Behind the Mic: Genevieve Baer
Fresh and playful with a knack for improv, Genevieve discovered a passion for imaging after many years in the commercial VO world. She brings a flexibility and versatility to her work along with a slew of quirky characters at her disposal. Wanna add some spice and humor to your station? Genevieve’s your girl.
What are you up to presently?
Conquering the radio imaging world has been my latest voiceover career goal! I’m thrilled to have recently signed on to voice for 97.9 WVOK—a Hot AC station in Alabama. I just recorded some rock imaging for Q107 (internet station). I’m hoping to build more and more on this momentum. I’ve been a voice actor for (gulp) almost 20 years—mostly in the commercial space. I’ve voiced countless TV, radio, and internet ads, political spots, e-learning, message systems, audio tours, etc. I’ve even voiced a couple games and sung some jingles!
What do you love about your job?
Oh, I honestly think it’s the best job in the world and still can’t believe I get to do it. I love that each day brings something different. I get to work on so many projects and channel so many tones, emotions, and personas in a single day. I love the challenge of shaping my reads to fit exactly what the client has in their heads. I even love the challenge of reading complicated words or fitting 40 seconds of copy into 30! And of course, I have to mention the fact that I am usually working in my pjs and often have a dog or cat (or both) in the booth with me. I mean, how can you top that?
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
My first real gig was about 20 years ago and before we all had home studios. It was booked through my Denver agent and was for a Technical College. I recorded at this fantastic studio we have here in town, Coupe Studios, and I remember that I was so nervous that my stomach kept making these strange growling noises. They were so loud that the mic was picking them up! The engineer on the job was like “um, do you want a donut or something?”. He thought I was hungry!
I’ve had so many great gigs since then. I loved voicing a chicken with a NY/Jewish accent for White Castle. I voiced a game for a client in France and then had them send me the game. I gave it to my kids and didn’t tell them that it was my voice because I wanted to see how long it would take them to recognize me. It didn’t take long! I also once had to voice an entire commercial while shoving handfuls of popcorn into my mouth.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Definitely something in the home design space. I am an HGTV fanatic and I get giddy at flea markets. I actually had a line of hand-painted furniture that I used to create and sell before I got too busy with voiceovers. My husband and I have now bought, fixed-up, and sold 3 condos here in town. It’s such a contrast to VO where success is never tactile or concrete. With renovation, you get a really satisfying before and after that is the direct result of your physical work.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
I was thrilled! It was an amazing feeling. The best thing now is when friends or family from around the country will text me and say “hey, did you do the so-and-so commercial?”. There have actually been times when I’ve said “no” only for them to record the spot and send it to me and then I’m like “oh YEAH, I did do that one!” LOL.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
I work in a sound-treated Whisper Room. It’s small but so am I. I use a Shure KSM 32 mic with an Audient ID14 interface and Adobe Audition software. I like to keep things as streamlined as possible and not over complicate things in order to keep myself sane.
I have not yet taken to using a travel rig but never say “never”. I really don’t travel often and try to pick times when business is slower. I let all my clients know ahead of time and then I try to just be present for a few days and not think about work. It is NOT easy but honestly? I think it makes me better at my job in the end. I need to recharge every once in a while and bring new experiences with me into the booth.
Genevieve’s studio is complete with top-quality hardware, software, and cats!
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
Of course. Many! Yes, I would highly recommend it. Without question. Most of the time, it’s just me in the booth self-directing. A coach gives me a much needed set of ears to keep me on the right track. Great coaches stay ahead of the trends and can help me adjust my reads to follow those trends. A coach is a literal sounding-board and it’s so important to get that from time to time. Plus, there are so many VO genres and each one requires a different set of skills. It’s so helpful to learn about new genres from someone who is an expert in them.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
I’m pretty much working in my booth from about 8am to 5:15pm. I usually take an hour in there to go for a run or some other form exercise. I sit in a tiny booth all day so my body needs to move! And of course I take mini breaks through out the day to snack and love on my animals.
As far as prioritizing goes…I pay attention to deadlines and record the quick-turnaround projects first. Then I tackle everything else. I will tackle an audition or two when there is a lull in work and finish the rest at the end of the day.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
I try to always be marketing in one way or another. I make sure my website is looking good and up-to-date. I post regularly on social media and try to make those posts interesting and relevant. I also email potential clients directly. It does take a lot of time but I’ve gained fantastic clients that way.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
I mean, I love the Izotope RX Declicker! I would also say, don’t be afraid to consult a professional to dial in your sound. I am not an audio engineer and don’t pretend to be one. But there are fabulous people in this community who are here to help and, for a reasonable fee, will help make both your recording environment and your audio sound top-notch.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
Sure. The big trend in commercial VO is ultra conversational and unpolished. “We don’t want this to sound like a professional voice actor” is on the specs all the time now! I think there is more room in the radio imaging space to go a little bigger, and (gasp!) sound like a professional 🙂 There is also more room in imaging to play around and ad-lib which I really enjoy.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
Yes. Train, soak up as much knowledge as you can, and be willing to work really hard. There is a LOT of competition in the VO world these days. Making a living with voiceovers has nothing to do with how pretty your voice sounds and everything to do with your acting skills and your perseverance. The very first thing I would do is start reading and studying—even before finding a coach. There are lots of facebook groups out there for newbies. Join them. And join the ones for pros too and just read the questions/comments. There are books, blogs, and podcasts galore. Soak it all in. You’ll be able to tell who is a scam and who is the real deal if you hear/read enough of them. If you still want to pursue voice-acting after all that, then start coaching. Understand that it takes patience, time, and money to get started. It’s not at all easy but, if you really want it? It’s totally worth it.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade, which one would you go back to and why?
Probably the 80’s. The music was just so good.
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Oh, well Amy Poehler is my best friend except that she doesn’t know it yet. So I would invite Amy over for a delicious home-cooked meal and wow her with my sparkly personality and then she would be like “oh my god, we should totally be best friends!” and then I would be like “duh, yeah we should!” and then we would hang out all the time and crack each other up.
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