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SPI 781: The Future of VOICE Content in the Age of AI with Mike and Izabela from Music Radio Creative

Techno-optimists or not, we can’t ignore the AI-powered tools already changing how people work and create. So, is your job safe? How do you plan on competing in your niche? What can you do to make yourself and your services irreplaceable?

In this episode, my guests and I have a brutally honest conversation about the future of audio content. As we look at how voice cloning is already affecting creators and artists, we share both rosy and realistic predictions for where things are going.

Joining me are Mike and Izabela Russell, the incredible husband and wife team behind Music Radio Creative [affiliate link]. This is the audio agency I use for everything from podcast editing to original songs about Pokémon for my Deep Pocket Monster YouTube channel. They’ve been supporting creators for over a decade, so don’t miss out on this insightful chat!

Mike and Izabela give us an inside look at how they leverage free educational content, Shopify, affiliate marketing, and relationships with hundreds of artists and audio engineers to grow and run their massive business. Their tips for staying relevant and profitable in the Age of AI will be a wake-up call for some and a game-changer for others!

For more, check out my previous conversation with Mike in episode 415. Enjoy!

Today’s Guest

Mike Russell

Mike is the creative director at Music Radio Creative. Audio production is his life. Mike is passionate about helping you to sound great! Mike is a recognized expert on audio production with 330K+ subscribers on his YouTube channel. He presents videos and a live stream about producing podcasts, cleaning up audio, improving the sound of your voice, creating music, sound design, and more.

Izabela Russell

Izabela Russell is known for her role as the CEO of Music Radio Creative, where she explores audio creativity and aims to make a positive impact with creative audio. Izabela’s expertise extends to podcasting, digital marketing, and content creation, showcasing her commitment to innovation and community engagement in the media industry since 2011. Izabela has recruited over 300 professional voiceovers in the past 13 years and together with her husband Mike grew Music Radio Creative from zero to an international company delivering audio to clients in over 120 different countries annually.

You’ll Learn


SPI 781: The Future of VOICE Content in the Age of AI with Mike and Izabela from Music Radio Creative

Izabela Russell: I think what AI is going to do is literally take away 80 percent of talent. You know, we are leaving only the really good professionals andhigh-endd professionals that will be able to remain as the result of AI. So I think that it is unsettling because people who want to learn they almost don’t have a playground to then become a professional as a result. So how do we make sure people have the same possibility to go from the bottom to the top? Because AI is making this incredibly hard.

Pat Flynn: It’s all about people. Over the course of your entrepreneurial journey, you’re going to meet a lot of people, or hopefully you’re going to want to do that. If I could go back into time and give myself advice, it would be meet and greet and befriend and get to know as many people as you can in the industries that you are a part of, because you never know that next person you meet or that next group of people you meet could be the door into the next part of your life and you never know. And when you come from a place of service going into those groups and trying to discover who here might I be able to add value to, you can often get exponential value back in return.

And somebody who has provided so much value to not just myself and not just Team SPI, the entire world of podcasting are Mike and Izabela from Music Radio Creative. Music Radio Creative is an agency where you can go to help yourself as a podcaster as a DJ.

You can get voiceovers, you can get stingers for your audio, you can get some music done for your show. And we’ve had a lot of our students, especially those inside of Power Up podcasting, go to Mike and Izabela for help. And what’s really cool is they’ve been in its industry since the beginning, and we’re going to have some pretty deep conversations about a lot of things, not just their journey and how they got started and how the industry has changed the voiceover industry, the podcasting industry, but we do have some deep and very brutally honest conversation about AI and what AI is doing to the industry of voice. And we have some differing opinions and different thoughts, right? There’s the optimistic side of it, but there’s also the realistic side of it. And we get into all those conversations today.

So beyond that, if you ever need services for your podcast, your audio, if you need to get music created, I’ve actually hired MRC or music radio creative to help me create music for my Pokemon channel for Card Party, the event that we put on. And actually two of those songs are on Spotify right now, and I’ve generated, I think, $70. $70, I didn’t create this music for the purpose of generating an income, but they’re on Spotify. You can look up Card Party and the Miltank song if you’d like. Deep Pocket Monster is the channel or the artist. Anyway. That’s just a fun side note. So they’ve helped me generate revenue in that way as well. But anyway, if you need services, head on over to for Music Radio Creative, That is our affiliate link. We do get a little kickback. Just wanted to mention that just in case, but they’re amazing. Mike and Izabela.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he bought non prescription glasses because his wife said he looked good in those frames. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Mike and Izabela, welcome to SPI again. Thanks for being here. Both of you.

Izabela Russell: Thank you so much for having us, Pat.

Mike Russell: So good to be here.

Pat Flynn: You know, Mike, you have helped me out so much and, you know, not just with SPI and both of you helping with the show, but your video tutorials on YouTube are by far the best when it comes to like, how do I fix this one little thing on this little audio device that I use?

It’s so specific. And I always like your face always comes up and sometimes these videos are like 10 years old and they’re still helpful. So I just wanted to say thank you for, for all of that, Mike.

Mike Russell: Thank you so much, man. And it means a lot, really means a lot. And I still, to this day, look at every single comment that comes in and I see comments from years ago saying, this is still relevant in this year.

I’m like, wow, that’s crazy. A lot has changed. But a lot has also clearly remained, which is helpful. So I really appreciate it, Pat. Thank you.

Pat Flynn: No, no, my pleasure. And things are changing and we’re going to get into discussions about the world of audio, but especially with AI coming into play and what that all means for the industry, for us, podcasters, for you guys, but Izabela, let’s start at the beginning.

I know you started your business a very long time ago, kind of almost 20 years ago, when you started your business to help with audio and create Music Radio Creative, what was it like back then? How did you. start? Like where did this all begin?

Izabela Russell: So I think actually the question needs to be answered by Mike because he started the company back in 2006.

That was before we even met. So I will let you take over Mike. Oh really? And give us the beginning because that’s where actually Mike is, is behind it all.

Mike Russell: So the very short story is I wanted to find a way to be able to sell my voice online. And I was happy doing voiceovers in the UK. I was working in radio back in the day, but I really thought I had this dream, I would love to be able to sell my voice in America. I would love people to be able to buy it online and use it. I had this big dream of doing that. And I still remember back in the day when I set up a very simple website and the first PayPal receipt came in on email from the USA and I was like, wow, this is so cool.

And that’s a very brief introduction. And then I started right back at you, Pat, because I started listening to Smart Passive Income and things like internet business mastery back in the day. And that’s what inspired me to grow. And then of course, Izabela comes into the picture. That’s where, where you come in.

Izabela Russell: No, that’s it. So I’ve, well, actually 2010 is when Mike started to record his YouTube tutorials. And that was kind of a pivotal moment in our business in the sense that that took almost a different direction because all of a sudden there was opportunity to teach people, which I always felt was very important.

Then 20Eleven, I come into the picture. I was terribly bored on my maternity leave. My background is in banking. So I was, a very typical banker. And I was just like, Mike, you know what? You’ve got this business going on on the site. Can I just take a look? And I did. And I actually never stopped looking because I never went back into banking from that point.

And it started with Mike being the only voice on the website. Within the space of a couple of years, we’ve managed to build it to a bank of over 50 voices. And with different languages. And we knew at that point that actually we’ve got something really interesting on our hands and we could make it our full time living.

So at some point, we started to work with DJs. We’ve added those to our portfolio. We worked with radio stations. This is where the base was established. And actually since then, we’ve worked with some amazing big DJ labels like Spinning Sessions, Tomorrowland. We worked with Robert Miles and, you know, it’s just super fun and very different.

So we had to learn about what do DJs need? You know, what kind of audio could we sell them? How could that look? And sort of added that on. And 2013 slash 14 is when the podcasting came into play, and we were there at the very beginning.

Pat Flynn: I was going to ask when on that timeline podcasting came in, because that obviously is where I discovered you guys through Cliff Ravenscraft.

Izabela Russell: Yes.

Pat Flynn: He had recommended Music Radio Creative to get voiceovers done for intros and stuff, and you helped me with the Ask Pat intro and all this other cool stuff. So. In the beginning, when you were just you, Mike, what made you go, we need other voices here? How did you begin to think about the business in a more expansive way beyond you?

What led to that?

Mike Russell: The inquiry came in one day that a radio station needed a dual voice. They needed a male and a female voice. And that was the point at which I knew that I wasn’t able to do it by myself. And Izabela really helped me to overcome the fear of asking other people to work. So Izabela is definitely the business brain here.

And I’m definitely the more creative kind of designer. I mean, back in this timeline, when we’re talking over 10 years ago now, I was the sole producer as well at the time. But Izabela, you soon changed that, didn’t you? And took on being producers, voiceover artists, we expanded out into singers, music producers as well.

So pretty much, you know, thanks to Izabela and the fact of recruiting different talents from around the world, we’ve grown to serve different parts of the globe. And, you know, as Izabela alluded to different audio creators, such as radio in the initial days, DJs, podcasters, now businesses, and really anyone who needs audio.

And Izabela, maybe you want to take from there and say a little bit more about how you did that. You even recruited in different languages.

Izabela Russell: I did. Do you know, actually, I think it all comes down to the fact that I was never afraid to ask. And I think that often that is such a big problem people face because you are just like, How could I possibly, you know, what do I need legally?

And I was just like, I’m just going to make it up as I go along. So it’s like, okay, well, realistically, we probably need some agreement. So you know, what kind of agreement do we need as the very basic and I kind of worked from there. So it was just breaking it down to like smaller problems rather than looking at it as one big problem.

And how do I face that? So, and I’ve learned everything as I went along. So it’s, I haven’t had any background in signing agreements with talent. I didn’t know what you need to look out for. So. It was just everything was just little bit by bit. We were learning as we were going along and growing from there.

And I think that attitude of not being afraid and being curious is what led to the expansion.

Pat Flynn: So we I like to call this just in time learning, just like, okay, what needs to happen next? Let me learn about that. Where did you learn about those things? How did you get the information or who did you go to, to figure out what was next?

Izabela Russell: Google was really helpful in many ways, especially that we were crossing the borders. We were crossing the, the legal aspects in different countries, you know, the first voice we took on was a lady that actually worked with Mike in the radio station, which was really easy because she was just so easygoing.

And she was just like, yep, I will do it. It’s all good. That’s absolutely fine. She still till today is our voice on Music Radio Creative. Her name is Maima and she’s still there after, you know, many, many years now. But it was just a case of like, just researching what do other companies do? Do they have anything available that I can learn from?

And just adding from that and actually just applying a lot of common sense in the process. I think that it genuinely is that the biggest asset anybody could have is just good old common sense, because if you can think of, okay, what could go wrong and then work backwards from that and just apply those principles of like, how can I prevent that happening?

What can I do to protect myself? And so on. And just actually asking professionals to help you along the way. So I did at some point engage legal company to help us with contracts. But it was, you know, just as you say, just in time learning, it was just finding pieces of knowledge as you need them.

Pat Flynn: And how many voices are you like other talents are you working with currently? I know you said 50 at one point, but has that number grown?

Izabela Russell: Oh gosh, yes. We’ve got over 200 now, but it would be way over that because obviously we have some people who come and go. Situations change. So I think over the years.

Since 20Eleven, I must have recruited nearly 250 voiceovers.

Pat Flynn: That’s crazy. And this still may be a question for you Izabela, since you’re kind of the behind the scenes and the business person, how are you managing 200 different people and collecting intakes? Cause I know I’ve gone through the process at Music Radio Creative before where, you know, I’ll select the, the kind of thing I need and the, the kind of voice type, you know, all this stuff. And it, it seems to on, at least on the front end, be really smooth. I’m curious on what it was like in the beginning, managing multiple talents all in one space. How did you like, tell me about that journey and how you have been able to remain sane through all of that.

Izabela Russell: Do you know, I’ve always been a really big advocate of just tools and looking for tools that could help me with various different things. So it really boils down to managing through elaborate spreadsheets, different workarounds that kind of link in. If you do this on the spreadsheet, this happens somewhere else.

If this moves, that happens. So there’s quite a lot of sort of smart pieces that move together as we move things along. But actually when it comes to just a bare bones of what it stands on, it is Google Drive and Google Docs spreadsheets that actually holds everything together. And again, if you apply just common sense and try to make it as simple as possible for yourself and for everybody else, it really can work.

It doesn’t need anything very elaborate to work well.

Pat Flynn: Incredible. That’s reassuring to hear. I think we were all waiting for the magic CRM or magic tool to, and then no, just, just Google and kind of staying on top of things. Mike, as you have continued to grow your YouTube channel, I know this has helped you grow more business.

How are you getting people from you and your YouTube channel to end up signing up for your service? I know a lot of the business comes as a result of relationships as well, but tell me a little bit about like the funnel or how you are generating sales through the work that you’re doing on the front end.

Mike Russell: I think I’ve really taken a learning from you, Pat, in that I try to give away as much for free of what I do on the channel in order for people to learn kind of, in a sense, how the sausage is made so that they can, of course, go and do it themselves. They can record voices, they can produce, they can mix, they can make something amazing.

And that is my hope. That is really my dream, is to encourage people to inspire people to make great sounding audio. And obviously a part of what our business does is that it’ll do that for people. And particularly as we’ve learned over the years with podcasters, you know, they, they like to start out in general by themselves.

So they learned the ropes, but then after a while, it’s always good to find someone or some place or some service that will, will cover that for them. So. I think leading people through generally in the links to the video to our website, or as came in later on in our development with MRC, my presets and things like that, that I’d sell for audio production and enhancement, people would go and try those things out.

I’ve done over the years one on one consulting as well. So all kinds of like little bits like that have led there, but I’ve always like you said, kind of kept it very organic and just been delighted to deliver that content. And as you say, it’s a lot about relationship building as well. So one of the things I really enjoy doing is, is speaking and teaching, going to events, being able to present on this information.

One of my favorite things is to follow new trends and look at new things that are happening. That’s why I feel like I’ve always been had a good place in the business to sort of say, maybe we should look that way. Maybe we should look that way. Going back to the very start when I was in radio, you know, we were delivering voices over ISDN or even back in the day of, if you can even remember recording on cassettes and reel to reels and posting the tape recordings.

And it sometimes take days to read the other radio station or audio. And then I remember when MRC started up, And we found we could deliver WAV files and MP3 files. That just felt like magic, being able to attach it and, and send it. And now, as I know, we’ll, we’ll talk about later on with AI, the ability to create and mix things in seconds.

It’s just nuts. We’re kind of 10Xing and 100Xing what is possible.

Izabela Russell: And just to jump on that, actually, on the actual funnel, back in 2019, we’ve made a big shift from really elaborately designed website where we’ve spent thousands of pounds on development and we jumped into e commerce world and Shopify.

And that was literally the best decision ever because what it allowed us to do is do a lot of links from YouTube directly into our Shopify store. So at some point in the last couple, two, three years, YouTube introduced ability to link your shop into your channel. So we can now directly display products under videos.

So where Mike will talk about. something specific, say something about Adobe Audition. We may link to our Adobe Audition presets. If he’s talking about say music or something, we could link to our royalty free music. If he’s talking about podcasting, we could link to our podcast editing services. So it actually, this is probably the most pivotal part of the process YouTube into our world, into our shop because it just enables us to put products directly in front of the customers in a very easy way.

Pat Flynn: Like a direct integration with they’re there and they can just click instead of going off with an email list and then taking them through a funnel. I mean, I know you still do those things, but the direct integration with Shopify is great.

I also know that there’s a lot of talk with TikTok shop right now in a similar way. You can directly integrate with TikTok too. And a couple of viral videos can go wild for a product connected to a shop. What I love about what you said, Mike, with how you’re doing this is, and it’s just like giving value, giving as much value as you can.

That’s something I’ve always practiced and have lived and have experienced. And, you know, I have come up with a term for this. Show them the free way to do something. And then they’re going to want the headache free way to do something because oftentimes the free way to do it is long or laborious or just takes forever.

People will see the value in what you have to offer because it’s just either done for you or just much quicker or simpler. So I appreciate that example. Business wise, Izabela, maybe tell me a little bit. So good. 2009, it was mostly DJs and people in the music industry. 2013, 2014, the podcasting space started to come on board big time.

And so you’re getting a lot of people getting voiceovers and things like that. Take me through the timeline between then and now. What are people still getting and buying from you? And what are the trends today?

Izabela Russell: At some point, actually, just as the podcasting went in super hot in the US, it was still very, very early days in the UK.

But we dived into the event space, which was perhaps one of the biggest mistakes, but also the biggest learnings for us because we spent three years organizing events here in the UK. It was first UK podcasters event, then New Media Europe, two events. But actually, it was like three years of big expenses and we never made any penny from it.

But we’ve learned a lot and actually connected with a lot of people in the process. So I think that it definitely happened for a reason. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pat Flynn: What made you want to do the events in the first place?

Izabela Russell: Because we really wanted to have In the UK, what was happening in the US? We were coming to New Media Expo.

Pat Flynn: Podcast Movement.

Izabela Russell: And yeah, well, actually Podcast Movement started at the same time as we started UK Podcasters. It was before Podcast Movement.

Pat Flynn: Oh, interesting.

Izabela Russell: Yeah. We wanted to bring that to the UK, but actually I think we did it too early and people here were just not ready for this because when you were saying podcast to somebody in the UK, they were like, what, what, what?

No, like nobody knew what that was. And I think that really podcasting here in the UK properly took off during the pandemic. I think that that was the pivotal moment where podcasting went from being this, you know, thing that geeks do to something that actually is quite cool and serious. And, you know, all the radio stations jumped on board and that became a thing.

So it took a lot longer here on this side of the world to really bed in. But after the events, we started to also work with a lot more with the business owners and with businesses. So business audio is things like on hold messages, ads, commercials for various projects. We’ve also worked with really out there projects like theme parks where we would do audio for different roller coaster rides.

Pat Flynn: Please put your arms and feet inside the, you know, that kind of thing.

Izabela Russell: Yeah, well, it was like scary voice for the super scary ride. So, you know, you’ve got a demon who’s welcoming you, you know, things like that. So you can go into something like that. 2018, we started making our own royalty free music libraries and introduced the podcast editing to the mix as well.

And again, that was as a result of actually our customers asking for things. So we would be approached, it’s like, well, you do podcast intros. Could you edit my podcast for me? And I was like, yes, we can. We definitely can. So that’s how we’ve added that in. You know, our producers were able to do it. It’s. The same principle, it’s just a different product.

Something that’s called something different, but actually we do the same thing in the background. So we added that on. We worked with some amazing companies in the process. We’ve produced some podcasts for World Health Organization for their projects in Africa. We’ve worked with Warner Bros, Emirates Airlines, Hilton, all the big companies, sort of big recognized companies. And then 2019 slash 2020 obviously pandemic hits and that was a big moment for us because that was massive boost to our YouTube channel and business as everybody went online and wanted to know how to learn to sound good and and how to plug in all the microphones how to make it work and how to just edit things easily.

So we’ve introduced a lot of our courses. This is how a lot of our course content was born.

Mike Russell: And Izabela, it was just about the time that it synced up with being a revolution in audio gear. So it was about that time, if not maybe just slightly before the pandemic, when where RØDE came along and made the RØDECaster.

And then later Mackie came along and made the DLZ Creator. And then Shaw said, why don’t we make the SM7 DB, which is like a boosted volume version of our most popular microphone. And I actually got to the stage during that lockdown where I said, I think I can get rid of all the old analog gear in my studio and replace it with one of these new digital mixers. And as an audio guy, I still have a small issue with the latency, the ever so tiny amount of latency in headphones when recording using like a Rodecaster or a Mackie, but it’s very, very tiny. Like everything else has been replaced by digital effects on a little screen in front of me. And I love it, Pat.

Pat Flynn: Well, that might be the, the, the curse of being an engineer, right? It’s just, you hear those. those things.

Izabela Russell: There was this visual aspect to that video that Mike made where we literally have like a big kitchen table that sits eight people and it’s full of gear and all of that went out of the studio and the roadcaster went in.

So it was literally like a table full of equipment was made redundant with that one thing.

Pat Flynn: I remember when that came out, that was a big deal. I did a review on it and I, at one point Mike used your dbx 286 tutorial, you know, and like, I’m like, I don’t need this anymore. It’s all built into the roadcaster, which, which is great.

Speaking of like supporting these other companies and doing videos about these tools, like, tell me about how affiliate marketing plays a role in your business. Is that a big part of your repertoire? And like, how do you choose which companies to work with? Because there’s a million audio companies. And like, how do you choose which videos to make, Mike?

Mike Russell: That part of making YouTube videos and creating content online is so exciting for me. Because like you say, I get to work with companies that create products I really love. And I think that’s, that’s a key thing, as I know you mentioned a lot, Pat, work with people that you love, you know, talk about the products you would use yourself.

Don’t just pick something because always that’s got a nice affiliate commission. You know, really go for the stuff that’s going to be valuable, not only to yourself as the the creator, but also those who are listening to and watching your content. So yeah, over the years, I’ve found. I’ve had the privilege of working with brands like Rode, like Mackie, like AKG, or the umbrella, which is Harman, many, many different audio companies.

And in many of those cases where I’m talking about gear, I’ll either be sent something or it will be a sponsored video. So I don’t tend to focus too much on the affiliate side of things, although I’ll put in an Amazon link and, you know, we get some Amazon commissions that way. One place that I really like to dial into the affiliate marketing is actually digital stuff.

And since the AI revolution has come along, finding relevant AI particularly audio based products that are relevant to the audience is absolutely incredible because I can recommend and make incredible videos about products that are available to try online and the affiliate commissions are there. So it’s a really good mix of being able to share my passion and also have people use those links to sign up to things.

Pat Flynn: Let’s talk about AI. We’ve teased it a little bit. I’m curious to hear from both of you because on the surface, it sounds like AI is there to take your jobs. It’s there to replace a lot of what you have built. And that’s really scary. So Mike, maybe your take as the talent who I could go to Eleven labs, for example, and put in a voice or train it to sound like a certain thing.

And I think it’s getting darn good now and it’s exciting, but also scary. How do you, a voice over artists feel about where we’re at right now.

Mike Russell: And I could talk about this for the rest of the episode for another hour. I love it. So, you know, I’ll preface by saying I’m a complete tech optimist. I think this is going to improve and make our lives so much more interesting and what it’s going to allow people like you, Pat, and me and Izabela and the person listening to this show right now to do is to really dial in and focus on what it is they love in life and what their purpose is in life and what drives them, what brings them joy and happiness. So, you know, we’ve heard many of the AI leaders, such as Sam Altman say, it’s going to take away the boring bits and enhance the exciting bits.

Which I tend to agree with, so let’s look at your example of Eleven Labs and the ability to clone a voice and make it pretty much indistinguishable from your own voice. And of course what you get out of Eleven Labs, which is a voice cloning AI, is as good as what you put in. So if you record something on a bad quality microphone, with reverb in the room, you’re definitely going to get that back as the model.

If you do it on a great microphone, then that’s good, but you only have to do that once. And then you’ve got this great clone. Now, this has allowed me to do all kinds of great things in my audio work already, such as using one of their features, which is speech to speech, which is where you can talk into the microphone exactly the way you’d like the AI to talk to you and it will repeat the words back and you can select a different voice, a female voice, a voice from a different part of the world, and it will repeat those words back to you in a different voice.

So essentially, voice cloning, voice changing. exciting stuff. Then we’ve got stuff such as the AI music ability, the ability to generate with tools like Mubert and Suno, and you can create amazing music beds for content creation, but also you can create full songs. I don’t know, Pat, if you’ve played with Suno AI, but the latest version three is incredible.

It will create full pop music songs about anything that you type into it. And it is just absolutely nuts. I was reading an article just today about how good apple cider vinegar is for weight loss. So I just said, make me a song about apple cider vinegar. And it started singing to me in this beautiful tone about, Ooh, I have my ACV in the morning.

I was like, wow. And I can’t sing. So just augments me even better. And it’s just nuts. So what can I say? Yes, because you’ve really put a key thing there. Is it going to replace us? Is it going to take this away? Are business is going to die? And this is very important to consider. And I draw the parallel with how coders and developers are feeling right now.

When we look at just every day, there seems to be a new tool that comes out that says, well, now it can look at something on GitHub, and then it can read the docs, and then it can write the code, and then it can troubleshoot the code. But I, I really feel like this is an augmenter. And what it will do is it will get rid of, say, in terms of coding, those entry level coders who are just playing around, and it’ll go more high level.

And that means that if you were an entry level coder, you’re now an excellent, super high level, full stack coder, and I think the same will apply for audio and many other industries. So when we get to that existential question of, well, you know, what is the point in doing anything? I think the point is you can be 100, maybe even in the future when we have AI agents 1000 times better at what you do through these tools. Until AGI comes and then we’re all done and we’re on the beach.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, right. Skynet. Yeah, exactly. So I love that take on these tools will allow us to be better versions of ourselves to take the boring stuff out and really go at a high level with a lot of this stuff. But a lot of the sentiment today is also just like, well, this thing I’ve spent my life learning is now obsolete. It’s gone. How you react to this is really going to matter a lot for how your future is determined for those of you listening. Izabela, I’m curious your thoughts on the business side of things. Like, I mean, you have X number of voice artists that you work with. I mean, I can’t help but wonder if they’re curious about their positions and where things are going with the industry and AI.

What are your thoughts on where we’re at with this and where things might be going?

Izabela Russell: Mike is the optimist. I am the realist in terms of many different ways. We do. We absolutely do. But I think what AI is going to do is going to literally take away 80 percent of talent because there won’t be a space for them.

So at the moment, and I think this could potentially be applied to a lot of different industries, you always have people who are at the entry level, then you have somebody who’s like mid level, high level, and real professionals, right? And AI is genuinely coming in and replacing the good 60 to 70 percent of those.

So, you know, we are leaving only the really good professionals and high end professionals that will be able to remain as the result of AI. And I think that this is quite accurate when it comes to voiceovers. Because actually, if you as an end user can go in and generate an AI voice that is indistinguishable to a human, why would you go and pay human, right? Like genuinely, why would you do it? If you can pay 20 and, you know, have however much audio you need and more every month versus going in and having to pay maybe as much as 150 for one ad read from a voice artist, you will go and pay that 150 if you feel like this is really worth it.

So I think that it is in a way unsettling because people who want to learn to do something, they almost don’t have a playground to play in anymore because there isn’t a market possibility for them to throw their voice in, test in some way, and then become a professional as a result. So we, we are going into a space where we have AI and then we have really high end professionals, but those professionals have got there through a lot of hoops they had to jump and they went, you know, from the bottom up, right?

So the main question that I have now is like, how do we make sure people have the same possibility to go from the bottom to the top, of the ladder, because AI is making this incredibly hard.

Mike Russell: I’ll just say a couple of points that came to my head from what you said, Izabela. First of all, something that you haven’t mentioned that I think is important is you have gone through and started updating a lot of our contractual agreements to say clearly, and I think it’s important that every company has an AI policy, and you’ve already started to write into those agreements that we will not use all the data we’ve collected over years of working with you to train a voice model without your permission.

So I think that’s super important. And the other thing about, you know, augmenting creators is Pat. I know you’re a multiple published book author, and you’ve narrated your own audio books. Imagine AI Pat narrating the whole thing for you, saving you hours of time in that studio. And not only does he narrate in English, but he narrates that book in Korean and Japanese and Spanish and so on and so on, seamlessly.

I mean, it’s, it’s incredible.

Pat Flynn: Arigato gozaimasu, for sure. The, this, thank you very much in Japanese. I have seen a lot of that on YouTube happening right now. Mr. Beast, obviously on the forefront of a lot of this stuff, using language translation tools and these things that will not just dub, but also the mouth looks like it’s speaking in the other language, which is mind boggling.

So you’re definitely the optimist, Mike, I could tell.

Mike Russell: And Mr. Beast, his latest video has been translated into Klingon. You can actually go into the audio settings on the player and select Klingon. Oh, no way. That is crazy.

Pat Flynn: So let’s say, cause I know you work directly with a lot of voiceover artists and voice actors, for somebody who maybe feels like they’re kind of, they’ve been doing this for a little bit, but they’re not quite like super pro level where they know that they have relationships and they know that they’re kind of established and you know, they have a shield against kind of what’s coming. What would you recommend that they do?

How does a voiceover artist who’s sort of mid level, not at the super pro level, what can they work on? Is there skills that they can do or something that they can put into place to give them more opportunity instead of less at this point?

Izabela Russell: I think that the very first thing that they should look at is the quality of their recording.

They really haven’t got a scope to be any less than perfect. So all of those people who are still recording on USB microphones or…

Mike Russell: Some USB mics are good.

Izabela Russell: Some USB mics argood. Yes, genuinelyly fine. But you can hear the difference from studio that is pro recording studio to more amateur. And I think that that’s where the first, yeah, difference sets really for a lot of those voices. Another thing is not being afraid to take on projects you wouldn’t normally work on. And I think there are quite a lot of people who will be like, well, you know, I can’t possibly record this because this is way beyond me or, you know, yes, that’s, you know, there is no space for that.

So you have to be a yes person in many ways. to really just be, be the go to person. But I don’t have a formula. I think it is going to be very difficult space in the next couple of years for voice talent. I think that we will see a lot of people just deciding to move on to something else. And unfortunately, I do think that a good 70 percent of talent will just not have a place anymore in where they are, which is quite, I realize is quite negative and gloomy, but in a way I haven’t figured out the answer to it. And I don’t necessarily think that going into a platform like Eleven Labs, letting them clone your voice and sell your voice through their platform is the solution. I think that in fact, that is as far from the solution as we can go because you are then giving away rights to your own voice to a third party platform that is requiring you to sign an agreement to have two years of notice to take it down. To me, that’s completely not realistic. That’s that’s just not the way to go and I think that that’s what’s happening. No answer has been kind of made yet as to what is actually going to happen.

Mike Russell: I think that frameworks are still being written though, as to how that’s going to work in the future. One thing I’d encourage mid level voice artists and even beginner voice artists to do is to make that clone, not necessarily to make it and publish it through any third party platform. You can even look into open source opportunities to do so, but try and find somewhere where you can clone your voice and do things that you couldn’t otherwise do, and maybe that’s change your voice into another language.

I mean, for instance, with my voice, Izabela, we’ve cloned it and you’ve published it on our website in multiple different languages from Arabic to French and Spanish and so on. And that is a really interesting experiment. So I think you’ve got to be open to, to using this technology to your advantage.

And we’ve never had a better opportunity to expose our voice to a wide audience and find out if we can indeed be a success.

Pat Flynn: My advice would be to think about how and this is not just for voiceover artists, it’s for anybody who might feel threatened by by AI and the ability for it to do what it is that you do, it’s to think about what you can do to become irreplaceable in some way, shape or form that that’s the key word. So it might not necessarily be just the voice component of what you have to offer that is of use anymore. But what around that maybe it is the way that you use your voice to tell a story and you’re building a brand around that, right?

Maybe it’s the way that you can more easily take direction from a director compared to a prompt. You just have this intuitive opportunity to voice a particular character in a way that like, yeah, maybe it’s more expensive than AI, but Inherently with the project, and because you have a relationship with the person behind it and, you know, you understand and like you bring some human components to it, that’ll help differentiate you as well.

And this is the kind of advice I’m giving to photographers, to anybody who has the ability to yes, build a brand and has some ability to be a utility, but it’s the Y. O. U. in utility. That’s going to be really important, right? The Chris Tucker talks about this a lot, right? The the you preneur, right? It’s it’s the brand of you getting injected into the service that you have to offer, right?

So maybe you niche down a little bit, right? You’re not just like a general voice over artist, but you are going to be, you’re going to go head to head with AI to become the best, you know, kid voice, right, in a cartoon that’s an animal, right? Like, like anybody who needs that character, you’re going to be that person because it’s maybe not the best example, but you know, you just become known for that as well.

And I think that only can come with, like you said, Izabela, like going wide at the start, trying to figure out kind of who needs what and how you might kind of find your little plot of land in this new world that we’re all kind of now a part of, which again, I appreciate this honest discussion and I think it’s important to, to see it from both sides for sure.

Mike, let me ask you about the future, not about AI and jobs and things like that, but just the future of audio. Where do you see audio going, in the world of podcasting, in the world of equipment, like, tell me your most optimistic view of the future when it comes to to, to where audio is going from here.

Mike Russell: Wow. Well, I, I think just as the CEO of Nvidia said, now everybody is a coder using natural language. Technically, everyone is a content creator with the ability to use all the different tools that are available to us. Whether that’s the fact that you just go out and buy your first microphone tomorrow after listening to this show, and you go and maybe get a, one of those small mixers to plug it into your computer, or even just a USB microphone, and you start recording and you publish, because I know Pat, you always say just get it out there. Get started. You know, that’s a paraphrasing a little bit probably, but words along those lines. And I would encourage you to experiment and, and get things out there and, and try the new tools. Where is audio going? I think it’s going to be a really interesting time because now we’re all musicians with a few text prompts. We are all able to create exactly the music and the scenes we want and don’t even get me started on video tools such as Sora and things like that. I mean, we’re just going to be able to create incredible things. One of the experiments I’ve been doing over the last, it must be about six months now, is I started a very regular daily AI news podcast And it was completely automated using a platform called, which is for those who don’t know, it’s very similar to Zapier. It’s another version of Zapier. You can connect things together. So I’ve connected Eleven Labs with sound cloud and other things like that and Chat GPT and Feedly. And I will look at the news stories. I will select curate the news stories that I want to go on the next day’s edition.

And in about 15 minutes of my day, I’ve created the next day’s podcast. And that podcast has grown over the last six months to, I think in the last 30 days, when I looked at the stats today, it had had 5,000 downloads in the last 30 days. And it keeps going up every single month.

Izabela Russell: That’s zero promotion.

Like there is no promotion of that podcast. This is literally just It’s something that has built itself.

Mike Russell: That’s so cool. So I think if you’ve got a message to say, or to get out there, you can use automated tools to do it. But I’d also encourage in audio, especially authenticity, that’s going to be harder to do with voice cloning tools.

And I think that’s where maybe platforms like YouTube come in, where people are going to want to watch a video, and see maybe that it’s not AI generated and it is a real human talking realistically about their feelings and their thoughts. The kind of, as you were saying there earlier, Pat, that the you in what makes you, you, and not the algorithm or the AI training data that, makes a very perfect answer because sometimes I think as humans we need imperfection and we need struggle and we need the ability to learn things and hopefully that’s always going to exist and we’re always going to strive to do that.

Yeah, I know for a fact I’m, I’m still going to be watching Deep Pocket Monster for the fact that it just entertains me for, for minutes on end as you’re running around trying to collect cards. I find it fascinating and I think that is going to be the kind of thing we’ll want in the future.

Izabela Russell: And I wanted to jump on that and actually just say that I think that audio is powerful in the way that we can connect with people on a completely different level than through any other medium.

And I think that it will still be the case and perhaps more so the authentic part of it than ever before because we will be inundated with AI generated content, but it is the content that we really engage with, the content that speaks to us directly, that will keep us going and we will be interested to hear more of that.

So I think that that user generated content rather than AI generated content is going to matter a lot more in the future.

Pat Flynn: Yes, I love that as a final thought user generated content that allows it to come from who it is actually for, or at least a person in that community. And this is why communities are becoming really important and why we’re focusing on that at SPI because it It is the differentiator between the one to one information that’s out there, which is going to become mostly AI generated and then the many to many, which, which is so much more complex and so much harder to just AI-ify I, if you will, this has been an incredible conversation.

I have a really important question to finish off for you. Mike, what mic are you recommending today? What are you speaking on? Because I have to know.

Mike Russell: So I’m using the professional studio high end voiceover microphone, the Neumann U87, which I definitely wouldn’t recommend to a podcaster starting out today, or even a high end podcaster.

This, this is very niche, sort of voiceover based, but you know, if you’ve got a couple of thousand dollars bursting around that you need to spend on a mic, definitely get it because it’s the best. But otherwise, I would say, and I can see, I think both Izabela and yourself, Pat, are using the Shure SM7B, and that as solid as podcast mics get.

Although Izabela may well disagree with me because she works, she listens to a lot of microphone recordings every day. Izabela, I’d be interested in what you have to say on that.

Izabela Russell: I would say U87 is hard to beat. It’s like one of our best talent always has that microphone. That’s literally the holy grail of the voice industry.

It’s like, if you’ve got that microphone, you are serious about what you do.

Mike Russell: This is specifically for voiceover work though. It’s a very sensitive microphone. So if you’re in a noisy room, or you’ve got lots of reverb going on, it’s not gonna sound great. Sure, SM7B will be much better.

Izabela Russell: We haven’t plugged it in my room to just check how that sounds.

I think we should definitely give it a go. We should definitely give it a go. It’s a good microphone and I think that the lines between creators and, you know, podcasters, voiceovers, they are blurring so much. So I think that we should just call it, you know, it’s a creator microphone. Voice artists are creators too.

Pat Flynn: Yes. Well, that mic, Mike is. 300 on Amazon right now, so I don’t know if I’ll even drop an affiliate link for that I don’t think I’m gonna do that here. But I am speaking on the Shure SM7B which I enjoy and it just looks really nice on camera and everybody’s familiar with it. So it adds a level of like oh, this is a professional show like Joe Rogan’s right like that kind of thing. Although I’m still a big fan of my number one mic is the Heil PR 40, which just, you know, I grew up with essentially so I’ll never get away from that either.

But thank you both seriously for coming on today. Izabela, people wanted to go and take part in the services that you have to offer. What is available and where?

Izabela Russell: So head on over to We’ve got a very legacy name that is hard to change. We started with radio services and kind of stuck with our name. So We help people with a lot of different things, as you’ve heard through the episode, but podcast intros, outros, we edit podcasts, we help with commercial audio, so for ads, business, audio of any kind. We work with radio stations, DJs. And if you wanted to learn a little bit more about podcasting for business, check out my podcast, Audio Unicorn.

I’ve just restarted my episodes there and I’m just teaching people what I’ve learned throughout all the years of doing what we do and how to really get that business side of podcasting working well.

Pat Flynn: Amazing. You have it all. Mike, Izabela, thank you both so much for all the support you’ve given SPI and me personally.

Even on Deep Pocket Monsters, some songs that you’ve helped produce for me, which are now on Spotify, actually. Thanks to you guys. So anyway, thank you so much, and we’ll see you in the next one.

Mike Russell: Thanks, Pat.

Izabela Russell: Thank you.

Pat Flynn: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that episode with Mike and Izabela from music, radio, creative, a ton of experience, a ton of knowledge, and a ton of conversation around the world of voice and podcasting and audio and where we’re at right now.

I’m super blessed to have Mike and Izabela in my life. I got to hang out with Izabela a little bit at Social Media Marketing World. This past year, we had an amazing conversation. She introduced me to the, the Ray Ban Meta Glasses, which I had to get a pair after she showed them to me. So she and Mike both seem to be at the forefront of a lot of technology and how it helps us as creators.

So definitely follow them. And again, if you’d like a little bit of services from them in terms of audio help, stingers, voiceovers for your intro for your podcast and outros, all those kinds of things or music head on over to and if you’d like to get all the show notes and the things recommended in this episode all in one spot, Head on over to the show notes page at Again, thank you all so much. I appreciate you. And I look forward to serving you next week and even this Friday. So subscribe, don’t miss out. All right, take care.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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