by Sterling Tarrant
Don't turn us in, okay? I know it was a stupid thing to do, but we weighed the consequences and decided to go for it. Hey, we didn't want to get caught, and it was the only way we could guarantee it. Our crime? We locked the door to the station during business hours. I know the sign above the door says not to, but we did it anyway. It was because of the gift we decided to give our office manager for her birthday. On cue I started the music (Network CD 104, cut #1. "Take it all off.") and my assistant got up on her desk and danced. For a few glorious seconds he became our version of the Chippendales who we affectionately nicknamed "Skippy, the Love Squirrel."
It was harmless. Everybody laughed and had a good time. But still, I wondered, will I get in trouble for this? I mean I did lock the door to the office during business hours. A clear violation of some code. Weeks have passed since then, and I figure the people who crack down on that sort of thing must have been deemed "nonessential" during the government shutdown.
Have you noticed those signs above the doors? Maybe it's just a state law in Colorado or something, but everywhere I go, public buildings all have signs that say: "This door must remain unlocked during business hours." Was I busy flossing or something when this law was passed? Inasmuch as someone has deemed this an important matter I have decided that I am going to free-lance as an unlocked door inspector. I figure the work will be a little more steady than free-lancing as voice talent or as a copywriter. There's a lot of buildings out there with unlocked doors. However, many on the RAP Network have found many opportunities free-lancing their talent. I decided to ask some of them their thoughts on free-lancing.
Ross McIntyre, 100.3 the Q, Victoria, British Columbia. Free-lancing for me started by talking with an associate at another radio station in the province who was looking for a liner voice. I was already doing that here at the Q, and when I started throwing my name in the hat, I also offered writing and production as well. I've been doing liners for them for about six years now. From there I started getting known through word of mouth and, thus, I was able to get my demos into the hands of decision makers. I've also been able to build up a good little concert and event advertising business. Now I'm as busy as I really want to be. I've got enough recurrent work from the seeds I've sown.
For me though, it's not worth the money to jeopardize my day job. So I do not seek free-lance opportunities locally. All of my free-lancing is for out-of-town clients. Business has been good enough for me to justify building a home studio. The prices have come down on very good gear, so I've done the "Mackie/Tascam shuffle." I've ended up with a studio that's as good and, in fact, warmer than my studio at the office.
I like my day job, plus doing the free-lance work reaffirms the fact that you are capable of and appreciated for doing work for even larger markets, all the while enjoying the benefits of a smaller market. You know, things like a lower cost of living, reduced crime rate, etc.. That's important for a family man. I've really got the best of both worlds right now.
Andre Zamparelli, Production Director of KKLZ-FM, Las Vegas, NV. The way that I did it when I was in LA was through the old adage of "It's who you know." I had a friend who did voice-over work, and he would turn me on to the right people who weren't looking for union guys. Here in Las Vegas, we've been able to take the route of getting to know the agencies so that when they're unable to produce a spot, they will turn to us. Our facilities are usually comparable to what they're using anyway, but our rates are less. It's maybe not necessarily free-lance as it is nipping out the middleman.
Jack Cone, Production Director, WSTR-FM, Star 94, Atlanta, GA. If you are able to mimic what a full-fledged agency can do so that the advertisers can realize that they can get a cost effective version from you of what comes out of an agency, then you're on your way to success. The trick is to realize just how much it costs companies to create a commercial in your market so that you don't have to low-ball what you charge. If you know that your voice or production is going to save someone half of a $2400 production bill, then you can ask for $1200. Don't flinch either, especially if you know that you can do agency quality work. You'll know that you can if people who do business through your radio station keep saying how great your spots sound or if they say their spots sound like the big national ads. Then you should start asking for the bigger bucks.
Remember, you don't have to have a big heavy voice either. Most of the big national agency stuff I've heard is using actors. If you realize that you have something that makes you special and that makes you stand out in a commercial cluster, you should market it.
Next month, we'll talk to the ultimate free-lancers. Those people who started their own shop. We'll find out what got them to take that courageous step. Hey, if you have a question that you'd like presented to the RAP Network, fax or e-Mail it to me. By the way, my assistant is now available for parties and special events. Skippy the Love Squirrel has become quite an exciting little business on the side.