Continuing from last time on 10 Reasons why you won’t make it as a voice over. Please remember it’s not about saying you will never be a voice over, it’s what you’re not doing that’ll keep you from being a voice over.
- Demos: This… is the most important thing you WILL need. No excuses!! You can ever ask around about how important it is to have demos. If you don’t have at least one demo, you’ll be tossed aside. Recording demos on your own is frowned upon, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing (surprisingly, people still try). And keep this priceless piece advice with you: You get what you pay for. If you spend $200-$500 on a demo and it sounds like it was produced in an echoey room with noise in the background, poor sound effects, terrible reading or awful acting, you could not only lose opportunities to audition for projects, you could be remembered for your awful demo and denied a second chance. I’ve seen this happen too. I’ve been to studios where the engineers play horrible demos for everyone just for fun and they literally cringe after 8 seconds then make fun of the person’s name or such. Now some demo producers are generous by keeping fees under $1000, but listen to samples of demos they’ve worked on and decide if you like the quality. Have doubts about what sounds good? Visit Voicebank.net, go to demos and clients, click on agencies like Atlas Agency, DPN, Vox, Inc. SBV, Abrams Artists, AVO Talent or CESD. Play demos under some of the actors listed with the agent. Do you think your demo can stand out from theirs? I have a list of producers I recommend on my VO Knowledge Shared post.
- Performance: If you’re pursuing commercials can you read copy without sounding like you’re reading? Can you talk about a product like you’re sharing news of the product to your friend or family? Or if you’re pursing video games, are you prepared to do lots of shouting if it calls for it? Can you put yourself in the mind of a character in a bizarre or hostile environment and sound believable? Can you create voices for 3-4 different characters? If you want to work in animation, the info above still applies. But if you want to pursue anime, can you match the speed of lip flaps on one screen while seeing the script on another? Can you get the work done without lots of errors? Most of all, do you sound awesome on your polished produced demo and are able to reproduce that exact performance?
- Respect: This is crucial, not just for others but for yourself. Many entering voice over are offering their “services” for as low as $5 for work in commercials or narrations and so on. If you accept this payment and word gets around, you won’t be popular in the community. And word WILL get around. I see it all the time on social media. Websites and names are mentioned of those who charge little to nothing to book jobs that SHOULD pay more for use of your voice. If you join Pay 2 Play sites, beware of others who audition and offer low fees. Then there are the sites themselves. Some are very dishonest. If you get paid just $100 flat for recording a commercial that’s airing 10-20 times a day on TV or Radio, you’re missing the opportunity to negotiate for residuals (payment for every time it airs). You also risk damaging your reputation. If word gets around you’re willing to work cheap for one company but not for another, how will you handle the situation? Word travels fast.
- You won’t take advice from working professionals: There are some who have this idea that they’re good at everything. I’ve seen folks who have potential for corporate or industrials spend years trying to break in animation and games. I’ve also seen announcers attempt audiobooks, and video game VO talent try commercials. But when the pros (super established VO talent or producers, directors, casting or booth directors) give subtle advice and the talent either rolls their eyes or bashes their name on social media for suggesting ideas that could help, it means wasting an opportunity to find a niche that truly works for you. Don’t try to do everything. It’s ridiculous. My strength is animation and games, I believe I have potential in other markets but if a respected pro tells me otherwise I’m totally ok. You may find you have a gift when it comes to long form narration even though you yearn to do video games. Embrace what comes naturally first, then try other genres. However, learn to take any and all advice that’s freely given. Now if it’s a put down or negative comments (even from a pro) then yes, toss it aside. I’ve only encountered maybe 4 people in the voice over community who I won’t recommend as a talent or a coach. They’re long time VO talent with lots of credits in various genres, at the same time they’re grouchy, egotistical, and in some cases VERY insecure about others pursuing voice over. I won’t take their advice because it’s often negative and in a few cases incredibly rude and belittling. Anyone who acts in such a way is a bully, and believe me when I say word travels fast.
- You want to be famous like so-and-so and that’s all: If fame is all you want, then VO may not be what you’re looking for. I know plenty of famous VO talent and I’ll tell you this, most weren’t thinking about having thousands of Twitter followers, or interviews in magazines or invites to conventions all over the world. They love acting and they love Entertainment. They got as far as they did through hard word and luck. They’re the nice talent who are respectful even to beginners. I also know talent who are known for a few shows yet play the same kinds of characters over and over. Then they brag about having lots of fans, convention appearances, and money that comes from charging for autographs or pictures taken with them. They may be famous and have lots of fans, but the stories I hear from those who’ve seen the voice actors in person are far from positive. And worse, those who select certain individuals as idols they want to be like (I’ve met a good number of them), end up sabotaging themselves due to trying to be someone they’re not or modeling themselves as the next so-and-so. I’ve seen YouTube videos of a person doing this and constantly mispronouncing the voice actor’s name. This person unfortunately only wanted fame. He/she wanted the worship and praise of others clapping and screaming and throwing themselves at his/her feet. Here’s what’s ironic. The person isn’t a famous VO, he/she is an infamous wannabe. I see their name mentioned now and then, and I read unpleasant stories about them on blogs, message boards, and other social media sites. Do you want fame or infamy? The best kind of “fame” to aim for is respect from other VO talent and clientele. Be someone who is patient, dependable, understanding, easy to work with, joyful, honest, and hardworking. Then your name will spread around the community with compliments and praise. And in time clients (producers, agents, directors, etc.) will seek you out. I’ve gotten some great work just because someone I trained with in a workshop, auditioned for on a project I didn’t book, or met through colleague recommended me.
I could go on with more reasons that would prevent you from becoming a VO talent, but you’ll likely find tips on other blogs that are either similar to all the above or expanded to up to 20 reasons.
And as I said before, don’t use this list to be discouraged, use it to prevent obstacles from happening in your journey to discovering yourself. VO may not be for you after all. Don’t treat the news as a bad thing. Use it to figure out what you can do and where to go from there.