Rich Rubin: The Real Deal
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)? Portland, ME WCYY Maine’s Rock Alternative, Denver/ KTCL, KPBI, & KOA, Sacramento/KTEG, KWOD, & KRXQ, San Francisco/ 95.7 The Wolf, and San Diego/91x.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)? Presently: On-Air DJ for The World Famous KROQ. I’m the voice of NASH 94.7 FM; America’s Morning Show with Blair Garner in New York, NY + affiliate stations. I’m the voice of KICA Alternative Rock Clovis, NM. Freelance: I voice commercials for Pandora Internet Radio, I’m the voice of Texas Wesleyan University, Homeadvisor, and I’m the voice of “Steel” for the “Max Steel” toy commercials for Mattel.
What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? I usually can take as much time as I need to get the read the way I want it.
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? It came out of radio. I was APD in Denver at KTCL. We were required to record commercials and I liked it. Some days I was too busy with radio stuff but the local Van’s Skatepark really wanted me to voice their spots. I told the sales guy “please get someone else I’m really busy.” He said “they insist on you being the voice.” I said “then I insist on $200 bucks.” Twenty minutes later I was getting paid to read commercial copy that the day before, I was doing for free. Eventually a Denver agent heard the spots, tracked me down, and signed me. I’m still with the awesome Kathleen Ham @ Donna Baldwin Talent in Denver- going on 12 years.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes & yes.
Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a voice-over artist? I think John Corbett has the most natural way of reading a spot. Just so freakin’ friendly. My pal Mike Bratton is someone who I’ve always thought had the best understanding of vo and amazing technical ability. John Frost is LEGENDARY as far as innovation, changing the game, and being totally original. Roger Keeler in Denver is relentless when it comes to new ideas and is a technical genius in my opinion.
What is your dream job? In 2005 I said to myself “It’d be a dream to work part-time in radio in either NYC or LA and work full-time in vo. That’s actually happening right now. Of course I still want bigger gigs, more animation etc. But I’m feeling very lucky and very blessed.
What did you do before becoming a voiceover professional? I went to school, did on-camera tv commercials, tended bar and worked in radio. KROQ Van Driver Class of ’98 🙂
What would be your 3 main tips for a youngster trying to start a VO career? 1. Be honest with yourself regarding your READING ABILITY. There are so many amazing natural voices out there but I have heard some reading skills that are just not up to snuff. You have to be able to take any section from The WSJ, read it out loud, and make it sing- COLD. If you can’t do that out of the gate, then a vo class, a vo coach, and PRACTICING your reading skills every day are in order. 2. One of the best moves I ever made was taking a basic broadcasting class at Pasadena City College. I got to work with a mic in a booth and get critiqued by an amazing professor who used to do on-camera news in Los Angeles. He gave me some stellar advice when I told him my plan was to be an alternative rock on-air dj. He told me “that’s probably the hardest on-air gig to get and probably the most coveted. You are good but be very ready to “wait your turn.” He also told me in regard to learning and having a wide-range vocabulary “I know you probably won’t need to use the words I want you to learn and I know as it’s more of a formal approach, but wouldn’t it be better to know them and not need them than to need them and not know them?” *Boing* That spoke to me on so many levels and while I was driving a van for KROQ, I had the other drivers quiz me with flash-cards. You have to learn more than is normal for vo I think. There are tons of people who want your job. Be it on-air or commercial/promo/animation vo. It’s competitive for a reason- all the right reasons. 3. Find a voiceover coach- not necessarily a vocal coach (do that too but YouTube University has tons of respected vocal coaches teaching you diction, how to warm up etc.) A voiceover coach can help you transition from what you can roll out of bed and voice to what you have the potential to voice. The more versatile you are, the more you have a chance to work. A perfect example is I HATE doing “older man” reads. I’m 47 but I’m more comfortable reading for late 20’s/early 30’s stuff- and that’s what I book the most of anyway. But, my vo coach (Elaine Clark in SF the BEST in the west IMO) recently helped me with a slower, more mature sound that I knew I had, but wasn’t comfortable voicing. It’s cool when you surprise yourself. Through her most recent coaching, I was able to be ok with sounding my age and have been booking more. The latest was four TV spots for Texas Wesleyan University. The first word in the breakdown was “mature.” I said “ugh” but followed my coach’s instructions and booked.
How do you schedule your work (priorities…..)? Sometimes you have to drop everything for a “RUSH” read. Way it goes. I have found that the second I get an audition, to get on it right then. The more you wait, the more other stuff piles up then you’re not giving it your best.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Some days can be from six to eight hours, some days none at all. Some days I have reads at home, then I have to go to Hollywood and read at a studio, then to KROQ to read spots for them, then back home, etc. I’m thankful my dj shifts are at night!
How do you market your services to potential clients? I have a website, I post completed gigs on FB & Twitter. I let the people who know me know what I’m doing. I’m not a mass email guy. I think marketing is important but I think doing good work and letting people know that you’re working is the best kind of marketing.
Which production system do you use and why? Recently switched to Pro-Tools Express. This is the WORST reason why but up until about a year ago I was using one of the first versions of PT on my MAC G-5! It was my first home studio and I was just really happy with it. NEVER had a problem. Technology moves fast, had to upgrade everything. Pro-Tools Express is perfect for what I do. I’m not imaging anymore, just making single mono tracks for auditions and some gigs. Keeping it simple.
What are your favorite plugins (including screenshots)? Isotope Vinyl is pretty much it. Again, I don’t image, just the voice now. If you have to filter, compress, and tweak your voice for straight reads, then you’re probably not reading as well as you can. That’s just my opinion but I firmly believe that what goes into the mic should be enough.
What gear do you use (microphone, pre-amp, booth, …)? Mic is a Sennheiser MKH 418 P48 Shotgun. I LOVE IT. When I have to go portable I take it with me and use the Blue Icicle Pre-Amp. Have to check that though, don’t think they travel too well. Might have to get Mic-Port Pro. Oh and my MacBook Air and Twisted Wave software for recording. I bought Apogee MIC AGAIN but It’s not working out…Again. I converted a tiny coat closet into a booth. Really simple; just bought some spongey stuff and glue from Guitar Center (oh btw, Guitar Center is an official seller of APPLE products- they just don’t advertise it. They have the BEST deals on Apple stuff. Trust me.) Cut up a mattress cover, glued that to the door…Got an inside handle from Home Depot, screwed that in, then put pillows and blankets on the shelves. I once auditioned for a national Ford commercial from this “booth.” The ad agency like it so much, I not only booked the spot, they used my audition FOR the spot. It’s rare but that happens every now and then. I don’t tweak my booth at ALL.
How has new technology changed the way you work? I really don’t sweat equipment. The technology is just amazing and affordable so when I need something or have to upgrade, I just do it and get back to work.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique anybody should know? Wrong guy to ask re: processing but for vo? OPEN YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU TALK.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Don’t put your Strawberry Squishy anywhere near your equipment.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? (if applicable) The only difference is sometimes radio copy is so poorly written that you have to give it a few read-throughs before you record. It’s just the way sales folks are- they’re not copy writers, their job is to sell time, copy comes later. Also I get bombarded with radio copy and usually it needs a quick turnaround so I’m giving it what I call the “wheelhouse” read. I have certain types of reads in my wheelhouse that I can role out of bed and do and sometimes that’s what radio copy gets. TV/Radio ads that have to potential to not only pay well, but create good exposure I take as much time as I can with.
Benztown Profile: http://www.benztown.com/voiceover/comvo/rich-rubin-commercial/