Podcasts Mission Audition Mission Audition Live: Commercial Reads with John Kubin
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Mission Audition Live: Commercial Reads with John Kubin

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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In this episode, learn how to hone in on the best voice over audition opportunities by getting to know your voice, finding your niche, and getting strategic about the time you take to audition. Voice Over Artist, John Kubin, joins co-hosts Stephanie and Julianna for a special live recording of the podcast at VoiceWorld Los Angeles (hosted by Voices.com), where he shares additional insight on how to sound like yourself, get into scene, adjust your voice, and how to read your audience.

Mission Audition is presented by Voices.com. Produced and Engineered by Cameron Pocock.

Get your voice over practice on by visiting Voices.com’s free voice over script library, which contains the scripts used for Mission Audition and more.

About John Kubin

John Kubin hails from Moscow, KS and has been living in Los Angeles for the past 12 years.  He has been a musician, actor, stand-up comic, writer, director, producer, editor, colorist and also built his own production company, Pretty Nifty, with his business partner Jed Williams (*who also attended VoiceWorld in LA!). Together, they have worked and created content with over 50 major brands including Disney, McDonalds, Fiat and Lego to name a few.

John fell into voice over originally by creating jingles for radio commercials. He currently works full time from his home studio in Burbank, CA and loves what he does.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Hi there, I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli.

Julianna Jones:
And I’m Julianna Jones.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Welcome to Mission Audition. Today we are in Los Angeles. Oh, yeah. Don’t you love the heat?

Julianna Jones:
Oh, it’s beautiful. Yeah.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
It was so beautiful getting off into airport LAX just walking out to that, woo. Yeah. Coming from Canada, we know what cold is and, and it was not cold here. So yeah, thank you Los Angeles for having us here. I’m so excited. Yes, thank you, keep doing that. That’s great. So as we do every time we have an episode of Mission Audition, we are going to share what basically is going on in a job posting, which I will run over in just a second. And then after that, Juliana is going to give some creative direction for the talent. And following that, we’re going to hear all these audition. Now in the middle of the auditions, we’re going to give commentary on each of these auditions that has come in. So if you have a pen and paper or some our way to take notes, you might want to do that, because by the end of the show, you might have an idea of who you think should win, but ultimately at the end of the show, it is John who decides who is going to win, so the pressure’s on you, sir.

John Kubin:
Oy. That’s a lot of pressure.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
All right. Pressure is all right. Okay. Okay, so here we are. We’re doing the show. Let’s talk a bit about the script, shall we? So the job posting details, and some of you may have even seen this jib, because we’ve got all voices.com members out there. But essentially what we’re looking for is a young adult, male or female voice. This is a television commercial and we’re looking for more of a surfer dude, sort of ditzy spacey sort of read. Of course, this is an English script, as all of our jobs so far have been, and we’re looking for a US West Coast, California, Portland sound. So Juliana, tell us a bit more about this job and also what someone needs to do in order to read it the way it’s intended.

Julianna Jones:
Sure thing. So we made up Scott’s Surf Shop. Say that three times fast. So they’re a local shop right here in Laguna Beach, California. The voiceover will be accompanied by a montage of stunning visuals taken on Laguna Beach to capture the world-class sunsets, the sandy beach, and of course, beach apparel and accessories. For artistic direction, feel free to take a sales representative role with this read, while also tapping into your best dude or valley girl style. Voice reference Owen Wilson or Reese Witherspoon. Think Elle Woods.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I think we’re all still in the dark here because I forgot to ask John about himself. So John, why don’t you tell us about your story, about how you got into voiceover, why you love it so much, and why you’re here tonight.

John Kubin:
Well, thank you so much for having me, first of all, appreciate that. My story is interesting, I guess, because I never really wanted to get into voiceover that bad. I just fell into it. Started out doing music, was chasing that for a long time, and got to doing just jingles for radio ads. And they just had me start doing the voiceover with it, because it was easy for them and they could bundle it all in the same payment. So I started doing that. I was sitting there going, “Wow, doing the voiceover is so much easier and less work than trying to do music.” So I was like, “What if I could just do that full time?” and I had always done, I was kind of a parrot always mimicking TV shows and accents and stuff just for fun. And my mom was like, “You should do voiceover.” And I was like, “I want to be a rock star, Mom.”

John Kubin:
And so 10 years later of getting into this business, I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to do voiceover.”

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Nice choice.

John Kubin:
So yeah, so I guess I just fell into it and I’ve just been chasing it for about 10 years and loved it. Then I’ve learned how to do music and editing and that whole bit, so it just naturally, voiceover was like the last piece of the puzzle to finally just start doing the auditions. And then I got in with you guys and some other sources and just took off from there, I guess.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, and in music, your ear is one of your biggest instruments. And that’s the same thing for voiceover right?

John Kubin:
Kind of. I was a very terrible singer. So but luckily, I could do voiceover but I always did music and guitar, bass, and I tried to sing, and I was terrible at it. So that’s why that didn’t work out. But when you learn the art and subtlety of doing voiceover, it’s a lot easier to do. It’s more fun. And just, it’s still that same creative release you can get from wanting to perform, and getting to do it on your time, and you call your own business the way you want to do it. So it’s just a no brainer why you would want to do this and it’s exciting to just do it at your own pace and just get better and better and better at it.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
And also, the freelancer hustle mentality from music directly applies to voiceover as well.

John Kubin:
Yeah. I mean, the great thing about this business is that there is so much work out there. And so much abundance of like, because you were being advertised to death on your phone, on TV, everywhere. And so all of these ads and movies and video games, they need your voice. And so, there’s no shortage of work out there. And so if you’re a person that just wants to hustle and get after it, and that’s what I did, specifically, this whole year was just, I was getting up early. And since we’re on California time, we’re three hours late.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
You’ve got to get up extra early.

John Kubin:
So I was trying to catch up with New York. And so you just submit and submit and submit, and eventually you find your voice and what works and your own niche, and then you can really start branching out from there, and it just becomes clockwork after a while. You find your right sound, your tone of voice, and then you can really mix it up and book some other stuff, and I don’t know it just works nicely after a while.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
What we’re going to do now, and we’ve already talked about the job, so we know it’s that surfer dude, valley girl sound that’s what we’re looking for. So while you’re all out there, studio audience, and those of you who are listening via the podcast, start thinking about that voice. Is it fitting the brand’s sound, and do I believe them? And also, is that audio ready to just throw on the air? Because if it isn’t, then there’s a there’s a bit of an issue. So why don’t we start with audition number one? Let’s roll it, Cam.

Audition 1:
Ready for some fun in the sun? Now without our oversized beach towels. Scott’s got surf shop has everything to cover you at the beach, including swimming apparel, sunblock, scuba gear, flip flops, and oversized beach towels made with shake-away technology to make sure you leave the beach at the beach. Before you drive to the cottage. Man, stop by Scott’s Surf Shop, and start your summer off right.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Oooh, great first one. What do you think, John?

John Kubin:
I guess just to preface every audition here, when you get these scripts, and they… I think it’s important to take everything with a grain of salt. Because what you’ll you’ll tend to hear most the time on TV or radio is the same thing over and over and over. They don’t take a lot of risks in advertising. So when you see something like, “We want you your best Owen Wilson,” everybody is going to try to do an Owen Wilson impression or something. Not that this gentleman did, but most people will take it way too far.

John Kubin:
And so what you do is you isolate yourself into… you sound like everybody. It’s becoming white noise at a certain point. And so if you can just take everything a little bit more subtly, still be you, but add that little bit of flavor to it, just sprinkle in each little subtlety that they’re saying here, and I think you’ll have a lot better time with it. For this specific read, I would just say, one of the main feedbacks I get is I’d put a little bit more energy to it. This is a surf commercial. You’ve got to really pick apart these scripts and go, “What are we going to be seeing?” Try to envision this commercial. There’s beach, it’s fun, there’s people in bathing suits, and it’s exciting stuff happening. So, I would definitely say play up more of the audition in self, put some more energy to it, but at the same time, don’t don’t go too over the top with it.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah, no, those are great tips. I also, I liked that he, at one point, he said, he put a subtle “man” in there, and I was like, “Oh, that was a really good one.” But is it just me. or did it sound more like Texas than a surfer? And it’s like, how do you stop yourself from crossing over in between accents?

John Kubin:
I think it’s very hard, I think, for a lot of people. I’m from the Midwest, so we have the most bland accent on the planet.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
And the most desirable in most of the jobs posted on the site.

John Kubin:
And I think it’s, you’ve got to judge your own voice too. First of all, find what your niche is. Are you more the country guy? Then find that market. You’ll be booking more of that than I ever will. But if you can learn to generalize your voice a little bit more, to where it is a little bit more, not bland, but more neutral, I guess, to where you can start adjusting very, very subtly, these little nuances of where you can be more of the surfer guy, or throw in the twang. But you got to read your audience and you’ve got to be able to typecast yourself a little bit in the beginning, if you’re just getting into this to know, okay, is this even worth auditioning for? Because I just, I’m not that person.

John Kubin:
And I used to audition for everything, which was stupid. I mean, it’s good practice nonetheless. But if you’re trying to book a job, really take a hard, honest answer at it and just go, “Is this me? Or, what could I do to change? How could I be the surfer guy or something?” And it’s always worth just experimenting and trying and just, if you don’t get it, who cares? On to the next.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
All right, well, there’s some good tips there. Being objective, knowing where your niche is, or your niche. That’s an accent thing, isn’t it? A niche, niche tomato, tomato, potato, potato. Who knows? Data, data. I know that that’s a raging debate as well. But anyway, out here in California, how do you say it, data or data? Data? Interesting. Very cool. All right. So why don’t we listen to audition number two?

Audition 2:
I’m auditioning for Scott’s Surf Shop Surf’s Up commercial. Ready for some fun in the sun? Not without our oversized beach towels. Scott’s Surf Shop has everything to cover you at the beach, including swimming apparel, sunblock, scuba gear, and flip flops, and oversized beach towels may would shake-away technology that makes sure you leave the beach at the beach. Before you drive to the cottage, stop by Scott’s Surf Shop to start off your summer right.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Did you guys ever watch the TV show 16 Dude? It sounds exactly like him.

Julianna Jones:
Oh, you’re thinking it sounds like Christian Potenza?

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah, that’s it.

Julianna Jones:
Ah, right.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
We met him a couple years ago in London Comic Con. He sounds just like-

Julianna Jones:
Oh, the dude read.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yes.

Julianna Jones:
But not the quiet audio, though.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
No. Yeah.

Julianna Jones:
We’re going to speak to that.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
So coming from a process stance, when you’re auditioning on voices.com, do you guys catch all the preamble that he did? And can you, from listening to them back to back, even just these two, can you see how it takes a client out of the head space that they’re trying to stay in when listening to auditions, and why it’s just a bad idea? One, it’s a time waster on your end, but two, it’s a time waster on the client’s end. And so tip number one, just make sure that you never preamble. You just get straight to the copy. You agree?

John Kubin:
Absolutely. I’ve been in a position to where I’ve casted a lot of voiceover auditions and stuff. And you got to put yourself in their shoes. Who’s going to hire the client? So, they have to listen sometimes up to 100 people, and they are going to listen to you for about one second, if that, and just go, “Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. Yes, maybe, maybe, maybe. Yes.”

John Kubin:
So, good news and bad news with this particular person, they took eight seconds to start the actual audition. Me, myself, I mean, everything’s different, obviously, but I never slate. Because in the client’s position, which had been it’s just like, “Get to the point, give me the goods and get out.” And…

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That’s true.

John Kubin:
But on the good side, the guy has so much potential. He had a great voice, but these are the little subtleties that may not get you hired sometimes. But he had a great read.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Absolutely. And, forgive my not introducing John properly again. But just like, this guy’s got cred here. I want to talk about a few your clients. You’ve got Disney, McDonald’s, Fiat, Lego, huge names, man.

Julianna Jones:
Knows what he’s talking about, maybe just a little.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I think so. Yeah especially like when, yeah, they listen for a second. That’s just the truth of the matter, and I know how sometimes people will record a lot more of their auditions than they necessarily need to. How long are the auditions that you normally record, like how much of a script would you put forward?

John Kubin:
I usually go, it’s a case by case basis. Sometimes clients, they demand a full read and so you’re just like, “Maybe I’ll do it, maybe I won’t.” But in the interest of time, you’re talking about a business, especially with voices, that there’s all of a sudden 50 auditions in your inbox. If you’re going to spend two hours on an audition trying to perfect it, you are doing it wrong. You need to just know yourself well enough to be like, “Here’s my voice. I can pick it out pretty fast, and nothing is going to be changing a whole lot from audition to audition.” But it’s just a time process, because I’ll spend maybe two minutes on an audition. And that’s long to just get it recorded, edit it down to whatever you need to, and just be like, “Yep, send it off,” because, honestly, the more stuff you’re just throwing against the wall, I think the more chance you’re going to have to book.

John Kubin:
Now, the difference is quality. You want to be sending out quality auditions, and that takes a little time to find your voice. Find out what works. But if you do an audition 300 different ways, and in the end, it sounds the same as the first take you did, you’re wasting your time. So I think it’s better just to get it done fast, because you got to realize too, there’s everybody in this room is competing for the same jobs, and if you’re number 50, being listened to, they might have already casted the guy who was number five. So this is a very, very speed, very fast business where you need to kick them out, get the client what they want, because they may cast you within five minutes. And it may take six months, but if you’re at the top of the list, it’s better.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, and you do an audition in two minutes, because you’ve been doing this for 10 years. So remember to forgive yourself, if you’re new and you’re not at the two minute mark.

John Kubin:
No, and it takes a while. I mean, I just had … it was really fun. I got to work with my niece, who’s 17, brand new to voiceover, and I basically gave her the crash course in the same thing I’m saying now. She has a good voice. And I said, “Here’s the basics of how you cut together a little track and send it in.” And she was spending over an hour doing one and I’m just like, “Whoa, whoa, we’ve got to change that right now.” And so I started working with her. And I said, “Gere’s some things to think about. Put yourself in the client’s shoes.” And she just booked her first job yesterday on Voices, so.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Oh, how wonderful.

Julianna Jones:
Wow. Give her a hand. That’s great.

John Kubin:
Alexis Rose.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Alexis Rose? Nice.

John Kubin:
Yeah.

John Kubin:
But when you’re new, you don’t know these things. I did everything wrong in the book, starting seven, eight years ago, whenever I started, and I still listen to my old auditions, and they’re just absolutely horrific. But you learn from that, but if you don’t ever have someone who tells you like, “This is not what the client’s looking for,” or, “Don’t slate.” It helps to have that, and I wish I would have had that because, yeah, you don’t know these things when you’re new, but I would help me a lot more if I did.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah, well, that’s why you’re here now, so these people don’t make the same mistake.

John Kubin:
I did it the hard way, but figured it out eventually.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, and think about it too, is like your time is money. And so if you do more auditions, you’re going to end up making more money because you’re putting out more product as well, right? It’s just like a business sense as well as the artistic sense to it.

John Kubin:
Sure. And, the people have school, they have jobs, and so you can’t always just get to it immediately. But the nice thing about this business is that it never stops. It could be three o’clock in the morning, and there’s just boom, here’s a $500 job up for grabs. Jump on it. Don’t wait, because it’s getting to be a more saturated market, but in a good way, because there’s all the more work now. And there’s just not enough to go around for, I can’t even hit half of the auditions that come in from all these sources, because it’s just non stop. So that’s way more opportunities for new people to get in and get in easier, and a lot of these, you can look and just be like, “Oh, only 10 people submitted for this. That’s worth doing.” Because you’re limiting the competition and some are like 150 people have submitted, so you pick and choose your battles and see what works for you and just keep submit, submit, submit.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Just thinking it might be a good opportunity to talk about voice match a little bit, because you could be a really, really high match for something. And that’s awesome. Or you might not have it. Juliana, do want to talk a little bit about voice match and how that helps people prioritize their auditions?

Julianna Jones:
Yeah, sure. So voice match is an algorithm that tells you how closely matched you are to the specs the client laid out in the job posting. And the way a client sees auditions is they see them in order of voice match. So they see all the 100% percent matches and the 90% matches, and you get the idea. And then within those 100% or 90%, then it’s organized by time. So they’re going to see the first 100%, then the second 100% match to get it in, third 100% match. And then you get down, the first 90% match, second, so if you are, let’s say at the end of the day, you come home, there’s an audition, you’re like, “I’m 100% match, but there are 80 other people, is it worth my time?”

Julianna Jones:
If you’re 100% match, you’re going to be put to the top of where the 90s begin, if that makes sense. So if you have a high voice match score because you’ve done a great job setting up your profile and your bio and your demos, then it does make it worth your while to audition for high voice match scores, even if you’re getting in a little bit later. And if you have any questions about that, just come see me at the end and we can look at your profile or anything like that to clarify, but that makes sense? Kind of?

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yes. Some good tips. Only here at Voice World. So, okay, why don’t we listen to her third audition?

Audition 3:
Ready for some fun in the sun? Not without our oversized beach towels. Scott’s Surf Shop has everything to cover you at the beach, including swimming apparel, sunblock, scuba gear, flip flops, and oversized beach towels made with our shake-away technology that makes sure you leave the beach at the beach. Before you drive to the cottage, stop by Scott’s Surf Shop to start your summer off right.

Cameron:
Hi, this is Cameron, talent success specialist here voices.com, and also podcast producer for this episode of Mission Audition. You’re about to hear some feedback pertaining to some negative aspects of this audio sample. While the audio sample itself is actually pretty clean, we ran into a few technical difficulties on site that cause some unwanted artifacts. So please keep that in mind when you’re listening to the feedback. We’ve chosen to keep it in, because it’s still some great advice for talent that might be running into true audio problems.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Did you guys hear that? Poor audio ruining a really good audition.

Julianna Jones:
Yeah. What advice would you give this girl, John?

John Kubin:
Well, I mean, audio is a big one. Again, when I’ve ever casted stuff, it’s like if someone has poor audio, you just, you do not waste your time. You’re like, “Nope,” because it’s a very skittish business, as well, to where these agents and client, they have to like answer to their bosses, they have to have deadlines met on their own. So if someone doesn’t just have their sound figured out, like the basics, they’re not going to waste their time. It doesn’t matter how good a voiceover person you are, that makes a big, big difference. And so, and it’s tough, because getting your sound figured out, especially if you’re new, it’s tough. People are saying, “Oh, you should get this piece of equipment. I use this and you got to learn how to edit and get this program. “It’s just like aaah, it’s a lot.

Julianna Jones:
It’s overwhelming.

John Kubin:
So, yeah, and I was fortunate enough to do music for the longest time. So I had always plugged everything in wrong or gone through every headache with this recording equipment, but I learned how to edit. I learned how to do some of the basics. And once you learn some of those basics, or even have someone teach you. I mean, everything that I have a problem with, I just get on YouTube and be like, “How do I fix this?” You know? And nicely enough, we live in an age where it’s not that hard to find some good recommendations, some simple stuff, and when you’re on a budget, too, it’s tough. But I’m just a very practical person in this sense to where don’t skimp on equipment, either. Because if you do, then you might have that problem where, “Oh, if I had just would have spent like an extra 50 bucks or something, I could have had a better sound.”

John Kubin:
So it’s always worth investing in your own business. And a lot of people are very scared to put up some money for just a microphone, basic editing software. And I always tell people, like, “Listen. If you get it all figured out, if you put the money up front, one job can pay for all of that. And then you don’t have to update anything ever again.” I’m using the same microphone I’ve had for 15 years. So this is a business where you don’t have to put hardly any capital into, and still be successful and booking all the time. So if you think about it, like other businesses, they have to order supplies, they have to deal with employees. Voiceover people, we don’t have to do anything. I joke. It’s like the laziest entertainment job there is, but that’s what’s so exciting about it because if you just get your sound figured out. Ask a friend. Say, “Help me.”

John Kubin:
Whatever it is, I love helping people out with trying to like make recommendations. I say, “This is what I use. Use your best judgment. If you’re on a budget, maybe we could do this.” And so just get your best recommendation, do what you can with your budget and make it work. Because again, if you don’t have sound quality figured out, that’s stage one. Like you have to get that figured out before you can just start sending auditions, because you won’t look if you don’t.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That was a great answer.

John Kubin:
It’s a long-winded answer.

Julianna Jones:
Definitely.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
But it is everything we needed to hear. Thank you. Oh, that’s very kind. Good, good. Yeah, so audio quality, it is huge. Pretty much if you don’t have that, as they say in the business, garbage in, garbage out. And that’s not about your talent. It’s about the quality of the audio. So whatever, it could be just your one cable could mess the whole signal chain up.

Julianna Jones:
Yeah. And if you guys have questions, “Is my audio good enough to get started?” We have a bunch of trained audio engineers, legit, these guys went to school for it, graduated, they know what they’re talking about. And you can get in touch with them and they’ll tell you “Yes, this is good,” or, “No, here’s what we need to do.” And then you’re good to start auditioning. Or if you already are auditioning and like, “Hey, maybe this is why I’m not booking work.” We’ve got someone, that’s just actually Cam, that we can hook you up with as well. So so again, reach out if you’re having troubles.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That said, we are at the halfway point. We need to get to our next audition. So let’s listen to audition number four.

Audition 4:
Ready for some fun in the sun? Not without our oversized beach towels. Scott’s Surf Shop has everything to cover you at the beach, including swimming apparel, sunblock, scuba gear, flip flops, and oversized beach towels made with shake-away technology that makes sure you leave the beach at the beach. Before you drive to the cottage, stop by Scott’s Surf Shop to start your summer off right.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
She did a great job with the Scott’s Surf Shop. I had a tough time with that one and she made it look or sound easy.

John Kubin:
Yeah, most of the time, when I’m doing auditions, there’s a lot of cursing that goes into trying to get through certain words. I’m like, “Who wrote this?” But, it’s obviously a good thing to like to make sure you can read good. And when you get on line with clients and stuff, sometimes when you book a job, you’ll have to be in a conference call or be in some sort of a live setting with people. So, I’m lazy about it sometimes, but it’s good to just read a script a couple times, at least, before you just try to barrel into, “beach apparel and accessories.” You know what I mean? So, save yourself some headache, really nail these sentences down, and also too, it’s something to think about, look beyond just the words on the paper too. Broad strokes. This is a business, you are selling a product, and most of these formats are going to be in like, is it going a 30-second commercial, is it going to be a 15-second commercial? Is it open ended? These are little subtleties you can start thinking about.

John Kubin:
And one of the big mistakes I’ve always made is I talk really fast. And so when I do auditions, I would speed through, “Scott’s Surf Shop is right here in Laguna Beach.” The best thing you can do sometimes, and just slow down. And just make sure you’re hitting, because sometimes I’ll time out my reads for what’s supposed to be a 30-second commercial. I’m like, “Oh, I got it done in eight seconds.” That’s probably too fast. And you got to realize, too, they’re going to be taking these auditions sometimes, and they’ve got the spot. They have the music, they have the spot, they’re ready to slap in your audition. And if you’re the guy that’s talking 100 miles an hour, then they’re going to not waste their time.

John Kubin:
So the person who can look at every little nuance here and just go, “Okay, what am I selling? What is the vibe? What is the format? Is it a 15-second? Is it a 30-second commercial? And then just put all those little nuances into that spot and that read. There’s actually a lot that goes into an audition when you think about it. It just seems like you’re recording on a mic and just sending it off. But there’s actually a lot more that goes into it, and just stuff to think about beyond you just being the actor. It is your job to narrate and sell this thing that they’re trying to get, and you have to really adapt to every single format. You can’t just do an accent. You can’t just be a good reader. You got to be a marketer. You got to have psychology when it goes into, “What would get me sold? What’s going to be different than what everybody else is doing in this audition process?” So just little stuff to think about.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah, before the show, and before the event started, we were talking a bit about the psychology end of it, and you do have to actually know who you’re talking to, because that’s a huge part of it is know the audience, and how can you relate to them, and how does what you’re sharing with them affect them personally? And will it change their life? I don’t know. Sometimes it will. Maybe this towel is going to be late game changer for somebody.

Julianna Jones:
So if we take that big concept, then, and try and boil it down to something that’s actionable, that you can maybe a little bit easier that you can take into their studio, what would you pull out of this script? Like what words would you hit? Where would you pause? Boil that theory down for us.

John Kubin:
Right. So I go into … and this is just experience talking. This is nine years of doing this. I just go in and look for all the little buzzwords and everything here. So typically, from the get go, for a job posting, I’m looking at the little things. Male or female? Is it TV? What a TV spot is it? Is it a regional, is it a national, is it a 30, is it a minute? All these little things make a lot of difference. And I’m already seeing styles, spacey, ditzy, maybe they want like an Owen Wilson read. So I look at all that and you just piece it together in your mind. You go, “Okay, X, Y, Z,” and then I take it all with a big grain of salt and go, “Okay.” The most important thing you can do is be you, and then you sprinkle in all these little things that they’re saying a little bit, because at the end of the day, what did not get me hired was trying to do exactly what’s on this paper. It was just being my natural voice.

John Kubin:
And the thing that is so popular today is being a real person. They do not want the 1950s announcer guy anymore. That’s not a thing. It is real people, like I’m just talking to you now. This is what they want, just a real person. Doesn’t matter if you have an accent or some weird way of talking, just if it sounds real, that’s what they want. So, with this script in particular, I’m seeing Scott’s Surf Shop, Laguna Beach, California. Okay, it’s going to California vibe to it. Sunset, sandy beach, beach, apparel accessories, okay, so now I’m looking at the scripts. Ready for the sun. So I’m already thinking like, “What is this spot going to look like?” It’s a surf shop. I’m seeing beaches, I’m seeing people having fun and everything. But at the same time, some of these auditions I’ve been hearing, even if it has a lot of energy, it’s very flat read.

John Kubin:
So you got to understand, with voiceover, you are a storyteller first and foremost. You are not here to sell people a product. You are, but you’re supposed to cover that up with being a real person too. So you’re telling your best friend like, “Dude, you’ve got to buy this surf towel, because it’s just awesome. I don’t, it’s not going to change your life, but it’s just cool. I like it, my friends got it, I’m recommending.”

John Kubin:
So that is more of the trend, at least in my experience, of where the voiceover world is at. Sometimes you’ll get those clients that wants you to just really hit every single word and, “It’s a local shop right in Laguna Beach.” But typically, that’s not what is hiring right now. So, if I were to take this, I would just do it with a lot of good energy. Always put a smile to these type of spots where it’s very fun. It’s Scott’s Surf Shop. So I would take the surfer vibe not very far, but splash it in a little bit. And if you’re the guy or girl, everybody’s doing their best surfer impression and you just be you, that’s probably going to get you hired more than not.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Oh, very good tips. Because this is different from, say, a voice match job where someone’s like, “We need you to sound like X celebrity, right?” And it’s like, but what they really mean is they want you to sound in the style of how that person talks. So it isn’t so much sound exactly like we’ll just throw a name out, James Earl Jones, or something. We see that. People ask me all the time.

Julianna Jones:
Sam Elliot.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Or Sam Elliott or somebody else that I can’t think of right now. But it’s just more about the way someone talks in the mannerisms and the cadence, where they breathe, how they stop, where they inflect. It’s not so much sound exactly like this person, but sound like how that person talks.

John Kubin:
I try to be nice about this. I make fun of agencies a lot too, because they get this idea, like they’ve seen James Earl Jones is very popular. Jon Hamm, like they just saw the latest commercial and they’re like, “We want that.” And so they post like, “We want Jon Hamm sound alike.” And everybody tries to get on and do their best Jon Hamm and they’re just like, “Oh, we messed up. No, we don’t want him exactly. We want like someone in that vein.” And I tell into that too, where I would try to do exactly, spend like half an hour trying to do my best impression of these people. And it’s just that’s not what got you hired. But if you can pay attention to what’s on TV, what is the YouTube ads that you’re trying to get past every time, look, watch them. Because that is what is popular right now.

John Kubin:
And so if you can be in that vein, and find your voice that’s still unique to you, but close to where you can match it to these people that are giving these ads, you’re going to do better than not, then versus trying to do a full on impression of what they’re posting.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Because it can sound phony. You put on something that you’re not, if you can’t quite nail it, then it’s not so cool. All right, I think we’re ready for audition number five.

Audition 5:
Ready for some fun in the sun? Not without our oversized beach towels. Scott’s Surf Shop has everything to cover you at the beach, including swimming apparel, sunblock, scuba gear, flip flops, and oversized beach towels made with shake-away technology that makes sure you leave the beach at the beach. Before you drive to the cottage, stop by Scott’s Surf Shop to start your summer off right.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Ooh, good one.

John Kubin:
Whoa.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah.

John Kubin:
Well, I would say with this one, again, it depends. And again, take what I’m saying with a grain of salt, too. You may have a client that just says “Yes, that. I want full on surfer guy. That is great.” And then if you’re the guy that did it subtly, and you’re like, “Why didn’t they hire me?” It’s like, you just never know, with client stuff too. So this is important to, why I always say, a lot of people will do one take on auditions, and they’ll send it in. I always recommend, do a take that’s you, pretty subtle. Do another take that has something different to it. Hook them with like your natural voice and what you interpret the commercial to be, and then switch it up.

John Kubin:
So, in this case, I would do one a little bit more subtle than this gentleman did. But then the second one, I would do same thing he did on his first take. It’s good to have the variety, the forethought to go, “I am with you, clients. I want to give you what you want. But here’s some options. Here’s how you know I have some versatility.” Because if they’re just thinking like, “Oh, this guy’s just full-on surfer dude. That’s not really what we’re looking for,” you’re done. But if they listened to it, and then right next to it is just his normal voice or something, they go, “Oh, well wait. Maybe we can find a happy medium here and figure out how to direct him a little bit to be more subtle or even more crazy.”

John Kubin:
So, I think it’s a great audition, if that’s what they’re looking for. But again, this is where you have to put on your thinking cap here and just go, “Who is the client? Can I look this client up and see if they’ve got other advertising, look at their social media pages? Is that their vibe?” And that’s helped me more than not to be like, “Okay, I should probably go a little bit more subtle or throw more of an accent or something.” But because most the time, these clients, these agencies, they’re not going to take a huge risk. They’re going to keep everything pretty subtle, they’re going to go with what is trending on TV, on radio ads. And so to go too far with an accent or a surfer guy, or whatever it might be, then you’re isolating yourself a little bit. So unless they specifically call for it, say, “We want like over the top surfer guy,” then I would play a little bit more safe, just so you can at least be in the running and not put yourself in a box.

Julianna Jones:
And if you guys do you want to do two auditions and take John’s tip, make sure that you let the client know upfront that there are two auditions. So you’ll slate two takes, and then that way, they don’t just listen to two seconds and move on to the next one. They know there’s something else to expect.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
We are down to our last audition is everyone having a good time so far? You’re kind of learning some stuff? Okay, good. Yeah. Don’t be afraid to cheer louder. That’s always, that’s okay. So anyway, we will listen to audition number six. This is our last audition of the night.

Audition 6:
Ready for some fun in the sun? Not without our oversized beach towels. Scott’s Surf Shop has everything to cover you at the beach, including swimming apparel, sunblock, scuba gear, flip flops, and oversized beach towels made with shake-away technology that makes sure you leave the beach at the beach. Before you drive to the cottage, stop by Scott’s Surf Shop to start your summer off right.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I love the way she did. Oversized beach towels. It’s like she’s like, “Girl, your oversized.” That was really well done. I liked it a lot.

John Kubin:
And that’s the thing. I would probably pick this young lady out of all of them, because number one, it may not even be the best read. But the way she did it, I kind of always say, it’s like an accordion. When you read these spots, you have where you can speed up and then you can slow down, and put some peaks and valleys to the read, because if nothing else, you’re like, “Oh, that was different.” And that’s, half the time, what these agents and clients are looking for because, again, they’re listening to like 50 auditions back to back to back.

John Kubin:
And if they all sound the same, like that really hard sell, it’s white noise. But then someone comes around like this and they’re like, “Oh, they just did the line different. Cool. Let’s just pick that person.” But honestly, that’s how that process goes a lot of time. You’re like, “Huh. This is kind of cool” But I like the way she did it. She gets your attention. She has those peaks and valleys. And I think that out of all of them that we’ve heard so far, that’s the one I would pick to get the job, because it was just a little bit different. And good, a bit of energy, yeah.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
And say you anticipate me, John. I was just about to ask you. So can we give John a drum roll, please, to say who was the winner of Mission Audition, audition number what?

John Kubin:
Oh my gosh. Who could it be? Number six.

Julianna Jones:
Oh, what a surprise.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yay. Very good. Congratulations, audition number six. You just have won Mission Audition LA. Oh my gosh, so much fun.

Julianna Jones:
Yeah, she did a great job. She really had that energy that you were talking about at the beginning. Yeah.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah. Absolutely. So obviously you are quite skilled and talented and wonderful, and I don’t think you coach or anything like that. But if someone were to want to look you up and find out how they can listen to your demos, possibly pick up some tips here and there, where can they find you, John?

John Kubin:
I guess two places. Voices.com/johnkubin, or I think that’s what I put on there. And then, I have my website, Prettynifty.tv, and that’s where I have all my voiceover stuff. You can contact me there. I love helping people, so hit me up anytime. We can always give a recommendation and try to point people in the right direction.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Awesome. All right. Well, thank you very much for being on the show, John.

John Kubin:
Thank you for having me.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
This is fantastic. Oh, yeah, you can applaud. That’s great. Yes.

Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.
Connect with Stephanie on:
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