The Freelance Life With Pete Gustin
What radio VO work have you done in the past? I started my career as an intern in Boston while at Boston University. Getting on air in a major market with zero experience was kind of tough so I started branching out to smaller markets nearby like Rhode Island and Cape Cod. As my resume grew and I got some more experience I reached out beyond New England to Los Angeles, Minnesota, Sacramento, Miami, San Diego, Detroit and these days I do work as far away as England, Holland, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and beyond.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)? As of March 1st, 2014 I set out on my own as a full-time freelance voice over artist.
What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? I usually start my day working in England, Sri Lanka, and Amsterdam then eventually the east coast of the U.S. starts to wake up and send me stuff. As the day goes on, the work starts to come in from the mid-west and California. It is so very cool to be able to work with so many different people in so many different areas with so many different cultures all of whom are giving me the opportunity to express myself all over the globe.
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I believe my very first job was doing movie trailer parodies of Don LaFontaine for a company providing comedy bits to Rick Dees while I was still back in college. I actually reached out to Don about 2 years later and he started giving me pointers on how to sound more like him. It was a truly incredible thing of him to do and I’ll never forget it.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? I have had a number of coaches and I highly recommend it. I actually recommend having many different coaches. I’ve learned a lot of different things from different people. They are amazing at getting you to think about VO’s in a different way and getting you to step outside your own head and hear your voice as the rest of the world does.
Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Since he was the first professional VO artist that I ever spoke to, and because he took so much time coaching me when I was only 18 and 19 years old, I’d say that Don LaFontaine was my biggest influence. There are plenty of amazing people in the business that I look up to and draw inspiration from though. Bill Ratner is an incredible talent and a great guy. Jeff Berlin is an amazing artist and one of the most giving people I’ve ever met. Steve Stone is one of the greatest people I’ve ever met and emotes better than almost anyone I’ve ever heard. I, of course, also look up to Scott Rummell and Ashton Smith.
What is your dream gig? Movie trailers. Ever since speaking to Don, I’ve always wanted to do what he did. In this past year I’ve begun to do a lot of work with some major studios in L.A. but when I finally land that massive, huge, blockbuster trailer that everyone in the country will see again and again … that’s when I will feel like I’ve finally “done it”.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Tip 1: find your OWN voice and do not try to be anyone other than you. Tip 2: practice….a lot. Even if you don’t’ have someone paying you to read copy all day every day, try to find as much time as you can to read out loud. Tip 3: don’t focus sooooo much on the tone and timber of your voice as you do the messages that you are trying to convey. Writers put these words down for a reason…and that reason is not just for you to sound cool saying them. Try to find the meaning and use every bit of your voice and your personality to convey that message in as meaningful a way as possible.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? I wake up at about 6am and read stuff as it comes in until I wrap at about 1-pm every day. I pay equal attention to all of my clients and pride myself on super fast turnaround times.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? About a quarter to a third of my day consists of auditions.
Which production system do you use and why? I use Pro Tools. I have 3 of them side by side by side in my studio. Each one performs a different task and allows me to do many things at once throughout the day. I guess the main reason I use PT over anything else is….well…I know it.
How has new technology changed the way you work? New technology changed my life. Without text to speech software, I literally would not be able to work in this business. See this video for more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eMOU-NO_FgU
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? I use a contour shuttle pro as a left handed mouse with every button macro’ed to a different set of keystrokes. I can literally play pro tools like a piano. It is my instrument and I work EXTREMELY fast.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? I am literally 2 different people when doing radio vs TV. I learned multiple techniques to help switch modes from all of my voice coaches. The hardest part was actually learning how to switch modes quickly. You don’t’ want to sound “radio” on TV and “TV’ is rarely enough for radio. It’s important to know, learn and perform them differently.