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Although this video no longer is available, here’s a free gift for you:

how to narrate audiobooks for ACX and AudibleOur 90-minute audio seminar, “The ACX Audiobook Narrator Insider’s Guide.”

ACX audiobook demo tips

Which genres off the most work for narrators

Best practices for ACX profiles

Union vs. non-union ACX titles

Don’t rely on rumor, urban myths, or out-and-out false information. If you want to get paid to narrate audiobooks, download your free audio seminar here.

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Audiobook Narrator Tutorial for Voice Actors

Although this video no longer is available, here’s a free gift for anyone who wants to learn how to become an audiobook narrator…

…or how to become a more successful audiobook narrator.

how to narrate audiobooks for ACX and AudibleOur 90-minute audio seminar, “The ACX Audiobook Narrator Insider’s Guide.”

Best practices for ACX profiles

ACX audiobook demo tips

Which genres off the most work for narrators

Union vs. non-union ACX titles

Don’t rely on rumor, urban myths, or out-and-out false information.

If you want to get paid to narrate audiobooks, download your free audio seminar here and learn how audiobook narrators can get more and better jobs inside ACX.

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Tips for Radio Copywriters
During a recent teleseminar about writing radio commercials, I was surprised by my response to an innocent and undoubtedly common question: 

“What do when you have writer’s block? What do you do for inspiration when you’re on a deadline but you just can’t think of a good way to write a particular spot?”

I thought for a moment and then replied, “I never experience writer’s block.”

That’s not because I’m an endless fount of creativity.

It’s because I think in terms of “stories.”

And before I can land on a story that effectively delivers the commercial’s sales message, I need to understand: 

1) What does your product or service do for the people who buy it?

Usually the client’s first answer is either indecipherable industry mumbo-jumbo or a collection of meaningless advertising clichés.

I doggedly continue to ask the question repeatedly until finally, exasperated, the client blurts out, “It _______!”

The client thinks that blurted answer is obvious and too insignificant to mention; “everybody knows that,” the client thinks.

But I didn’t know it until the client told me.

Now that I understand the answer to my first question, I move on to my second question:

2) How does that positively affect their lives?

“How does our medicinal cream that alleviates arthritis symptoms positively affect our customer’s lives? It alleviates their arthritis symptoms, dummy!”

They may not use those exact words, but that response evident in the client’s tone of voice.

Of course, I can make semi-educated guesses.

“Now they can pick up their grandchildren!”

“Now they can play tennis again!”

But before I begin writing, I don’t want to guess.

I want to know.

Maybe the targeted consumer for this particular arthritis remedy suffers mostly from pain in their toes.

Maybe it’s their knees.

Maybe a major side effect of the pain is constant sleep deprivation.

I just keep asking until I get an answer that enables me to understand how, specifically, the product or service positively affects the lives of the targeted consumers.

3) Why should the targeted consumer purchase the product or service from your company and not from one of your competitors?

Believe it or not, they don’t usually say, “Because we have a friendly, knowledgeable staff.”

Often they know why they want people to purchase from them instead of from their competitors, but they haven’t thought much about why those people should purchase from them.

I just keep asking that question until finally I get an answer that I understand and that I can use in their advertising.

Radio Advertising Solves Problems.

I’m good at problem-solving, and I have a natural affinity for story structure — for what makes a story “work.”

Once I understand the problem and the solution, it’s just a matter of explaining in story form how the client can solve the targeted consumer’s problem.

Why Do I Never Suffer from “Writer’s Block?’”

Because I don’t sit down to write until I already understand the problem.

Once I’ve zeroed in on the problem, multiple story ideas vie for my creative attention.

When I do sit down to write, I may not know precisely how I’m going to tell it but I have a good idea of the story I’m going to tell.

For The Record….

“Writer’s Block” is not the same as “Avoiding Writing.”

Like most good writers I know, I’ll do almost anything to avoid actually sitting down to write.

That common writers’ behavior is caused by fear — fear that they won’t “have any ideas” when they do try to write.

But once I know what story I’m going to tell, the fear is replaced by an eagerness to “write it down” — to get that story told.

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Radio Copywriting TipA Loyal Reader Writes:

I was recently re-reading your article called “Before You Begin Writing A Spot, Ask…”  

And one of the questions says, “Is the product or service targeted at active or passive customers?”  

Some newer business owners may not know how to answer that, or they may have different ideas on what kind of customer is considered “active” or “passive,” and I doubt I could explain it as well as you.  

Can you provide a basic definition?”

Dan Replies:

Sure.

Let’s start with one of my key tenets:

Radio Advertising Solves Problems.

One of your listeners has a problem that they can’t solve themselves.

Your advertiser has the (not “a”) solution to that person’s problem.

The commercial acts as a “matchmaker” between the two.

An active customer is someone who is suffering from the problem and needs that solution now:

They have a terrible toothache but don’t have their own “regular” dentist.

Their challenge isn’t to find “a” dentist.

It’s to find the right dentist to solve their problem.

A passive customer is someone who will need the solution provided by the advertiser’s product or service.

They might need it “sooner or later.”

Or it might be something they want to do or know they need to do, but it’s oh-so-easy to put off until some other time.

Joining a health club?

Making a will?

Finally doing something about that that backyard fence that needs to be repaired or, more likely, replaced?

None of those is urgent.

They can let it go another week, another month, another six months without suffering any noticeable consequences.

(Unless they happen to die during that time period, in which case their family might suffer the effects of their having died without leaving a will.)

Your advertiser wants to say to the active customer, “Hey! We’ll handle it for you. Take this action (telephone, email, website visit, walk in) now, and we’ll do the rest. We’ll solve that problem for you.”

A common example of passive customers for dentists is someone who recently moved to your community. They don’t need a dentist now, but eventually they will.

Or they have toddlers and know that, to be a responsible parent, they’ll need to take the kiddies to the dentist’s office every six months or so.

Your advertiser wants to say to the passive customer, “You are going to have this problem. And when you do, we are the ones who will fix it for  you.”

If you were to advertise the emergency telephone number, 9-1-1 (or 9-9-9 in the UK or 1-2-2 in the EU), you’d be targeting passive customers.

Right now, they don’t need to call 9-1-1. They’re not faced with an emergency situation.

But if they might suffer an emergency sometime in the future, they need to learn now what phone number they should call.

An active customer would be someone who at this very moment is experiencing an emergency.

If that person hasn’t already learned “In an emergency, call 9-1-1,” this probably isn’t the time for a radio ad campaign to educate them.
==============

Because earlier in this article we referenced the dental profession, this is a good time to make sure you know about this radio commercial for dentists. It targets active customers.

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A Loyal Reader Asks:

“I think this is an excellent spot, but isn’t the use of music to promote Radio advertising a copyright violation?”  

Can you use copyrighted music in a commercial?Dan Replies:

Before I respond, please be sure to read the fine print on my business card. radio ad copywriting

I’m not dispensing legal advice.

If you have questions about any action (or inaction) you are considering that might have legal ramifications, ask them of a qualified professional.

And Now Back to Today’s Letter….

Yes, both song uses are copyright violations.

Hopefully everyone here now understands there’s no such thing as “the 7-Second Rule.”

Whoever told you, at some point in your career, that it’s okay to use a copyrighted song in a radio commercial as long as you don’t use more than 7 (or 4 or 5 or whatever imaginary number was cited) seconds was mistaken.

There isn’t and never has been such a rule.

The One Way to Know for Certain that Advertisement Is Legal

Technically, I can’t say with 100% certainty that that radio commercial commits two copyright violations.

Theoretically, it’s possible that the spot’s creators obtained licenses from the copyright holders of the two songs and the two performances used in the commercial.

I would be more than shocked, however, to learn that is the case. I would, in fact, be gobsmacked.

Isn’t This an Example of “Fair Use”?

No.

Uh…Could You Elaborate on that Answer, Please?

The Internet offers approximately a billion instances of copyright infringement wherein the infringing parties attempt to defend their actions by yelling, “FAIR USE!”

The First Thing You Should Know About “Fair Use”

Simply yelling, “FAIR USE!” does not qualify an appropriation of someone else’s copyrighted work under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Individuals who, for example, take a copyrighted audio recording of a hit record, combine it with some sort of graphic and then upload it to YouTube along with the explanation that they are doing so under the umbrella of the Fair Use Doctrine are not protecting themselves against claims of copyright violations.

using copyrighted music in videos

The Second Thing You Should Know About “Fair Use”

If the appropriation of a copyrighted work is determined to be covered by the Fair Use Doctrine, that doesn’t mean no copyright infringement occurred.

Quoting attorney and intellectual property expert Julie J. Bisceglia from THE ULTIMATE, NON-LAWYER’S GUIDE TO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IN RADIO COMMERCIALS…And How To Avoid It (without fear of committing a copyright violation, inasmuch as I own the copyright):

The Fair Use Doctrine is a way of saying, “Yeah, there was some copyright infringement but it was so small or it was done for the right kind of purpose that we’re really not going to hold you liable. We’re going to allow you to use this little escape hatch that’s built into the Copyright Act.”

Bisceglia adds:

It’s very, very tricky and very grey. If you have to rely on the Fair Use defense to get yourself out of trouble, you’re in trouble.

I’m guessing the spot’s creator believes (and perhaps was counseled) that the commercial qualifies as Fair Use.

But one of the four key elements a court looks at is “the nature and the purpose of the use”; it needs to be for a “noble purpose” — education, criticism, commentary, etc.

It’s difficult to imagine a court agreeing that “promoting the sales of radio advertising” is a “noble purpose.”

(That sound you just heard was that of a few thousand account execs unsubscribing from my Radio Advertising Letter.)

Ironically, I’d guess that the use of “Sweet Dreams” is even less defensible than the use of “Brown-Eyed Girl,” because “Brown-Eyed Girl” was used to illustrate a point…

…while ending the spot with the snippet from “Sweet Dreams” primarily serves the purpose of…ending the spot.

Structurally, it’s a good way to circle back to the opening reference to “the power of sound.”

Ending the commercial with a call-back to its opening often is an effective technique.

But here, in my opinion, it strengthens the impact of the commercial rather than the impact of the message.

That may sound contradictory.

Certainly it’s arcane to the 99.92% of world’s population who aren’t interested in the structural elements of copywriting.

To me as a writer, “providing an effective way to end the commercial spot” is a noble purpose.

But I suspect it would be difficult to find a court that would agree with that to which any good copywriter would readily attest.

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