Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm Not Just Saying That

Here at Marketing Messages, I perform a number of different functions. My actual job title is Music Director, but I’m also one of the people on-staff who engineers recording sessions. In addition, I occasionally do voice-overs for our clients.

When people ask me what I do for a living, and I tell them that I do voice-overs, they’re genuinely interested in hearing about it. They ask, "What have you done that I'd be familiar with? Have you done anything that I've heard?" My answer is, "I've probably done something that you've heard, but probably not much you'd be familiar with."

That’s not doubletalk. Most of my voice-over work involves telephone applications, so there's a decent chance they've heard my voice, but it's doubtful they’ll remember exactly where they heard it. For instance, I was the voice of the National Amusements/Showcase Cinemas chain of movie houses, in some 17 or 18 states. If you called one of those theaters - to find out when a certain show was playing, or for directions, perhaps – I was the guy you heard, in a recorded announcement.

Outside of Marketing Messages, I do some TV and radio spots, but only very sporadically. If I had to rely on that money to put food on the table, I'd have starved long ago. However, when you get placed on-hold and a deep baritone voice tells you interesting things about the company you're calling, while music plays in the background, it might be me you're hearing. If a male voice is instructing you to "Press One for Customer Service... Press Two for Shipping...” it could be me.

Sometimes, in the course of my duties, I’m asked to read a script concerning a product I know little about. For instance, I recently said this:

New technology and innovative techniques in the field of cosmetic procedures now produce enhanced aesthetic results in the areas of facial rejuvenation, contouring, skin youthening, eyelid beautification, nasal sculpturing, tumescent liposculpture, and radiofrequency laser photorejuvenation.

Of course, "youthening" isn't really a word, but I'm being paid to say it, so now it is! And do you think I could tell you even one salient fact concerning nasal sculpturing? Not even if you told me you were holding my mother hostage and you wouldn’t let her go until I did so. However, I sure do have the ability to sound like a board-licensed nasal sculptologist, and that’s why I get the medium-sized bucks. Tumescent Liposculpture? Sure, who wouldn't want that? It’s probably very good for the economy. Radiofrequency Laser Photorejuvenation? Absolutely. Had some yesterday. Tastes like chicken.

We’re an honest company. So far as I know, we’ve never done any productions which contained outright lies. There have been occasions, though, when I couldn’t have told you if what I was reading was the truth or not. For instance...

Do you know what the wearable computer and rugged mobile computer markets did last year? (Client Name) can keep you informed about industrial measurement and control with reports like Industrial Distributed Remote I/O and web-addressable distributed remote I/O, which will be a must have. Learn about the critical issues suppliers face as they attempt to establish competitive positions in next generation application segments.

Sounds entirely plausible to me.

Some of you may think that voice-over people, like big-time actors, are exorbitantly well-paid. I have no complaints concerning my salary here, to be sure, but when I do get the rare TV or radio job from a studio independent of Marketing Messages, I usually get in the neighborhood of $100 or $200, which is not exactly the ritziest of neighborhoods. I don't get residuals - that is, no matter how many times a spot airs, I don't get anything extra. Heck, I've done spots that are 5 years old and still airing, but the only thing I get when they show again is an ego boost.

And, insofar as a real ego boost? As I implied at the beginning, unless I tell someone what I do for a living, nobody really knows who I am. If I speak to a stranger, the best I can hope for, as far as fame is concerned, is a quizzical "Do I know you from somewhere?" look. Every so often, something clicks in his or her brain. They've heard the voice, but they never, EVER, know where they've heard it.

Well, this is beginning to sounds a bit like a whine now, and I really don't mean for it to come across that way. I generally enjoy my work, and I have a really good gig compared to some folks. It’s still a major kick when I'm not paying attention to the TV and I suddenly hear my voice on it. And it’s truly spooky when I get put on-hold and I’m talking to myself!

Anyway, the next time you get put on-hold, and you hear a male voice telling you "We're sorry to keep you waiting..." it might be me. And, if it is me, I really mean it. I’m just that kind of a guy!


  1. I knew it, the self-assurance, the pose, the peddler of commodities. Good luck to you. This is clearly a day job for the word weary.

  2. At least you still LOOK like you.

    A very informative post, a pleasure to read.

  3. i can't even imagine the existential crisis that could occur if you listen to yourself on hold.

  4. Well done, Mr. Sullivan. I'll have to pay more attention to male voices that talk to me when I'm put on hold. After all, it could be *you*!

  5. It's a kick for me when I occasionally come across a label on a store shelf for which I've done the layout. I can't imagine how odd it would be to hear your own voice on the telephone.

  6. LOL @lime! "Existential," indeed!

  7. Dear Mr. Sullivan's boss.

    This man obviously deserves a rather large raise.

  8. I never thought of you listening to yourself on hold! Weird.
    Very informative post.
    I think you deserve a raise for listening to yourself on hold. And when you get the raise (note the optimism here) I expect my cut... :)

  9. Whoopee! Great to have another slice of Suldog [and I have to say the layout is a lot easier on these old eyes] I don't care if it is clean or slighty grubby, can't be too much of you for me. Even the picture of you is

    Muchos embrassos [sp] bugger.

  10. You don't get repeat fees as a voice-over artist, Suldog? That doesn't seem at all fair to me...

    Great photo, capturing your great innocence and surly doggedness, all in one!

  11. Thanks for visiting here, folks! If you have a need for such things, please explore our website for on-hold messaging services, music-on-hold, voice prompts, etc.

    And, if you happen to choose a certain bearded male baritone to be your voice, that would be swell :-)

  12. Well who knew. My husband does telephone voices too.

  13. Great to have a job that uses a bit of the brilliant talents, isn't it?

    Now I know who to blame for the "on hold" message going through my head about life in general currently.

    And LOL to Lime! :)

  14. I thought I commented on this. Hmmmm. I am losing it, I suppose. I expected to be MUCH older before these type of moments came along.

    Now that I know it may be your voice on the line, as I am put on hold, I will listen ever so carefully!
    PS The photo looks much to serious to be you.


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