Peeking behind the curtain at the AAPC Conference

I recently attended a Regional Conference of the AAPC (American Association of Political ConAAPC Logosultants). I had signed up for a webinar the week before on doing Political Voice-Overs, and one of the participants in the webinar had talked about the AAPC as being a source of information and contacts. I checked out their website, and saw that there was a conference just about to happen in Philadelphia. So, I signed up.

It was interesting. It was a little smaller than I expected, maybe 80 or so political operatives in attendance. I mingled. I schmoozed. I networked, and met some really interesting people, some of which might lead to potential business doing political voice overs. But the most interesting thing was the experience of being there and hearing what the issues of interest were for people in that industry. It was sort of like peeking behind the scenes and seeing “how the sausage was made.”

The topics covered a range as wide as the” latest technologies in voter tracking and customized message delivery,” to how the Citizens United ruling was beginning to drive money down to even Municipal elections.

The speakers were all excellent, and a convivial group. Some of them were also Corporate Consultants to the largest companies in the world, and work on elections internationally as well. One thing I noticed, that emerged as a pattern as they each introduced themselves, was that they were by-and-large Partisan. They were either Democrats or Republicans. Left or right. There were a “few” that were somewhat agnostic, and didn’t seemed too concerned about which side of the fence they played. They reminded me of that parody song from many years ago from the political satirist, Tom Lehrer about Werner Von Braun (https:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V7me25aNtI), “Vonce ze rockets go up who cares vere zay come down. Zat’s not my department, says Werner Von Braun.” They saw themselves are hired guns.

The rest played for one team on the other. A number of them talked about getting into politics accidentally, and not being even sure of what “brand” they favored… but after a few weeks they realized, “I’m a Democrat, or Republican, or Liberal, or Conservative! One of the “hired guns” said, “at the end of the day, it’s all about winning… and I love to win!” I could see a few of the partisans on the panel shaking their heads. In response, one them said, “yes, it’s about winning… but I believe that there’s a social impact to what I do. That’s what I’m passionate about. Yes, it’s about winning, and on Election Day there’s an unambiguous outcome to your plans and strategies. But what winning means to me is that what I believe in has a chance to impact society.”

I found that message compelling. It resonated. I’m  a “Left of Center” Progressive Liberal. I couldn’t do a Voice Over for a Conservative that was promoting their voting record with the NRA (even though I own a couple of handguns), or railed against the “immigrant horde” or “gay agenda.” “Those” people are my friends. My family.

I believe in Single Payer Healthcare and cheap access to higher education. I think the banking meltdown a few years back was a criminal act, legalized by a cowardly congress that didn’t have the nerve to pursue indictments. I support legislation that funds programs that support the poor, and provides more opportunity for people to move up the economic ladder… even if that money comes from higher taxes on the wealthy.

Hmmm…. maybe part of this comes out of my experience of being a child of a single parent household… and the struggles I witnessed my mother go through after being widowed at 37 with me and my two sisters to care for.

OK you Leftist Democrats… if you need a strong, authoritative, trusted voice to sell your Agenda… call me! :>)

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Live and Learn…

I’ve been emailing a friend of mine, Steven Reisberg.  He’s another of the Mason Gross Mafia.  He’s the booth Director at TGMD Talent in LA.  I’ve been keeping Steve abreast of my progress on Golden Tonsils.

Funny, I told him I’m learning Pro Tools.  All the people I’ve spoken to, and from what I’ve read on different sites on the internet, it’s considered the “standard” in the industry.  I also went to a few classes at Edge Studio, where I’m working on putting together my demo… and a few professionals in the group came in with the M-Boxes (that’s the hardward interface to the Pro Tools software).  Even the engineer in the class I was taking at Edge uses Pro Tools… so I figured “ahhh… what the heck… no one ever got fired for buying IBM!” (… metaphorically speaking!  Man, I’m really dating myself!)    So… I went out and bought Pro Tools.

When I mentioned that to Steve in an email, he replied “I found Pro Tools too needlessly complex and slow for my day-to-day VO recording tasks at work.” On the MAC, he uses Sound Studio 3, and on the PC he uses Sound Forge.  He said they’re both “faster, easier to use, and cheaper” than Pro Tools!

He ought to know! Here, I’m starting to look around for a course in audio engineering… and I probably could have purchased something that’s easier to use at half the price.  Hey, waddaya gonna do!?  Like I said, Live and Learn.

We move on…

Recommendation

On another front, my friend Kevin recommended me to his agent at Innovative Artists Agency.  It was a very gracious email.  Jordan and Kevin have both been great (it’s probably because of Jordan that I’m ensconced in Piermont!).  Not only are they good friends, but good role models.  They’ve made a life for themselves as working artists… it’s a beautiful thing!

I sent a brief, follow-up email.  I look forward to speaking with him (Kevin’s agent).  I have no expectation that there’s going to be any deep discussion of “representation.”  Jeez… I don’t even have a demo yet!  Not only that, a “representation” relationship is a really personal thing.  Both parties, the Agent and the Artist have to deeply believe in each other… as well as “gel” personally.  It’s a marriage of sorts, that has financial and professional ramifications for both parties.  It’s not something to be entered into lightly… on either side.  I’m not in a position today to offer, or be offered that kind of relationship… but that day isn’t too far off.  That said, I’m really looking forward to meeting with him.  Who knows….

The main thing is to continue “engaging” in the world I’m moving back into.  I plan on having my website up by the end of April, or May.  That should happen in conjunction with completing my Demo… and after that I’m going to be marketing my butt off!

I’m also building out my contact database in Salesforce.com (anyone at work who’s following my blog will laugh at this!)  I’ve copied the coding scheme on the AFTRA Website, indicating what the “signatory” agencies of the union focus on.  I’m applying this to all the companies “in the business” that I add to Salesforce.  Of course, some of them have “nothing” to do with Voice Overs, or Acting… but there a number of classifications I could fit into!  It’s not too long before I might qualify for “Older Actor!”  :>).  I’ve already created queries of Production Companies that focus on Animation, CD’s, Commercials, Film, Industrials, etc.  I’ve got marketing tee’d up to different segments.  I’ve got a “cold call” campaign set up to find the key contacts in advertising agencies, production houses, even large corporations—that produce in-house training videos and telephony.

On the “delivery side,” I’m confident that “I’ve got the goods.”  I know I can produce high quality (sometimes inspired!) work… but I also know that that’s not enough.  I plan to out-market the competition.

As an example, these are some “dashboards” of Accounts in New York.  The “Leads” are companies I downloaded from MelissaData.  I set up a search of Advertising Agencies (by their SIC Code) in New York City, looking for “operations” and “production” job titles in companies reporting ove $5MM in revenue each year.  I downloaded 145 companies for $25 bucks!  Cheap!

Plus, I’m starting to put together some great swag to give away as I build my brand!  :>)

When I moved here from Boston in July, I gave myself a two-year time-frame to make the transition to working full-time in the Arts.  That gives me 18 months to go… but if I can compress that, all the better!

I really like what I’m doing in my “day job.”  I’m working my ass off, but I’m learning a lot, and the new SVP of Sales and Marketing that’s just been hired is really sharp!  I’m going to glean as much as I can from his experience.  But, after all is said and done, I’m trying to apply all I know, and what I’m learning, to the “next iteration”… to the “future I’m living into.”

Headed West

I’m going to be visiting the west coast next month.  I’m attending the first of 5 conferences I’m scheduled into as part of the Landmark “Team Leadership and Management Program.”  It’s in San Diego.  While I’m out there, I’m going to take a little Vacation, and visit the West Coast crew (including Steve).

Looking forward to it.