A hurdle that many novices will encounter along the way to VO stardom: production companies, pay-to-plays, and some booking agents who will either change your name, or offer a first name only (sometimes first name/last initial) in their online listings.
A VO friend of mine (we’ll call him MK) brought this to my attention lately, and I honestly hadn’t thought it through. The argument goes: you and your name are your brand. That’s what your reputation is built around. When you sacrifice that, there’s a serious disconnect with the end-client. Not to mention the fact that you will never be able to create a relationship with that client. There will always be a middle-man taking a piece of that action. You’re not helping the client solve their needs, you’re a fake name filling a slot that needs a voice.
I’ve been on an eLearning roster for years that sends me fairly consistent work…but whenever my audition goes out for consideration, the name associated with it is “Don”. Was I happy to get the work as I started my career? YES! But now I’m forever in a rut with this service. I can’t really grow my workload, nor personally help any of these clients solve their needs.
MK says: “…I had a producer before a session tell me, “Don’t forget if the client asks, you’re Jason Smith”. I replied ” No, I’m not doing that, sorry.”
Look, I’m not going to tell you how to run your business, but after you’ve paid your dues and created your own career… you might want to shy away from a service that puts a pseudonym on your voice.
MK goes on to say: “I understand with the advent of home studios, these companies are increasingly nervous about their clients deciding to go and work directly with the talent, but I think it’s a huge disservice to the talent. I’m sure some would disagree and are happy to book work under any name, but it’s a big picture problem as careers are being built and grown. It’s just one more obstacle that up-and-coming talent will have to overcome.”
Remember, we’re not in the business of voicing…we’re in the business of solving our customers’ problems, and meeting their needs. Yes, we offer a specific solution to targeted clients… but that means make a personal connection. Take that away through an alias, and you’ve lost your greatest gift to them.