Sunday, December 19, 2010

Think About Who You Know Who Needs You!

Who do you know who needs you? Christmas can be a particularly lonely season for those without family where they live, for those who are unmarried or widowed or need a friend. Invite someone for a holiday lunch, shopping, coffee, dinner. Take them a gift, food perhaps. And remember your special services people such as postman, pharmacist, mailing suite person, hairdresser, manicurist, veterinarian, dentist, doctors, neighbors, teachers, church workers, clergy, office staff or temps who have been particularly loyal or helpful. It's a perfect season to give. Give back. Get and ye shall receive tenfold. Oh yes. Make a list. And the week between Christmas and New Years is always a great time to spread new cheer. I call it "the blank week." That's when people have a let-down after the holiday hubbub and need picking up. Make the holiday a season of giving.

All best to you all
With holiday cheer
Bettye Zoller

Christmases Past: So Many Memories!

Christmases many of them...from childhood, beloved family, grandma cooking big dinners, thirty or more around the huge dining room mahogany table she set so carefully complete with salt sellers. You don't know what those are? They are little cut glass round salt holders set at each person's place at the table. Good for dipping celery stick, carrot tips, etc. Out of fashion today but so nice to have. Giant bowls of delicious foods. Pies and cakes. She was so amazing. Born 1864 die 1962 when I was in high school. I loved her so much. We all did. She was the matriarch of our family, Sarah Elizabeth Willis Cline. A true American pioneer! You see, my mother was born when she was 45 years old and I was born when my mother was 40. Thus, it's like I skipped a generation. She should have been my great grandmother...but wasn't it lovely. Because my mother was born so much later than her seven brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles soon passed away too. By the time I was out of college, that huge family was gone except for three or four people. They passed away shortly after. My parents always seemed like my grandparents. They were always the oldest in my class. And I only got to enjoy them until I was in my mid-thirties because they were, by that time, pushing 80. Think about that if you are having children in your 40s.

Moving ahead to later Christmases: I have spent Christmas in New Orleans, Switzerland, Vienna, Germany, the Grand Caymens, Florida, California, Missouri, Kansas, Charleston SC, Texas, Tucson AZ, Sante Fe NM, on a river cruise down the Danube in Europe, on a cruise to Panama, Costa Rica, Mexican ports, Ecuador, Denver CO, Chicago IL, DesMoines IA, Minneapolis MN, Joplin MO (and many other places). My favorite place is at home in Dallas. We're home this year for the first time in five years at Christmas. Had a lovely supper buffet for friends last week. Delightful. With visit from my dear cousin in Nashville, Donna Jones Torsney. Blessings all
It's time to go Christmas shopping for friends' presents. I'm late doing it!

All Joy
Bettye Zoller

Start Your Year with My Webinar/Online Course

January 4 is our webinar "Seven Steps to Branding Your Voice Over Business" sponsored by VOICEOVERXTRA. See this for more info and to enroll at the special sale price (start the year off right) of only $34.95)

And January 18 is the first night of our online voice over course for beginners sponsored by Voiceoverxtra. Visit for information and to enroll. It is six nights, mostly one per week. See schedule on this URL site. The course covers all the most important basic areas. If you cannot attend a night, John Florian and VOXTRA email you the podcast of each night afterward anyway so you have not lost out. You will also receive a handout with each class, plus you get to ask questions!

Voice overs are complex and varied and your educating yourself in all the many facets of this profession is a vital task you must do in order to have even a modicum of success! I have always believed that succeeding in voice overs is more a matter of business acumen than it is voice acting prowess. The finest actors in the world are waiting tables. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the point is, why do some actors become millionaires, billionaires, while others can't afford a closet-sized tenement apartment? Business savvy and hard work at building one's career is at the forefront of success in all fields of endeavor!

Hope you'll join us Jan 4 and then for the online course starting Jan 18.
Happy New Year!
Bettye Zoller
"A goal without a deadline is only a dream."

If You Think It--Write It!

Just consider all of the thoughts you have in a single day! In those myriads of thoughts are some gems that you should share by writing about them. Those are perfect subjects for your blog. If you're like me, you sometimes have days when you would like to write a new blog entry but can't think of a topic. Turn to your thoughts. What were they earlier today? Here are some of mind today:
Oh-- thought I'd show you this photo from Luzerne Switzerland and I was standing in front of a building dating from the Bubonic Plague time...placque on wall showed how many died there. Eerie...And that little white dog in the photo-- I didn't crop it out on purpose. Bet that dog's bigger now...or maybe not...hope it's happy.
Going on with my thoughts:
How people are often unthinking, unmannered, thoughtless towards others in daily life. Examples everywhere!
How people often think of voice overs as 'fun' or 'interesting' but don't realize that to succeed as a voice talent takes hard work and usually many years.
Voice training and acting training is a MUST for voice actors. It isn't just 'talking!'
The performing singer...I train singers too and recently have not had the time to do this. I miss it. I believe I should present a singer's workshop in 2011
I'm going in the recording studio to create a new CD singing with my husband's group Jazz Magic. I must schedule rehearsals for us to get ready to record.
What do I want as MY GOALS for 2011--I know most of them internally. Write it down!
My husband and I have a vacation planned for 2011 to somewhere we've not been before and I must research this place more before we go.
Why I love reality TV (my favs!)
Planning my January 16 Dallas workshop for voice over newcomers. Better get started girl!
Why am I nostalgic for the past? I romanticize it. I was not in love with all of it when living it!

So there you have it, dear readers.
Hey--Happy Holidays everybody.
And all blessings in the new year. Thanks for following my blog.
Bettye Zoller

Friday, November 26, 2010

Enjoy Life Every Day! Stay Away From Bad News!

Be careful what you hear and watch on TV. It can drag you down. The world has been at war many thousands of years. The U.S. has had good and terrible presidents. The politicians have always been corrupt for large part. Evil people abuse precious animals and little children. People kill people. Kidnappers and pickpockets and thieves have always existed in the world. Along with these horrible things, good people exist. People help people.Our teachers help us. Our ministers and rabbis guide us. All religions believe in a god...all religions spring from history and have the belief they are the right religion. It's strange. Life is mysterious. We'll never know much about it as we live it. Go with the flow. Stop judging things as good or bad. They just ARE. Enjoy today and every day. The sky outside my window is clear pale blue without a cloud in view. Yesterday was chilly when we walked our dog bundled up to our ears. Today is sweater weather. Lovely. Left over turkey, of course, the day after Thanksgiving. Love that too. Blogging is a great invention. Thanks for reading this. Blog on and I will too.
All best (this photo is from Vienna where we spent Christmas 2009 with our beloved son and his family).

Thanksgiving for My Career and How It Happened

Serendipity: I was a jingle singer and performer with my jazz group in supper clubs, lounges. A friend who was also a studio singer told me she had a recording session and I inquired for whom. She replied it was a voice over session. I asked what was a voice over! The next week, I went to her house for lunch and heard her new demo (at that time, a little cassette tape). I had been wondering how I would ever use my extensive training as an actor (through two masters degrees and much private study!). Singing had taken precedence in my life. I didn't want to do theatre. Night rehearsals and performances and very little money in return. I was now making a great living singing. But I saw opportunity to diversify. I enrolled in a voice over course attending sixteen night classes with an experienced voice coach in Dallas. Subsequent workshops followed. Soon, I was in the voice over biz. It was and still is fabulous. can't praise it enough. It's a wonderful way to make a living. Teaching others? Didn't enter my mind. I was, however, a singer's coach (still am) and acting coach. Well, people kept asking me to help them break into voice work. I said "no" until it turned to 'yes.' Now, I teach people worldwide and have started literally hundreds in this profession and also in radio-TV work. It was meant to be...Life takes you on paths you did not choose. Go with it. Have fun and enjoy what you do and if you don't enjoy it, stop doing it! Fear of change will stop you. Don't let it. Entrepreneurship can be scary. Don't be scared. It's great. New challenges are around every bend. With every ring of your phone and every day's email, new offers happen. Gotta go. Auditioning and jobs to do and projects to mix edit in my studio. Hope you attend one of our seminars soon. Love to meet you if you and I aren't friends yet. All best. Remember: You are a small business owner and your business is YOU.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Protecting your voice from harm: Gaming/Cartoons

When voicing demanding projects, voice projects that often take long days or weeks to complete, vocal stress and harm is always a possibility, and once damaged, the vocal mechanism, the delicate vocal folds, take a long, long time to repair themselves. Complete vocal rest is mandatory for faster healing and that means not working at all, speaking, for a long period without income from your voice over work or acting. Bad news! There is a category of pay, in union jobs, called 'hazard pay.' This means your agent or you can ask more money for work that is potentially vocally damaging. It's not always paid, however, and smaller jobs or speculative jobs never pay this. So you're on your own...are you willing to be damaged irreparably? Are you willing to lose your voice (maybe forever)? Are you willing to undergo vocal fold surgery for nodes or nodules? Will you go without income when your voice is not operational?No one will care when you're damaged. You've damaged yourself and now it's too late. THINK ABOUT THIS. It's very serious. That's what our webinar is about November 8 Monday night--Protecting your voice. It's sponsored by VOICEOVERXTRA. If you're reading this after this date and did not tune in, you can still contact the voxtra website to enroll and have the podcast of this event emailed to you. The fee is $44.95. It's well worth it. All best.
Bettye Zoller

An agent is a marriage. Choose wisely and work at it.

An agent only gets paid when you work. An agent isn't interested in wasting time talking to (let along signing) people who probably will not make them any money. An agent demands excellent sales tools from talents whom they represent. An agent demands a certain level of accomplishment and knowledge of acting, voice overs, modeling, whatever the person's skills are said to be. Sometimes, people contact me to coach them or create a demo for them and they say (amazingly!) that they've been searching for (or have signed with) and agent (s). I ask why they would have presumed to be ready when they also tell me they are rank beginners and, obviously, do not yet have the proper tools such as demos or headshots or resume. It is out of ignorance that this occurs...putting the cart before the horse as the old saying goes. Oh, they may indeed have been signed by an agent somewhere, a very 'minor' agent, not one in the mainstream, not one with power or connections or experience. And they may have been signed by an agent who honestly does not represent talents of their type or skills (for example, a voice over performer signed by an agent who primarily books musicians or models or theatrical work). Ignorance on both sides. So don't waste your time or agents' time by seeking representation until you are ready and your tools are in place and of top calibre. Then, go for it! And make certain that the agents with whom you sign are right for you and your focus. First, explore their website. Next, talk with them and not only by phone...try to meet face to face. Never 'drop in' of course, but make an appointment. That's being polite! Consider agent choices in that market (region). Once you've made your agent decision and signed with that person, promote yourself and your new agent affiliation widely and keep on doing that online and off. Prepare a postcard mailer. Have proper labels on all CDs and photos and cards. This means you'll have to have multiple print items because each agent needs personalized labels, cards, etc. You should be able to do this simply, at home, on your computer. If you're buying expensive printed materials for each agent, change your business model. Do this at home and save lots of money. So now you're 'married.' You may later get divorced (staying friendly, we hope), but so be it. It is like a marriage, an agent and you, and it takes work to make it work. All best to you.
Bettye Zoller

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Study First---Demo Later (Maybe)

It's always amazing when people contact me about making a demo with me and when I speak with them (phone coaching, telecoaching) or in-person, they are not ready to even consider doing a demo. Their speech is not adequate, they have no vocal expression, their voice has problems such as a raspy sound or speaking in squeaky high pitches all the time or other distracting and unpleasant vocal mannerisms. They have had absolutely no training and want me to make a demo on them? No way. There are certain steps that come BEFORE a demo. Duh. One is to have an 'inkling' of what this business is all about! Would a person start to sell insurance or real estate with no knowledge of that industry whatsoever? One would hope NOT. Would a person who could not write a correct sentence begin to write a play or screenplay? Again, one would hope not. Yet, so many believe voice overs are 'easy money,' 'fun,' 'easy to do,' everyone can do them,' 'everyone who talks can do voice work.' NOT SO!

If you are a person who truly believes you want to get into this field, start learning, studying. Enroll in not one, but six or more workshops with professionals teaching them. Never enroll in a class or workshop that promises you a demo FREE with the class or workshop! Never believe any school or person who promises, "It's easy," "You're perfect for this," "You have a wonderful voice. Enroll with me." "I can make you a success." Don't be a sucker!

Legitimate teachers tell the truth. This is a brutal business. It takes start-up capitol. It's not quick. The in-home recording studio and becoming good at recording techniques is a must in our internet world. It takes marketing and self-promotion. It's a SELLING JOB, basically. It takes constant work getting agents, casting director contacts, clients. The work is on-going and must be continual if you experience continual success.

Those are the facts. Give this blog to a newcomer to read. Convince that person not to make a demo until first they've studied and been coached. That may take years. Just depends...

Sincerely...Bettye Zoller

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday, Sweet Sunday...

Gorgeous fall day in Dallas. Not cool but semi- and invigorating after our intense summer heat. I'm going to buy bulbs for our gardener to plant in anticipation of next spring. Bulbs must be planted about this time of the year and left planted all winter. Tulips, daffodils, crocus are my favs. I love flowers. Have you ever really looked closely at the face of the flower, pansy? No two are the same and they look like a beautiful mosaic. And yellow roses fill one entire corner of the backyard now, spilling over the neighbor's fence and towering a good thirty feet tall over it. She loves them too. I planted that bush about ten years ago. It was very small. One bush! Flowers are so rewarding. They love you back. Plant a flower or two and even if in pots, that's fine too. A potted garden is fun. I love houseplants too. But when you travel, you must have all of them taken care of by someone. Don't forget. One misstep and they die. They depend on you.

Watching TV today and reading but must start mixing editing audio project for Chicago client. Gotta do it. Work. More later.

Happy Sunday.
Bettye Zoller

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Changing of the Seasons-New Beginnings

The changing season brings to mind many fall seasons in my life, burning leaves in Kansas City where it wasn't illegal then, gorgeous colors of Northern trees (when we see a brilliant tree color here in Texas, it's an unusual sight...alas), Halloween, Thanksgiving, wearing jackets and coats, chilly mornings. Mom and Dad, God bless 'em, still miss them daily, getting me ready for school, insisting I dress warmly. The smell of bacon cooking in the Autumn morning air. Knowing that winter was around the corner and winter was difficult with snow and ice and freezing temperatures but it was a new season too and always interesting and beautiful. I don't like living where we don't have distinct seasons. California would drive me bonkers, Arizona, New Mexico, places where we don't get the abrupt changes and dramatic sights of various seasons. Now I know those who live in these parts will disagree and so be it...I love your states too. I just miss the North and yet, don't miss the brutal winters...every part of the U.S. has beauty and I know that! But this morning, blogging, it occurs to me that many of my memories of past life are tied with seasons, happenings in certain times of the year, sights and sounds of seasons. Watermelon gardens and picnics in the summer nights, snow and ice in winter, summer evenings and crickets and lightning bugs (don't see them very much anymore...), spring flowers and birds singing as the wake up from the long winter and fly back North. And seasons of a career are important to think about too. Are you new? In the first season of your career? You've growing to do. Embrace it. Are you older with many seasons behind you, yet new seasons to come? Good. Every season has joy. Go for it.

Fashion and Voice Overs: Lessons to be Learned

The subject is competition, innovation, advertising your wares, catching the public eye, excelling in your business, making money. It's true in fashion and in voice overs (and all, film, tv, music, art, on and on). A student spoke with me about "competition" and how much of it there is in voice overs. What? So what? Talk about about being a fashion designer? I was reading Harper's Bazaar this morning. Love fashion. Love watching it and reading about it. All of the seasons of each year, designers must release new clothing, touting the line as "new." In reality, nothing is new. It's a rehash. What about opening a clothing store? What about going national with your clothing or your cosmetic line or whatever it is you do or sell? Scary? You bet! And people do it all the time without fear...well, they have fear, of course, they plan and design what seems to them to be the best roads to take to success, and along the way, get investors and lines of credit at banks and money to take their wares national. Then, the eventually have showrooms in NYC or even buildings in NYC and all over the world like Gucci, Chanel, von Furstenberg (opening new store not far from our home in Highland Park Village, the "rodeo drive" of Dallas...nothing in any store under $2000! And lots of shoppers in them too. So there! Don't worry about competition. What about being a hairdresser or a dentist or a dancer or a painter or a home decorator or furniture designer? Competition rules the world. Go with it. Enjoy it. Learn from your competition. Take their best ideas for yourself and earn with them. Learn from them and wish them well. Learn what NOT to do too. That's important. Fashion and Voice Overs and Acting and Singing and Playing the Guitar and name it...competition is the spice of life!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Know Audio Books and the Publishing Biz

Here's why: In 1991, we met in a restaurant, my soon-to-be-partners and I, to talk about forming a corporation, an audio book publishing company. This was the start of a whirlwind education,overly optimistic, I headed onward totally ignorant of what I had just set myself up for. Stupidity. So now, with offices rented and office furniture purchased, an attorney paid a fortune for drawing up the corporate papers, there we are. We created and distributed fifteen titles in all. Many were worldwide sellers, still out there! I became a Simon and Schuster author reader producer as a result of their finding out about me and my company's successes. Along the way, we snagged several big fish including The Audio Book Club. When they ordered 25,000 copies of several titles, it was time for big bank loans. Oh boy. Scary.swe spent a fortune on getting educated, attending conferences, consulting with experts on both coasts, buying expensive booths at trade shows just to get noticed. It worked. Ten years later, we dissolved the corp. when two partners became ill and subsequently passed away. It was, indeed, a life experience. Now, I teach audio books...the business and narrating them. I know whereof I speak. Let me help you avoid the painful experiences I endured on my long learning curve. My annual audio book workshop in Dallas is a goldmine of information. Join us. Watch my site for info. In 2010 it's Nov 13-14. Be there.

Competition Is Good

So what do you do now? PUBLICIZE, PROMOTE, SELL, NETWORK, GET AGENTS, GET ONLINE, GO FOR IT. You are a business. Your business is YOU. You cannot be fired. You cannot be jobless. That is, if you work hard every day and plan and scheme and figure out how to get noticed in this jungle. Voice overs today are overflowing with wannabees, newcomers. Some will last. Others will quickly drop out. Don't be concerned. The strong will survive. Competition has always been a motivator and it continues to be. Love competition. It's your FRIEND.
All best
Bettye Zoller

Go For It! What's Stopping You?

Today I had a client in my studio who is a video shooter, editor. TV personality, former newsman. He has wanted to do vo for decades. He is. Fantastic talent. I've had so many over the years who knew inside they could do this but something stopped them. What? Could be self-doubt. Could be negative voices of influence. Could be fear of failure. Could be lack of knowledge about the business. One common comment from newcomers is: "But the competition is so great." I respond, "SO WHAT?" Try hairdressing or dancing or opening a carpet store or clothing store or being a dentist. What else is new?" The Mary Kay Corporation says to its new salespeople, "don't fear competition. Everyone has SKIN." You have skin too! Get a THICK SKIN. Roll with it. Persevere. Go for it. Be not afraid.
All best
Bettye Zoller

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Determination or Just a Dream?

Voice Overs and my recording studio and life go on...some happy some sad moments when dear friends pass or other life happenings. I am watching the black and white classic movie, "Sunset Blvd." with the late and always amazing Gloria Swanson. William Holden stars. He always was a fav of mine and in the film, "Picnic," took my breath away. I've loved him for decades. well, I'm what do I want to write my blog about today? Let me see...

Today I had a client in my recording studio and she kept finding fault with herself. Classic case of self-doubt and insecurity about her abilities. I call that, in my students, "the imposter syndrome." Self-doubt comes from not feeling comfortable in one's own skin, not being sure one should be doing something. Self-doubt can end with abandoning plans, one's dreams, goals, because the person began to doubt so strongly his or her direction. Don't let that happen to you at the beginning of a new endeavor be it a business or a love affair. Yes, voice overs are a business. But they also should be a love affair. They should be something you want to do more than anything else and you should be determined. I guess that's what I want to say here: Determination. Do you have it? You need it.

A good friend in radio, a man who was very wealthy from his broadcasting endeavors, once told me this: "If someone tells you they are THINKING about doing something, starting a new business, learning a new skill or trade, tell them they probably never will amount to anything. That's because if a person wants, with a burning desire, to do something, accomplish something, he isn't just THINKING about doing it. He is DETERMINED."

See what that means? Be determined. Focus. And find your bliss. If it's not meant for you, you'll drop out. Many have. It's not all fun. It's not all joy. It's hard work. It's not glamorous. Oh no. It's sweaty and scary and wonderful.

Bettye Zoller

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Who Do You Miss and Why?

People affect us all of our lives good and bad. The good ones we grow to respect, love, admire, revere, treasure. Who do you miss in your life? I miss so many, teachers, friends, helpers, neighbors, business associates. It'salways there in the back of my mind and pops up at the strangest times, often when I see a movie or read a book or talk with a friend who reminds me of them or how much I miss them. Longing and largess and pining, and straining for them.But they are gone, gone gone. What to do? "Think about other things," people counsel me. "You can't bring them back so don't pine for them." "They live on in your memory." Well, memory is not GOOD ENOUGH. I want them here, now, in my life like they USED TO BE. Get it? But that doesn't matter cause they are, in fact, GONE GONE GONE.

Missing folks you love or admire is part of life so enjoy and treasure the ones around you while you have them. That's my advice.
Bettye Zoller

Voice Overs Can Be Weird and You Should Know

I grow increasingly tired of people who complain about lack of career success in voice overs. I began in this business as a studio singer and voice over performer with a four month old son and a husband (later we divorced) who seldom worked. The money from studios saved our lives. My mother often bought me groceries and paid my gas bill. I freed my parents from all that. Then later, studio money sent children to private schools, expensive colleges, built on our house, took expensive world vacations, so much more, all on monies earned from recording work. My parents, God bless them and He does and did,would have been so proud had they lived until now. But they know looking at me from somewhere across the veil.

You must keep trying. Do it for the ones you love and especially yourself!

Well, you can do it too. You have to promote yourself, get to know people who can hire you, get your name out in the world, on the internet, and have people who LIKE YOU. That's first. People want to work with people THEY LIKE. Ask any job consultant. They will say the same.

Today I downloaded and printed an article about this subject. It is entitled, "Find Success With Hard Work." Bravo. Yes. Right on. And tonight on TV I'm watching the masterful movie, "Julie and Julia." Yes, both women were so strong and kept on and did not give up. You can do it too.

Onward. Upward. Let this be your motto. Best of luck and hugs to you all.
Bettye Zoller

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thank You New Orleans

The big easy. People are laid back. Things move more slowly. No concern about time. Relax. Lay back. My two day seminar there was sold out and the attendees were really wonderful people and talents. I made new friends. Thank you New Orleans. It was somewhat difficult for me to adjust to the New Orleans tempo but I did it. The food was marvelous. The last day there, in a hard tropical rain, we stumbled into a shack, a little cafe, only to discover the food was fantastic. Soft shelled crab, oysters, shrimp, gorgeous fish, absolutely delicious. I ate standing up, watching the rain outside, eating on a paper plate the best meal I ever had in this great city.

One day, the students went to lunch together and arrived back at the seminar 45 minutes late. Lunch lasted one hour and 45 minutes. Wow. Well, the students missed one entire segment of the day I had planned for them. The city tempo, it seems, invades everyone's body in New Orleans. Yes, I was upset. The next day, everyone returned from lunch on time.

Eating dinner at the famous Antoines was fantastic too. Fantastic prices as well, but we expected that. After dinner, we were taken on a special tour of the entire building, even the secret passage used during the civil war! Photos all over the walls of famous people dating back to the 1800s. And then, we met the grandaughter of the Antoine's founder! She was most gracious. She signed menus for us. We'll frame them in our kitchen. I have a menu from antoines when oysters were $2.40 PER DOZEN. It's framed in our kitchen.

As I write this, it is the Fourth of July. BarBQ awaits. Happy Holiday!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer memories

The smells of summer remind me of many things: Quiet summer afternoons with my Aunt Frances walking quiet streets in Joplin MO, my grandmother's front porch in Kansas City, and swinging in the porch swing in the dark until the adults made me stop ("Stop that! The noise let's people know we're here on the porch. If we're quiet, we can watch the neighbors on our street without their knowing!" Without internet and with only about three TV channels that stopped broadcasting about ten p.m., the front porch brigade sat there nightly as entertainment (and it was!). I slept with the big window open, listening to night sounds and sometimes raising up in bed to peer down at the street below in the wee hours of the morning. Once in a while, I'd see a couple kiss, returning from a date. Sometimes I heard arguments in the night. What fun. And always, the moon above and the sounds of insects. I love Kansas City. I always will.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer is the Time For Growing

I love summer seminars. I love summer book reading. I love summer just sitting around and thinking and then, wandering out into our back garden admiring the lovely flowers and letting the warm breezes waft over me. And the word "waft" is a summertime word and I love that word the most! Here is a photo of our back garden this summer. Wonderful.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Goodbye Sweet Dennis Hopper

I have been in love with Dennis Hopper for forty or more years. From afar. My husband has known this forever. Easy Rider was the start but Apocalypse Now was the summit, the climax. And when Dennis said, with cameras around his neck, "How am I going to outer space? I can't go on a fraction! Like, what am I gonna do? I can't go to outer space on like, 3/4 or 2/8 or..." And in the same flick he said, "He says profound things like (referring to Brando's character...) the middle word in life, man, is 'if.'" Can you dig it, as they used to say in the 1960s, my hippie days?

Dennis was forever my hippie, my dangerous on-the-edge hippie and I loved him. Enjoy your new journey, Dennis. You were wiser than all of us. You died as you lived, happy and peaceful.

Bettye Zoller
May 31, 2010

Italy: Vacation Tales From Europe

Rome, Venice, and Switzerland, two long train rides, gorgeous scenery, amazing food, antiquities, moving moments in churches, museums, and so much more. A wealth of sights and sounds during our three and one-half weeks in April. Was it wonderful? Good and bad...yes, both.

First, Rome is work. Rome is hill climbing and walking for miles, hours, with nowhere to sit and rest. Rome seems to want to keep us on our feet. The occasional small park with three benches and people fighting to sit on them was a welcome relief. Bridges with hundreds of tiny steps to climb and no other way to get to the other side along with waiting for buses and taxis, incessant noise and fumes from millions of motorcycles, made Rome a chore, not a pleasure. The prices for everything were so high plus the unfavorable comparison of Euro to US Dollar made the costs astronomical. At one shop, two scoops of ice cream were the equivalent of sixteen US dollars. We walked out. Everything requires a taxi ride and the money just flew out of our wallets with every excursion outside our hotel, which, was also expensive!

We couldn't see the Sistine Chapel. It would be a six day wait to buy a ticket to get in. Never mind. We saw many other comparable sights and gorgeous antiquities. The Vatican was amazing. So big. So many buildings. St. Peter's Square was ruined by hawking vendors who chased us at times selling cheap toys and junk. Rome should try to keep the sites cleaner too. Public restrooms cost money to use and are filthy. You have to be taught how to use them and what to pay and where to insert the coins or buy the tickets. Don't wait till the last minute to find a restroom.

On to Venice: Noisy, crowded, pushing and shoving, vendors and booths. We quickly learned to leave the Grand Canal area and go inward, into the city where people live and hang their washing out. We ate at neighborhood restaurants. Delicious foods. Little cafes with house wines. We also saw the tourist shops, Gucci et. al. but passed by in favor of quaint antique shops. I bought some china to bring home. I can't say I would recommend Venice to you. It really was not worth the enormous prices.

The two train rides North through Italy and on through Switzerland to Zurich where we stayed in a lovely hotel for five days was glorious. All in all, it was a terrific trip. Next time, we will not endure the Euro and it being about 60 cents compared to the dollar. We'll go where we use francs or better, American dollars. And we've also decided we're going to keep our money and ourselves at home next year in the good old USA.

Oh please don't think Europe isn't wonderful or I'm ungrateful. I love every European journey. This is our fourth. Now, we're ready to see other parts of our wonderful earth. Perhaps a journey to Australia or Alaska or the Hawaiian Islands. Perhaps the California Wine Country. There are so many wonderful places to see. We're going to try to see and do as much as we can.

A Memorial Day Tribute to My Teachers

Do you ever remember and give thanks to your teachers and those who helped you along the way? If you can do so with your personal phonecall or email, do it now! If the person is deceased, perhaps you can write a tribute in your blog or mention names on your website in a box. Put a framed tribute on the wall in your studio listing favorite coaches and teachers. You'll think of something. do it.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I'm giving thanks to my teachers and mentors, the people who helped me along the path to my life and my career as a singer, actor, voice over talent, audio engineer, and audio producer. I also am experienced in creating jingles and worked as a lyricist and songwriter for a time, as well as a copywriter and writer (a skill I use daily). So here goes:

Josephine Borserine, my childhood drama coach in Kansas City, MO
Stanley Deacon, my singing coach for fourteen years in Kansas City, MO and at the University of Missouri at Kansas City as an undergraduate and graduate working on my first master's degree
Dr. Leroy Pogemiller at the University of Missouri at Kansas City who taught me music sight reading, opening the door to my later career as a studio jingle singer and as a performer in musicals and cabarets. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to say "thank you" to Dr. Pogemiller in person when I presented a convocation at UMKC as a returning alumnae, honored as, "The Graduate With the Most Unusual Career." That was such a wonderful reunion with friends and family in Kansas City two years ago.
My wonderful mother, a professional pianist and composer, who started me in show business at age 4, Hazel Cline Volkart. She passed away but remains always in my heart.
Verna Brackinreed, piano teacher, who gave me my skills as a pianist. Thank you.
Dr. Leonore McCroskey, University of North Texas, who, twenty years later, refreshed my keyboard skills and taught me the fine art of the harpsichord.
Tom Merriman, founder of Dallas' TM Communiations, now deceased, my employer and mentor. I was Commercial Creative Director of TM for six years and learned my producer skills there. I also was Tom's lyricist and one of his favorite singers. Thanks Tom!
Phil Kelly, a wonderful producer, composer, and the person who gave me my start in the Dallas recording studios over thirty years ago now.
Ronnie Tutt, the person who helped me begin my career in the Dallas studios as a jingle singer. He later became Elvis Presley's drummer and you can view him in the Las Vegas videos of Elvis concerts still being played on TV. Hope you read this tribute, Ronnie.
Larry Mehoberac, who later became Elvis' pianist. Thank you for helping me begin my studio career.
Hugh Lampman, legendary voice over talent and teacher. I attended his sixteen week course when first beginning in voice overs. Later, we were business partners and taught together with workshops all over the U.S. Hugh passed away in 2002.
Dave Jackson, Jackson Artists, who booked me and my jazz group wonderfully well when I was on the road as a cabaret performer for seven years.
Don LaFontaine
. I was honored to teach on the same bill with Don more than once in LA and we miss him.
Skip Frazee, legendary audio engineer, who taught me so much as I sat beside him watching as I produced sessions over the years.
Rik Hess, voice over performer and one of my assistants, for being my friend. Rik is my former student.
There are so many others I need to thank including the people at MGM Studios in Hollywood who trained me when I was a child actor there starting at age five. Thank you all.

It feels good to say "thank you." Try it. You'll like it.

Bettye Zoller
May 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What Voice Over Talents Talk About Most

Here are the topics that voice performers (voice over talents) discuss the most. The answers never are (or will be) definitive. The verdict's always 'out.' We might as well discuss 'how many angels could sit on the head of a pin' or 'how many individual M and M candies have I eaten in my lifetime so far. Anyway...just had to blog on this.

Rehash after rehash on dozens upon dozens of websites and blogs and nothing ever gets resolved. Why? Because every person and his or her voice and every person's business operation and every person's needs for an income, large to small, and every person's emotional and physical personality is unique. Thus, none of these topics which I deem to be "the most discussed" will ever be 'solved' but only discussed. There is a difference. So stop expecting answers. There are none.

Now here's my list, as I see it--the most-discussed topics voice over talents talk about:
  1. What to charge a client when the voice talent has to budget a job.
  2. Whether the online pay-to-play sites are good or bad and which site is the best one.
  3. Various voice potions and pills and folk remedies and old wives' tales one should gargle or swallow to (sometimes magically) make one's voice heal faster after damage or sound better. (Few if any of these are worth the money you spend on them. Stop abusing your voice and take better care of it and consult your ear nose throat physician more often!)
  4. How do I know if my voice is good enough to be a voice over professional?
  5. What should my voice over demo sound like?
  6. Is my current demo good, bad, or just plain awful?
  7. Why aren't I making more money at this?
  8. How can I start learning audio engineering (and be good at it in a week . . .)
  9. Why is there a buzz or knock or clang in my home recording studio?
  10. How can I get signed by agents who book me?
  11. How can I get audio book narration jobs (or movie trailer jobs, commercial jobs, any kind of job . . .) and why don't I win more auditions on the pay-to-play websites?
  12. How long will it take me to get rich?
  13. How do I know when it's time to quit this crazy endeavor?
  14. Should I study with this or that teacher or spend my money on this or that convention?
  15. How can I promote myself without spending any money on it?
  16. How can I make a demo for a very cheap price?
  17. How can I stop being depressed about my voice over career?
  18. When can I quit my day job?
  19. How do some talents make so much money and I hardly ever have a voiceover job?
  20. Why didn't I do this years before now?
Well, there it is folks. Read 'em and weep (or chuckle) and keep on keepin' on. Most people give up too soon. Stick with it. This is my 34th year as a voice over and studio singer professional and coach and I feel as if I've never worked a day in my life (except once, when I was Creative Director at a production house where we worked 24/7 with no overtime and no benefits! I resigned, but not soon enough, and went back to my freelance career as a voice, a teacher, a consultant, a recording studio owner, audio engineer, audio producer, and general all-around good broad.

All best...
Hope this helps.
Bettye Zoller

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Mother's Day

Proud of: Making it through, educating my boys in the best schools and colleges, in summer camps, writing camps, drama lessons, piano lessons, dancing lessons, more. Sharing them with my parents who enriched them enormously. Being single mom six years before re-marrying was tough but I made it. Juggling my career and kids and especially in the middle-school through high school years. Being perceptive and caring.

Regrets: Not taking time to enjoy babyhood more but I was the sole support at that time and then divorced. I envy women I see pushing baby carriages slowly and shopping. I envy women in parks watching children swing and play. I was at work. I regret not understanding teenagers more. I know now what I did wrong when my boys were becoming men. I should have understood their changing. Instead, I resented their growing apart and leaving home. It was time. They did what they needed to do. All mothers look back with regret. People tell me I did the best job I knew how. I hope that's true.

Happy Mom's Day Everybody.

Why We Network and How!

Networking is vital to everyone's business. I'm in the voice business. I also own and operate a recording studio and invite new audio projects to come to me. So how do I get the word out? First, what does NOT work for me: Print advertisements. Went nowhere. Online advertisements: Now and then get results. Often, nothing happens. Banners on sites: No way to measure. Not sure they do me good. Blogging: Too soon to tell. But I surely enjoy writing. Always have been a writer at heart. Online e-mail groups etc: They are good. Twitter and FB: Probably good for me. Hard to assess. Name recognition probably improves. Linked-In and other business sites: Only so-so thus far. Yesterday, someone told me I'm not using Linked-In the right way so I'll be investigating that. Getting every mention possible online is always a good thing. Even disputes and trivial debates seem to up one's rating in the polls of popularity. Networking where I live is very vital. Don't forget there is a real world out here, not just the online world, sitting alone, typing. And if you're going through life head down on your phone and Blackberry as I see so many people doing nowadays, stop and look up now and then. When I was in Europe last month, I saw people in Rome and Venice and Zurich bent over a phone or IPAD or Blackberry etc. instead of looking at the mountains, the water, the ancient sites. Amazing!! Get real!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day Memories Young Girls Will Dig

When I had my first son in 1968 I first used cloth diapers and had a diaper service wash them and come to the apt. daily to collect old and bring new. I had no idea how much my life would smell of urine and acid. It was terrible. Get this: Pampers were brand new. Yes, it's true. They were new. A girlfriend told me about them and I was all over that in a minute. Salvation. Expensive but who cared? I should have cared. We didn't have money. But I bought them anyway. When I had the baby, no one had ultrasound. We didn't know the sex nor did we know if the baby was ok or ill or .... I used to worry whenever he didn't kick for awhile. Basically, it was the dark ages.

When my firstborn entered preschool, other women could not believe I worked. I was a studio jingle singer, voice coach, and voice over talent. Still, they were stay-at-homes. They were amazed I worked and often became upset with me because I couldn't keep a carpool schedule going or attend the preschool assigned times to clean up the classrooms or be assistant teachers as they all did. It was an experience I've never forgotten.

When I became pregnant with my second son, at that time I was a producer at a jingle advertising firm and recording studio. My boss, upon hearing the news, told me good bye in no uncertain terms.Thinking I had a steady job, I had just bought a new Buick. I'll always remember that car. It was my freedom medal. I can remember going outside to sit in it, dejected, after my boss delivered my death knell, thinking, "how am I going to pay for this?" Well I DID pay for it and I've paid for thousands of things since then and every time fear sneaks in my brain about something, I remember that old Buick. What a fabulous lesson in self-sufficiency.

I've paid to put two sons through major expensive colleges. I own my home. I have bought dozens of cars and tons of clothes and expensive cruises and vacations and jewelry and handbags and well, I am alive. I am existing. I am keeping on keeping on.

Voice overs and singing and teaching have paid the bills and continue to do so. I have the greatest gig on the planet. Self-employment is bliss.

Go for it, ya' all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

To Be Or Not To Be A Voiceover Professional

Do you get up in the morning dreaming of being a voice performer? Do you dream about it? How long has this been happening? Do you hate your day job? Are you ready for a career change? Are you retired or retiring soon and searching for a later-life job? Voice overs may be for you! If, on the other hand, you are scared of isolation, working alone, staying at home a lot, cash flow crunches, being a business owner totally responsible for your own livlihood, better think twice. Voice overs can be scary. Voice overs can be wonderful. I've known both.

Actors, singers, and other creative types tend to be more 'at home' with risk-taking. Are you? But you may have considerations that prevent this laissez-faire outlook..for example, you may want to take an expensive vacation next summer or a family wedding is in your future. You may have a new car in mind or some redecorating and want to sock away extra funds. That may mean you'd better stick with the boring job awhile longer. That's not the time to go it alone.

Pay off some bills, buy those plane tickets, grab the brass ring, and then go for it. Start your voice over business when it "feels right." To do so prematurely will mean worry and anxiety for you. Choose your launch date carefully. Then, go full speed ahead. Do not, as some of my clients do, procrastinate on making your voice over demo. Nothing can happen until you have that "killer demo and run with it."

Do not put of study with reliable teachers at good workshops. You must learn your trade...your NEW trade...voice overs. Be careful who and what you spend money on and with! There are many scams out there and teachers who really do not know enough and just need your money. There are seminars and tele-classes with far too many students to permit any personal attention whatsoever. Stay away from those! There are schemes wanting you to pay for inferior training and a demo that's no good either. Ask for personal referrals. Go to their website and find people who have been through their program before. Did they think it was worth the money? Was the teacher good? Was the demo good?

Each year, without fail, I get twenty and more clients who have been victims of schools and rip-off teachers. They need a new demo or need the bad one redone. They tell me stories of classes and other types of instruction where they only got to read copy and be critiqued one time in many lessons. They tell stories of having to travel to the East Coast to take a course that wasn't very good and they could have found better training closer to home. I know "conventions" and "trade shows" billing themselves as "great educational events." Call a spade a spade. What is the event, primarily? A big social gathering at a pricey hotel you're supposed to have fun at or a serious educational event you can truly learn from (considering the money spent)? Ask these questions.

And why should you pay money to socialize with other voice talents? It's nice, of course, but they can't hire you! They are your competition. Sure, it's nice, but what should you be spending money on first? Your website, a new demo, more publicity? Spend wisely.

That's my take for today...

All best

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Staying enthusiastic with voice over auditioning

Every time someone hears you, that's a new audition and a new opportunity. I get calls and emails from people I auditioned for or voiced for years ago, who first say, "I'm sure you won't remember me but..." They are correct in that assumption. I don't. Next, they tell me of an audition or job I voiced for them long ago. They have something new for me to do. Good! That's the way things happen in this business. Sometimes, it is not the person for whom I auditioned, but rather, a person that person referred to me. Six degrees of separation. Yes, word of mouth is always best. So when your enthusiasm lags about auditioning, just remember that's advertising, that's your best source of work. Stick with it. Think of others in other fields of work...the salesperson in a store, the person hoping to sell a music album or a painting. Some sell, some don't, but they have to try. So do you. And what's are plying your trade, practicing your craft. Every time you audition, you learn something new. Go for it!

Venice Let Me Down

Just returned from trip to Rome, Venice, many areas of Switzerland ending in Zurich for five days. Total trip over three weeks. I expected Rome to be noisy and polluted and it was. The motorcycles of all sizes were horrible, so loud and intrusive. The antiquities we saw were awesome, of course, but many things were closed and under repair and others had waiting lists, long lines, and the Sistine Chapel, well, there was a six day wait to even get on a list. We passed. The food was fab, of course, hideously expensive, service ok but touristy. But Venice...well, my romantic ideas vanished with the first boat taking us to the Grand Canal area. Pushing, shoving, rude people everywhere fighting for a seat, elbows dangerously close to my eyes, pickpocket paradise. Vendors hawking wares all over the canal front. Prices in the cafes unbelievable. One ice cream shop wanted 16 Euros for two scoops of ice cream in a cup. We walked out. A cup of espresso was 8 Euros. Of course, this is in the most pricey parts of the Grand Canal. The second day, we left the waterfront alone, wandering cobblestone streets to the interior where there are neighborhoods with tiny delis reminding us of New York. Romantic? no. I suggest visiting elsewhere rather than have your romantic dream of eternal Venice trashed.

New Way to Raise Money ONLINE! Dig This!

A music student, age 23, wanted to duplicate 1000 CDs of her new music album. She needed the funds to do it. She stumbled on the site "KICKSARTER," a year-old fund-raising site. It connects creative people in the arts and other areas with people willing to donate money, small or large, in return for services or goods. The music student offered a free CD for a donation of $30, a T-Shirt included with the album for $150, and those who gave $500 received a custom song. She ended up raising $7,400 and was able to go back in a recording studio and create yet another album. The site has many stories. The bottom line is that the site does NOT release any money to a recipient until their project has been funded according to the initial request amount. Then, the site first takes five percent of the monies raised. One film maker raised over $20,000 for a film about a fictitious congressman. Stories abound. Take a look. Interesting funding scheme. Wish it had been around when I owned my audio book publishing house in the 1990s!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why I love books

I have discovered that I've been neglecting my reading. Yes, having grown up in a library behind my grandmother's house, having houses full of books my entire life, loving them all the while, I find I have neglected my love of reading, caught up in other things. The internet, my business, so many things took my attention away from books. I'm BACK. Oh yes, back, back, back. I'm in bookstores, eyes wide with wonder. I'm on Amazon ordering oodles of goodies. I'm reading for periods each day now, wild with delight. I'm back. And I love books...real books...the feel of paper in my hands, the typesetting, the photos, the smell of the ink. I love cover design and layouts. I'm in love with the way books feel in my hands. I'm back to books. I will be talking about some of my favs in this blog. Keep reading.

Why I just began blogging after so long

I have been active networking on the web for over ten years now and was on FB and Twitter long before many others. I've dragged my feet about blogging. I do lots of writing, articles, books, teaching materials, and told myself I did not have the time to blog. But now, I realize the communicative value of the blog. It's great. So here I am, everyone. I am going to be using this form of communication regularly now, not only as a voice performer and teacher, but as a person, a living person with a life. Oh yes, I forget that sometimes. I'm getting better at looking in my back garden at the birds and flowering trees before I go back into my recording studio to do more work. I'm getting better at reading some of a favorite book and having a cup of tea before returning phone calls and answering the dozens of emails every day. And then, there is the voice over auditioning, so time consuming daily, but must be done if one is a voice performer. The jobs won't happen if I don't read for them, audition for them. And then there are my steady accounts who need service...oh wow...busy busy. But here I am, making time for blogging. So I hope somebody out there reads me.

Voiceovers in Europe: My journey

Just returned from Italy and Switzerland working, touring, eating, enjoying. Fabulous but super tiring. Travel is hard, especially today. I hate airplanes. Not pleasant. Ugly. I love trains and that's the great thing about Europe. So easy, so fun, especially first class trains. And you get to see the country. Well, back to the subject...voiceovers I heard. They are similar to the U.S. in the 1960s or 1970s...the females super smiley and syrupy, glossy and super sell. The men, deep baritones at the bottom of their vocal ranges. Some were smarmy, like the old time radio guys. Interesting. But the voices, male and female, were full bodied and rich, not the voices heard too often in North America that my voice therapist friends refer to as "chirpers." Especially the females today in the U.S. really are shallow voiced, chirping, staccato, never smooth or gliding, never full toned. Have you noticed? It's a cultural oddity, this chirping. And it has carried over into voiceovers. Take a listen. You'll see.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hello Everyone and Welcome to my Blog

This blog will be about education, acting, voice overs, studio singing, songwriting, the voice over business, the music business, live performance and a performance career, personal doubts, demons,striving for excellence, giving up too soon, observations of an educator (me) and just about everything else I've learned from my life so far. It's been a really great life and is getting even better. My grandmother used to say (she lived to 98), "Don't worry about things. In one hundred years, you'll never know the difference." So true!

So here I go...I'll blog as often as possible.
Visit my website to see my activities and schedule worldwide. You can also click on and hear many of my audio demos and you can get a feel for what I've done to make a living since childhood. More about that later...
Happy April 1, 2010
Onward and Upward
Bettye Zoller