Friday, 13 December 2013

Should my client deduct National Insurance from my voiceover fee?

So, you were booked for a voiceover job, submitted your invoice and then, before you get paid, the client asks you for your full name, date of birth and National Insurance number. 

If you supply this information and you are a self-employed freelance voiceover artist, you will find that - once you have been paid - they have deducted National Insurance Contributions (NICs). You may well have expected to be paid in full - especially if you are already paying your own NICs.

NIC deductions ONLY apply to voiceover artists who are self employed. If you are set up as a Sole Trader or a Limited Company, this doesn't apply. 

Our Accountants know of no occasion where a Limited Company should have National Insurance deducted from them. Limited companies are not liable for National Insurance in any form.

However we have had several clients, over the years, try to deduct NICs from our invoices. And in each and every case we have fought this and won.

This is because the voiceover contract is between BigFish Media and the client - not between the client and the Voiceover Artist. This is a key point. 

The clients' accounts departments have been mis-interpreting HMRC regulations. Or applying rules that do not apply to Limited Companies.

Here is a link to HMRC’s “Guidelineson the NIC Rules for Entertainers” which summarises the decision in ITV versus HMRC. 

HMRC says that “Entertainer” for these purposes is defined as a person employed as an actor, singer or musician or in any similar performing capacity. This includes such professions as dancers, voiceovers and walk-on parts. This would apply to all contracts entered into with an “Entertainer” or their agent.

However our clients are engaging BigFish Media as an agent for a voiceover artist. Hence the contract is between the client and BigFish Media. 

Any responsibilities for deductions and maintaining records of the ‘Voiceover Artist’ therefore fall outside our client's responsibility. Our Voiceover Artists are neither shareholders nor directors or in any way a connected party to the business. Whilst we appreciate the change required by HMRC relating to all employees' information to get paid, this falls outside the scope of it.

Our Voiceover Artists are self-employed contractors to BigFish Media (and in some cases Limited Companies in their own right.)

So, should your client deduct National Insurance from your voiceover fee? 

In a word, NO. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Our New Mackie audio Mixer

We have just taken delivery of our new Mackie mixer:

This is a great improvement for our studio because:

We can now deliver much cleaner audio files;

Voiceover Artists can now hear the audio track of the video which they are voicing over - as well as being able to see the video;

If you are a singer, you will be able to sing along to a backing track in the booth;

If you are a Voiceover Artist you will be able to hear the music which will accompany your voiceover;

And we can now carry out Voice Dubbing.

Oh, and there are lots of other clever little technical things which will keep our audio engineers happy!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Voiceover News for October 2013

During an extremely busy month this is what our voiceover team were up to in October:

Ricky was the Voice of God at the Campaign BIG Awards in London alongside Russell Kane as well as recording an E-Learning programme for the University of Hull.

For the other UK male voiceovers, Craig recorded a radio commercial for At800 airing on Heart, Capital, Magic, Gold and Smooth Radio, Graeme voiced a commercial for Carpet Shed airing on STV, Simon recorded a voiceover Rigel Uni-Therm, David V voiced for Novarum,
Peter O worked for British American Tobacco, Steve voiced an advert for Tourism Ireland and and Jahson B for Future Music Magazine.

We gave Voice Training to recent graduate Ben Potter from Oxfordshire and made a Voiceover Showreel for actress Michelle Duncan from Scotland

For our female UK voice talent Helen S recorded for the Guardian and Portus Consulting. Steph voiced for Smart Boards, Jules worked for GoToMeeting and Brent Council and Jo voiced for Zurich.

For our international voiceover talent, Scott recorded a voiceover for Travelport, Jessica recorded a Walden online MBA programme, Matt C and Colin C worked for Otrivin again, Katrin recorded for Ontex Healthcare and
Max voiced a webvert for ActivTrades.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Our brand new Voiceover Explainer Video

Here is another new video - with even better graphics - which explains how to book our Voiceover Artists and Recording Studio can help you. We hope you find it useful.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Voiceover News September 2013

During September Alexi recorded bumpers for "The Americans" on STV, Colin C recorded a voiceover for CabCrowd, Fady voiced in Arabic for a webvert for ActivTrades, Dave C recorded an American voiceover for Nerdblock, Young recorded a voiceover in Korean for Vision Engineering and Masashi took the Japanese version.

For the UK female voiceovers, Charlotte recorded a character voice for the New Forest Visitor Centre and Corrie voiced for Allied PRA

And finally for the UK male voiceovers, Ricky recorded videos for Chiltern International Fire and British Gas, Alan L recorded for Sonocent, Darren voiced for the National Space Centre and Craig recorded a voiceover for Cognito and the European Poker Tour Series, as did Mark P.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Our New Voiceover Video

Here is our new video which explains how our Voiceover Agency and Recording Studio can help you. We hope you find it useful.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Voiceover News August 2013

Often voiceover artists complain that August is a quiet month but it certainly wasn't quiet here at BigFish Media towers!
We made a Video Podcast for Sherwoods Property who are also based in Woking Surrey and a Voiceover Showreel for Actor Simon Stansfield. 
It was a bumper month for recording international voiceovers: Lisa recorded a radio commercial for the National Hispanic University airing across American stations. Adam Jessica and Karirecorded voiceovers for Cisco. Artemvoiced in Russian for Vision Engineering;Frederic did the French version. Michel also recorded in French for a webspot for ActivTrades. Auriusmomo voiced in Spanish for an E-Learning programme about improving reading ability and Kaku took care of the Hindi version. 

For the UK male voices, Michael recorded a voiceover for Sovereign Social Housing Ricky voiced for Saudi Aramco and Panasonic Tough Pad, Alec for Anglian Water and James K recorded the UK version of a webvert for ActivTrades. 

For the UK female voices,Helen S recorded a voiceover for Libris, Corrie voiced for Dong Energy,  Sally for a commercial airing on Mood FM Jordan, Jules worked for andAanya voiced the Cornwall Learning Skills for Life programme

Thursday, 15 August 2013

How will a voiceover showreel help your career?

It's simple. You cannot get started in the voiceover business without a professionally made Voiceover Showreel. You may be able to technically mix audio at home but are you the best judge of how your own voice sounds and what you are best at voicing? Almost definitely not.

Just to show off a bit, here is a lovely unsolicited testimonial from a client who came to BigFish Media
to get his first Voiceover Showreel made. We also gave him very useful advice:

Hi Ricky

Hope you're well? I've been meaning to email you for a while to let you know how I've got on.

I took your advice and put myself on the BBC voicebank. That gave me a lot of practice doing random scripts for all manner of local stations and bizarrely even Radio 1.

After a month of pinging the demo around externally, there were a few small production companies that gave me some work. I continue to get on average half a dozen or so gigs from these each month. Ironically all of which seem to be ex-BBC people. It's all lovely and laid-back, even though there's some bizarre 'confidential' paperwork from some of the clients!

Most of the scripts have been for on-hold material, TV adverts and audio-guides abroad. The money is good, although the casting sessions seem to be best paid, and I've been up to London quite a bit auditioning for all manner of bizarre new products from big companies. There also seems to be quite a demand for the ability to record and edit my own VO, which suits me perfectly as I'm editing in my sleep every day.

They seem to like the fact I'm unashamedly bland - so the public school education was worth it after all...!

I just wanted to say if it wasn't for your expertise with the demo and the experience to be able to learn my limits, I wouldn't have been able to do any of this - so thanks again.

Best wishes,
Richard, Southampton

You may also find a useful read
You can hear Richard's latest voiceover job here: 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Our Voiceover for the new Sure Compressed TV Commercial

Well, what a month!

The undoubted star of the show is our brand new signing
Arianne who's first job for us was to do the voiceover for a brand new TV and cinema commercial for Sure Compressed. It's on your tellybox now!

Amongst our other female voices Immy recorded a voiceover for Axis Communications, Scarlett voiced for Littlewoods and Corrie worked once again for Clik.

For the boys, Craig recorded an instructional video for At800, Calum recorded character voices for The Numbers Game and Number Order phone apps, Ricky voiced for Zoetis and Easi-Dec, Matt H for
Jardine Motors Group and Paul S was hired by Scotia Gas Networks

As far as our audio production is concerned, we produced an On-Hold Message for Wigan Borough Council voiced by Glenda and we made a Voiceover Showreels for TV Presenter Tim E and actor Nick Payne from Bristol.

And, in a bumper month for our international talent, Dave C voiced a commercial for Vintage Lounge and Restaurant airing on Mood FM in Jordan, Giovanni recorded a voiceover in Italian for Kalixa Pay, Andreas voiced a webspot in German for ActivTrades and a video for Kalixa Accept and Yun recorded an E-Learning programme in Chinese Mandarin; Michel took the French version.

And finally Max recorded a voiceover in Italian for Vision Engineering,  Roy did the German and the Chinese Mandarin version was taken care of by Adrian

Thursday, 18 July 2013

How do I become a Voiceover Artist?

It's a question that we get asked several times per day. I'd like to get into mates say I have a great voice, can I do do I go about doing voiceovers? Can I have a job as a voiceover? Is it true you get paid £200 per hour....

We have answered this at some length elsewhere in this blog. We also created a website especially to answer these questions: How to be a voiceover.

But recently we came across this useful page in the Media Guardian which adds a bit of colour:

How do I become a Voiceover Artist?

You don't have to do funny voices - but you will need to practise, practise, practise!

And yes we also make voiceover showreels too...

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Voiceover News June 2013

Here is what our voiceover artists have been up to this month:

We carried out the Translation of an E-Learning programme from English to French, Chinese Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish. We also gave Voice Training to new voiceover artist Nick from Bristol and made a Voiceover Showreel for Smooth Radio Presenter Dave Brown.

For the UK Male voices, Mike recorded a voiceover for GiffGaff, Taylor voiced for Kalixa Pay and Craig recorded on hold telephone messages for At800. Ricky did a health and safety video for Kings Gate and was also the Voice of God at the Pf (Pharmaceutical) Awards with comedian Ed Byrne.

For the UK Female voices, Sally voiced on-hold prompts for Cornish Cottage Holidays, Jacky recorded a voiceover for Schneider Electric, Michelle voiced for Jardine Motors Group Helen S for Unilever.

And for our international voices, Fernao recorded a voiceover in Brazilian Portuguese for Vision Engineering Vittorio did the same in Latin American Spanish and Tina voiced in Austrian for Erwinaze.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Waiting for Voiceover Commissions

In the last few weeks here at BigFish Media, we have had several very old quotes come back to life long after we had thought they were dead.

This happens from time to time with our ageing quotes - but this time we had two quotes which were both more than four months old, finally pay off.

Both are large projects involving translation and recording voiceovers in several languages - and so each is being spread out over a couple of months. So each will end up being at least 6 months from initial enquiry to project completion.

We are also doing some audio production - some 6 months after the client first contacted us.

It's a nice surprise when this happens but I wonder what was your longest period from initial enquiry to the project being green lit - or even completed?

Friday, 31 May 2013

Voiceover and Audio Production News May 2013

We had an interesting month of recording voiceover talent and audio production including making  Voiceover Showreels for broadcaster Sarah Tilley and actress Susanna Gordon.

Amongst our female voiceover talent Immy recorded a voiceover for the Toys R Us website, Samantha voiced for GoToMeetings, Steph lent her voice talent to Pacson Valves and Jules voiced an animation for Tesco & MasterCard.
For the male voiceover artists, Matthew recorded a voiceover for Horizon Discovery
Ricky voiced for Lucy Switchgear and GSK, James K recorded for BrainBlasterz, Michael for Engage, Steffan  for Bite Consulting  David L for Springer Healthcare, Jason H for The Guardian and Calum voiced for the "Number Order" phone app.
And for our international voice talent Lisa recorded a corporate video for the National Hispanic University, Caroline recorded continuity announcements for the World Radio Network, Mark A voiced for Walkers Crisps, Leonor voiced in French for Ontex Healthcare and Michel also recorded a French voiceover  - but for ADP Dealer Services International.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Voiceover Boy to Men: BBC Radio 2's Voice Week

If you are familiar with the Chris Evans breakfast show on BBC Radio 2 you may have heard the US phenomenon, 15-year-old voiceover boy Jake Foushee on there recently.

Jake is big in America and now he's in Britain. His amazing voice is already earning him appearances on US primetime shows and voiceover work in Hollywood:

In the same VOICE WEEK Jeremy Vine was joined by some of the UK's best known voiceover people, but not before they had had a cup of tea:

Friday, 26 April 2013

Voiceover and Audio Production News for April 2013

This month we are very proud of our Audio Production of a radio commercial for Asda which was voiced by Sally

We also carried out the Translation of video scripts for Optasense from English to Russian, Chinese Mandarin and Arabic.

Among our international voiceover artists Lisa recorded a  commercial which aired on Mood FM in Jordan.Michel voiced a commercial in French for ActivTrades airing on CNBC and Bloomberg TV; Max did the Italian version.

David B recorded voiceovers in French for two videos for Plastics Europe, Martin voiced the German version,
Jacek did the Polish, the Italian was done by Giovanni
and Jose voiced the Spanish versions.

We made two Voiceover Showreels this month: one for actress Susanna Gordon, the other for Russian actress Vera Horton. Simon from Bath also came to us for Voice Training with Cameron in Bristol.

Ricky recorded voiceovers for Panasonic and the European Powder Metallurgy Association.

Craig  and Natalie voiced for the UK Government pension scheme and Scarlett recorded more voiceovers for Lakeland videos.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Net Loss

Water. Food. Electricity.

We take them all for granted. And so it is with telephony when you are running a voicever business.

How can anyone run a business these days without phones and broadband? It's twice as hard if you are an internet business and the internet doesn't work!

That's what we faced recently. The internet went down - and BT's fibre optic 30MB internet at that. After much jiggery-pokery and re-booting, we realised it one of the phone lines was off too.    

Yes - the fibre optic broadband still relies on the old copper wire to take the internet from your nearest junction box into your premises.

And so the business hangs by a thread...

Add to that the fact that the ISDN line had already gone off a week or so before. And so it went off again on the same day. So no internet, no ISDN and only one phone line.

I spent most of that Friday trying to get my a new wifi dongle to work so we could get the internet back. It was less than satisfactory and that's being kind.

Anyway it turns out, according to BT man, that the workmen - digging holes in a nearby road - were "less than careful" and had disrupted all the telephony lines.

So how do we prevent this sort of voiceover nightmare in the future?

Friday, 22 March 2013

Voiceover and Audio Production News March 2013

It was quite busy, busy-wise here at BigFish Media Towers in March:

We made an On Hold Audio Production for 24-7 Cars which was voiced by Samantha. We made a Voiceover Showreel for radio presenter Eddie Castle and Cate from Southampton came to us for some Voice Training with Fenella.

Among our younger voice talent, James recorded a voiceover for a Dorset museum exhibition about Warhorse and Dylan voiced for 6 episodes of a new CBBC TV programme called Sarah and Duck.

For the grown-up boys, Ricky was the live Voice of God at the Pf Awards for the pharmaceutical industry in London alongside comedian Ed Byrne as well as recording a voiceover for the European Food Safety Authority. Steffan recorded a voiceover for Petroserv, Taylor voiced for the AA and Graham D lent his vocals to Kalixa.

For our international voices, Michel recorded a French voiceover for Erwinaze and Paul voiced for Sangart.

And finally to the girls: Penny D recorded a voiceover for Office Principles, Aanya voiced for Schneider Electric and Sally voiced on hold prompts for Auto Direct and a Pyrex video shown in selected Tesco stores. Corrie recorded a voiceover for the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, Scarlett voiced a dozen product web videos for Lakeland, Jill recorded a voiceover for the Ministry of Defence and Helen S recorded for Ontex Healthcare.

Phew! Time for another break...

Monday, 18 March 2013

How do I make a voiceover showreel?

How do I make a voiceover demo? What should I put on my voiceover showreel? We get asked this all the time.
In short, any voiceover styles that you can do. If you can do languages and accents then put those on. But only if they are completely convincing.
Here is what NOT to do:

No singing. We don't do singers. 

No travel bulletins. No newsreading. No radio presenting. This is all broadcast work. Make a separate showreel for these and send them to the right people. A Voiceover Agency is not the right place for these - radio and TV stations are.

How long should my voiceover demo be? 90 seconds about right. This is the length we make when we make showreels. When auditioning new voices, we know within 10 seconds if it's a yes or no. Make the first clip your best!

                                BigFish Media Audio Producer Nathan

Does the showreel sound good? Is it well produced? Is there music which is well matched to the subject matter and the voices? Or is it just a dry read with lots of background noise?

The voice recording sounds like they are reading rather than "being" the part. There should be a flow to the read - this can be harder than you think.

Don't just use acting scripts and poetry. They may sound lovely but you will need to use a mixture of scripts: corporate reads/E-Learning/On-Hold - maybe even a TV documentary or some radio commercials.

Are you reading material which is too old or too young for your voice age? We dont want to hear 20 something women talking about pensions or 50 something men talking about video games - you wouldn't be asked to do that by a client.  

Make sure your demo shows a variety of tones, pitches, pace and style.By all means produce the showreel, but don't over-produce it so we cant tell what your real voice sounds like. And if the voiceover showreel is produced we shouldnt be hearing any bad microphone technique, “pops” or plosives, mouth noises” or any nervous reading.

And this is how we make great voiceover showreels. You will need a great showreel to be taken seriously by any reputable Voiceover Directory and Audio or Video Producer let alone a Voiceover Agent.  

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Voiceover News for February 2013

For the first time in my life I went ski-ing. In February I took a week off to visit Morzine in the French Alps.

I came back more exhausted than when I went away! No broken bones - just a bruised ego. A highlight was a wonderful restaurant  on the Swiss/French border.    

Zoe, Andrew, James and John held the fort manfully (and womanfully) in my absence.

When I got back I recorded a voiceover for an instructional video for KFC's Kreamball. Steffan voiced again for SAB Miller, James K recorded for Fan Hub and Graeme recorded a commercial for Jem Carpets airing on STV.

For the female voices, Corrie recorded a voiceover for the Operational Research Society, Scarlett voiced for Sonovate and Gwen lent her lovely tones to the South Wales Fire and Resuce Service - in both English and Welsh.

Amongst our International Voices, Oliver recorded a German voiceover for Exponential, Matt C voiced for Sonovate, Bobbin recorded a commercial airing on Mood FM Jordan and Saskia recorded a Dutch voiceover for Exponential.

And finally Michel recorded a French voiceover for Bowers and Wilkins' Zeppelin Air set up; Ruben S did the same in Spanish and Christoph took care of the German version. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Thoughts on Voiceover Marketing

Did you know that Inbound Marketing is becoming more important to a voiceover and audio production business these days than Outbound Marketing?

I certainly didn’t. Until I read an article this week I had no idea what Inbound or Outbound Marketing were.

To save you the time of reading what was an unnecessarily long e-book full of pie charts and diagrams I can summarise it for you.

Here is a list of marketing techniques in order of importance:

Linked In
Email Campaigns
Direct Marketing
Trade Shows

The bottom three (Outbound Marketing) are becoming less and less important to gaining sales leads and the top three (Inbound Marketing) are becoming more and more important for generating hot voiceover and audio production leads.

The Inbound Marketing - along with PPC (Google Adwords) is where we have been putting our effort for years and will continue to do so - as the cost to our voiceover business for each lead generated is a lot less than the Outbound Marketing. 

It's great to know that we have been doing the right things all along - without knowing it.

So where will you put your time, effort and money in future?

Friday, 1 February 2013

A Characterful Voiceover Month for January 2013

It was a characterful month here at BigFish Media towers!

Our Voiceover Artist of the Month is Mahmoud E who voiced several characters in SEGA's video game "Total War: Rome 2" .  Great gig!

It was certainly a month full of character voiceovers as Colin C and Matt C recorded character voiceovers for an Otrivin advert. And both John and Charlotte recorded character voiceovers  for a Cyber Security online training video.

Among our other international voiceover artists Valentino recorded an Italian voiceover for Bowers and Wilkins' Zeppelin Air set up - Vladimir did the same in Russian

For the UK Female Voiceover Artists Jules recorded another voiceover for SCA and Scarlett voiced a dozen product videos for Lakeland.

For the UK Male Voiceover Artists Ricky recorded a voiceover for a web video for Schneider Electric and for an induction video for Centrica's South Humber Bank Power Station. Dave F lent his vocal tonesto SCC TITAN, Graeme recorded for AESCAP, Mike was booked again by Optasense, Malcolm voiced for the National Grid and James K recorded even more promos for Football DVDs.

Friday, 11 January 2013

BigFish Media appoints new voiceover Marketing Manager

Well here is our December news - and it's better late than never! That just shows you how busy we were with recording voiceovers in the run up to Christmas.

And it started again in earnest on the first week back - well actually on 2nd January but we wont go into that here.

Firstly we welcome a new member of the BigFish Media team - Marketing Manager Zoe (below) who is also one of our own voiceover team

Congratulations to Scarlett who recorded a TV commercial for Boux Avenue being shown on E4, Living TV and Sky Atlantic.

Amongst our other female voiceover artists Viv recorded a voiceover for Joiner Cummings' Hartlebury Trading Estate, Jules voiced for SAP and Sarah J recorded a voiceover for PKL who provide temporary kitchens and catering equipment.

We did the Translation of a video for Optasense from English to Arabic. Child voiceover artist Taylor recorded a voiceover for a My Little Pony phone app. We did the audio production for Christmas on-hold for Beoming Green in Cardiff which was voiced by Ricky who also voiced an Easi-Dec training video
For the other male voiceover artists Paul S recorded a voiceover for a video for ATOS, and Andrew voiced a video ITF's automated tennis ball tester.

For the international voiceover artistsAlain recorded in Chinese Mandarin for Bowers and Wilkins' airplay app. Masashi recorded the same in Japanese and Valentino did the Italian. Our other Italian voiceover Giovanni recorded a TV commercial in Italian for ActivTrades and Celestina recorded a Spanish voiceover a fruit machine game involving vampires!