With over twenty years as a professional voiceover artist, J. Michael Collins has worked with some of the biggest companies, brands, sports leagues, and organizations on the planet. In addition to his work in the classic, agency-based world of VO, J. Michael has established himself as the leading authority and top-grossing talent in the online marketplace and has become recognized as an industry leading talent coach and demo producer as well. J. Michael was the winner of the 2016 VoiceArts Awards for Outstanding Radio Commercial-Best Voiceover, Outstanding Political Announcement-Best Voiceover, and was the producer of 2016’s Outstanding Narration Demo.
The voiceover industry, compared to other businesses, is not filled with abundant opportunities to gather with colleagues in a professional capacity. Outside of stray mixers and get togethers, the central meeting point for many of today’s voice talent are the small handful of conferences which take place each year. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend WoVO Con IV, the fourth installment of the World Voices Organization’s annual conference in Las Vegas. It was my second WoVO Con, and for the second year in a row it did not disappoint.
WoVO Con is different than other conferences. Peer-driven, and hosted by an organization dedicated to educating and supporting talent, it has a more granular feel than some of the other offerings out there. This is a conference where voice actors living this job in the trenches every day get together to share the tricks of the trade with one another, expecting nothing in return other than an equal willingness among colleagues to elevate one another through the exchange of knowledge.
Most of the voice actors at WoVO Con are scrappy entrepreneurs building their businesses five hundred dollars at a time in the unregulated and amorphous non-union VO space, contending with clients pleading poverty and amateurs on five-dollar web platforms undercutting everyone’s value proposition. It’s an uphill climb, and that is reflected in the business-centric focus of the sessions at this event, and the overflow attendance for breakouts focused on strategy as opposed to performance. We can all grow through learning new performance techniques, but the talent at WoVO Con are largely full-time professionals, and the heavy emphasis of the schedule is on how to attract new business and retain current clients.
That said, WoVO Con has a buoyancy and family-reunion vibe that is hard to find elsewhere. With a smaller attendance base of around 150 industry professionals, (though this will likely continue to grow over time,) the conference offers an intimacy and organic feel that puts everyone at ease. It’s a great atmosphere to learn.
I had the privilege of being a panelist on the Rates Roundtable Live held on the opening Friday, and speaking on Sunday about the future of the industry. Both sessions, which I hope the audience found informative, were filled with great questions from the attendees, demonstrating again the level of engagement talent bring to the conference.
Two rides in a party bus and three lovely dinners capped a spectacular weekend, and I am already looking forward to WoVO Con V.