R.A.P. Interview: Marice Tobias

R.A.P.: What determines whether a spot should be a thirty or a sixty?
Marice: It really depends on what you have to say of substance. If you're just going to be repeating and repeating and repeating, then what's going to happen is you're going to turn your audience off. Sometimes less is more, and the clients would do better with the shorter messages, more specific statements, and then, of course, the frequency has a lot to do with it. But you also have all those price/item spots. I think that retail is a breed in and of itself. Local advertising is a breed in and of itself. And you keep thinking that when Dad retires and Junior takes over the car dealership that things will change, and then they don't. I've just sort of thrown up my hands and said, that's a division of the work the same way promos are a division, or animation. It's a read in and of itself. For on camera performers, it's like the soap opera acting style is a breed in itself. You don't see soap opera acting elsewhere. You don't see it in episodic television. You don't see it on the big screen. It's indigenous to that arena, and I think it's the same thing with retail and local.

R.A.P.: What thoughts do you have on stations using the "big voice" to declare "More Music" and "Less Talk" with that "in your face" delivery?
Marice: I really think there needs to be much more thought in that voice choice and that stylistic choice. Radio is a very "me, too" arena. So what happens is, if you're the first guy on the block with the idea, great. But if you're the third guy on the block, you're just in the mix. I do consult in terms of the voice choice and the promo direction based on what someone wants the identity of the station to be. That is the vocal identity of the station. That's your signature. That's your logo, and I think that more thought has to go into that. I think the ID's should be more distinct than they are. You go anywhere in the country, and you hear the same jingle sold to a hundred different stations. They just do their own call letters to it. If you're a network, that's one thing. I just think that a little more work has to go into carving out independent and unique identities for your station.

R.A.P.: Would you suggest that a station use the "new read" technique in delivering a voice ID?
Marice: It depends on who they are. If they're an easy listening station, if they're a new age station, that's one thing. If they're rock and roll, no.

R.A.P.: Regarding promos, would you suggest that the voice that does the ID's also do the promos?
Marice: I think so. I believe in consistency of message and image. If you have too many voices, it's very confusing and you water down the impact of the identity of the station. Stations have to really see themselves as entities. They have to see themselves with the same identity-needs as a product or a service and really carve out a unique position for themselves because this really is "theatre of the mind."

R.A.P.: As far as marketing one's voice, talent agents will, of course, do some of that for you, and you mentioned how important the packaging of the demo is. What else can one do to further market themselves?
Marice: You have to find out who the buyers are. Some of my clients are pretty much in business for themselves in that if they are not in a studio, they are working on some kind of marketing. Much of that is just getting the lists of the people to send your tape to. Also, as you go along in your career, people do mailings to let people know what it is they're doing, and again, that's a very specific thing that I help the performer design. I don't recommend that you call people unless you've worked with them and have an ongoing relationship. If you call people, they don't know what to say to you as a performer. For some people, it works. In Chicago particularly, there has been a lot of client/talent contact over the years, but as the business gets bigger and there's more turnover, that contact is becoming less and less. The thing that works is communicating through the mail, mailing your tape and mailing, on a fairly regular basis, information about your work as a performer, because people like to work with winners.

R.A.P.: When you refer to "the buyers," who are you talking about?
Marice: The ad agencies, the production companies, and the recording studios.

R.A.P.: Do a lot of these companies find their talent without the use of a talent agent?
Marice: Oh, yes. They hire directly, particularly in narration, or in a market that doesn't necessarily have an active agent community, or just because they only have "X" amount of dollars and they're going to go to the talent directly.

R.A.P.: What determines whether you need a talent agent or not?
Marice: It really depends on where you are with your career and where you want to go. I have clients who are working in secondary markets [without an agent] but have representation in other markets. That, again, is a very individual thing. There is no rule of thumb. There's nothing wrong with going at it without an agent -- you will anyway.

R.A.P.: How many workshops are you doing now?
Marice: I go to at least one or two cities a month. [In October] I was in Toronto and New York. [In November] I go to Chicago. Then I'm going to Miami for Thanksgiving, and I'll be working with some clients there privately.

R.A.P.: What workshops do you have planned for the first of the year?
Marice: I'll be in Dallas and Houston at the end of January. Through the winter and into the spring, we'll hit the basic cities that I go to -- Chicago, Toronto, New York, Washington, and Dallas. I also want to open up the Seattle/Vancouver area, San Francisco, and Atlanta. St. Louis has also been suggested. I go to Minneapolis now, and I may go to Phoenix also. It's a matter of me making contacts with the agencies in the city and/or the performing community. When I have an indication that there is a group of people who would like to work with me, then I can schedule a trip.

R.A.P.: You are obviously extremely qualified to do what you do, but the $175 fee you charge for your workshops seems quite low.
Marice: The $175 is for the one day seminar. The evening seminar is less. Frankly, I agree with you because the actual time that I work with a performer is very brief compared to the amount of time they then apply what it is I've taught them. I've had people say, "Well, you should get ten percent of everything they do for the rest of their careers!" I just don't think ethically I could do that, and part of the reason I do what I do is because I love getting those phone calls and having someone say to me, "Marice, you won't believe what just happened!" Ultimately, that's my reward. It happened to me yesterday. I have a client that I worked with only once. He called and said, "I applied the technique for a film role, and I now have the lead in a feature film and will be away for a month!"

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Your post will be moderated. Your email address will not be shown or linked. (If you have an account, log in for real time posting and other options.)
0 Characters
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location