Monday, August 9, 2010

No nibbles on your first tape?

(I pulled this question from a recent comment.)

I have one friend who has been sending out tapes for over a year and she still doesn't have a job. Is it because she doesn't have talent or because this business is just that hard to get into?

Well, it has always been tough to break into the business. But these days, it's never been easier.

You heard me right. There have never been as many opportunities in this business as there are today.

Why? Well, if you follow the money that will give you the answer.

When I broke in there were three stations in every market. That was it. Anchors made huge salaries. A one man band was rarely seen. Cable TV wasn't even seen as competition. Stations made a fortune since they were compensated by networks to run their programming. (That money is long gone, and it was a sizable chunk of change.)

Today the Internet has killed a lot of revenue, there are 300 channels on cable or satellite, and salaries are being slashed. That last item is a big factor as far as opportunities are concerned. People of my generation are either leaving because of pay cuts or they're simply disgusted with what the business has become. Throw in Fox and CW stations, and the result is you have a lot more openings for young people.

But, let's get back to your original question. Honestly, I really can't answer it without seeing the tape. But you might get some answers from an article I did for about five years ago:

Well, while things have changed a lot in five years resume tapes (now mostly DVDs) really haven't.

Talent, of course, is subjective. I may think your friend has big market potential but other News Director's might think she's awful.

And hiring entry level people is a whole different animal. Basically, you're hiring potential, since college students are basically putting a tape together in their spare time. A ND looks at a tape and maybe sees a flash of talent, then has to wonder, "Would this person be able to do this every day, and is there enough potential there to justify my taking a chance on this person?"

Sometimes, if a person isn't having any luck getting a foot in the door, a road trip is a good idea. Some personalities are great in person but don't yet translate to videotape. Again, it's potential.

You just have to find a way to make it come through.

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