It’s often the case that we don’t label files properly when saving them to your computer from your DAW or your Audio Editor.
There are many reasons for this, but it’s easily remedied, and can count against you if you don’t.
This blog takes a look at why we should always label files correctly to save you time, and help your voiceover auditions. We aren’t talking about voiceover slating here, that’s a different issue – this is just about the actual names we give files when we save them for the first time.
Why Should You Label Files Properly?
There are two main reasons for wanting to label files properly. But first, what do we mean by incorrectly labelled files?
Incorrectly labelled files are files which do not display enough information on them, either for searching purposes or to tell the listener what the purpose of the file is actually for.
The four main reasons for properly labelling files are as follows:
- Sending to clients – giving them the right information so they can see what the intention of the file was for.
- Searching for your own files – either on your own computer or in the cloud
- Keeping a good file-structure – and clean file systems
- Achieving Good SEO – having Google be able to reference the actual files you have told it to, directly.
Let’s go through these one-by-one:
Sending Files to Clients
Let’s say that you’re sending an audition or a demo to a client – you’ve spent all that time getting the audition as best as you can, and getting rid of those mouth clicks!
The very first thing that your client / casting director does is to save them to their drive in a folder with all the rest of the auditions they have had for that job.
The second thing they do is to go and open up some audio software to listen to the clips. Then, they step through all the clips in turn, having a listen to them all.
This is how it goes if the file is not correctly named……
- “No, I don’t like that one…”
- “Nope, not that one either…”
- “Oooh! That one’s good! I like that….I’m going to shortlist that! Who is this artist? Hang on, the file is called 230523_take1.mp3…who the hell is that? Ok, hang, on…no it’s not in the meta data either….hmm….God, that means I have to go back into my email to try and find the damned file….ah crap, but I have 150 auditions, that’s going to take me ages……wait, was the clip really that good? No. Let’s move on.”
..and here’s how it goes if the file was correctly named…..
- “Oooh! That one’s good! I like that. I’m going to shortlist that! John Doe! Thanks Jon….done.”
I promise you that if you don’t label your files correctly, you will end up, at some point, missing out on jobs that you could have gained.
Searching for Your Own Files
Voiceover career day 1: You’ve done 5 auditions.
Voiceover career day 1485: You’ve done 3729 auditions.
Voiceover career day 1486: You say to yourself, “Hey what was that audition I did for Coke a few years back – I’d like to listen to that”. You search for Coke on your laptop or in your email, and ‘John Doe – Coke Audition V1.mp3’ turns up. Hooray!
Voiceover career day 1486: You say to yourself, “Hey what was that audition I did for Coke a few years back – I’d like to listen to that”. You search for Coke and nothing turns up at all. But you’re sure you did it, so you waste 35 minutes going through your backups and file-structure in the cloud, and then trying to remember the name of the contact and what the company was called who you sent it to so you can search your email, because you really want to find it…..
*Sigh*…..I think you get my point.
Keeping a Good, Clean File Structure
Running along with the above example, keep a sensible approach to labelling your files, and the structure that you want to apply to your files just makes sense for housekeeping, for backups, for being able to free up space etc.
Yes, ever DAW or Editor in the world is going to suggest that you save your clip as Sample1.mp3 – but if you do that, you are choosing to frustrate yourself in the future!
How would you actually ever go and find that Coke audition if you haven’t actually labelled it as such!
If you actually like yourself then you have to presume that you will like yourself in the future.
Is future-you going to look back on the you you are now, and say “Thank you past-me!”, or are they going to say “GOD DAMN IT!!! PAST-ME WAS AN A***HOLE!!!”
Achieving Good SEO
This one shouldn’t be taken lightly, so I won’t make jokes about it.
The number of times I’ve been asked to review someone’s website and have downloaded one of their demos to find that it was called “demo-mix_v3b.mp3” or whatever.
Google and other search engines are stupid – they can only reference what you put into them and this goes for the files as well as the text on the pages.
But if I search for “John Doe Demo Reel” and Google has indexed that, it’s going to bring me up your website and on the page of your demos.
This isn’t just limited to your audio files either by the way, don’t save the picture of a microphone on your homepage as test_1.png, save it as “Sennheiser MK4 Microphone.png, or whatever. Why? Because Google knows that Microphones are linked to Voiceover or Voice Artist as a term. It will not only rank you higher for a well structured site, but will give you better domain authority for it as well.
But there is another reason, which is just as, if not more valid. You might not be visually impaired, but a relevant section of our society is, and they use software called Screen Readers. Screen readers read out what is in the code and makeup of web pages for them. Do you want a visually impaired casting director to have to try and work out what ‘test_export.mp3″ is, or do you want them to hear and then press play on “John Doe – Commercial Demo.mp3’?
Yep, you guessed it. Google is going to rank you or de-rank you for a good accessibility score as well.
Examples of Incorrectly Labelled Files
I almost shouldn’t have to actually write these out – they are so obvious! But here we go. Some examples of incorrectly labelled files:
…and so on.
None of these filenames tell you the right information about what it’s contents are. If you don’t put the right information in the filename you are making people listen to the file to see what it’s supposed to be for!
Examples of Well-Labelled Files
Again, relatively obvious…..
- John Doe – Animation Demo.mp3
- John Doe – Tank Game Audition.mp3
- John Doe – Audition for Coke 23rd March 2055.mp3
- Animation Demo – John Doe.mp3
- Animation Demo – John Doe – The Voice Agent Name.mp3
- Audition_for_Coke_231023_John_Doe.mp3 – (although let’s be honest, it’s much harder to read)
Get the picture?
It’s the simplest, easiest thing to do to to label your files properly as you save them. Don’t be lazy – you’re going to annoy someone, maybe even future-self if you don’t.
Get into the habit of doing it every time – and don’t let your self say things like “Oh this one isn’t the one I’m going to send to the client, so I’ll just save it quick” etc. You still are going to likely annoy future-self.
Consider it a public service to you and to your clients – it’s part of what makes you a professional voiceover artist.