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Have You Heard The New Siri? As A Voice Actor, You Better Listen!

Yesterday, during the WWDC Keynote, Apple unveiled the new Siri.

Did you hear it?

Last year while moderating a panel discussion at a voice over conference, J Michael Collins asked each of the panelists for their thoughts on the state of voice over in the next 5-10 years. I said that I was keeping on eye on text-to-speech and the technology involved in powering virtual assistants like Siri or Cortana.

A couple years ago, I consistently made money voicing real estate virtual tours. Then one day, one of my regular clients stopped calling. They began using a computer generated voice. It sounded absolutely awful… but to their point… it was free!

I can’t compete with free.

The Rise of Text-to-Speech

My point, in this particular panel, was that as text-to-speech technology improves, I fully expect more and more people are going to begin using it as an inexpensive alternative to hiring a professional voice actor.

Will it ever replace the human voice entirely? Hopefully not while I’m still working.

Is it something we need to keep an eye on as an industry in the coming years? Absolutely!

Yesterday, when Apple played the new Siri, this only hit home for me even more.

In the new and improved Siri, which will be part of the upcoming OS release in the Fall, Siri now has the ability to speak with basic expressiveness. Thanks to machine learning advances, Siri can have a level of emotion.

That’s scary stuff for voice actors!

As Text-to-Speech technology improves, voice actors need to pay attention!
Tweet Quote

To me, that says the advancement in this technology is inevitable.

Is is going to start popping up on national commercial campaigns? Doubtful.

Could this technology be deployed in a genre like eLearning? I think it could!

As I said, we’re not there yet. But it may be closer than we think… or closer than we want to think about!

Check out this clip to hear the new Siri and share your thoughts in the comments below.

The New Siri Voice WWDC 2017

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Why Are You Afraid Of Change?

When Apple finally confirmed the rumor that had been floating around for months – that they were doing away with the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 – the interwebs collectively melted down. Minds were blown. Heads exploded. Rants and sarcasm and “why me… why now… why this…” posts overflowed in every social media stream I was signed into.

It would seem there are a lot of people who aren’t very enthused about change.

The Way Things Used To Be

old-radio-studioBack in the day, when I first started in radio in 1995, I worked for a station that only had a computer in the newsroom. All it did was print stories to a dot-matrix printer. Everything was done with reel-to-reel, cart decks and CD players. In fact, some of the production elements still existed on records!

“Computers will never take over the radio studio,” the experts declared.

At my last radio job in 2011, after several rounds of layoffs – myself included – three radio stations were being operated by about four jocks who just took turns voice tracking nearly all the programing outside of morning drive.

When Apple introduced the iPod a number of years ago, I declared it the stupidest device I’d ever seen, and the idea of buying music online in the form of digital downloads infuriated me even more. Of course, the fact I had a CD collection in the thousands may have had something to do with this.

These days, all my music, movies and books are digital. My CD collection hasn’t seen the light of day in more than a decade.

Remember That Time When…

Several years ago Apple announced it was eliminating the optical drive from it’s computers. The masses were outraged and convinced this would bring about the end. The giant would fall. It was impossible for people to install software or backup data. Absolutely no one could live without an optical drive.

Do they even exist anymore?

Humanity has survived 8-track to cassette to CD to iTunes.

We lived through Commodore to IBM to iMac to Tablets.

How about Beta to VHS to Laser Disc to DVD to Blu Ray to Netflix?

Show of hands… who still uses a rotary phone? Wait… who still has a landline?

Change is inevitable.

Progress is good.

The Only Thing That Stays The Same… Everything Changes

rotary-phoneWhether it’s evolving from a 5″ floppy disk to the Cloud, dial-up internet dependent on a phone line to high speed internet with no wires required… and yes… even the transition from the analog headphone jack to digital lightning or wireless alternatives.

Certain change used to upset me. I’d get comfortable with a person or place or thing and didn’t like it much when reality shifted.

I try not to get as bothered by it these days. I’d rather learn to adapt. Prepare for what’s next. Explore new horizons. Learn different ways. Find other options.

Stay current.

Or maybe even a step ahead.

We Can’t Have Different But The Same

We want phones with faster processors, bigger displays and fancier cameras. We also want them to fit in our pockets. Something’s gotta give. Real Estate is precious. Not just in New York or LA or Toronto or Vancouver. In your iPhone too! We can’t have different but the same.

Change is uncomfortable, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

I was pretty uncomfortable when I got downsized from my radio job. That was a big change. It also turned out the best one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. It’s how I wound up where I am today!

It sure didn’t feel good when the surgeon yanked wisdom teeth from my mouth. I have a lot fewer headaches these days, though.

The first time in my life I paid a mortgage, hydro, water, cable, internet, phone and insurance bill on my own, change seemed pretty stupid when I considered how I previously lived with dad for free. I kind of like it on my own now. No more flack when I feel like sleeping in.

Why Are You Afraid Of Change?

home-studioWhat’s going on here is a lot bigger than a headphone jack. It’s about learning to get outside your comfort zone and discovering new ways to get the job done.

You know, like how you can record voice over jobs in your underwear at home instead of getting up and driving to studios every day.

Or how you can even have a voice over career at all outside of New York, LA or Chicago. Wasn’t too long ago that was unheard of.

So here’s to the crazy ones! Or is that the courageous ones?

The ones who stepped up to the plate first and said out with the old and in with the new.

More often than not, new ends up being a good thing.

If you’re uncomfortable with change, maybe you’ve been doing things the same way too long. That’s seldom good for anybody.

Oh, and if you’re still upset about the headphone jack, give me a couple weeks and I’ll sell you my iPhone 6. 😉


Thanks for sharing this post from Marc Scott's Voice Over Blog.

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Pursuing The Dream Voice Over Client

The other day I was having a conversation with a fellow voice talent. It went something like this…

“Who’s your dream client?”

They replied, “_______.”

“That’s awesome,” I replied. “What’ve you been doing lately to pursue them?”

* Blank Stare *

“Hey, Marc. Who’s your dream client?”


“That’s awesome,” they replied. “What’ve you been doing lately to pursue them?”

* Blank Stare *

Totally busted.

Pursuing The Dream Voice Over Client

Yesterday I sent a message to my Virtual Assistant. I informed her we now have a new objective. All current marketing efforts are taking a backseat for a week. It’s time to start looking for potential doors to knock on with Apple.

The conversation with the fellow voice talent was actually eye opening and, if I’m being entirely honest, a little embarrassing.

It’s pretty easy to explain away though.

Fear Factor

apple-logoWhat if I pursue leads with Apple and can’t find a door to knock on? Or, what if I knock and they slam it shut in my face?! Would I look like a failure?

Well, no more than if I never pursued them at all, I suppose!

Fear is really great at keeping us from our dreams. A convenient, and sometimes subtle excuse. We don’t always realize it’s fear standing in our way. Generally, though, it is.

Not anymore. For me anyway.

Motivation found. The pursuit is on!

PS: If you work for Apple and need a voice over, let’s talk! 😉

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The Jony Ive Approach To Auditions

Recently I read a book about Apple Design Guru Jony Ive (Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products). In it he discussed the process of submitting a new idea or design to Steve Jobs.

As anyone who is even slightly familiar with Steve Jobs knows, his personality was, shall we say, temperamental? If he didn’t like something, and he often didn’t like new ideas, he wasn’t afraid to tell you straight up.

“This is s+++,” was apparently one of his most often quoted responses.

Jony explained that the trick to presenting something to Steve and walking away with a positive result was to give him options. Generally, three.

Door Number 1, 2 or 3?

Jony Ive and Steve JobsThe first option would usually be the worst. In fact, in some instances the first option presented wasn’t even a real option at all. Just some random choice offered up in hopes of receiving the “this is s+++” response. You know, to try and get that out of the way.

Option number two would be more viable. Closer to what the final option would be. Something that would peak Steve’s interest, but still likely wasn’t enough to garner his approval.

Then there was option three. This was the option Jony (or the team) really wanted to pursue. The option they wanted Steve to give the go-ahead to. Their thought process was simple. By providing two less than stellar options, it helped to elevate the final option even further.

This trick seemed to work for Jony and his team. More than once.

Could it work for you too?

The Jony Ive Approach To Auditions

In many instances I have clients send me scripts with very specific directions for the type of read they’d like to hear on an audition.

But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s entirely open to interpretation. “Give us what you think,” they say to me.

In those instances, I’ve always employed the same technique that Jony Ive used on Steve Jobs.

I provide the client with two or three options. One or two that might work or the client might be intrigued by. Then one option that I feel is the best option.

Many times over the years, this strategy has worked out perfectly. The audition (or two) that might not be as good a fit often make the other choice stand out even more. Although, that said, a few times, much to my surprise, the client has gone for one of the options I would’ve never actually considered.

Next time you’re submitting an audition and not 100% sure on which direction take, try the Jony Ive approach. You never know, it might just lead to more bookings!

Thanks for sharing this post from Marc Scott's Voice Over Blog.

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Can You Sound Like The iPhone 6 Commercial

I’m not gonna lie… there were some touch and go moments during the Apple Live Event yesterday when I’m pretty sure my heart nearly stopped and I was ready to curl up in the fetal position, giving up my will to live.

But eventually the live stream started working again. And I recovered.

Apple gave us three very cool new things to get excited about yesterday, assuming you’re a Fanboy like me. They introduced the iPhone 6, Apple Watch and Apple Pay.

iPhone 6 Commercial

But that’s not the only thing Apple gave us. They also gave us this…

If you’re a voice actor, you’re going to want to pay special attention to that commercial.


Guaranteed, before the end of the week, clients around the world are going to be referencing it.

“We want a delivery like that new Apple commercial. You know, the one with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.”

So listen closely. If there is one way Apple impacts the voice over industry, it’s with their commercials. Every time they release a new one, for a season, at least, casting directors and clients all want reads that sound just like them.

Bets on who has a client ask for it first? 🙂