Voice Over Education Blog

February 2015

Some people work for a song, and love it. Should you add singing to your voice-over repertoire?

We know a voice over artist who says, “I’m not a singer, but I play one in the shower.” If that describes you, consider putting singing ability on your resume.

Not that you should do that this instant. Professional casting people will easily see through resume-padding, and even more important, it’s counterproductive to promise something you can’t deliver. But not every song is scripted to be sung by a golden-throated warbler, let alone operatically intoned. If your spoken-voice talent is saleable, there may be additional singing-voice work for you, even if you can only carry a tune. In any case, as with spoken VO, experience through training and practice is makes the difference between padding and true capability.

If you truly have what it takes to be a professional session singer, this article isn’t meant for you. (But welcome, anyway!) You should develop either a Jingles demo (a variety of singing styles within the Commercials genre), or a Singing Vocal demo (a variety of singing genres). Learn more about that in these articles:

Jingles and Singing - How do I get into this?

How do you make your Jingle Jangle? by Carolee Goodgold

For the confirmed Shower Singer with solid spoken-VO experience, you might yourself develop a demo that spans multiple genres, as well as including a singing snippet in your spoken demo(s) for the respective genre(s).

What genres might those be? Glad you asked...

The Ultimate Animal Dub The addicting works of Andrew Grantham, voice of the “Talking Animals Channel”

Just about anyone can talk. But it takes special skill to get folks to listen. If you’ve haunted YouTube at all, among the zillions of animal videos you’ve seen some critters that speak. They’re cute, but even puppies and kittens get stale after awhile, and the talking variety are usually not so entrancing as their creators probably intended.

Then, there is the work of Andrew Grantham. For good reason, his “Ultimate Dog Tease” was YouTube’s #1 Video of the Year in 2011, and he has produced a steady stream of animal dubs that are hilarious, touching, and addictive.

What has made his work so special?

As the magazine Fast Company observed in 2013,

“Grantham has taken the art to a new level—his particular brand of comedic writing, voice characterizations and clever editing combine in a way that seemingly reveals a dog or cat's innermost self.”

It’s all in the personality

That is the key point. It’s not just a matter of dubbing. It starts with the personality, the acting. Although he has six cats and a dog of his own, Grantham begins his process by reviewing a thousand or so videos of other people’s pets. Pet owners have sent him innumerable candidates, not all of which meet his production criteria, and it can take more than a week to review a couple thousand. He tries to find one that “speaks” to him. Says Grantham: “When you sit down and really pay attention, especially with the sound off, to the expressions of an animal in a video, it’s almost like a story emerges without even trying. If not, it’s the wrong video.”

Voice Over Freelancer Tax Tips, 2015 Edition PART TWO

NOTE: This is the second post in a two-part article. Click here to read part one!

As we noted in our previous installment, the art of voice over is also a business. As your voice over business changes over time, so might its needs. And so might its tax-related opportunities. Here’s a list of some things you may have been too busy to deal with before, or may have overlooked ...

Reminder: Estimated income tax payments are due quarterly.

If you don’t file and pay estimated taxes when due, you may incur penalties when you file at the end of the year. That’s just one reason for keeping timely, accurate records. For estimating taxes, said tax accountant Jonathan Medows in a December 2014 interview with Freelancers Union, “a third of your estimated profit, I think is always a safe figure. You may owe a few dollars, you may get back a few dollars, but that’s always a safe number in terms of estimated tax planning.”

Reminder: You may apply for an extension of the filing deadline, but your taxes are still due by April 15. It’s an extension for submitting your forms; it does not extend the deadline for payment. Since you haven’t done your forms yet, you’ll have to estimate the amount due. See above.

Voice Over Freelancer Tax Tips, 2015 Edition PART ONE

NOTE: This is the first post in a two-part article. Stay tuned next week for part two!

It’s that time of year again. One of the best tax tips we can offer is a time-tested one: Treat yourself like a business. Not only will that make you eligible for deductions that mere “hobbyists” cannot take, businesslike practices are the only reliable way to know how you’re doing and see how to grow. And in the long run, running a businesslike operation will also save you time.

That said, there are some new things to consider for 2015.

(Please note: Although we’re confident of the general validity of these tips, things change, details matter, and everyone’s situation is unique. This list might be incomplete and requirements change. Refer to your tax advisor or tax-software publisher for guidance and additional information.)


* Allow for the Affordable Care Act penalty tax, subsidy repayment, or paperwork. As we understand it, if all members of your household had adequate health insurance coverage throughout 2014 and did not receive a subsidy, you’ll find the ACA reporting pretty simple, just tick a box.

But if you were uninsured or underinsured, or insured less than nine months of the year, you may be hit with a penalty. However, this year it is a relatively small penalty, and there are dozens of possible exemptions from the insurance requirement. You may need to fill out an elaborate worksheet.

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