Bilingual voice actor and The Voice Realm talent Michael Lane is living the life, combining his love of voice over work with a home in paradise – Puerto Rico.
He’s a man of many talents and has found the perfect balance between being a professional voice actor and enjoying the many facets of the industry. We caught up with him to get his take on the voice over industry and where he sees it going.
· How long have you been doing voiceovers? How did you get started?
If you count the time I spent in radio (way back when it was four hours on the air and four in “other”), the answer would be 30 years. But my real voiceover path started in 2006, when I stumbled onto the fact that people at that time, would pay twice the amount for a Spanish voiceover than they would in English. That’s not true today, but it sure lit a fire under me back then! WHAT FUN! 😀
· What are some of the benefits from being a freelance voice actor?
My studio is a small space associated with a radio station here in San Juan. (I finally made it to Arbitron market #14 – lol!). I lend them a little expertise from time to time and run the board a couple of hours a day. In return, I have my studio here rent free. The biggest reason for that is…I want home life to be home life and work life to be work life. Having said that, being a freelance voice actor has given me the chance to write the music I want to write, walk along the ocean when I want, stay home and clean the floors when it’s needed, etc. I’m an artist – an actor – a narrator – a singer – a writer – those things take time WITHOUT the grind of a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) – job. Here’s my favorite conversation with my boss:
Me: Hey, boss, can I leave early today? I saw a lamp that I want to go buy for my living room.
Me: No. Stop asking.
Me: OK, See you tomorrow!
And my favorite “self-employment” quote comes from photographer Charlie MacPherson of Massachusetts: “I worked for one idiot too many and decided that if I was going to be working for an idiot, I wanted to BE that idiot!”
· How have you seen the industry change over the past 5 years?
For me, personally, it’s meant that the geography of the planet has ceased to matter. Other than the minor difficulty of Time Zones, there’s not one single thing stopping any of us from having our work broadcast anywhere. In the Atlantic Standard Time Zone, we’re one hour ahead of even the East Coast, so when I’m “done for the day”, my PST clients haven’t even had lunch! But, I do work in the US, UK, Japan, Belgium, Canada, Guyana, Argentina, The Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India and occasionally, even here in Puerto Rico without missing a step.
· Where do you see the future of the voice over industry going?
Tough one! Personally, my only goal is to do enough work again tomorrow to justify my Bohemian take on life (art, freedom, justice, beauty, love, kindness, etc.). The whole e-world does encourage anyone who can buy a USB mic to “become a voice actor”. And, for the moment, there are people who will offer work to those folk a time or two. If the client is satisfied, they’ll keep working. I think that if you are really good at this, though, and don’t develop the “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM????” mindset; there will always be a place for us. I’m amazed at the dialogue on places like LinkedIn, where the “stars” have all day to debate whether to collect $10,000 per 30 second read or try to murder all the talents who are willing to charge $9,995 for the same read. Seriously? Shouldn’t you be, like, working, or sumthin’?
· What are some of the benefits you’ve found from being in control of which jobs you audition for?
NONE – lol! That’s not exactly true. EVERY actor in every field knows that auditions are part of it. And it’s only reasonable to assume I’m not getting every project I audition for. The magic of the process is there’s a client who is looking for a particular sound to fulfil a vision. My work either fits in that puzzle, or it doesn’t. I can’t buy a “plug-in” that makes me get hired when I’m just not the right person. Auditions surely combat the dreaded “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM????” disease, I get to stretch my repertoire and…oh, I’m sorry…is this messy auditioning process messing with Facebook Time? What ELSE am I gonna do with my day…it’s CEO-minded to go out and get more work…
I’ll give you my absolutely favorite aspect of controlling auditions – my biggest Pet Peeve in this entire industry is “looking for a Morgan Freeman type”, or “must sound like Dennis Haysbert” or “Sam Elliot impression preferred”. YOU DO THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY A DISSERVICE when you ask for that. It’s not only disrespectful to us, it’s disrespect to Sam, Morgan and Dennis, and to you the client, who’s saying “I want a bazillion dollar voice for my product, but I only want to pay $29 for it”. Call effing Sam, Dennis or Morgan next time. And I have the freedom to SKIP those demos! Auditions are GREAT for humility checks and, many times, I get to read something that’s so much fun, I don’t even care if I got the gig – I just stepped into some great writing, got it on my shoe and…we move on.
English and Spanish Voice Talent Michael Lane can be booked for your next project at The Voice Realm. He is available for Spanish translation work also.