The Freelancer’s Guide To Survival: A Man With A Mic

So this is a revamp where things are about to get real. No more scripts. No more meditation. Just me and the mic, raw.
Talking about life as a freelancer. The effect of Covid on the world. And wherever my thoughts take us.

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Okay, so away we go. We’re starting this podcast. And I’m going to change the format of this actually, I was, you know what one of the things about starting your podcast is what the heck do you talk about? And I was speaking to my coach, and those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been doing voiceover on the side for a long time. But full time only recently when I dared take the plunge. And really, it came down to, I made a decision that you know what, I’ve seen some success in this, I’ve already recorded  three books. One I read twice. It was a 120,000 word book, a my dear friend, Christopher Patterson was a new author and I was a new narrator. And I thought to myself, and be People have asked me, How did you get started in voiceover? You know, what did you do? And so, and I was thinking, you know, that’s a good question. Why did actually get started? It really depends on how far back you want to go. 

But really, I think the question they’re saying is, when did you go and realize you had the skills to start having somebody paid you to do this? And that happened with my first audiobook. And in the first audiobook, it was a book by Chris Christopher Patterson. It’s called Breaking The Flame. It’s the latest book. It’s by Christopher Patterson. I’ll find it somewhere. And that’s the other thing about being a voice artist. You literally read all these scripts. You don’t need a good memory. You’re just reading. That’s what I was doing. You know, I knew that I wasn’t reading enough. And at that time, I had a bunch of friends and they were like, Oh, yeah, I should read this much. I’ve got really funny friends. And it’s like, you know, there’s a, I don’t know, an article in the news, like the BBC, and people are saying, oh, people aren’t reading enough. You know, all this stuff. So well, I guess that subconsciously put some pressure on me. And I thought, you know what, I’m gonna start reading more, but why not get paid for it. 

And then I started off doing some free stuff. To get practice and free charity work for some charities in India, who just needed people to read scripts so that their kids could learn it was a great concept actually. And then then I looked at a website called ACX. Now ACX wasn’t as busy as it is today, in terms of audiobooks. There were many people, there were many authors, but not so many narrators. And to be honest, the narrators that were there, not very good. Okay. I was one of them. But I wasn’t as bad as some of the people. But what I did was, I took on a book that was 120,000 word, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I’ll be honest. For me, it was just, look, it was about reading something I enjoyed. And this book had 30 characters in it. So then I’m like, and I am from an IT background and I was very organized. I thought, Okay, look, let’s treat this as a project. Let’s get organized. 

And when you’re reading 120,000 word book, back then I remember I used to hear other book narrators talking out there. Talking s**I’m telling you, right. There’s no way they did this. They would say, Oh, yeah, I would read it first beforehand. I’d read the book beforehand, because you don’t want to get to the last page, only to realize the guy has a Scottish accent or something like that, right? Now I thought I don’t have time to read 120,000 word. I wouldn’t even remember anything with my dementia. So I thought, Okay, well, doesn’t it make more sense rather than spending, I don’t know 20 to 40 hours reading a book, and then and then actually reading it? 

Doesn’t it make more sense to ask the author and work with the author? And just ask him about the characters, you know, and then rather than me guess. So, I came up with a spreadsheet. I said to him, give me your main characters. Tell me about them. Give me a background. And Christopher was so good. He basically said, he gave me, the narrator’s dream is to basically see, be able to visually see the character. Like, for example, one of the characters, he put Thor in there. Right? So it’s very easy for me to do a war voice like Thor because he talks from his chest and the back of his throat and he talks like this. And he has a certain way of delivering himself. Yeah, maybe that is a bit too much. But you, you get the idea. I don’t even know if he’s English. I think he might be Australian. But anyway, he speaks kind of like that. Right. So that was that was one character. And then there were some dwarves and the dwarves. I think Christopher was saying go do the dwarves with German. I was like, I’ve not heard German  dwarfs what I’ve heard or Welsh dwarves, Welish, and luckily my in laws, my wife’s parents family from Wales, so I had close contacts I could, and you know, I could get away with the, with the, with the accent in Welsh. And then there was some other characters and I put a bit of Scottish in there. And I got cousins from Glasgow, so they, they, they kind of speak like this, and I’m sorry, apologies because my tongue is going all over the place. And I’m going cold. And then of course there was the Irish because I had I mean the property game so I had builders, friends, old builders, who were Irish. And the Irish accent I’ve lost it now. How do you do an Irish accent? Top of the morning to you and not Very, I mean, look, that’s really, you know, stereotypical, but you have to get into the character. You have to see them in your head. And that’s what I did with each one and had an Australian character right? Got plenty of Ozzy Aussie people here in London. In fact, my good mate, my old neighbor, was from Aussie land. And then what else that was it pretty much American. Did I do an American accent? No, that’s not American. That’s, that’s pretty much like Canadian. Yeah. That’s terrible. 

But what I’m saying is, nobody knew me. Right? And I didn’t need to prove anything. I was just having fun reading. That was the point. And what happens with ACX is you can do a royalty share so the author doesn’t have to pay you anything up front, but any of the audible books that you sell, right Amazon take their share, which is about 50% and then the rest 50% is split in whatever percentage and I said to Chris, I said let’s go 50/50 because these are big books, and it took me about six months to read the first one. So I read that first book, and it took me Yeah, six months and then didn’t really do much on what when it came to an end,I felt really sad because you know you have something to do. I know there’s a pressure of audiobooks but they are fun. You end up having a ton of fun reading books and you know, it’s just you and a mic and you can bring the story to life. 

And Chris, then rewrote his, he got it edited. And he said Amrit. Is it okay with you if we redo it? Because I’m not happy with it. And I thought Yeah, actually, you know what, I’m not happy with my, with the quality of my recording because, when you’re doing a 120,000 word book, you can bet you’re going to learn a lot of stuff. The initial recording that you do to the end recording, your microphone is going to change. Your delivery is going to change. You’re going to learn how to read better. You’re gonna learn how to edit better. The whole learning curve is going in there. And I ended up becoming faster at editing. I upgraded my microphones. I invested in things. And so I jumped at the chance. 

Now, on the second book, sorry, it was a first book second attempt, I said, Chris, I’ll do it, but I want to compose the music for it. Right? So in other words, Amrit had found another hobby. While Chris was writing his book for the second time, I ended up getting another hobby and learning how to compose music. You see, the thing to me about learning how to compose music was because I realized I recognize when we write a book, or sorry, when we’re reading a book, when we’re listening rather to anything, what do we like? What brings it to life music? And I mean, look at Star War. Every time Vader walks in, on the scene, doo, doo doo doo doo, right? And it’s what happens. It’s how we’ve been conditioned. So what’s so important is what I try to do is I compose, each of the main characters will have their own theme, right? And now Initially, I was looking online for music from what other people have done. But it wasn’t working. It wasn’t taking the boxes. So I ended up, I just thought of an idea of this the name of the show, a man with a mic. There you go. A man with a mic, or singing with a mic, but I haven’t got a seat with a mic. I don’t know something like that. A man with a mic, a guy with a mic. 

So I started composing my own music themes to the main characters and usually each book will have about four or five main characters. So that’s what I did. And the chapters that didn’t stop for the main character, I ended up putting sound effects and stuff. Right? So if there was an Orson cart or maybe they were going through a forest I would have that sound of the cartwheels going through, you know, a forest. And just set the scene not through all of the books, but just the beginning. And it worked beautifully because I’ve been seeing a dividend, the royalties, the books, I mean, people are people are enjoying them. 

And then I read another book for Chris, compose more music, and a lot of them. You see once if it’s a trilogy, you can use the same music for the characters. And for me, it’s like, any excuse to learn something new. And that’s why I’ve set up this podcast really, one of the reasons is because I’m involved in so many things. It’s not just one thing. It’s not just You know, five minutes of wisdom as this was starting off. I do voice overs, I do audiobooks. I do composition, and in the voiceover field in itself is vast. You know, and I’ll be sharing a lot of stuff. I’ve been doing the voices for Qatar Airways, for many other businesses. A lot of the stuff you don’t actually get to see because there’s NDA is non disclosure agreements that we have to sign so they can’t go to the public. And then, you know, doing the spiritual stuff, which I think is a big thing. What’s happening with the earth? What’s happening with the world right now? I mean, how are people coping? So it’s, you know, spiritually how do you deal with this, how do you grow so much stuff is happening and I need to get it out for my own sanity. And, you know, we’re more divided than we have ever been. And this whole microphone stuff, this whole voice over stuff has just come at the right time for me. And I’ve gotten full time as a VP. This podcast is about me. It’s going to be raw, it’s going to be unedited, it’s going to be real. And none of this scripting stuff, I’m not going to rehearse, I’m going to tell you the stuff that’s going on in my life. And stuff not so personal that I’d mentioned, you know, characters in my life or, you know, I’m not gonna mention any clients and stuff like that, you know, I’m gonna keep it professional, but I will share things which I think that can help people. 

I’m 45 now, and there’s a lot I’ve learned over the years, and I do feel that I’ve always been called a wise soul and I’ve gained experience. And I just feel that I’ve got a lot to give back. And that’s what this show is about. It’s about me, giving back and sharing and at the same time, having a voice, knowing that somebody out there is listening. It’s kind of like therapy for me. And it’s solving a few problems at the same time. 

So having said that, I’ve, that’s the first of the new episode. Let’s just call it man with a mic. Guy with a mic. I don’t know. What do we call this? Amrit’s mic? Sounds a bit dodgy. What do we call this guys? If anybody is actually listening to this to this point, then let me know and I will take on board your suggestions. 

And until the next show, I’ll try and do one, well, this first target is let’s do one a week, but God knows I talk so much. But because the format of these is fast, it’s not rehearsed. It’s just me speaking and sharing my stuff, which might be beneficial to you. And the other thing is I’m not actually in the studio. So this is actually my side mic, which has an MKH416, but a lot of voice artists use this as their main mics. But this is actually in my office. So the sound isn’t going to be as good. It’s not as clean, you know, there’s going to be echoes and stuff. This isn’t the audio quality that I give out to my clients, but it is, you know, for me, I just wanted to be able to work on my desk Record at my desk. Be able to talk, be comfortable and be real. Whereas in the booth, we ended up, you know, recording things and you’re not so relaxed. That’s probably where I went wrong with the first part. I mean, it ended up becoming a meditation thing, which, you know, I mean, it was written by Buddhist monks and stuff. I just, it’s great. Beneficial, yes, but not me wasn’t real. I was reading it. So hope you enjoyed the first episode of this rebrand, re whatever. It’s a new thing of this podcast. 

So hopefully, this is more interesting and I will share topics which can help your business which can help your spirituality and the whole thing, the whole shebang. Okay. I’m going to talk to you about things probably from not just avoid I have a perspective because I do have more than one business. I’ve got a property business I run as well. I’ve got people that work for me. It’s a big enough business, but it is lonely. You know, it’s one of the things, the work that we do these days is lonely. So, you know, we can’t even go outside and see people’s faces because they’re wearing masks. So that we’re kind of being dehumanized. And we’re left to you know, scour in the shadows. Desperate, desperate for company. And this is my way of doing that. Until the next show, I don’t know what we’re going to talk about, but I’m keeping it real. See you then. Bye. 

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