available, although that’s probably only a good deal for people within driving distance. Exhibitor passes are possible, too. My experience has been, though, that when you come and meet, and talk, and relax with the attendees and the presenters, you start feeling part of a community, and you also start believing in yourself as a successful and contributory part of this business. I’ve attended shorter conferences, and sometimes they seem like a flash in the pan. Leave a day early if you have to, but my guess is, you’ll see the wisdom of the schedule the way it’s arranged.
Honorable mention myths:
Southern California shouldn’t be the only place to hold VOICE. You’re right. It could be held in almost any other city. Unfortunately, the producers live there, have connections there, and — most importantly — are able to tap into the deepest, richest vein of capable, accomplished coaches and presenters anywhere…even better than NYC..although it’s a close match. Hollywood still is the #1 market for voice-actors, actors, film, agents, ADR, video games, animation….the list goes on. If this event was not in SoCal, that caliber of coach would not be as readily accessible.
The event is too “controlled” and rigid. Anyone who’s attended FaffCon would concur. I’ve been to both, and clearly the “unconference” format has it’s strengths. But let’s face it, there are a lot of different crayons in the color box, and some people just thrive better at an event that’s structured. This is that kind of event. Everything’s laid out, planned, scheduled, and pre-determined. There are advantages.
I’ll miss work while I’m there. Not likely, as you’ll be bringing your mobile set-up, right? There’s fast Wi-Fi that comes to your room. The whole conference and all your peers will be dripping with equipment, and willingness to help. On top of all that, VOICE has arranged to have an ISDN Booth ready for anyone to use during the conference…all you have to do is be sure to schedule your time on it. Cool!
Even with all those arguments, you may decide VOICE2012 is not for you. Absolutely. No one is going to argue with you. There are many variables that go into an expensive, time-consuming decision like this…but don’t let anyone convince you to be absent from this event for the sake of believing one of the top 5 myths…in my estimation, they just don’t hold water.