Interview with Terry Daniel
From the comfort of his (currently frozen solid) home in Minnesota, voice artist and coach Terry Daniel has quickly become one of the most recognized voice talents in the industry. In addition to private coaching and running a full time VO business, Terry manages Voice Over Club - a great site for people just starting out in the world of VO. He also moderates both the Voice Over Camp and Voice Over Pros Facebook groups, and is part of the team at Voice Over Cafe - an infrequent (nudge, nudge), but awesome podcast by and for voice artists. And while visiting New York for a recent VO Cafe social, Terry also managed to find time to get married.
In his copious spare time (snicker) Terry was nice enough to answer a few of my questions. His answers proved to be helpful to anyone thinking about getting into the business.
How did you decide to get into professional VO? Why VO?
I did my first commercial in 1989 when I had no idea what a voiceover was or what it meant! I came from theater and radio. I got the bug after my parents bought me a “Mr. Microphone” at the age of 10. I would put on concerts for the family and I was always doing fake commercials. I even did phony radio shows on my boom box! You know the old silver
Panasonic one? Lol!
What are the misconceptions that people have about the voiceover business
That it’s a quick fix, if you’re unemployed or that it’s a fast and easy way to make a living. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance. There are no magic pills or shortcuts. You have to put in the work. “Buy a USB mic and YOU can be an instant success!” Doesn’t work that way.
What makes you effective as a VO coach?
I came from the theater so I have really good understanding of the “acting” part of voiceover. I’ve also spent years in advertising and marketing and I’ve been able to build my VO business from scratch by marketing and networking like a mad man! Talents enjoy working with me because I’m not a smoke blower who makes empty promises and nobody is rushed into making a demo when they aren’t ready. It’s more of a mentorship program.
What to date has been your most important life lesson?
To not take anything for granted and to stay humble. We all have bad days but sometimes you have to take a step back and appreciate the gifts that are in front of you. I laugh at myself when I get upset at petty nonsense because when I take a second to look around. I am working from the comfort of my own home, in front of a microphone and in my flannel pajamas pants! I’m a pro but I am still learning myself. I can always get better. There isn’t a talent in this world who is too good to stop learning and improving.
What do I need to do to make my voiceover business stand out from the crowd?
Make sure your demos kick ass and your website doesn’t look like an amusement park! Act like a pro, work like a pro and market like a pro!
You just celebrated an anniversary - 10 years as a professional VO. When did you switch to full time and how challenging was it?
I quit my radio gig cold in 2005 and plunged into VO full-time from home. It wasn’t easy but I knew this was what I needed to be doing. I had very little capital at the time so if I wanted to keep my house, I had to market and audition like crazy! Thankfully, everything worked out. I am grateful for that.
What’s the best mic to use for VO?
Mic isn’t has important as the best delivery! I’m not saying there isn’t a difference between an AT2020 and a TLM 103 but these days, it’s all about the reads. That said, a USB office mic obviously isn’t going to cut it, but you can make a great living as a voice actor with a mic under $500.
What one piece of advice can you give to people who want to get into this business?
A few things; In this day and age, everyone on social media is an expert. Be careful of what kind of information you’re digesting. Make sure the person giving advice is a working voice actor. Stay away from eHow articles on our business that are written solely for SEO purposes. VO books are great but some are a bit outdated, so choose wisely. Work with a coach. I would tell you this, even if you had 75 years of experience. Coaching is an integral part of any business. You can attend all the seminars and workshops in the world but nothing comes to close to a good mentor at your side. Also, don’t expect success overnight. This can be a very rewarding career but it takes time, money and a lot of hard work. And ignore the naysayers. If this is your dream, hit the gas and f***ing go for it!
To learn more about Terry and his coaching, visit his website at UniversalVoiceTalent.com
About Rob Marley - A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, producer and writer, now living in the Hill Country of Austin Texas.