Don't They Realize I'm An Artist?

Today I read an op-ed article by a voice-over artist describing, with weary condescension, a “pitch” recording session.  In Canada we call these demos -- rough versions of commercials recorded on spec for a client who will decide if the spots should be made for real.  If it’s a yes, the same voice artist may be brought back, or the job may be re-cast, but the original artist is paid for their time regardless.

In this instance, it seems the agency executives were too focused on their phones, they didn’t give the right kind of direction...the artist felt under-appreciated. 

I get it.  It’s not always easy to relate to the people on the other side of the glass.  Often I’m twice the age of the agency creatives (they’re mostly millennials).  And sure, we all like to joke about the kind of direction we’re given in sessions:  I do, my colleagues do, and so does Joe Cipriano in the movie “In a World”.  But we do it with respect, I believe.  And appreciation -- most important, appreciation.  I’m grateful to be able to earn a living on the mic.  In my work as a voice artist, I have not only been challenged and supported, I’ve also learned more about acting, about the human voice, and about listening than I could have imagined. 

I hate the cynical attitude.  I know not every session is ideal.  The people you work for sometimes seem disengaged.  I know it’s advertising, and it’s hard not to feel cynical about that sometimes, even when you have chosen to work in this industry (and there are many people out there who’d love to get work in this industry).  And we are talking about a job that pays well above minimum wage for work that involves no more heavy labour than lifting a pencil.  It’s not a huge hardship.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt says you can bear anything by taking it in ten-second increments.  “Just count to ten.  And when you’re done, start over and count to ten again.” 

I know that’s what I did when I finished reading the article, and it seemed to help.