Charting Your Career With Software

It's called PerformerTrack, but it's really much more than just an "online version." For helping actors keep track of all aspects of their professional lives, it's one of the most comprehensive bits of software I've encountered. With this program you can track everyone you’ve ever interacted with -- whether a major casting director or the 2nd assistant director you met on a commercial shoot -- chart your history of submissions, auditions, and bookings, and record your tax-deductible business expenses. In other words, in addition to providing the basic necessities of an audition log and calendar, the software connects all areas of your acting life so you can better manage your career. That may not seem so important when you're starting out, but as your career progresses and your auditions and jobs increase, the usefulness of being able to analyze your history in detail can't be underestimated. The concept is great. The program's interface, though, is tricky to learn, even for a geek like me. I mastered it after a couple of hours, but it took the help of the online tutorial. That's because it's not immediately obvious how the components work together. PerformerTrack is accessed online, so you can use it from any computer with an Internet connection, and your information is stored on PerformerTrack's servers.

Moreover, all your data can be printed out and will soon be downloadable as a CSV file. This is all very appealing, but there’s a price for the convenience. You must pay for the software in perpetuity: $14.95 per month, $12.95 per month for a six-month agreement, or $9.95 per month for a one-year plan. Choose to stop using the service and in 90 days you can wave bye-bye to your carefully tracked info, as it all gets deleted. Before you jump in, you should also check ProtalentPerformer , which is similar but has a few key differences. With ProtalentPerformer, you pay a one-time fee -- $54.95 for the basic plan -- and then you own this user-friendly program. You can also take it along on your smartphone: BlackBerry, Palm, and Windows Mobile; an iPhone application is in the works. Information entered on the road then syncs up with your computer when you get home. If having your data backed up online appeals to you, ProtalentPerformer also offers that service for $3 a month or $30 for a full year. So, which program is better? Both are worth exploring, but your wallet may be the final determiner.