What Did You Give Up to Be Here?

The Little Sacrifices We Make to Start Our Agencies

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Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
We all have to make sacrifices. Chances are, we all probably gave something up that we really love to do to get into this business. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but some of these choices make us wax sentimental about the good ol' days. My best guess is that we all have profound passion for what we do, but the things that made up our "passion DNA" (especially as younger folk) have been pushed to the side for the greater good of the agency.

In my case, there's one thing that stands out: voice work. When I got into the business in the mid-90s, I was convinced that I could rule the voiceover world with my alt-boy, mid-range, low-key, somewhat disinterested delivery. It was 1995 and Grunge was still chugging along in the great Pacific Northwest. For a stretch, I was in demand and I managed to eek out a fairly decent part of my living with that in the repertoire.

The thing about voice work is that you constantly have to audition and you have to keep your profile as high as possible. As early as 2004, when I made the change to go to Entercom, it was clear that this piece was going to erode. There were just too many other priorities and demands of the job. Fast forward to today and I find that I audition maybe once or twice a month (my agent is a saint for keeping me on her roster) and I book a few gigs here and there. Most of the voice work that I end up doing is as a result of our own roster of clients.

I love voice work. When I go into the studio and get in front of the mic, I feel like that giddy 20-something kid with the questionable haircut again. Being a producer for a spot or a show is a blast, but there is nothing quite like being in the booth, belting it out for a client. Plus, I really like the camaraderie of the voiceover community. We all tend to root for each other and have mutual respect for each other's work.

But here's the reality. I live in Portland. I don't live in New York or L.A. where a voice work guy could spend the entire day auditioning. Plus, I have this little thing called an "agency" to run. When all of this started full-time in 2007, I thought I would have time to nurture the "craft" and "art" of being on my own. I even thought I would have time to play some golf. HA!

As much as I miss voice work, I still get a little taste here and there. It might not quench the thirst 100%, but it is still nice to have some connection to it. Despite giving something up that I love, it is abundantly clear that the other parts of running this business more than make up for it. I know I made a sacrifice, but the choice I made is one that I certainly will never regret.

How about you? What did you give up?
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