There is no Spoon: Navigating the Matrix of the Voiceover Industry

You are The One.

Coming out of the Matrix

Image result for matrix screensaver

You are The One.  No, I’m not going to sing Hero by Mariah Carey.  Yes, I’m going to motivate you.  No, I will not wear a skirt and use pom-poms.  Yes, I’m here to help you: I’m here to show you the door.  Only you can walk through it - just like we'll have to walk through the doors of the movie theater again soon: apparently they're foisting another Matrix sequel on us.  Oh joy.

So, in honor of the original Matrix movie (and some might say only movie, in the same manner that they would say there is only the original Star Wars trilogy), here is a Matrix-themed blog for you.

Ah, Neo.  The Keanu-Reeves character from the Matrix trilogy, that started well and ended with me wondering what I did wrong to deserve such storytelling punishment.  The fate-smothered messiah of the computer world, sent in to bend the rules and bring humanity back from the BTU bioelectricity harvest fields.  He was told “There is no spoon,” and saw that in fact it was not the spoon that bends, it was only himself.

Huh?

Image result for there is no spoon

Anyway…once Neo bent himself all up, he was ready to go.  But it did take a balding prepubescent Buddhist monk to tell him that he was ready.  Thank you Spoon Boy.

That’s what I’m here to be.  Your own personal Spoon Boy.  To tell you that you can do this, and that it’s easier that you think, and that you had what it takes in you all along…to be The One.

When Neo came out of his pink Vaseline donut-jelly pod, he didn’t know what to think.  Everything he knew up until that point had been real.  In fact, when later confronted with reality, Morpheus would ask him, “What is real?  How do you define real?”  Everything Neo knew needed to be reshaped, rethought, reframed.

It’s time to do the same with you.  Are you ready for your training?

 

Take the Red Pill

Image result for morpheus take the red pill

“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.  You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Do you, as a voiceover artist, want to stay in Wonderland?  Do you want to tumble down the rabbit hole?  Is your name Alice?  (That last one would just be super downright coincidental).

So, Alice, let’s do this together.  Let’s take the red pill and go down that rabbit hole.

In this voiceover journey towards supernatural ability, you won’t dodge bullets, you won’t run up walls, and because we work only in audio, we won't be able to see you pull any of those nifty Bullet-time 360-degree camera rotations while you record.  I’m truly sorry for the letdown.  BUT – the possibility exists that you’ll be able to bend yourself around the spoon as it were, and jump from naked pink-pod-floating-D-battery-status, to a Kung-Fu-wielding-Agent-Smith-defeating Voiceover master.  But first, you must learn the ways of the Voiceover spoon.

Huh?

 

What IS this Voiceover spoon?

Image result for there is no spoon

The Spoon.  It’s everything that represents the rules in the voiceover world:

  • Don’t be listed here
  • Do market there
  • Don’t shout this
  • Do say it that way
  • Don’t record that way
  • Do record this way
  • Don’t use that microphone
  • Do use this one
  • Don’t listen to that group or person
  • Do listen to these ones
  • Don’t be with that agency
  • Do be with this one

As with any entrepreneurial pursuit, there are rules.  How you comply (or don’t) with them, is up to you.  But that compliance is what determines your success in said pursuit.   …or is it?

Are there ways to bend the rules?  Can you work the system to make the best of every world work for yourself?  Are you The One?

For me, in business, there are lots of rules I bend.  I’m on Voices.com, which is a big no-no in some voice talents’ eyes.  (See my previous blog).  I’m with Idiom Talent Agency, also a perceived no-no (I’m also with others though – cut me some slack) - I joined with them because I'm a believer in possibilities.  I don’t like cold calling so I do virtually only email and social media.  I focus on many genres of voiceover, to diversify myself.  Many people will tell you only focus on one.  I audition like crazy.  Some, even a major P2P, will tell you to be more selective.

Is it the spoon that bends?  No.  I bend myself around the spoon.  I’m very bendy.  I like to wind my way through this matrix we call the Voiceover Industry, on the lookout for Agents who would seek to hinder me, and making sure that I’m equipped to break from the norm, to bend the rules, in order to get me to my goal of freeing humankind from enslavement.  Sorry – got a little TOO into the Matrix there.  Actually, here are some of my goals, and they are many:

  • Not being pigeonholed.
  • Not being typecast
  • Not being out of work
  • Not being stagnant
  • Not standing still
  • Not not thinking (double negative intentional there)
  • Not being creative
  • Not working hard

Why do I start this list of goals with “Not”?  Simple!  It’s my blog, and not yours.  There!  See?  I bent the rules again.

You see, if there’s one thing I’ve learned being in business since 2003, is that you can’t get anywhere without bending the rules.  I bought an email spider program to harvest emails for prospective clients from various sites.  Rule-bending.  The things I mentioned earlier are examples of bending the rules.  I bend the “rules”, in the case of my being represented by Idiom Talent (and there is a genuine valid reason why some people don’t recommend being with them, I grant you: they charge you an annual membership fee for the right to receive auditions; most agents will not charge you anything), as they offer me lots of opportunities to audition, and so I’m with them for that reason (although I’m not renewing).  Rule-bending.  I’m with Voices.com, because they offer me A) a massive amount of audition opportunities, B) the opportunity to bid according to GVAA rates, and C) when I’m finished with a job that I’ve been awarded, I can convert that client to a direct client.  Rule-bending.

Do I break the rules?  I prefer not to: they’re there for order, to prevent disorder…kind of like a bowling alley gutter.  I wouldn’t want to break the gutter; it keeps me on the straight and narrow.  But I can start my bowling swing to the right of the right gutter – outside the lines - and drop the ball just into the bowling lane, curving ever inward for that strike.  Rule-bending.

 

Agents Smith

The word “Agents” is intentionally plural, because there is a sort of “Old Guard” in force still in voiceovers, invisibly maintaining oversight across the voiceover industry similar to the Illuminati: pulling the strings behind the scenes.  It’s the sense of collective disapproval by those whose ambitions for preservation of existing standards outweigh their acquiescence to change, and make them suspicious of the up-and-comers.  The world truly is changing, and with it come both pro’s and con’s.  It’s hard to bumped up against the Old Guard, because it means that you might have to bend rules there too.  However, unlike in the Matrix, they’re not intentionally hostile; they just exist to preserve the rules.

I myself have bumped up against these Agents - and some exchanges have been pleasant, and some have not.  There are definitely upper echelons of untouchables in this industry, and you don’t want to rub some of them the wrong way, or risk being branded as an outcast, an anomaly, a glitch in the Matrix.  Glitches get fixed – or deleted.

How you choose to run through the matrix of the voiceover industry is entirely up to you.  Your way, if it is successful for you and provides food for your family, is therefore acceptable to me, as long as it doesn’t contribute to system failure and the dreaded blue screen of death.

Image result for bsod

It’s acceptable if it doesn’t cause someone to pull the plug on the whole affair.  The only way that can happen is if you sell your binary soul to the Matrix and accept low rates that bring about an eventual utter collapse in the payscale.

May it never be unsaid, and may the phrase always live on well past 1’s and 0’s:  Good is always the worst enemy of Best.  Sure, you can settle for rules and being bound by them.  Or you can go for Best, and beat the system to make your own way.  I love this song from Petra from the 80’s…granted, it’s an oldie but a goodie:

Caught in the undertow being swept downstream
Going against the flow seems like such a dream
Trying to hold your ground when you start to slide
Pressure to compromise comes from every side
Wise up rise up
You can be more than a conqueror you will never face defeat
You can dare to win by losing all you can face the heat dare to
Beat the System

How to Beat the System

Image result for escape the matrix

You already are The One.  Accept it.  Just like Conor McLeod of the Clan McLeod needed to accept his destiny as dictated to him by Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez.  He needed to accept that he was immortal, just like you need to accept that you’re The One.  Speak the syntax to yourself.  Own the code.  You’re The One.

It’s in your destiny to bend rules, to beat the system, to break out, to rise up, to emerge, to find a way, to accept that your programming is to both follow AND lead.  You have it within you.

The Creator made us, in creativity, as creative people.  You have the ability to create ways and methods unique to your:

  • comfort level
  • skillset
  • giftings
  • abilities
  • time schedule
  • preferences

You have ways of functioning that I don’t.  You might be a 0 when I’m a 1, or a 1 when I’m a 0.  I'm offline, you're online, and vice versa.  You can calculate the best approach through a maze.  You have it within you.  Break out of the pink pod and know that you have great destiny and calling and abilities to beat the system. The first step, the only step worth mentioning here with a claxon and a clarion call, is to accept that you are in fact The One…The ONLY One, who can do it.  CTRL-ALT-DEL your old identity of inability and lack of confidence.  Reboot into assurance.

Go break out.  There is no Voiceover Spoon.

And then a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on…

Whoops, sorry.

Love,

Spoon Boy

 

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Joshua Alexander
Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Talent for hire
joshua@voicetalentseattle.com
206.557.6690
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