Since 2009, it has been estimated that demand for voice-over (VO) has increased by a factor of 20. This is due in part to the rise of voice assistants, audiobooks, and podcasts. This has also led to an increased demand for voice talent.
Do you feel you have a unique, interesting voice? Have you been told that your voice would be great for radio or TV? If so, you may want to consider getting into the growing voice-over industry. In this blog we will go over getting to know your voice and the voice-over industry, recording demos, and deciding if this is the right industry for you.
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Know Your Voice
Is your voice a bit high, low, in between? How would you describe it? Deep and soulful? Bright and peppy? Even before getting into the industry, it is important for you to have an honest idea of what your voice sounds like and your vocal strengths. Instead of trying to be everything, it's better to highlight your strengths and expand from them.
Try listening to all the different types of voice-over categories. See which categories attract you and which you might have a talent for. Great at acting and taking direction? Maybe consider animation, film/TV, or video games. Have great stamina reading out loud at a nice, even pace? Consider doing voice-over for audiobooks and e-learning.
A good exercise is to record yourself reading a copy of text from your favorite category out loud and then listen back to the recording. Hearing your recorded voice can be a jarring experience at first, "I sound like that?" It's ok, it takes practice learning to speak well and to be comfortable with your own voice. Listen closely to see what your strengths are and if you actually enjoy the process.
Also, consider special talents you might have: doing children voices, accents, singing, etc... Are you a native speaker of a foreign language? That's a great skill that can open a whole other avenue of voice-over work for you.
Training and Knowing the Industry
If you are serious about improving your voice-over skills, finding a good voice coach can be very beneficial. A voice coach can expose you to new ideas and resources. The key thing is to find someone that understands your strengths and is able to help you improve, all at a reasonable price. Nowadays, voice coaching can even be done online. With an internet connection and a decent microphone and headphones, you can receive instruction anywhere in the world.
Taking in-person group classes can also be a great way to receive training while also meeting other members of the voice-over community. Networking is especially important in the tight-knit VO community. A common way of getting VO jobs is through referrals: if a voice talent is too busy for a gig, they will generally pass it along to someone in their network. Also, if a voice actor is looking for an agent, referrals are great way to find one.
If you're looking for an agent, find one that specializes in voice-over, since they usually have more access to voice-over opportunities than a regular talent agent. Your agent is your cheerleader, your success is their success. They should find jobs that best fit your voice and are more likely to book.
However, many voice actors also find work without agents. There are many online portals where you can submit yourself independently such as LA Casting, Backstage, and us here at JBI Studios.
Auditioning and Putting Yourself Out There
Many voice-over auditions request that the talent either record a custom audition piece or send in a pre-recorded demo.
For demos, make sure that they're professionally produced by a studio engineer. The demo should start with your voice right away and grab the casting directors' attention; they may only listen to the first few seconds before moving on to the next actor.
You should also create demos specific for each voice-over category (commercial, corporate, entertainment/animation, etc...) as well as demos for any special talents you might have (children voices, accents, etc...). Depending on the type of audition you receive, you can submit the demo according to the category.
Once you record an awesome demo, make it available on your website, on casting sites, and any reputable voice talent site. You want to promote yourself. Successful voice talents spend a good deal of time developing their social media presence and having an updated, professional-looking website. Develop your brand, keeping in mind that you want to market your strengths and what makes you unique.
When starting out, it's also important to be open to voice-over opportunities outside of your preferred voice-over categories. If you do get an offer for something outside your wheelhouse, it's an opportunity to learn new skills as well as network with new people that may be able to refer you to jobs that you were not aware of before.
Deciding If This Is The Right Industry For You
As you embark on your journey into the voice-over industry, be aware that there is not just one correct path and that it will take time to discover what works for you and your personality.
Be mentally prepared: as a voice-over artist you will spend many hours alone in the recording booth which can lead to a feeling of isolation. When recording, make sure to take breaks to refresh yourself. This will help keep your voice healthy in the long term while also making your recording sound fresh and strong.
As a voice-over artist you will be handling all the pricing, marketing, and voice performing, which can be a tall order. However, many voice talents enjoy the entrepreneurial spirit and lifestyle: if you decide to build a home studio, you can work from home; if you have portable professional recording equipment, you can work anywhere in the world. This type of freedom over where you work and when is appealing to many voice talents seeking a good work-life balance.
Many voice artists get into the industry because they find the work fun and fulfilling. Maybe you always enjoyed making silly voices or imitating the announcers you heard on the radio or TV. Now you can do it for a living! Also, hearing your voice in a commercial or a video game can be an incredibly fulfilling experience. If you take pride that your voice is out there in world reaching someone, that can be a reason why the VO industry is right for you.
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