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Sounds Wilde
  • #pimpmyreel with Sounds Wilde

    Welcome to #pimpmyreel - your free, online voice reel & voice demo surgery.

    Every month I'll put a #pimpmyreel call out on Twitter.

    You follow me & tweet a link to your voice reel or voice demo @soundswilde.

    I follow you and DM you 3 ways you can make your voice reel or voice demo more awesome. 

    Each #pimpmyreel session will last from 2 - 8 hours depending on how much time I have that day and the number of responses.

    #pimpmyreel submissions will only be accepted via Twitter.

    The first #pimpmyreel will start on Sunday January 31 from 10am. See you there!

    And if you're wondering why you should listen to anything I say, have a quick listen to the voice reels & voice demos I produce.

    (Picture shamelessly stolen from James Baxter, taken during his voice reel session in November 2015.)

  • Sunday Sound - Sunday March 8 2015

    Happy International Women's Day everyone.

     

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

     "From a manufacturer’s perspective, failing to hire women is a serious blow to innovation" Why are there so few women in A/V?

    Having the courage to raise your hand: Soundgirls.org profile on trailblazing sound engineer Leslie Ann Jones, Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound

    "Let go of your pride and pick up some weights" - Kerrie Mondy on working on your physical strength to work in live sound

    Video game audio expert Karen Collins gives us the rundown of 10 inventions that changed the history of game sound

     

       

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    Debbie Harry on punk, refusing to retire & sex at 69

    How Björk broke the sound barrier and her thoughts on sexism

    The 10 best female drummers of all time

    Stevie Nicks looks back in Rolling Stone

     

     

    VOICE OVER

    Nancy Cartwright is best known as the voice of Bart Simpson. Here's how her road to fame began as a 10-year-old boy.

    Voice over pro (The Walking Dead game, voice of AT&T) Mara Junot on how a radio background can help you in VO

    What's the difference between announcer style and conversational style? Voice coach Abbe Holmes explains

    Do you have a healthy voice? Dr. Ann Utterback has 10 daily recommendations to follow.

     

     

    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    What leading feminists want to accomplish in 2015

    Why are creative women dismissed as "quirky"?

    10 women who "became men" to get ahead

    Dear DC comics, this is why you shouldn't leave creative little girls behind

    See you soon for the next Sunday Sound....

  • Sounds Wilde in 2014

    It's been an an interesting year. Lots of challenges balanced by unexpected gains.

    The biggest challenge and change was moving my studio in the middle of the year. I've welcomed a more relaxed (and quiet!) space for my studio and a (slightly) bigger voice booth and the pleasure of finally being able to offer clients a cup of tea! (the previous studio had no kitchen facilities).

    I've missed working in Shoreditch more than I thought I would and although I've gained an extra 1.5 hours which used to be commuting time, I've lost a gym I loved (it's too far to justify a daily visit now) and a reason to get out of the studio! It's taken a diagnosis of severe Vitamin D deficiency to realise this is a bit of an issue. 2015 goal: more time outside, more sunshine.

    I did a lot less travelling than I hoped (none, save a trip to Hebden Bridge to host a workshop), and I also gained more friends than I expected. One of my 2014 goals was to make more of an effort to get out and meet people, and joining The Voice Over Network was one of the best business decisions I made this year. Thanks to all the voice over people I've got know this year, there's too many of you to list and you're all awesome.

     

    I also joined Sound Women, which has been on my list for a while, and I'm planning to get more involved in their events next year.

    Voice over can be described in one word for me: steady. I've added a few bigger names to my client lists (IKEA, Cap Gemini, Swiss Post, Bank of New Zealand) and I've had more work in Australian accents, which is something I've been working towards after deciding to embrace Antipodeaness in general. I've finally accepted that outside of Oz & NZ (and it hurts to admit this) we sound the same to most people. 

    Voice reel production has really taken off for me this year. I reached my 100 voicereel milestone in October and it makes me proud every time I've heard about a voice reel client signing to a great voice agency, or landing a great contract with an audiobook agency, voicing a character in a video game or being chosen to voice a national commercial campaign. I'm flattered that Loud and Clear Voices have chosen to work with me this year as a preferred supplier, and I look forward to working with them (and United Voices) in 2015. And I wrote a bit for Actor Hub.

    Schedules and locations moves meant I produced fewer Sounding Wilde shows than I wanted, but we've built a solid foundation for expansion next year, with our show about voice agents proving our most popular one yet!

    I had a bit of a focus on passive income this year, which led to the creation of my Create Your Best Ever Soundtrack Ecourse, aimed at performers who want to learn how to edit their own music for their acts. I poured a lot of time into it and I've added new skills and learned a lot about marketing, so in terms of my personal growth alone, it was worthwhile. 

    On the sound design front, I drowned myself in the bath for Murderer (Upstairs at the Gatehouse, March), 

    matched Borodin with Lana Del Rey for Marriage (Jack Studio Theatre, June),

    blended politics with modern jazz for An Ideal Husband (Tabard Theatre, June)

    and created Arabic mobs from British voices for Warehouse of Dreams (Lion & Unicorn, November).

    I also contributed sound recording & mixing skills to the House of Burlesque season at London Wonderground.

    So that's it: my 2014. I've skated over the setbacks, the disappointments and most of the challenges, because I feel I've done a lot of sharing of the lessons I've learned throughout the year: in my regular Sunday Sound and Creative Business Tombola rondups, in my Working for Me series and in my twice-monthly Awesome Voice Over Stuff Newsletter

    2015 has already started for me, I'm sound designing A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Arcola and Boris Godunov at the Jack Studio Theatre, both of which open in January. After that, I have no idea where 2015 will take me. And that's just fine. 

    I wish you glorious and safe NYE celebrations, wherever you are in the world, and a positive start to 2015. 

    P.S. That's a Studio Ghibli soot devil in the top photo, in case you were wondering. I haven't replaced Bess the studio cat, she just wouldn't sit still!

  • Sounds Wilde in 2013 - A Round Up

    I think it's a good thing to look back at each year and take time to celebrate the events, successes, milestones and changes. I feel each year is packed with so much busyness (I've lost count of the times I've said "I'm so busy" on this blog but it's probably a tediously large number) that I don't stop and take stock of what's actually happened. Yearly summaries are good to remind yourself of what you've achieved this year.

    In my 2012 summary (also published on New Year's Eve, clearly I didn't have pressing party plans last year either) I described 2012 as a "growth and development year". I feel that 2013 has been more stable, as during it I clearly identified the core strands of my business (sound design, voice over and voice reels) and worked on developing from these foundations, but also one of massive progress.  Here are some of my highlights:

    In January I challenged myself to blog weekly and I created two weekly features to help me achieve this: my Sunday Sound roundup of the most interesting sound, music and voice over links I could find, and the Creative Business Tombola which features resources for creative business owners with a focus on creativity, entrepreneurship and self-employment. Almost one year on and they're still going strong!

    Speaking of which, I'm pretty pleased at how people have responded to my blog this year, particularly my Working for Me posts about the challenges and lessons involved in running my own creative business. Here's a few of the posts that seem to have resonated the most:

    How to negotiate rates like a pro

    Losing your footing and getting it back - what happened when I lost a lot of work and how I turned it around

    6 suggestions on client relations

    Before you start your self-employed journey...


    In February I created the sound design for Love on Trial, a one-man show commissioned by Ovalhouse for the 50th anniversary celebrations and produced by Bilimankhwe Arts. It was my first design for a show in the round and I learned a lot about working relationships and working with other theatrical disciplines through the collaborative process.


    March was the month where I noticed an increase in my voice over work, starting with a large job voicing telephony system (IVR) messages for Huawei. This year I have added a lot of firsts for my voice over career, voicing my first local and national radio and national TV commercials for New Zealand, auditioning for my first major animated series (didn't get it, but the experience was very useful), voicing a fitness app and voicing my first audio guide - for the National Aquarium of New Zealand. I've also become much more involved in the international voice over community this year, participating in Facebook groups and contributing to industry blogs

    In April I launched my first newsletter - the Sounds Wilde Awesome Voice Over Stuff newsletter.

     In May I worked with hoop performer Jessie Rose to create my most ambitious performer soundtrack to date: a mash-up/remix of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal with Fred Astaire's White Tie Top Hat and Tails.


    July saw the very last show of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties. I worked on both the 2012 and 2013 seasons of the show and celebrated as it moved from Bethnal Green Working Men's Club to be a fully-fledged West End show in Leicester Square Theatre. I hope the podcasts I produced for each show will serve as a glimpse into the rich, wonderful world of variety for future generations of performing artists. 


    July also saw me in charge of the technical aspects of the evening entertainment in the Playhouse tent at Lounge on the Farm Festival in Kent, courtesy of Boom & Bang Circus. Very rewarding, but I have never been so exhausted afterwards!


    At the beginning of August I became "Lady Wizard" aka sound & lighting monkey for the cabaret show Boylexe, a relationship that I hope will continue in 2014.


    At the end of August I had the enormous pleasure of recording & producing a podcast of my friend Zoe and Jim's wedding in London, which included a personal message from Jarvis Cocker! August was also the 1 year anniversary of our Voice Over workshops.


    October was the month of my first UK musical tour, as both sound designer and Sound no. 1 for the UK concert tour of The Secret Garden. Of all the shows I worked on this year, this one probably taught me the most about my own abilities as a live sound engineer, so it was a very valuable experience. It was also a wonderful opportunity to work alongside some highly experienced and talented cast and crew members. 


    Then in November, a more personal highlight as I visited Australia and New Zealand for my sister's wedding and long-overdue family visits. Becca Stewart and I also launched our new voice over and sound radio show, Sounding Wilde

    And finally, December has seen me celebrate my 50th voice reel client and the three year anniversary of Sounds Wilde.

    I hope you have the chance to look back at your year and celebrate your achievements. Happy New Year and here's to a brilliant 2014!

  • Sunday Sound - October 13 2013

    Is it Sunday again already? I've been in theatre-land this week, tucked away in yet another sound box checking levels & programming desks for the first dates of the UK concert tour of The Secret Garden. Every good sound designer/engineer/sound no.1/sound no. 2 (I am all of these on this show) needs a break now and then again to shake the frequencies out however, so I present to you...this week's lovely links.


    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    Want to create pro studio acoustics at home? Check this out: DIY studio acoustics tutorial

    Everyone needs a reminder now & again: 5 mistakes you made on your last recording



    WOMEN IN SOUND

    Producer & sound engineer Marcella Aracia talks about her career, including working with Missy Elliot and her take on  working in a male-dominated industry

    Is Lorde's song Royals racist?

    Amanda Palmer is putting together a female-centric music video playlist in preparation for You Tube's new program of curated playlists and she wants your input (it's pretty awesome so far)

    Does classical music have a "women problem"?


    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    Thom Yorke's best quotes

    The winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine credits his bassoon teacher for teaching him the powers of analysis and concentration

    Great Scott! These guys have replicated Marty McFly's gigantic speaker

    Awesome early perfomance from Janis Joplin (and check out Mama Cass's reaction right at the end) 


    VOICE OVER

    I wrote a review of In a World....

    Wondering what on earth is this voice over "unconference" you've been hearing about called Faffcon? Dan Friedman's concise round-up is a good place to start

    What would you charge as the voice of Siri?


    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE STUFF

    What do crickets sound like when their sounds are slowed right down? Well, quite beautiful.

    Extraordinary desire: how child prodigies are made

    Banksy takes cuddly farmyard animals to the New York slaughterhouse

    Epic Halloween costumes #1: an entire family Labyrinth

    See you next week...

  • Relaunch of our Voice Over workshops and The Awesome Voice Over Stuff newsletter!

    Our voice over workshops are back! After a bit of a summer break and lots of planning, scheming and re-thinking, Becca and I have re-launched our popular voice over workshops, starting with an Introduction to Voice Overs on September 29 in the Sounds Wilde studio.

    We've kept all the great bits of the previous introductory workshop and we've added lots more. The workshop is now longer (so you get more time to practise scripts and ask questions), smaller (maximum of 4 participants so we can really focus on individual needs) and you get loads of new goodies to take home! 

    Take a gander at the details and book your place here. With only 4 places we expect to sell out quickly, make sure you don't miss out!

    PLUS the August edition of the Sounds Wilde Awesome Voice Over Stuff newsletter is out! If you're a voice artist...or a potential voice artist...then peek, enjoy, and subscribe for regular industry news, tips, competitions, training resources and insider information.

    Do you have any questions about our voice over workshops or the newsletter? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

  • Clients of the Day

    Photo Copyright Claire Haigh Photography

    Those of you who follow me on Twitter & Facebook will have hopefuly spotted a new daily feature on both: Client of the Day.

    I'm always looking for better promotional tools, and recently I've been wanting to give back to the people and organisations with whom I've enjoyed creative working relationships over the past 2-and-a-bit years.

    I've got some ideas for bigger giving-back projects which hopefully might come to fruition this year or next, but in the meantime, my Client of the Day posts are a way of highlighting and celebrating the talented people who choose to work with me, and showing you a bit about the work I do.

    Here are my Clients of the Day for March 11 - 17th:


    Monday: Penguin tap by Josephine Shaker! Soundtrack by Sounds Wilde, voice over by Edwin Flay.

     

    Tuesday: Effervescent, charming, engaging - Actor & Voice Artist Heidi Loveridge. Voice reel by Sounds Wilde

     

    Wednesday: Beautiful bump & grind from burlesque dancer Ruby Deshabille in "The Blue Belle". Rhapsody in Blue remix by Sounds Wilde. WARNING: Contains partial nudity!

     

    Thursday: The natural, soft warm tones of actor & voice artist Rachel Crowther Voice reel produced by Sounds Wilde

    Friday:  It's Show One of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties 2013 season! Live sound by Sounds Wilde

    Saturday: The likeable, friendly, clear RP voice of George Weightman - actor and voice artist. Voice Reel produced by Sounds Wilde

     

    Sunday: Burlesque seduction from captivating Beatrix Von Bourbon (Britain's Got Talent Semi-Finalist 2012). Skip to 5:35 in the video for her act. Soundtrack editing by Sounds Wilde. WARNING: Contains partial nudity!

     

    More to come this week!



  • What voice over work has taught me about my business


    Every piece of feedback is valuable

    It stings when a client says "it's not right". But if you can get them to say why it isn't right, you have something that should turn your frustration into gratitude.

    Feedback is a short-cut for our own rate of improvement as artists. Isn't it quicker and easier for someone to point out our weak spots than for us to eventually identify them weeks..months...or years later?

    Every time I receive feedback from anyone (but especially a colleague or a client), I say thank you. I may not agree with them. It may be something I will never use, or will only apply to specific situations. It may completely contradict what the last client said, or what they said themselves 6 months ago. But every piece of feedback teaches me something, even if it's that I need to trust my own judgement more.


    Sometimes you will just be wrong for the project. Don't take it personally. 

    Voice acting is artistic and creative. Anything creative is subjective, which means it is open to the interpretation of the audience - whoever that audience may be. The best work you produce today may be rejected by everyone who sees it today - but celebrated by the person who sees it tomorrow.

     


    Persevere. Persevere. Persevere.

    To quote a Pantene ad that aired all the time in New Zealand in the '90s: It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.

    This is a career you're building. You expect something that lasts a lifetime to require a lot of work, right? That person who is hailed as an "overnight success" was probably steadily working, building, creating, networking in their industry for 5, 10, 15 years before the right set of circumstances came along to launch them at a wider audience.

    Build on your successes. Work through your mistakes. Repeat. 


     
    Go with your gut.

    If a project/opportunity/job feels right for you, then it will be right for you in some way. It doesn't matter if other people think it's wrong for you - what they usually mean is that it's wrong for them. They aren't you, so really, how can they know what's wrong or right for you? 

    More important for me is to trust my gut on when something feels wrong. It's hard to turn work down when you're building a business and everything relies on money, but I know that I have never regretted turning down work that felt wrong and pretty much always regretted doing it. When you think or talk about  a job or client to a friend and you complete this sentence "I just know this job  will be..." with anything along the lines of difficult, frustrating, time-consuming, not worth it then you shouldn't be doing it.


    Have you got any great business lessons to share?
  • Working for Me: An Office of One


    I was reading this post on Thought Catalogue about how your lifestyle is designed by your working practices and this sentence jumped out at me:

    the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours

    When I think back to my days at the BBC in open-plan, busy broadcasting offices, I think that was probably true for me. Offices provide endless opportunities for distractions: chatting with co-workers, coffee/cigarette/extended lunch breaks and the timesink of the internet.

    This got me thinking: now that I'm self employed, do I get more work done?

    I don't have to think hard about that. Definitely, yes. On any usual working day, I will easily, devotedly and earnestly work for at least 8 hours. According to the Thought Catalogue post, that's 5 hours more per day than I did in a big-company office environment. Here's why:

    My workspace works for me

    For the past year-and-a-bit, I've had my own studio, outside of my own home.  

    From the start of my business, it was very important to me to have my own workplace that was separate from my home. Firstly, I have a tendency to work all day, every day, and separating my physical work space helps with my work/life balance. Secondly, my partner is also self-employed, so works at home a lot, and I know I work better alone.

    In a networking group I used to belong to, the founder said that one of the aspects of self-employment that had worried her, prior to making the leap, was that she thought she was going to be alone all day.

    In my self-employed days so far, working alone has never, ever bothered me. I love working by myself. I enjoy working collaboratively, but all of my best work is done by myself.

    If you're working for yourself, you'd better get used to being okay with your own company to some extent, but you can choose the type of work space that suits you.

    Co-working spaces like B.HIVE, Central Working and TechHub offer you an office-like environment, while still allowing you your own business space. If you need a permanent creative space, many designers, photographers and other creative types share spaces that range from separate studios to large open-plan warehouse areas. Many self-employedites I know like using their favourite cafe (or pub) to work in for a few hours each day, to take them out of their home office and connect them with the world.


    I have no problem being self motivated

    Self-motivation is essential when you're self-employed. There's no boss nagging you to meet deadlines and aside from fulfilling clients' requirements, there's no one to force you to keep developing your business, keep pushing your products, keep increasing and striving and achieving.

    Self-motivation, like the best habits, can be learned. I know I've always been self-motivated to some extent, I've managed to study for and pass school, university & professional exams, for example, but it's been my personal goals that have really taught me about self-motivation.

    In the past 10 years I have moved my life to the other side of the world, on a 1-way ticket and the vague promise of a couch to crash on. I've trained for and run a marathon in 3 hours 38 minutes. I've gained British citizenship. These are all goals I am proud to have achieved. When the going gets tough running my business, I think back to what made me keep saving, keep training, keep studying for the Life in the UK test and I harness that to keep me going.

    I allow distractions

    In my office of one, I have my odd moments of distraction. Usually it's an indication my work/life balance has become askew and my body or brain is asking me for a break. I know there's no point in forcing myself to work when all I really want to do is take a walk, have a nap, read a book or just remove myself from the world for a while.

    I'm most productive when I'm feeling calm, centred and relaxed. I know from experience that the 3 hours of distracted, frustrated work that I force out of myself when I feel I "should be working" but really, really don't want to, will probably have to be redone the next day, and could be done in just 1 hour when I'm feeling focussed again. Knowing this, I would rather spend those other 2 hours getting myself in the right frame of mind.


    I enjoy what I do

    This is the heart of it all. Yes, I don't enjoy every single task that I do as part of running my business (tax returns, anyone?) but most of the work I do, I really enjoy. I'd rather be doing this than anything else. Which makes all the rest of it - self-motivation, working by myself, accepting distractions - come that much easier. 

    I often hear friends complain about their jobs. I'm sure you've heard these excuses too: "It's not what I really want to do, but I need the salary to cover the mortgage/child care/my hobbies"...." I can't change jobs at the moment because I need to work at this level for a while if I want to move up in the future..."

    In making the decision to go self employed, you are saying "I want to do this". If working for you really isn't working for you, ask yourself: "do I enjoy this?"

    If you don't enjoy what you do, no amount of workspace tips is going to make you significantly productive. Maybe if this is the case, the type of environment where you can work 3 hours a day and get paid for 8 would be best. Until you figure out what you really want to do.




  • February Voice Over Workshops

    Our January workshops were brilliant. We met some wonderful voice talents and we had some very flattering feedback!

    I've compiled it into this short video, so you can see what people think about what we do

    We're all set to go for our February workshops so if you missed out on the sold-out January courses, here's your chance!

    What you get with every workshop:

    • practice on marking up and interpreting scripts
    • the opportunity to record scripts in a studio environment with direction & feedback
    • MP3 copies of every recording you do, professionally recorded & mixed
    • extensive summary notes covering what you learned in the workshop
    • list of London industry contacts and tips

    BRANCHING OUT INTO VOICE OVERS - February 10

    Our introductory course: for actors or performers considering voice over work, and any one else who's interested! You don't need to have any experience, we tailor each workshop to participants' needs, skills and expectations. We focus on adverts in this workshop, a great starting point for voice over work.

    BOOK HERE: http://soundswilde_workshop_voiceover_branching_feb2013-es2002.eventbrite.co.uk/


    ADVANCED INTRODUCTION TO VOICE OVERS - February 24

    The next level up! This workshop is aimed at actors, performers & voice artists who have done some voice over work or voice training, are familiar with the basics and would like to leanr advanced skills about voicing and creating characters. We focus on audio books and animation in this workshop with additional information on English Language Translation and dubbing.

    BOOK HERE: http://soundswilde_voiceover_advanced_feb2013-es2002.eventbrite.co.uk/

    There's more information at www.soundswilde.com/voice-over-workshops and you can always get in touch with me if you have any questions.

    Hope to meet you soon!

  • Sunday Sound - February 3rd 2013


    Hey there! Welcome to this week's end-of-week roundup...

    SOUND DESIGN & MIXING

    For those of us who weren't there, Sonic Scoop has done a round-up of what caught their eye at NAMM

    ...and there's one from Synthopia as well

    Stefan Kudelski, the man who invented the Nagra, has died at the age of 84. This article about his life is an interesting read - I'd love to see a truck-sized pre-Nagra recording device!

    Here's a practical tutorial on how to make your own acoustic absoprtion panels. In the UK, fibreglass panels you need are Rockwool, and here's the specs you need to look for, takem off the packet that I bought when treating my own studio


    I love clear, useful lists and this Recording Session Checklist from Prosound ticks all my boxes

    The feature topic of Designing Sound this month is loudness. Check the website over February for webinars, features, discussions and interviews


    WOMEN IN SOUND

    Rose Mann Cherney, the first female president of a major recording studio (Record Plant, LA), is also the first female to be inducted into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame. Tribute video here

    Great interview with electronic music pioneer Suzanne Ciani

    Gender issues in technology aren't anything new, as this article about how men reacted to women involved in radio in the 1920s demonstrates

    MUSIC & PERFORMANCE

    How to get the best performance out of your musicians in the studio - nope, it's not in the EQ...

    In the very first Sunday Sound I posted about the album of Philip Glass remixes curated by Beck. If you haven't already, listen to Beck's extraordinary remix and then read about how the album came to be


    New word for the week: asteroseismology, the study of star sounds


    VOICE OVER

    My latest inspiration comes from the Inside the Actors Studio videos on the cast of the Simpsons and the cast of Family Guy. Highly recommended viewing! We can all learn so much from these guys. Watch the Simpson's epsiode in particular to see what they do with their mouths, faces and bodies to create their specific characters. (NB: the black bits are where the show clips have been removed for copyright reasons, keep listening through these as the actors are still speaking)

    Interesting post by Dan Courvoisier about why you shouldn't produce your own voice over demo

    Dan Lenard has another useful Tip for the Week for home studio voice artists. This week, it's normalisation


    INSPIRATION & OTHER CREATIVE GEEK STUFF

    I've just discovered the wonders of Radiolab. If you're not familiar with this public-radio phenomenon, I recommend reading & watching their story about how Radiolab came to be and their secrets of creative success

    This wonderful Oscar-nominated short merges computer graphics & handrawn animation. Make time for it, it's just lovely


    5 fascinating facts from Reddit for this week, via Mashable


    If you haven't seen 3D printing in action yet, prepare to have your mind blown

    See you next week!

  • The Creative Business Tombola - Wednesday January 30 2013


    Is is mid-week already? Hooray! Pat yourself on the back for surviving thus far and enjoy a bit of a advice and a snip of inspiration in this week's links:

    Do what you do best and out source the rest


    Last year, Neil Gaiman gave the commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, which has been entitled "Make Good Art". It went viral and if you watch the whole address (it's worth it), you'll see why:

    Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

    Then Zen Pencils made it into a cartoon. And that is also very cool, inspiring and a bit meta. Making good art from a speech about making good art! 


    Russ Hughes makes some good points in this article about the challenges every creative has when charging for their time


    How to make working from home work for you


    If you spend most of your day job resenting the fact you're not already your own boss, this blog post I wrote is for you


    Don't wait to be discovered - launch yourself at the world!


    Amma Adjubi-Archibald's advice in this post is spot-on for me at the moment. I especially love the chicken/pig question, which I'll be applying to every new project from now on!

    For my business, this week I am...

    • taking a break. My January has been all 12-hr+working days every day, I've had 2 bouts of bed-ridden-level illness to deal with and today I noticed my fatigued, distracted, attention deficit body was telling me to SLOW DOWN and REST. I really need to make it to February (and through the rest of the year), so I'm going to pay attention
    • getting active. I really need regular exercise to help calm my brain, give me enough energy to get through those 12+ hour days and let me sleep. Joining a gym or going to classes haven't been possibilities for me for a while, so I'm focussing on fitting in regular walks, runs and home workouts whenever I can.
    • making time to update my schedule & calendar. Almost nothing makes me breathe easier than knowing I know exactly what tasks I need to complete this week, and by when

    What are you doing for your business this week?
  • Working for Me: Before you start your self-employment journey...

    I hang out (virtually and actually) with a lot of creative types. Around this time of year I see a lot of this kind of update:

    This is the year I want to give up the day job and go for my dream! But I'm really scared...should I make the leap and go fully self-employed?

    If you know it's right for you, then absolutely! But have a good think about preparation first. There's a lot to be said for just getting out there and doing it, but if I'd planned my self-employment leap better, I would have put several key ideas in place first. Here's what I think you need before you start in self-employment

    1) Making money: Ways of doing it, ways of building on this

    What are you going to offer? Services or products? It took me the best part of a year to define what my business was going to sell. Save yourself the sleepless nights and work it out now. Then get creative and build on this. Turn knowledge into products (books, ecourses), skills into partnerships. You make something, ergo you could teach making it!

    Multiple income streams is the way forward (this Bullish article is a great start). Turn "what can I do?" into "what can I sell?"


    2) Keeping afloat: Financial support & being prepared to make sacrifices

    You need some way of paying rent/bills when you can't work or don't make enough money, whether that is your partner, parents, an overdraft, savings or whatever.

    An extremely useful course I went on before I took redundancy (run by Jasmine from Money Magpie) told me to calculate how much I needed to live (rent, bills, food, extras) for at least 3 months, then make sure I had that in savings before I started working for myself.

    I was also told it generally takes at least 3 years to turn a profit on a new business.

    Be prepared to change your lifestyle for the amount of time it takes for your business to start making money! The Money Saving Expert mantras are always good ones to use before you buy anything

    3) The ability to treat yourself as a business

    Promote yourself while ignoring feeling like a bit of a dick for doing so.

    Charge what you really feel you're worth, or even a bit more, and stick with it even when you worry you're losing work.

    Keep proper financial records (taxes of course, but keeping track of billing & payments is also very important).

    Invest in training/tools without any guarantee that you'll see a return from them.

    Learn not to take rejection of your services/products personally.

    Figure out your own stance on working for free.

    More on this: How to sell yourself as an expert

    4) Emotional support

    It can be very tough. The first two years were much tougher emotionally than I thought they would be.

    You take knock-backs way more personally when you are your business.

    You need people who will be supportive and not judgemental.

    Make friends with other self-employedites. They will be there to answer questions, boost your creativity, say "it will be worth it" and tell you success stories.

    Keep friends with anyone who has consistently told you you're great, talented and can do anything. They will be there to keep positivity flowing and remind you why you thought you could do this in the first place.


    5) Knowing that you are definitely going to succeed (watch the video, it's good)


    When you don't give yourself any other option, it has to happen eventually.

    I didn't think I was a big believer in self-belief before I made me my main source of income. I thought you just had to work hard and it would all come from there.

    After a series of major let-downs and set-backs in the first year (financial & emotional), when all my hard work seemed to rate about zero on the getting-ahead scales, I was pretty surprised when I checked in with myself and realised I wanted to keep going.

    From the start, I wanted to do this more than I wanted to go back to working for a big company. Which means at some point, I am going to consider myself a success. 

    Like Alan Watts says " Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way" 

    More inspiration: 

    What do you think needs to be in place before you go self employed?

  • Sounds Wilde in 2012

    2012 was a growth and development year for me and Sounds Wilde. One of those years where you lay foundations and look forward to building on them. Here are some of my highlights for 2012:

    I move to a new studio

    From January - March my studio was based in the Manatee Audio studio complex in Finsbury Park. It was great to have Sounds Wilde premises!


    I start offering my studio-based Voice Reel service and become a voice over artist 

    This year, Sounds Wilde voice reel clients have signed to top London voice agencies and voice over directories, provided voice overs for national touring shows, films and adverts. It's been a good year!

    I get my first job as a voice artist working from my own studio in February and have since recorded in almost every genre, from corporate telephony system messages to children's books to adverts to radio idents. I've been extremely British, young & bubbly, mature and sexy - often all in the same day. In October I was accepted as a narrator for the RNIB Talking Books programme.


    I produce the podcasts and live sound for the 1st season of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties

    My most-loved project for this year. We started in February, with the podcasts hosted on the British Comedy Guide and ended our first season on a high in July, with critical acclaim from Time Out and other publications. In November we were nominated for a London Cabaret Award. In December Mat announced our move to a West End theatre for the 2013 season, first show on February 28, and The Stage listed us a Light Entertainment highlight for 2012


    I move to (another) new studio and transform it

    In April I moved premises from Finsbury Park to Hackney Road in Shoreditch. It took me till October to completely refurbish it but I was pretty proud of it when it was done! 


    I complete the sound design for The Shadow Formula

    This was my first theatrical sound design for a medium-sized (450-seat) theatre and with control over every aspect of the sound, my most involved sound design to date. There's an excerpt of it in my showreel above.


    We launched Sounds Wilde Voice Over workshops

    One of my favourite aspects of 2012 was developing a partnership with voice over artist Becca Stewart and running our voice over workshops. Starting in August, these have been so popular and successful that we're planning to run both the introduction and advanced workshops monthly from January 2013. Becca has been an awesome colleague, positive, pro-active and supportive and I can't wait to start working with her again in January! There's still a few hours left to nab a place on a January workshop and get our Xmas deal as well...

    So that was my year! How was yours?

  • Win Sounds Wilde prizes & other cool stuff!

    It's the Giving time of year again and in the seasonal spirit, Sounds Wilde are part of not one, but TWO giveaways!

    The first one is for Tigz Rice Studios, who designed our wonderful logo, as well as being a kick-ass burlesque & boutique photography studio.

    As part of their 3rd birthday celebrations, Tigz Rice Studios are giving away loads of wonderful prizes, including decadent photo shoots, vintage-style lingerie, fire performing lessons & burlesque lessons - and a place on any Sounds Wilde voice over workshop.

    To enter visit http://www.tigzrice.com/london/tigz-rice-studios-3rd-birthday-giveaway/

    The second is from Sounds Wilde vintage-style favourite Retro Chick

    This year Retro Chick is running her Christmas giveaway as an advent calendar, giving away 24 prizes right up until the end of December. The first 5 have already been announced but you can enter right up until December 31st. The Sounds Wilde prize will be popping up at some point, keep your eyes on the Retro Chick site! 

    Check the details for each day for how to enter.

    Good luck! I'll also be announcing a Sounds Wilde Seasonal Special very soon as well...

  • January Voice Over Workshops

    Hello Sunday-ites!

    With the last voice over workshop of the year being sold out I thought it was a good time to tell you about our January workshops.

    Becca and I have had a blast running these this year and we're excited about sharing our combined knowledge with more of you next year.

    And because it's coming up to Christmas...we've got a special deal on too!

    ***XMAS SPECIAL!***

    BOOK YOUR PLACE ON A JANUARY 2013 WORKSHOP BEFORE JAN 1 2013

    AND GET 1 HR EXTRA STUDIO TIME FREE!

    (excludes Home Studio workshop)

    That's right, a whole hour's extra studio time to practice scripts with direction and feedback from myself and Becca - what an awesome kick-start to new skills and a potential new career as a voice artist for 2013!

    Details of the workshop are below and at the Workshops page on this site. If you have any further questions, please just get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.


    Becoming a Home Studio Voice Artist

    Sunday January 13 2013 11am - 3pm

    You don't have to have an agent to work as a voice artist! A fun and informative workshop focussing on how to establish yourself as a voice over artist working out of your own home studio.

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/288433791275211/

    Direct Booking Link: http://soundswilde_homestudio_workshop-jan2013.eventbrite.co.uk/


    Branching Out Into Voice Overs

    Sunday January 20th 2013 11am - 3pm

    A fun and informative introduction to working as a voice over artist for actors and people with performing or acting experience.

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/419430331456315/

    Direct Booking Link: http://soundswilde_workshop_voiceover_branching_jan2013.eventbrite.co.uk/

    Advanced Voice Introduction

    Sunday January 27 2013 11am - 3pm

    A fun and informative workshop focussing on advanced character & professional skills for voice artists and actors

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/213514995446976/

    Direct Booking Link: http://soundswilde_voiceover_advanced_jan2013.eventbrite.co.uk/

  • Working for Me: Business Stress-squirrels

    One of the biggest hurdles I face with my business is the constant scratchy feeling that I'm not achieving "enough". "Enough" can mean different things on different days - enough money, enough respect, enough clients, enough awards, enough happiness....I'm sure you can add to this list.

    Feeling like I'm underachieving in my business is stressy and leads to bigger feelings of self-doubt (how did I ever think I could run my own successful business??) which can tip me over the edge into other problems. Indulging in these feelings is ultimately both a waste of effort and something I can't avoid.

    Want to combat stress-squirrels? My answer is ACTIVITY.

    Doing something makes you feel more in control of the situation. It focuses your attention on the task rather than the worry. It gives you a sense of accomplishment when you've completed the task. It helps you feel you're propelling your business forward.

    When stress-squirrels threaten to gnaw me to pieces, I do the following:

    1) I work in my business

    2) I work on my business

    These terms were introduced to me by my friend ReeRee Rockette, who runs London-based networking group Wonderful Women Minding Our Own Business (or WWMOOB) as well as her successful salon Rocaklily Cuts.

    Working IN your business is doing work for your clients, for income or some renumeration. In my case this is creating voicereels, recording voice overs, mixing tracks, copy editing text etc.

    Working ON your business is doing work to keep your business running: admin, marketing, creating content, accounts, all the stuff that is necessary but you won't see an actual financial benefit as a direct result.

    I have two TO DO lists: one for work in my business, one for work on my business.

    So my stress-squirrel combat plan looks like this:

    1. Make a TO DO list if I don't have one already

    2. Write each task as specifically as possible.

    "Blog more" is not specific, how on earth would you know when you'd actually completed that? "Write a blog about the importance of taking time off when you're self-employed" is a better example of a specific goal.

    3. Divide the list into In Business work and On Business work

    4. Do one task from the In Business list. 

    If you're feeling stressed but resolute, do a difficult task or one you've been putting off first. You'll feel a big sense of accomplishment once it's done and the next task will look much easier.

    If you're feeling stressed and fragile, do an easy task first. If you pick a difficult or boring one there's a chance you may feel overwhelmed. Easy wins are a good way to boost confidence and ease yourself into your activity.

    5. Do one task from the On Business list

    6. Repeat until your worktime is done.

    7. Look over everything you've achieved today and feel pleased!

    The In Business tasks I completed today included: writing a script for one of my forthcoming elearning courses and recording a trial screencast for the same course. My On Business tasks included emails, invoicing, polite client payment reminders and writing this blog post! More On Business than In Business but I still feel I had a productive day and poisoned today's stress-squirrels quite thoroughly.

    Note: The term "stress-squirrels" is my version of "panicweasel" from Cash & Joy, a site I thoroughly recommend for any creative self-employed peoples. Especially this post, which is completely relevant to today's post.

    Would this work for you? What do you do to keep the stress-squirrels at bay?

  • 2013 London Cabaret Award Nominations

    Last year I wrote about the London Cabaret Awards and all the shows and performers I had worked for and with who were nominated, and how pleased I was for all of them.

    The awards are back and this time, it's even nicer because Mat Ricardo's London Varieties has been nominated for Best Ongoing Production

    I've written lots about my contribution to London Varieties this year (see alsohere,hereand here). It's a unique and special show and I am thrilled that Mat's hard work and vision has been recognised.

    If you're wondering what, where and why, have a listen to the podcasts of the 2012 shows at the British Comedy Guide(as produced by me) and take a look below:

    London Varieties will be back in February next year with new and special stuff (which is as much as I'm allowed to say at this point...) Mat's also been nominated for an award as Best Speciality Act, double cabarati points!

    Massive congratulations to all the artists, events, productions and venues nominated for a London Cabaret Award this year. I've had the pleasure of another year of being involved in London cabaret and variety and I hope to continue to be involved for many years to come.

  • Sounds Wilde Studio Shots

    In October I asked my friend Mat Ricardo to come and take a few photos of my studio, post-refurb.

    Yes, that's the same Mat Ricardo from Mat Ricardo's London Varieties. When he's not keeping balls (or plates, or bowling balls) in the air, or pulling tablecloths, he's snapping award-winning pics.

    It's lovely to pass on work to my friends - I get to work with people I like and it makes me feel I keep the karma wheels turning. Or something.

    Anyway, here are a few of the pics he took, some with additional processing by me. All photos obviously ©Mat Ricardo Photography & Sounds Wilde.

  • Working for Me: Time Off

    It's got cold and I have a cold.

    I'm writing this from the back-end of a couple of weeks worth of congestion-filled fatigue, courtesy of a charming virus that manifested as soon as I decided to have a day off.

    Just my luck? More like just my fault.

    Before I decided to force myself to take a day off, I hadn't had one for weeks, so many weeks that it was pretty much months. 14hr+ days every day for months. Unchecked, my days go something like this:

    8am Wake up, make coffee or tea, check emails

    9am Shower, breakfast, head to studio. Check social networks & emails on train.

    10am - 8pm Work in studio and at some point fit in eating (at desk, while working) and a run

    8pm Travel home, continuing to check social media & emails.

    9pm Arrive home, have dinner, sit straight back down at the computer and work

    midnight - 1am At some point realise it's past midnight and go to bed. Read for 20mins or so, pass out.

    The only break I take from work is my run, and there's plenty of days recently when I didn't even allow myself to take a break to do that. The result: high stress levels, high anxiety levels, feeling of being overwhelmed by work and life in general...and then extended illness. Not fun.

    When you are your business and your ability to make that work is between you and homelessness, taking time off feels scary. What's more scary is enforced time off at inconvenient times because you've run yourself into the ground and have left your mental and physical immune systems so low that they've succumbed to every bug and black dog day going.

    We don't want that! So, here are a few tips to help you take the time off you need to recharge mentally and physically so you can keep going to the best of your ability and make your business as awesome as it can be:

    1. Set working hours and stick to them

    Whether you're a 9-5 person or a 1-9 person, work out what works for you and stick to it as much as possible. There will be days where you can't be rigid, but even if you work at home, you need an "end-of-the-day" feeling as much as anyone. You'll never be able to relax if you consider every hour as one you should be working. Advertise your working hours to your customers and your colleagues and stick to them.

    2. Don't bring work life into home life

    Much easier if you don't work from home, and especially hard if you work & play in the same place on the same computer/iPad/phone, but even then, you can set clear rules.

    Have a separate work email address and don't check it after a certain time. if you have a separate office or work area, leave work/equipment there so you physically don't have access to it at home. Get a separate phone line or mobile for work and leave the answer phone on when you're not working and don't give out your personal number to clients.

    3. Take at least 1 full day off a week.

    This has been a really hard one for me to follow but it's so important. I'm flexible with my day off and work it around my schedule, so I can plan around any urgent work, but I make sure I have at least one day off a week. On those days I don't go into the studio and I do whatever fun stuff I've been saving up, catch up on movies and with friends, listen to music, whatever I like and whatever I need.

    4. Balance the intensity of your work

    Like many self-employedites I have times where I work "in" my business - mixing, recording, meeting with clients etc. and times where I work "on" my business - marketing, emails, finances etc.

    Both types of work have varying degrees of intensity so I make sure they balance each other out. If I have a week of intense studio work, working to specific deadlines and tight turnarounds, I make sure the next week has days where I can be more relaxed with my pace and my tasks require less focus - invoicing clients or catching up on industry news, for example. I find this helps to keep me calm.

    On my lower intensity days, I'm still working and making progress, but it takes me away from the edge of burnout and gives my brain a bit of downtime.

    5. Pay attention when people tell you "you're working too hard"

    My partner is one of the best watch dogs I have when it comes to my overworking tendencies. He's self employed as well so he knows that hard work comes with running your own business, but he also sees me every day and can assess my physical and mental state objectively.

    When he tells me "you need a break" it means he can see my physical & mental reserves dropping and me being too focussed/pig headed to see it myself. When people you trust say "take some time off" it means they are worried and you should be too. 

    You need breaks as much as you need to work hard. Seriously! It'll keep you mind and body healthy and that will keep you working, in every way, for longer.

  • Working for Me: What You Do Is Pretty Cool

    Last week I performed at a cabaret night and afterwards was introduced to a friend's new girlfriend. We got chatting about work, she told me about her "okay" job (her words) working in HR for a city firm, I told her about the job I left at the BBC and she asked if I now performed professionally.

    Me: performing professionally! Photo copyright Mat Ricardo Photography 

    I said yes, it is one of my jobs and explained about Sounds Wilde, voice reels, voice overs, sound design, post-production, podcasts and all the other sound-related work streams I have as a self-employed small business owner that keep me in whiskey & out of penury.

    "Wow" she said "that's so cool. I really admire people like you who decide they want to do what they actually enjoy and they just go and do it"

    I've heard this before and I always feel compelled to counteract their praise by talking about how I wouldn't have been able to do it without redundancy & a small inheritance and that the constant money worries & fear that I've made the wrong choice aren't very cool at all etc etc, but fortunately someone interrupted us at that point and I just had to leave her remark to stand and resonate.

    There are great aspects and rubbish aspects to any kind of work. The rubbish bits that I was on the cusp of pointing out, in a pointless attempt to bring myself down because I actually felt a bit embarrassed about being publicly praised (so British!), are bits that she already knows. They're not exclusive to self-employment. Plus, although deciding to use the money gifted to me to set up my own business was a no-brainer for me, many people would have opted for a holiday instead, then found another job similar to the one they had been doing, despite maybe having the same desire I did to go it alone and do what I really wanted to do.

    Which made me pause and think two thoughts that I don't articulate very often: What I do is pretty cool and the fact that I'm doing it at all is pretty cool too.

    Most days I find myself worrying about the not-so-great bits about being self-employed, which can be summed up as "I'm not making enough money". It's too easy when you run a small business to focus on the financials but it's not the whole picture and it's probably not the overriding reason you started your business anyway. It's certainly not mine. So, for all the self-employed and considering-self-employment bods out there, here are 6 reasons why being self-employed and having your own business, is Pretty Cool:

    • You can work when you like it & where you like
    In my opinion, flexibility is one of the best advantages to working for yourself.
    Want to work from 11am - 7pm...or 4 days a week only...or nights rather than daytimes...in your pyjamas...in a separate office...in your kitchen? You can! You can also go to the post office when it's quiet instead of queuing in your lunch hour, schedule GP appointments when it's convenient for you and get the Sainsburys man to deliver groceries during the cheaper rate times. And then there's the commuting...if you work at home, 5 mins bed to desk vs 1 hr in rush hour? No contest.
    There's probably going to come a point where you need some kind of structure to your days, but you get to choose what that is and how it works. For me, just knowing that if I need to take Thursday off for any reason, for example, I can make up the time during the week or over the weekend without clearing it with anyone, is a big relief.
    • You can work with who you want
    You are your own boss, obviously, and for anyone who's had to deal with nightmarish, ineffectual or simply absent bosses (I had no direct line manager at the BBC for years) this is good news. But more than this, you can choose the people you want to work with creatively and collaboratively. You can create your own teams based on people and work you admire, not on the 3rd party your company has got into bed with. And you can choose not to work with people, for no other reason than it doesn't feel right. It's completely up to you.
    • You can work how you want
    Working in a busy broadcasting environment, in open plan offices and in studios for years, I used to hear people complain all day about tasks they hated doing. Attending meetings. Calling 3rd party suppliers to bargain prices down for products and services. Giving presentations. Dealng with HR. Checking expenditure. The kind of tasks I used to put to the bottom of the pile if I couldn't face them, knowing I'd have to do them eventually.

    Once you work for yourself, you decide what methods work for you. If you hate talking on the phone, you can make your business online only. If meeting people in person makes you uneasy, you don't have to do it. Don't want to go over accounts every month? Pay someone else to do it. Feel uncomfortable taking on a job because you disagree with the client's ethics? Say you're sorry and move on.

    You could argue that some of these can only be achieved when you have enough turnover, outsourcing your accounts, for example, costs money. But if it's something you really hate doing, make it one of your priorities and look at how you can make it happen. No one else is going to take responsibility for your mental well being.
    • Take credit for all of your work (and responsibility for your mistakes)
    If you've worked for any company before I'm sure you can also think of a time when a colleague or boss took credit for your hard work or ideas, directly or indirectly. Large companies also often include a clause in contracts which state that any concepts, ideas or products created by the employee while employed at the company belong to the company.
    Working for yourself means all of your output is yours. It belongs to you, the creator. Take pride in this! You've put something out into the world that must be valuable to someone - otherwise you wouldn't still be in business.
    Taking responsibility for your mistakes is also a Good Thing. Every time you say "yep, that was my fault" you've learnt something, and as you already know, you need to learn in order to grow. Take Neil Gaiman's word for it
    • You are your own job security
    Working for a nice, large corporation isn't the secure position it used to be. Downsizing and redundancies happen frighteningly quickly and redundancy payments can run out just as quick, while your days are reduced to completing the umpteenth application form and crossing your fingers for an interview to work at (another) large, faceless corporation. I have been there.
    Working for yourself can be scary - no paid sick leave or holidays or other financial benefits - but your source of income - you! - is always right there. If one idea doesn't make you money, you have all you need - you! - to come up with another one. No interviews, no climbing the ladder of someone else's company, you can always be working for your own rewards and your own security. 
    • Someone out there really, really wants to be doing what you're doing
    I am 100% sure this is true. We all have days where we think about jacking in the 14 hour days and getting a nice safe salary-secure 9-5 job (although that's not really the case these days...) but whatever your business is, someone will be admiring what you do.
    A friend of mine runs a wonderful vintage lifestyle blog, which I've read for years, long before I decided to set up Sounds Wilde. I used to read her blog and think "I wish I could do that". I was inspired by the fact she left a job she hated to pursue a passion, that she figured out how to make that earn money back when there were very few guides on how to do it, and that 5 years later that she now runs several associated businesses and is regularly nominated for awards. I mention her because even though I am now fully self-employed and run a very different fulltime business, if I wasn't doing this, I would still really love to do what she does.
    For every actor I meet who works doing training role plays for corporations to pay rent and dismisses it with "but it's not proper acting", I meet at least 2 who say they would do any kind of acting work if it meant being able to work as an actor and not in a bar. Every full-time blogger who envies another blogger's international work has probably at least ten followers whose biggest dream at the moment is to make their blog pay enough to do it full time themselves.
    If you are making your business work, in whatever way, you are already winning. Because what you do is Pretty Cool.
    PS. Specifically for my female readers, according to Women Unlimited, fear of failure prevents many women from starting their own business. If you're thinking about it, have a read of some of these inspiring female entrepreneurs as profiled by ReeRee Rockette. If they can do it, so can you.  
  • Working for Me: Working for Free

    PIcture Credit: http://shouldiworkforfree.com/ (click on link to see the full-sized useful glory)

    It's been over 18 months since I said good bye to Auntie Beeb and started Sounds Wilde full time.

    I've been thinking recently about what I've learnt about working for myself during this time and how this knowledge may be useful to share.

    Some of it is my own thoughts, some of it is tips and advice I've picked up from others.

    The suggestions are going to be sometimes more relevant to arts-based businesses because my field is in the arts, but in general they'll be applicable to most service-based small businesses.

    Here's the first one: Working for Free. There's tons of articles, blogs and general opinions on this all over the interweb so I'm going to just share a couple of simple rules that I follow, some links to other people's opinions whom I rate, and a pretty picture.

    I've worked for free in the past and I still don't discount the possibility of working for free - but it's got to be on my terms. Every time I am approached to work for free or come across an unpaid opportunity that interests me, I consider the following:

    1. Do I already provide this as a paid service?

    If people already pay for this, why should I do it for free? It devalues the paid service. If clients know I'll do work for free that they've paid for in the past, they'll feel cheated and their perception of my brand suffers. This ESPECIALLY applies if the client is from a well-known or established brand. Being Disney/MTV/National Geographic/other big brand doesn't mean I'll do it for free for the "exposure" and the "privilege" of saying I've worked with you - it means you definitely have the money to pay me! I'm not a recent graduate, I don't need the "experience", and I'm not going to be seduced by your promises of "future paid work". Unless you present me with a signed contract that guarantees me paid work after I've done this piece of unpaid work, your promises are just that and nothing more.

    NB: Same applies for charities. Charities have budgets. If you're a supporter of a particular charity and you're happy to waive your fee in lieu of a donation, then fine. You can also always negotiate fees. But don't be swayed by cries of "but it's for charity!". Charities that can afford to employ the people who accost you on the street for donations (and they do pay them) can afford to pay you. A younger me spent 3 weeks as a student doing the phone equivalent of street charity workers (cold-calling strangers for donations to a variety of charities). I am 100% sure my current work requires a far greater skill set.

    2. What tangible benefit will I receive from doing this work?

    The operative word is tangible. I'm sure I'll get a warm glow from doing someone a good turn but that fades pretty quickly when you realise that's all will ever come of your hard work. I'm very bad at saying "no" to people so this is an important rule to help me decide whether it's really worth it for me. A tangible benefit for me would be: an IMDB credit as a sound editor/mixer/designer (hard proof to the film community that you have experience in your field) or inclusion of new/different material in my showreel

    3. Am I prepared to set the scope and working rules?

    If you're not charging the client, it's easy to feel uncomfortable about formalising the working relationship. Much easier to just keep things casual right? Especially if it's for a mate, that way they'll understand if you can't get it done exactly when they need it....

    Your client, be it your mate or someone you've never met, has just got you to agree to work for free. That's their biggest battle won. There is nothing to stop them now demanding you do it to their exact specifications and deadlines.

    A casual agreement often has stretchy boundaries. What started as a simple 1-hr music editing job starts stretching over days when your friend decides they don't like the music after all so could you redo it with new music and could you add this sound effect which you have to find first and this kind of reverb and maybe make it sound like a backing track for Lady Gaga? Kaythanxbye and I need it by tomorrow morning...

    It's not always like this, but it often is. Unpaid projects without any kind of scope definition can take over your working day until you resent the work and the client. So if you really want to do the work, treat it like a paid job: define exactly what needs doing and be clear about how much time you're going to spend on it. Written, signed agreements are always best. And if the client complains, point out that they're not paying for it and that they can always go somewhere else. Don't panic about losing them, if they don't want to pay you and they don't want to agree to defining how the FREE WORK will be done, you don't need them as a client.
    I always remember: their (the client's) project is their first priority.

    Obvious, you think, but say it to yourself a few times and it becomes clear. You've agreed to do their work. Do they care about how much time it takes you to do it? No, because that's not their priority. Do they care whether it will cost you money? (in travel/software downloads etec). No. They might express thanks/sympathy but as long as it gives them what they want in the end, it won't matter to them. You're left feeling put-upon and with no earnings, they're left with what they wanted. It's up to you to change this.

    4. How much time will it take?
    Or, how much will it cost you? While you're working for free, you won't be earning money. Is 2 weeks of solid, 5-hrs-per-day work (or even 2 hours or 30 mins) worth whatever benefit you're getting? Can you financially afford to take that time as a holiday from your own work that directly or non-directly earns you money? Can you mentally and physically afford to give up your preciously-guarded non-work time to work on someone else's dream? Can you afford to cover any extra travel expenses/software downloads/sound effects purchases?


    5. Will this forward my own dream?
    I consider this before taking on any work, paid or unpaid. It's related to 2. but it makes me really consider whether I am moving towards or away from my own goals by taking on this work.

    That's the words & the pretty & extremely useful pic (or rather, chart), here's some other stuff on the topic which is worthwhile checking out:



    Interesting ideas about PIE - paid in exposure, mentions contracts when working for free and this: "On the other hand, if you come across any of the following payment schemes, I suggest you run for the nearest exit"

  • Sounds Wilde Voice Over Workshop: August 19th

    Since I started the voice reel strand of Sounds Wilde last year, I've had lots of enquiries from budding voice artists about voice over workshops.

    I've listened, teamed up with an award-winning voice artist....and now I am very pleased to offer the first Sounds Wilde Voice Over Workshop!


    Sounds Wilde Voice Over Workshop:

    Voice & Studio Basics

    Sunday August 19 11am - 2pm

    Sounds Wilde Studio, 201 Hackney Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 8JL

    A fun and informative introduction to working as a voice over artist.

    Award-winning voice over artist Becca Stewart and experienced voice & sound producer Kirsty Gillmore will guide you through starting out as a voice artist

    • Learn what to expect from voice artist work
    • Help with choosing the right scripts for your voice and voice reel
    • Industry advice and tips on finding an agent and getting work
    • Guidance in marking up scripts
    • Technical advice on recording in the studio
    • Record scripts in our professional vocal booth with direction and feedback
    • Take home your recordings to start your voice reel

    BOOK NOW for the £40 early bird rate!

    HOW TO BOOK: Call Kirsty on 07930689132 or email kirsty@soundswilde.com

    Book direct: http://soundswilde_voiceover_workshop_basics.eventbrite.co.uk

    Eventbrite - Sounds Wilde Voice Over Workshop: Voice & Studio Basics

    Find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/214660781993266/

    About Us:

    Becca Stewart is a Canadian actor, singer and voice over artist living and working in London. Becca's versatile voice is an established presence in London's voice over scene and she has enjoyed working in all facets of the industry, including alongside the wonderful acting talents of Mark Heap, Adjoa Andoh and David Menkin

    ]Winner in 2010 of a TELETOON People's Choice Award, in her voice over and animation debut, Becca has voiced films for Disney (High School Musical), Universal Pictures (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) and worked magic in cartoons for Telegale, Disney, Nickelodeon and numerous video and computer games. Her corporate clients include Nike, EHarmony, Nokia, Oxford University Press and Isis Publishing Audio Books.

    Kirsty Gillmore has over 11 years experience as a sound engineer and sound designer across voice reels, broadcasting, post-production for film and TV and theatre. Having trained and worked for the BBC for 8 years in radio and news she has extensive experience in producing voices to international broadcasting standards.In 2010 she left the BBC to establish her own sound, voice reel and voice over business, Sounds Wilde, which operates out of her professionally-equipped Pro Tools studio in Shoreditch. Her voice reel clients have enjoyed success as voice artists, including signing to top voice agencies such as Soho Voices.

    Kirsty is also an experienced voice over artist, recording audio books and voice overs for a wide range of professional and corporate clients.

    What Sounds Wilde clients say:

    Brilliant at quickly providing great material that totally suited my voice. She really knows what she's talking about and is so generous in offering constructive feedback as well as wisdom & advice. One of the few people I have encountered who surpasses expectations! Tamarin McGinley

    My finished voice reel literally took my breath away, it is excellent in every aspect. I cannot recommend Sounds Wilde highly enough! Sidney Cole

    I would thoroughly recommend Sounds Wilde, Kirsty was brilliant the whole way through.I felt so comfortable and relaxed at the recording session, we spoke through everything and she gave me support and advice on each script  Rachel Crowther


    We've only got space for 7 people and 2 spaces have gone already so get in fast if you want to book a place! Becca & I look forward to seeing you there.

  • The Last London Varieties for 2012

    Over the past 6 weeks or so, three projects that have dominated my time for the past 6 months have gradually wound down.

    The first and probably the most personal of these is Mat Ricardo's London Varieties, which has finished its run for 2012.

    This show has been such a regular and enjoyable part of my working life that I can't quite believe its over for the year and the next time I'm back at the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club will probably be as a punter. Odd thought.

    Despite the continued technical "challenges" (something new every month!), which actually improved my live sound skills (turning problems into learning opportunities...), every show was a delight to work on and to watch. Mat has created something really special with this show, something that celebrates the history of variety as an art form and entertainment format as well as eagerly showcasing the best of variety as it is now.

    The podcasts have gone from strength to strength, both in content and sound quality, many thanks to the British Comedy Guide for sticking with us when the first one wasn't the best because problems with tech meant I didn't have time to set up my laptop to record a direct out from the desk. 

    The last one was the best yet! Here it is:

    If you want to catch up, check out my previous posts for links to the podcasts on the British Comedy Guide & iTunes:

    February - with street performers Andre Vincent, Rob Ballard and Mat Barnard

    March - with Graham Linehan

    April - with pro wrestler William Regal and Lenny Beige

    May - with Jenny Eclair

    June - with Merian Ganjou from the Dior Dancers

    Mat's now up in Edinburgh doing his one man show and a variation of London Varieties called Voodoo Varieties with Mat Ricardo. It didn't work out this year for me to go with him (still gutted about that...) but I'll be back onboard next year for London Varieties' 2013 run which will involved BIG EXCITING CHANGES! I don't know quite what they'll be yet as Mat hasn't told me but BE PREPARED!

    If you're in Edinburgh, definitely check out Mat's shows and while you're there, take in some of the many glorious cabaret and variety shows this year's festival has to offer. I couldn't possibly mention them all here in case I forget anyone so I'll leave you to your own discovery devices.

  • Mat Ricardo's London Varieties - June show!

    The penultimate show of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties happened this month and it was fun. That sounds like a weak adjective, but it's actually rare for me to properly enjoy the show as I'm too busy unmuting mics, adjusting levels and checking the audio feed from the desk to Reaper and to the Zoom and dealing with the ever-present venue challenges:

    Venue Manager: We can't use channel 2 because it's definitely broken

    Me: Well, we can't use channel 3 because of the hum

    VM: Hum? There's no hum in any of our channels!

    Me: [pulls channel 3 fader up to reveal a very present hum at around 100hZ)

    VM: That wasn't there yesterday! 

    We worked around this in the end but every month I arrive a little bit earlier than the previous month, just in case, and every month that extra time gets filled in with unexpected issues. From this point of view, I'm slightly relieved that next month's show will be the last of the year as I'm currently arriving around 3 hours before doors open...for a non-music show...

    Anyway, the real star of this month's show was the guest interviewee, Merian Ganjou.

    In the 50s and 60s, Merian was part of a jaw-dropping dance act called The Dior Dancers. Stars of the British variety circuit, they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in the US and spent two years performing in Vegas. 

    Before you listen to the podcast, watch this video to see how utterly amazing this act is. I've seen circus acts do some of the moves involved, but never all of them together. Incredibly, as you'll hear in the podcast, the three men in the act weren't trained dancers at all, one of them worked as a stage hand, one was a bodybuilder and the other worked in a stationers!

    Jaws to the floor time:

    And here's the London Varieties podcast for this month, produced by me and featuring the interview with Merian (that's her in the picture):

    As usual, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

    Next month is the last London Varieties for this year. Mat will be taking the show to the Edinburgh Fringe as Voodoo Varieties but sadly without me, for a number of very disappointing reasons beyond our control.

    Have a look at Mat's blog to check the lineup for next month.

    And if you're up in Edinburgh for the Fringe this August and fancy quality variety, definitely check out Mat's solo show Mat Ricardo: Vaudeville Schmuck as well as Voodoo Varities. You won't be disappointed, this really is variety as it's meant to be.

  • Mat Ricardo's London Varieties - May show!

    It's that time of the month again...time for another dose of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties in podcast form!

    This month's big star guest was Jenny Eclair who was lovely and very funny. I had my usual dose of monthly sound challenges...this time (unbeknownst to me) the venue had upgraded their sound equipment since the previous month so I had to soundcheck, set up the podcast and learn a new setup without any extra time.

    Sigh. But as I consider being able to troubleshoot in stressful live situations one of my better skills, I managed with only a minor loss to the sound quality. For some reason one of the ouputs of the mics went to the FOH monitors, but not to my feed to my laptop (via the Saffire Pro 14), so Jenny Eclair's interview is more ambient that I would have liked. I didn't pick this up on the night, no doubt it's something peculiar about the new equipment that I'll have to try and sort out for next week.

    As always, I'm very glad I record the show via two sources - direct feed from sound desk to laptop, and on my Zoom from the stage.

    Anyway...the podcast is still very enjoyable and captures the atmosphere of the night, which is the point. You can download it as usual from the British Comedy Guide or subscribe on iTunes.

    We've only got 2 more shows in this year's series of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties so if you're in London and you haven't been, please come to the next one!

    Mat has the full awesome line up on his blog

  • Sounds Wilde as Sound Expert: Article on Sensurround in New Empress Magazine

    Sounds Wilde as Sound Expert: Article on Sensurround in New Empress Magazine

    In August I was asked to contribute my opinion as a sound expert for an article in New Empress Magazine, an independent UK-based film magazine.

    The article was about Sensurround, which I had first heard about at sound school. It was interesting to research this short-lived phenomenon and consider what it gave to the sound industry - namely subwoofers!

    The picture attached is a scan of the article, or better yet, go and buy a copy of the magazine and read it in print! It's worth it, firstly because it's new and interesting and doesn't pander solely to fashions and boys in their early 20s like some other larger film magazines, and secondly because it's always good to support independent businesses!