On Edge Studio’s 30th anniversary, an interview with David Goldberg
Jan 16 2018
This year, Edge Studio celebrates its 30th birthday. Thirty is the pearl anniversary, so to celebrate we asked Edge Studio founder David Goldberg for some “pearls” of wisdom. David’s ears are considered among the best in the industry, and he is one of the country’s most active voice-over producers, instructors, and speakers. Since founding Edge Studio in 1988, he has directed thousands of voice-over productions nationally and internationally. He’s also learned a few things in this time, and is always eager to pass along his knowledge to the students and clients of Edge Studio.
Edge Studio: Edge Studio wasn’t always a voice-over facility, was it?
David Goldberg: No. Edge Studio began in my college dorm, where I recorded music. And music was the focus in my first “real” recording studio. Before long, I was producing, mixing and engineering the likes of Mel Tormé, Deep Purple, and Jose Feliciano. But almost immediately, my business began evolving.
Edge Studio: What was the impetus for that?
DG: Well, when I insisted that musicians not bring drugs into the studio, we immediately lost half our customers. Then we lost the other half when I also banned cigarettes! Okay, we picked up a few free-spirited hippie bands along the way, but that didn’t cut it.
Edge Studio: So you switched to spoken-voice?
DG: Not yet. We became very big in the Gospel sector, working with many Gospel choirs. An interesting perspective in a studio led by someone named Goldberg. But it taught me early on the importance of diversity.
Edge Studio: How so?
DG: Gospel was terrific, but the choirs were recorded in large churches and theaters, so to avoid having the studio sit empty, I began providing voice-over by day. I didn’t know anything about the voice-over business, except that when I was in high school, I had written some background music for commercials. Anyway, soon we were doing a lot of spoken-voice. The voice actors we hired liked the way I directed them, and over the years, many asked me to help with their demos and guide them. That led to my formally offering voice-over training sessions in 2001.
Edge Studio: What sort of guidance did you give them?
DG: Well, it was the era when voice-over had begun to change. For decades it had been the province of announcers and goldenthroats. The inside joke was that the industry was locked up by 10 old men. But in the 1990s, casting agents began more commonly looking for “real people” voices. So – having a “real” voice myself — I coached from that perspective. Early on, I wrote the first edition of my “Voice-Over Performance Guidebook.” Even had it copyrighted. By the way, we’ve revised and updated it several times since then; it’s still included with our curriculum.
Edge Studio: You don’t record music anymore. Do you miss it?
DG: We still get to play with music. For example, we produced the theme song for fifty-four Disney/Pixar children’s programs, and sound design for seven episodes of Marvel Comic’s X-MEN. (That was a fun project!) And we regularly add supporting music to films, videos, telephony systems, eLearning programs, and so on. Usually, though it’s part of a voice-over project.
Edge Studio: The industry has changed a lot more since then.
Yeah, that’s the truth! Looking back, it’s been quite a transformation. The home-studio trend changed the nature of commercial recording studios, but today we serve more production and recording clients than ever. In 2013, we moved to a larger facility, with more recording spaces large and small. And we serve clients and students worldwide, remotely and with additional studios nationwide.
Edge Studio: Quite a change from your dorm room.
DG: Yes! But just as comfortable for all involved, I think.
Seriously, I learned that to stay successful, any business needs to continually evolve – sometimes even making full transformations, like we did 17 years ago. Technology changes, markets change, client preferences change, anything can change over time. So I’ve long said, “Learning never ends.” That’s become our motto and should be the motto of every VO professional.
Edge Studio: How does a voice-actor know what to change to? And when? All that?
DG: Ah, that part isn’t so obvious. The key is knowing how to evolve. For this, I continually consult with people who know more than I do. It’s their advice, mentoring, and training that has contributed to Edge Studio’s success. So I figure if voice actors do the same, that is, if they consult with people who know more than they do, they’ll also be more successful.
Edge Studio: Will you lay down some pearls?
DG: Okay, but only in a sense, because of the various ways the word “pearls” has been used. There’s the phrase “pearls of wisdom.” I don’t think of myself as “wise.” I’m simply observant, and apply my observations, along with the knowledge I seek out. And then there’s the phrase “pearls before swine,” which I think means the pearls aren’t appreciated by the recipients. Whoa! That’s not the case with our students and production clients.
I’m so gratified by the way students and working pros seek and apply what we teach here at Edge Studio. It’s terrific! Among our students, we have a lot of respected voice-over professionals, and every budding professional deserves the same respect while learning the trade. Or rather, let’s say, “the art,” because that’s what it is … some of both, actually.
Anyway, we’re calling them “pearls” because it’s our 30th Anniversary, right? So, okay, here’s my two cents worth of pearls, the long version …
One, figure out who you should consult with. That’s something that has changed in the past decades – whereas talent used to be able to walk into a studio, read in their particular style, get paid and that’s it, now there are many more voice-over markets along with more competition and different technology. So most talent must have four different types of expertise, namely:
- home studio technology
- marketing skills that are specific to our industry
- other voice-over business matters – like running any business
There are experts available in all of these areas. Different people need more help in different aspects. It varies person to person. So does the chemistry from person to person. So figure out what areas of coaching will be of greatest benefit to you, and who you’d like to work with. We provide lots of options.
Two, allocate a budget to grow your business this year. Like every business, this field requires some investment. That’s certainly been the case with our company. Over the years, I’ve found that the better experts usually cost more. And also an investment of time. But over those same years, the investment of time and money has usually been worth what I’ve spent. The net return has been 30 years of success, and we’re still on a roll.
I’m proud that our VO casting, recording, and acting school departments are more successful than ever. As are our production clients and our students. We’re always happy to share what we know.
Edge Studio: And the short version?
DG: Follow my lead; “don’t go it alone.” Let smart people help you go further. Take the initiative and be proactive with your career. Being proactive leads to becoming a more active pro. Do that, and the world is your oyster.
Recognized as one of the world’s leading booth-directors and authorities on voice-over, David regularly speaks, conducts coaching clinics and seminars and personally coaches voice-over talent.
David has directed and engineered for renowned clients such as Cosmopolitan, Nickelodeon, AOL, Duracell, Disney, Gatorade, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Special Olympics, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Gillette, Fila, Pixar, Prudential, DaimlerChrysler, The United Nations, Lucent Technology, GE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, IBM, The US Postal Service, Scholastic, The U.S. Army, Microsoft, EarthLink, and many others.
He has trained media personalities from National Public Radio, Associated Press, ESPN, Discovery, Lifetime, and countless radio stations including CBS and Bloomberg Radio.
Celebrity talent produced at Edge Studio include Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Phil Donahue, Kate Jackson, Eartha Kitt, Tom Brokaw, John Ratzenberger, Method Man, Geoffrey Holder, Denise Austin, Mark Linn-Baker, Lisa Loeb, Robert Vaughn, BD Wong, Melissa Joan Hart, Mason Adams, more than 35 leading actors from Broadway, and more than 40 leading television actors.
He has worked on TV shows including Style Network’s reality show “Clean House”, he has coached star Michael Schulson in Style Network’s “Pantry Raid”, star Jason Cameron in TLC’s “While You Were Out”, star Lisa Loeb in E Channel’s “#1 Single”, PBS’s “POV program”, a team of directors and copywriters for USA network, and stars Angeline Hartman and Tom Morris in “America’s Most Wanted.”
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