By Andy Capp
Scene 1: From the moment you saw your first Looney Tune cartoon, you’ve been doing crazy cartoon voices. You were always cracking everybody up in school, and at family reunions your parents made you get up and “do President Nixon and Johnny Carson.” Higher education found you in theatre and broadcasting classes, and not long after graduation you found yourself doing overnights at a radio station in Nowhere, ND. You were lucky enough to move up to Somewhere, Iowa at one point, but there you’ve stayed for the last decade. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—great staff, listeners love your show, and clients rave about your commercials. But there is something that bothers you. Every time you turn on Saturday morning TV, you notice that the people doing the cartoon voices are no better than you…sometimes not as good. You remember a time when you told yourself that your current job was just a stepping stone, that someday you would throw all those voices on a tape, pack a bag and go out West, live out your real dream of being a full time voice-over talent. It bothers you that the years are passing you by, that it’s too late to….
Scene 2: You’ve been a DJ since you were 14. A friend of a friend of your parents owned the local station, and with a lot of begging and a few turned in favors, you were behind the microphone, behind the board, really, pushing buttons during the high school sports programming. You did get a little airtime, reading weather forecasts during half time, and that was about it. Then one day the evening DJ called in sick, and all the other part-timers were busy. It was your first real shift, and you were going to be noticed. Amazingly, through the haze of ancient stolen bits and impossibly long on-air calls with listeners and that pukey “DJ voice,” you were noticed. A PD from the bigger city down the road caught some of your show, liked what he heard, and offered you a solid part-time gig, every Saturday night, 6 to midnight. You’ve been driving there every weekend for the last 8 years. You spend every free moment you have during the week writing new material, listening to your aircheck over and over to listen for ways to get better. You dream of the day that you will be a real, full-time DJ.
Meanwhile you work at the furniture store during the week to pay the bills, and watch as other part-timers at the station keep moving up to full-time, and then move up to even bigger stations in bigger markets. You know that you are better than they are, that someday you will walk into that PD’s office and demand a chance to prove it….
Scene 3: Words and sound. You put them together in ways that no one else at your station does, no one in town, really. They created the Production Director title for you, and you’ve made the most of it. You craft commercials that not only keep the listeners laughing, but that also get them to do business with your clients. With the somewhat sparse tools that the station provides (and the more elaborate set-up you’ve began to assemble at home), you have created many award winning spots and promos, why just last year you had an ad that was a runner-up for a national award! Everybody at the station loves your work, they just don’t pay you like they do. You know the morning guy is making at least twice what you make, and let’s not even talk about the sales staff! Even the new rep is making some serious coin off that new client, the one he sold with a spec jingle and commercial YOU produced. It’s getting old, and the thought of going out on your own has been creeping into your mind more than usual lately. You have most of the tools, you could probably get work from nearly all your usual clients from the station. You’re going to do it, someday….
Before we go any further, a few lyrics from the Dave Matthews Band:
“Take these chances…place them in a box until a quieter time… LIGHTS DOWN, you up and die!”
Really, what ARE you waiting for? “Someday?” Someday is just the sugarcoated version of NEVER. “The Time?” The time is always there, it’s whether you want to use it to your advantage, or waste it worrying about if you have enough of it to get started. “Tools?” There are tools somewhere that you have available, whether you can use the station’s equipment after hours, or take out a small business loan and put together a small set-up at home. The cost of good quality audio gear for the small project studio is almost laughably cheap these days. “A Break?” Sorry, there is no Fairy Godperson out there. You need to make your own breaks, knock on your own doors, MAKE the world notice you! And if you are persistent, the world WILL notice you, you know?
Don’t get me wrong; you can be very happy where you are, doing what you are doing, and that is a wonderful thing. What is tragic is that some people have real dreams, things that they really want to accomplish in this life, but for whatever reason just don’t do anything about it…and continue to be unhappy about it.
If you want more than where you are, what you are, make a move. This is your permission. Start a demo, make some phone calls, skip lunch and go to the library and get a book on starting a small business. Write down goals, make plans to achieve those goals, and FOLLOW UP ON THOSE PLANS!!! Creative types find these things hard to do for some reason, but you MUST do them, or your dream will never be reality.
Your real goal is to be able to say, “What WAS I waiting for?”