- What’s with the parrot?
- Everyone tells me I have a great voice and that I should be in commercials. How do I get into it?
- How can I do a demo if I’ve never done a commercial?
- What should the demo sound like?
- I’ve been talking to an agent and they want me to pay to be on her web site. Is this legit?
- What types of demos are there?
- What demos do I need?
- I’m trying to produce my own demo. Where can I get good copy?
- Recently I’ve been told I sound too “announcery”. What can I do about that?
- What materials do I need to get into voiceovers?
- Who should I go to for coaching?
- What about Pay to Play sites?
- I have a question you haven’t answered.
Our parrot logo isn’t just a reflection of Julie Williams’ love for parrots. Yes, the character was drawn from a photo of her macaw, Toby. However, significance of the parrot is so much more. Parrots speak. They learn your language (yes, with the intelligence of a 7 year old child, they do know what they’re saying) but you have to teach them the words. In other words, they speak your words. When we take on VO jobs for clients, we take their words and make them our own to effectively communicate the clients’ message.
OK… cold, blunt answer. Don’t listen to them. Not that you can’t do VO…but my guess is that 99% of the population has a good enough voice to do commercials. If you’re counting on that “edge” to get you there easily, don’t quit your day job! I think people have the wrong impression of VO. They feel they’ll be “discovered” and be driven around in a limo like Don La Fontaine, then ride on easy street. VO is business. We are always marketing ourselves for our next gig, or servicing repeat clients.
Please note: If a coach is “selling” you on the idea of becoming a voice-over artist because you have a great voice, their either unscrupulous, or ignorant. Either way, run!
Because it is a business, you’ll need capital to get started. Granted it’s not a lot, compared to other businesses, but you do need money to start. Period. If you can’t afford to invest in your career, this is not the time to start a business. Businesses started with zero capital usually fail.
However, if this is your passion, or your lifelong dream… by all means get into this industry! With that knowledge in mind, you’ll need some training, a good (professionally produced) demo, and possibly an agent or two (or more). Before you start, ask yourself this a few questions: Is voice-overs something you really want to do? Or are you just looking for easy money in response to encouragement by people who know nothing about the business? If it’s something you really want to do -great-read on. If not, thank them for the compliment and go on with your life.
You don’t have to include only commercials you’ve done on your demo. It is not a resume, nor is it a sample of what you’ve done. It’s a sample of what you CAN do. Your professional demo producer (and it’s foolish not to hire one) who has years of experience not only in coaching or engineering, but in voice-overs…should provide the copy for you, based on your strengths and sound. If a coach hands you a pile and says to choose what you like… run. Demos are expensive. Don’t pay for something that isn’t top notch. If you are handed a pile of scripts, so is everyone else, and you’ll all have the same scripts on your demos. NOT GOOD! If you are trying to save money-the demo is not the place to cut corners.
It should sound like YOU! Demos do vary by genre, though. The days of the “one fits all” demo are long gone. Everyone needs separate demos for specific genres. Specifics on demo production is discussed at length in How To Make Money in Voice-Overs Even If You Don’t Live in N.Y. or L.A.. You can also hear my demos at VoiceOverChocolate.com.
I cannot say whether your agent is legit or not -ask around and look for her license. However, it is not uncommon for agents to require that talent pay to be on the agency’s site. It’s expensive to produce a master demo. I currently do not pay to be on any agents’ web sites.
There are demos for any kind of VO you are capable of. Examples of the demos I have are:
- Audiobook: (by genre)
- Non-fiction (self help/biography)
- Inspiratonal fiction and non-fiction
- Medical Narration
- TV Promo
- Radio Imaging
- and others
You need one for every area of VO in which you want to work.
I can’t in good conscience help here. I think that the number one thing you should invest in is your demo. It’s your free sample!
You probably have a radio background. Radio people tend to be too “announcery” because they’ve been trained to be that way. In fact, many radio people can’t hear that they sound like announcers–and that’s why they usually don’t get as much work as other VO talent! Or, perhaps you’re new in the biz and tend to sound less natural at the mike. In any case, you would really benefit from my “Proven Voice-over Techniques” workshop. Conversational…even in narratioin…is what sells.
If you’re serious about voiceovers as a business and not a hobby, I’d recommend you set up an office as you would with any other business. You’ll need a separate checking account, computer, decent printer, home studio equipment, high speed internet, 24-hour fax machine, cellular phone. You should also budget for at least one –preferably two– hands on workshops per year
Find a good coach. You no longer have to settle for mediocrity in coaching by training from someone in your area. You can train with some of the top coaches in the U.S. and Canada, via Skype. Who I recommend depends on your goals. Train with experts in the genres you want to work in. Professional development is essential.
I recommend that you DON’T train with talent that don’t make a great living—and have a good reputation in VO.. Don’t train with someone who doesn’t work more than they teach. Don’t sign up with companies who charge you thousands for sessions + demos. A few of my students have been ready for a demo in five sessions. However, those are few and far between. But no company can give you a one size fits all “package” that has you produce your demo when ready. Recently a student of mine went with such a company. He has a less than mediocre coach, who can’t make a living at VO (he’s a part time musician and rarely does VO—I heard his demo—I wouldn’t make a demo for him yet, let alone allow him to teach!) I was sick when I heard this student spent $3500 for this! I thought…..OMG, what I could do for him in training, demos, and launching a marketing campaign with $3500!
Find an individual coach, who is reputable. Please feel free to contact me for info.
Voice-Over Marketplaces are a great place to get leads, and some of them are really worth the money. To make it worth it to you, make sure that:
- You’re a PAID member
- You have GREAT demos already
- Their policies do not penalize you for taking advantage of every single lead you receive (you did pay for them.)
- Make sure you’re sent every single audition that your profile indicates you’re qualified for.
No problem! Just contact me. I’ll answer you at my earliest opportunity. Please be sure the question is not already answered on this site.