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The VO Boss podcast blends business advice with inspiration & motivation for today's voice talent. Each week, host Anne Ganguzza shares guest interviews + voice over industry insights to help you grow your business and stay focused on what matters...

Nov 28, 2023

In part 2 of our Mythbusters series, we delve deep into why investing in a professional demo producer and voice coach makes a significant difference in your VO success. We highlight the essence of genre proficiency, self-direction, and social media, and why it's a better choice to develop these skills with professional guidance rather than attempting to do it yourself. We also dive into the nitty-gritty of essential voiceover artist's tools, shedding light on the need for a quality home recording set-up and a good noise floor over splurging on an expensive microphone. 

0:00:01 - Intro
It's time to take your business to the next level, the boss level. These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry's top talent today. Rock your business like a boss, a VEO boss. Now let's welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza 

0:00:20 - Anne
Hey, hey everyone, welcome to the VEO Boss podcast and the real boss series. I'm your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my real boss co -host, Mr. Tom Dheere. Hey, tom, welcome to the show. 

0:00:32 - TOm
Hello Ann, Thanks for having me back. 

0:00:34 - Anne
Oh, Tom, we had the best episode last week on mythbusters busting the myths about voiceover and telling the real truth. So we did part one, we're back for part two, and boy do we have a lot of great stuff to talk about. Yeah, I would like to start off with oh gosh, it's just such a big topic these days Social media and voice seekers. Is it going to get us work by posting on social media, Tom? What do you think? 

0:01:05 - TOm
Okay, there's like 15 qualifiers I gotta have when I'm gonna say this. I hear you. So at the beginning, I'm gonna say that, for the most part, voice seekers are paying absolutely no attention to anything that any of us are doing on social media. Now, with that in mind, that's a very broad brush stroke and for the most part, they are not paying attention to your hey listen, check out this explainer video I just did. Aren't I awesome? They're not paying attention to any of that stuff. For the most part, if a voice seeker is vetting you via your social media presence, it's to either see if you're an NDA violator, to see if you're a client basher oh, can you believe this stupid sentence they made me pronounce, which I see every day on social media or if you're some form of political or religious whack job that has the potential to damage their reputation. Yes, exactly. 

0:01:58 - Anne
Oh, absolutely, tom. And I'm gonna say, first of all, why don't we step back and say how do you engage on social media? Like, for me, it's all about entertainment, right? Yes, at this point there's so much out there. If I'm going to social media, it's going to be looking for an influencer that might be showing me about the brand that I'm interested in. I might be looking at clothes or makeup or curling irons and I want to find out how they work and if they work great. 

Now, I'm not saying that a voice actor can't be on social media and demonstrate that you have a great voice. However, I think that whole direct sale method which doesn't work for voiceover, right, whenever it's supposed to be sellier or an answery also pertains to social media. So that means just provide entertainment and as a hashtag maybe, or in the notes maybe, throw in that you're a voice actor, because people buy from people they know, like and trust, and that, I think, is what you use social media for and so entertain people, give them something of value, and then they'll pay attention and then maybe they'll say, oh, you know what she's got? A great voice. I love her personality. I bet you sound great doing this campaign. 

0:03:07 - TOm
Yeah, so there's my social media presence as a voice actor and there's my social media presence as the video strategist. So, putting the video strategist over there, which is a different animal, as a voice actor, I feel that my job is to just to demonstrate my humanity. 

I like that because I always tell my students be a good human, collect good humans, demonstrate your humanity online, which has a lot of virtue on multiple fronts. Well, one right now and this is something we could talk about is that I think more and more voice aegers are going to look to see that, when someone submits an audition, that they're actually not an AI, that they're an actual human being. 

0:03:39 - Anne
Oh, I agree. 

0:03:39 - TOm
So looking around and going okay, this person is a human. Okay, cool. Yeah, that's a small percentage, but I think that percentage will grow. 

0:03:45 - Anne
That's how I've met my clients actually right and are they real? Now see, I've got another idea for an episode. It's like have you ever not gotten paid right? Well, I've met my clients in a lot of ways and that's one way make sure they're human. I might actually pick up a phone. Just saying I might pick up a phone to see if there's a human on the other end of it. 

0:04:02 - TOm
Right. So demonstrating my humanity as a voice actor is just people work with people that they like people work with people that they trust people work with people that aren't putting on airs. 

0:04:14 - Anne
And are authentic. 

0:04:15 - TOm
Yeah, so I'm a geek. I like comic books. I talk about comic books and superheroes. I like comic book movies and stuff. So a lot of my content is talking about that. I live in New York City, I walk around New York City with my wife, I take pictures of interesting things I see in New York City and, yes, I do occasionally do a social media post pertaining to some voiceover work that I've done, but it's never about me. It's always about the product or the service, the client or whatever. So, for example, I got a one voice award nomination. Didn't win, but that's okay. I was in honor to be nominated about it's a public service announcement I did for the Humane Society of America that talked about the 4000 Beagles they rescued from that lab in Virginia last year. 

This PSA announced that all 4000 Beagles got adopted, so I got cast to do that and what I said in social media is that I have owned two Beagles. I'm a dog lover, I've owned two Beagles, so being given the honor and privilege of narrating that spot meant a lot for me as Tom Dheere human being Not about don't I sound wonderful in this and I got engagement through that. I got positive responses through both voice seekers and fellow voice actors, and just friends and family that are also following me on social media. So that's a way to do it. 

0:05:32 - Anne
I think it just is not one of those things where you're going to create an ad that says, hey, I'm a voice actor, let me voice your copy and then run that out on social media. It doesn't work that way. I think there's more of the relationship. I mean. To me, social media has become all about relationship building and really just entertainment, because we are just inundated with content and chaos, online material, and so I think, for me, I go to social media to kind of just get away from it all in a way, and I seek out those things that entertain me or provide value for what I'm looking for. 

Again, for me, I'm a big shopper, I'm a big online shopper, so now I'm looking for influencers and I'm looking for video of influencers, and I will say that my example of somebody who's so effective at really creating business for himself is Stefan Johnson, who does a series on TikTok and Instagram where he talks about food and he does like food reviews and he's funny as hell and just the fact that he's entertaining he's funny as hell. 

He's got maybe that hashtag voice actor. Everybody has come to know and love him because he's sent thousands of videos and he's got like a billion followers, and so, yes, that works amazingly well. And, tom, I know that we had discussed this earlier, but let's say you are the voice in a video game or the voice of a national brand, and the other thing, you want to make sure that you are on social media, that you're being careful that you're not, like crazy, bashing other people or doing something that would risk the brand integrity of the company that you work for. I mean, one of those famous cases back in the day when I think the first thing was, oh gosh, it was the Aflac. Was that the Aflac commercial? 

the duck and people that just in a minute you can ruin a brand by saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing on social media. So I think you have to be very careful. 

0:07:27 - TOm
I'll give you a name. Dropy example, because I'm very excited about it, is that in a few weeks the Inspector Gadget video game releases and I am Inspector Gadget. 

0:07:35 - Anne
Yeah, you congrats which. 

0:07:36 - TOm
I'm very thank you. I'm very excited about that and I had been talking to my business. 

0:07:40 - Anne
You are such an Inspector Gadget, I can totally, totally see that Go go Gadget roller skates. Well cast, well cast. 

0:07:48 - TOm
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, and so, as I was trying to plot out a marketing campaign, I quickly realized it's not a good idea, because I don't want to interfere with the brand that is, inspector gadget and I don't want to interfere with the video game production company that did it and I don't want to cause any potential issues with my manager got me that audition that cast me so I will piggyback retweet. 

Yes, yes, absolutely, whatever they do very smart and say, and again, it won't be about me, it'll be. I watched inspector gadget when I was a kid and it was such an honor to be able to be the voice of a character that I loved listening. 

0:08:29 - Anne
Tom, that's so awesome. I'm so happy for you. I mean thank you. They don't call you the strategist for nothing. I'm just saying that's a really wise strategy to retreat, retreat. Well, it is a treat reacts now, I think yeah, reax what is it? 

0:08:42 - TOm
yeah, what is that? Or? 

0:08:43 - Anne
thread, re, thread it forward, that repost, all that stuff is really wonderful, okay. So now I've got another myth. Okay, that I hear all the time. Okay, coaches and demo producers, can we just make our own demos? Can we just DIY? I can do it. You don't have to spend all the money. Don't fall prey to the predators and look full disclaimer here. I am a coach and I am a demo producer, so we are talking about this. However, I do want to address that you know a lot of people Will be crucified for doing their own demo. I can certainly throw in my opinion as to why. I think maybe that's for some people, maybe that's okay, but I'm gonna say the vast majority. There's a good reason why we are out here producing demos right. 

0:09:28 - TOm
So most of the time when a person decides they're gonna record their own demos because they can't afford to hire somebody to do yes Percentage of those it's out of just arrogance. I can just do this myself. I'll just go in my bathroom and close the door and just do it, and I will have no training and I will be recording in a not good environment and I'm just gonna direct myself because I can do this. 

0:09:49 - Anne
Yeah, I have the technology. 

0:09:54 - TOm
This is what I tell my students and when I do speaking engagements and conferences. The virtue of a demo producer is the virtue of a demo producer like an Is not necessarily the finished product of the shiny demo in your hand. I think it's three things. Number one and or other quality demo producers is going to teach you genre proficiency, how to narrate e-learning as opposed to video games, as opposed to audio books as opposed to medical. So what muscles do you need to flex to be able to do this particular genre well? And there are always tips and tricks and nuances and subtleties for every genre, and an experience coach and demo producer like and can teach you that. 

The second thing and this is a big reason why you shouldn't record your own is what I call ism detection. Everybody has their own ism. Some people talk fast, some people talk slow, some people upward and flex, some downward and flex. Some have regionalism and has not your ears so she can hear your isms, identify your isms, talk to you about why do you have those isms and is it a problem that you need to eliminate? Is it something that you need to learn how to toggle on and off like a switch, or is it something that you can use to enhance your performance and possibly enhance your brand. Sure, good demo coach like and, can do that. 

And the third one is the art and science of self direction. Yes, oh yes, you have to learn how to self direct. It is practically impossible to teach yourself how to self direct in a vacuum. Yeah, and and other quality demo producers can teach you how to do that. So it's not the finished product, it's all the things that you learn. That gets you to that finished product or makes working with a demo producer important. 

save your money, be patient. That's another thing, ann, about most voice actors coming into the industry is that they are distressingly impatient and they make big mistakes by spending all this money on products and services and coaches that will not move their voiceover business for because they're so desperate to do it. 

0:11:51 - Anne
Or I'm going to say they come in and they don't have any money to spend and I don't look. I'm not here to shame people who are financially you know what I mean looking for a new resource or revenue stream. But like in any good business, tom and I say this over and over again you do have to invest, and one of the reasons why you would save to make an investment, tom, you said everything so eloquently and so well that really you don't have ears yet, and so while technically you may be able to go, even if you had a nice studio and you bought the best equipment and you have a good sound and you're a musician right and you have the capability to put things together, you know the software you don't necessarily have the ear and you don't necessarily have the experience or understand what content is driving this demo. How are you telling that story? How is that being put together to really showcase your acting in its very best light? 

Because if you're new to the industry, you don't know right, you don't know what that is yet, and it's hard for you to hear that or have an ear for that, and so that's one of the best reasons to hire a professional. It's kind of like look, I worked in technology and I worked in computers and running our computer department and I did a website for years for the school district that I worked for. But do I make pretty websites? I know functionally what I want to do, but I cannot do the graphics. It's not what I was trained to do and so, therefore, hire somebody that's trained and then that's what they do all day, every day. 

They work in the industry. They know what's trending, they know what's current, and that's why it really helps to have a vetted coach and demo producer, not just one that's going to take your money and give you a demo after a weekend. Again, that's the big misnomer is that I can do a couple of sessions and then get a great demo after a weekend. Well, if you've not spent any time actually studying and practicing to be a professional voiceover actor, you really don't have any business making a demo, because that demo, as Cliff Zelman always likes to say I always like to quote Cliff is a promise right that you're going to be able to recreate that sound any given day or night when you're being requested to. And so, if? Well, I guess if you do your own, you could probably reproduce that sound, but still I feel like without the coaching you're not going to be able to get to the sound. That is probably what most clients want without the work without the work involved. 

right, you got to spend more than four hours of your life on voiceover to be professional, right, I'm just saying Nobody thinks they can pick up a violin immediately and start playing at a concert level. 

0:14:25 - TOm
But everybody that has an interesting voice thinks they can start doing voiceovers professionally immediately. 

0:14:30 - Anne
And the other thing is self-study right, like coaching. Like you can buy these online workshops and programs and I'm all for online education. I have a VO peeps group. I have my own introduction to voiceover kind of web series. I know, tom, you've got videos that you sell and I'm not saying that you cannot do that to just buy that and learn voiceover on your own. However, I'm going to say there's great value in having a coach, work with you one-on-one, so that they can really assess your voice vocally, brand your voice and have that set of ears that can tell you oh I hear this regionalism here. Oh, I hear this, I don't believe you. I need you to make that script more believable. So there's a lot to be said for having a valuable extra set of ears on the other end of that and to help coach you through the things that you don't know yet. 

0:15:18 - Tom

0:15:19 - Anne
All right, and speaking of which, when we want to sell ourselves, right Tom, there's something called a website which, for most people, most of my students, is like an afterthought. They're like, oh yeah, I got to get a website. Well, I can make my own website. I can do a template on, I don't know, weebly or Wix or whatever that is. What are your? 

0:15:36 - TOm
thoughts. Well, it's funny because people have these assumptions coming into the industry I need an agent, I need to join the union and for many of them, it's I need a website, or it's I don't need a website because I'm going to get a big honking agent immediately and they'll just do all the work for me. The problem is is that most voice actors don't understand why they need a website. 

0:15:59 - Anne
And why a voice actor needs a website is for a couple of reasons. 

0:16:03 - TOm
One is for just credibility. Just so if someone looks you up or if you market to them and there's a website to go to, it's like, oh okay, this is a human, possibly, hopefully, human being, and here's their website and here's their demos and here's their verbiage and there's a picture of them maybe or not, or a little about page or something, or something like that, and it's like, oh okay, this is who they are. So credibility is one thing. And then, if they get that website, there's another myth, which is people are going to find me through my website. They're just going to look stuff up on Google, bing, yahoo or whatever and find you. And that is, 99% of the time, patently false, because there are literally tens of thousands of voiceover websites out there. So your job as a voice actor is to build the website and then drive traffic to the website through your direct and indirect marketing strategy. 

0:16:55 - Anne
And make it functional so that people can actually find you, contact you and hire you and pay you. Yes, that's it, yes, and to that end your website. 

0:17:05 - TOm
The most important thing that your website needs to do is one thing have downloadable demos. 

0:17:10 - Anne
Yes, I'm the big believer in first impressions Really make a difference. 

You know, if I go to a website and I feel like, oh God, this is just like every other website I've seen, and it's a little bit like antiquated or if I cannot access the information I need right away and functionally be able to navigate it easily, and also it has to be pleasant to look at For me. I mean, gosh, I worked in technology for so many years and I actually ran the web servers Back in the day. I knew Jumala and I used to put content into our websites, but I certainly am not a graphic designer by design at all. I mean, I didn't go to school for it. I know what I like, I know what looks pretty, and so for me to think that I could make it look beautiful, I'm gonna hire somebody that does that as a full-time gig and that I believe first impressions are everything, because when I go to a website, it immediately establishes an idea of the brand right, of who I'm dealing with, who I'm talking to. They're human, like you said, and I get a sense of who they are, and it also gives me a sense of trust. Will I trust this person to click the button to pay them or click the button to contact them? And that's what I want Because, again, I'm a big online shopper just saying God, people are gonna have this idea about me, but all I do? 

I mean, gosh, the pandemic didn't help at all, right? So all I did was click, click, click, bye, bye, bye, because we weren't going anywhere, right? So online shopping is a big thing for people. And again, convenience, and also like, okay, should I? What do I feel about this product? How do I feel about this product? Is it good? Am I gonna buy something that's worth it, that's gonna be worth my money, and that is something that your website is a showcase of your brand, your value, your worth. And if you don't wanna invest in that, in that look, in that first impression, well, you might be losing business. 

0:18:59 - TOm
Right. Everything, ann, you said is 1,000% correct and I'm gonna give all you VO bosses out there a little bit of a break. So think about this the vast majority of the work that you're gonna get when you're early in your voiceover career is online casting sites. Right, you join online casting sites, you do auditions, which is short term. It's not short term because I'm still on them, but I'm saying is it's the easiest way to get casting opportunities is through online casting sites. While you are developing your auditioning abilities, your rate negotiation abilities, your DAW abilities, your project management skills on online casting sites, you can start with a Wix or a Weebly or a Squarespace free site. For starters, this is a basic, basic landing page and as you are slowly building your direct and indirect marketing skills, and evolving your brand and your brand and your portfolio. 

Now you can start to take those gigs that you've booked, the brand that you have developed and slowly layer and build that website. So this isn't something that you should feel pressure to have perfectly right out of the gate, because once you get that shiny demo in your hand, you probably have no idea what your brand is and you have no idea what the industry is going to say to you I thought I needed to do commercials when I started the industry and then I found out that my niche is primarily e-learning, so it's okay. 

Start with a basic website Wix and Weebly, squarespace, whatever and then, as you are developing yourself, do everything that Ann just said to get your website to a point. When you are ready to really hit the ground with direct and indirect marketing strategies and driving traffic to your website, it will be ready. 

0:20:39 - Anne
Yeah, totally agree, totally agree. And people always say, well, should I do my website? I'm just beginning voiceover. I always say it's a good idea to start thinking about it because a website evolves over time. I mean it's not like you're going to have a perfect website overnight. God, if I were to show you pictures of my initial websites, whew mine is the worst. And how it's evolved. 

0:20:57 - TOm
You know the Internet Archive. You can go to Internet Archive. Yes, yes, yes, yes, once in a while for fun, I'll go and look at mine, because tomdeercom was first created 2002. So my website is 20, it's going to be 21 years old in a couple of weeks and it is a dumpster fire. 

0:21:11 - Anne
I had a microphone. I had a microphone as a logo, of course, with a flourishy thing coming out of it, and I'm not saying hey look some people have microphones for logos or built into the logo. I'm not bashing it, but it was. Every other website that was a voice actor had that microphone. 

And yeah but that's okay. I mean, we learn, we evolve, and we evolve along with our brand. So, yes, all right, here's another one, and the last one I think that we'll have time for, and that is I need a 416. I need a U87. I need a TLM 103. I need really good equipment. Now I am speaking on a 416, but I will tell you that it took me 10 years to get that. So do I need great equipment, especially now because everybody says, since the pandemic, our home studios have to be like perfect, we have to have good sound for our additions, otherwise we may not get cast. What are your thoughts, tom? 

0:21:59 - TOm
I think it's a parallel between developing that website and developing your home recording setup. I started home recording in 2006 and I'm only on my third microphone. 

0:22:09 - Anne
Oh my God, me too. Oh my God, oh my God, really that is crazy. 

0:22:12 - TOm
Wow, that's so weird, okay, okay. 

0:22:14 - Anne
Wow, at2020, rode NT1A and then TLM 103 and then 416. 

0:22:20 - TOm
My first one was a Samson something I don't even remember what it was. And then my second one. It's an AKG perception 420. It's in my closet because it's my backup mic. And then my third mic is the 416 I'm talking to right now, which I got this in 2016. So I've had this microphone for about seven and a half years. Yeah, so I worked up to it. It's crazy, because you can't spend too much money on a microphone. You want to spend $10,000 on a microphone. You can, but how many people? 

0:22:50 - Anne
need that no. 

0:22:50 - TOm
You can start with just a basic functional microphone. 

0:22:54 - Anne
I have recommendations on my video strategy, just your page. 

0:22:56 - TOm
And I know Ann has recommendations, so I suggest you check out both of them to check out some options, because there's a price range. But the other side of that is that, yes, when a voice seeker is listening to your audition, they're not just listening to your performance, they're listening to your home recording setup, because almost 90, almost 100% of the time these days you're going to be booking your gigs at home, so it's important to have a good sounding studio. 

It's important to have a good standing, but your microphone is not as important as the treatment of where the microphone is, because if you buy a microphone, that's too good upfront and you have a lousy recording environment it's going to pick up every single flaw in your setup. 

0:23:39 - Anne
I like how you really specified that, because I completely agree with you. Your environment, I think is, even is the most important. 

0:23:45 - TOm
Absolutely, because your microphone is only as good or bad as the environment that the microphone is in. 

0:23:50 - Anne
So that could take a little pressure off you so invest in that first is what I said, because then you can get a cheap microphone and it'll sound great for the most part. Well, maybe not complete, but it'll sound a whole lot better. It'll work. 

0:24:02 - TOm
The output will be more comparable, because all you really need is just clean audio with a decent noise floor, no major buzzes or hums. And also, you know, on a sidebar, don't worry about EQ processing, mastering and all that stuff. I don't know what you do for your signal chain and stuff, ann, but I have almost nothing on mine. My clients want raw audio. 

0:24:25 - Anne
I have an Apollo and literally and just my 416. 

0:24:29 - TOm
Yeah, I got my 416 and my Mo2, m2 and that's it no crazy stuff. 

0:24:33 - Anne
I mean, I do have a stack. I think it's important to have you know a stack that you can run to kind of clean up your audio a little bit. 

0:24:39 - TOm
I do too. 

0:24:40 - Anne
But yeah, I mean absolutely. But I will say that in this studio, right, I love my studio, Tim Tippets, love, love, love, love my studio. 

Custom built by Tim, custom built by Tim. I literally could bring any mic I have. As a matter of fact, I have a USB AT2020 in here that I use for other applications because it only works with a USB mic. It sounds great in here and so, like I'm saying, is that you don't want to have a completely cheap mic? I mean you can tell the difference, but I will say that it took me almost 10 years before I worked up to a TNL103, but I had to have the environment first and then I could hear the actual difference between my NT1A, which was great, which worked for me for six years. I made a lot of money with that microphone in a decent environment, and that's a really reasonable priced mic, as well as your audio interface, which I'm not a big fan of. The Scarlett Focusrite just because for a while they had cheap components, they were introducing hissing and weird noises. I love the UR22, it's 169 bucks. 

0:25:40 - TOm
That's the Steinberg. 

0:25:41 - Anne
The Steinberg yeah. 

0:25:42 - TOm
Yeah, I had the UR12, it was great. 

0:25:44 - Anne
It worked for years and then I just upgraded to an Apollo, which I love it, but it's also flighty and a little bit it's a little bit flighty with my operating system, but that's okay. I mean I love it. But I think that you can absolutely get away with a reasonably priced microphone, as long as your environment is good and other equipment. 

0:26:03 - TOm
Right, and as you get more work, you will be reinvesting in your training, you'll be reinvesting in your website and you'll be reinvesting in your gear and specifically your microphone. So, it's okay to start with a cost-effective microphone. You'll get better once down the road. 

0:26:15 - Anne
Absolutely, absolutely Well. And then, once you do have I've traded right you have a good microphone. It lasts for years. Like gosh, I've had my 416 for I don't know how many years and it goes traveling with me too. I mean, I pull it out, it goes traveling for years, so it's not like you need a new microphone every year, although if you're a tech geek, I mean. 

0:26:35 - TOm
Well, some people collect microphones just because it's fun, and if you wanna do that, you can afford it. 

0:26:38 - Anne
great it's like me, I have lipstick color clothes, boots, shoes, handbags. Yeah, I need the new handbag. I need the new mic. 

0:26:45 - TOm
You need two. Yeah, you need one to talk into and you need a backup in case something horrible happens Exactly backup's great, Some have more than one if there's genre reasons, but the majority of people only really need one microphone and then have one as a backup in case something goes wrong. 

0:26:59 - Anne
All right, I love this conversation, tom. Thank you again for busting the mists via bosses. Don't believe everything you hear and come to the source. Come to the real boss source. And that's with Tom and I for this series. You guys, as individuals, you can have a big impact, and as a group, you can have even more of an impact and contribute to the growth of our communities in ways never before possible. Find out more at 100voiceshoocareorg to learn how and big shout out to our sponsor, ipdtl you too can connect and network like bosses. Find out more at IPDTLcom. You guys have an amazing week, be real and we'll see you next week. Bye. 

0:27:44 - OUtro
Join us next week for another edition of VO Boss with your host, ann Gangusa, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at vobosscom and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies and new ways to rock your business like a boss. Redistribution with permission. Coast to Coast connectivity via IPDTL. 

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