Finding Voiceover Employment
What’s Out There?
Working as a voice actor is amazing. From one day to the next, you rarely know what you’ll be doing. There are so many different kinds of jobs, so many different styles of scripts and these days, so many voices heard every day out there in the world. Just listen for them. They’re everywhere!
When I first started my voiceover career over 30 years ago, the two mediums for voiceover were radio and television. In radio, I witnessed the changes in the way they thought about advertising that has lead to voiceover employment for hundreds of us. In the 70’s, where once station announcers had read commercials straight to air, advertising agencies were now writing more creative scripts and getting a voice actor to perform them.
Television also upped the stakes and budgets for television commercials grew enormously in the 1980’s, also paving the way for television spots that began to look like short films.
Advertising had also moved away from the once-favoured use of the authoritative male ‘announcer’ read, and began casting all manner of different voices to target the right audience. Those were the days, post ‘Madmen’ era, when advertisers began to give the voice of authority to females.
It was also around that time that companies began to make training films and instructional or informational videos that required narrators. Of course, the group of people who had a career in voice acting back then was quite small. If you told anyone that you did voiceovers for a living, you would often get a puzzled look and the question, ‘what are they’?
Boy, haven’t things changed!
In a relatively short time, technological changes, a hunger for information and rampant consumerism have created a world in which ‘the message’, delivered by voice over actors and announcers is a huge part of everyone’s life.
If you’re a voiceover artist, you’ll probably have found a niche, working where your skills and voice style most suit. Sometimes, if you’re versatile enough, you could be working across all forms, doing reads for radio and TV, corporate, narration, animation, on-hold messaging or interactive voice response. You could be providing voices for website content, interactive games, doing foreign film dubbing, educational DVD’s or online systems. You could be reading documentaries or audio books. Phew!!! That’s a lot of opportunities for a voiceover artist.
So that’s what’s out there, but how do you make sure you get some?
If you want to become a voiceover artist or want more work in a particular area, then you need to make a study of it. Wherever it is you live, there’ll be a local industry always looking for talented voice actors to employ, but you do need to be good at it if you’re going to get a job. Your voiceover demo needs to say that you can be trusted with a script, so make sure you’ve really confident before you make that demo.
You need to start listening to television and radio and listen out for voices in all the areas I’ve mentioned to find out where you’d be likely to get voiceover work. Then you need to get some training with a voiceover professional working in the business. You may have a great voice or love doing voiceover but unless you have studio experience and know what’s possible in a studio and how to achieve great result with a script, it’s going to be tough to even get a look in.
Advertising just keeps on keeping on, whether we’re in an economic boom or bust. Entertainment booms, so programs keep getting made that need an announcer or a narrator. Companies streamline the way they do business, so technology is used more and more as a way to communicate with customers.
No matter what the economic climate, advertising that needs the right kind of voice, still gets made. For instance when we are in an economic downturn, often retail advertising is stronger. The sector may be suffering, but the way this sector keeps itself afloat in troubled times, is turn-over. So they have sales, lots of sales, to keep product moving and keep staff in employment.
It doesn’t hurt the voice over artist either. It means lots of work, reading lots of ads. Retail can be one of the busiest areas of a voiceover artist’s work life. So if you feel you have a good voice for retail, start to listen to the way the pro’s do it, begin to understand the style, get really good at it and then, when you feel you can compete, make yourself a short retail demo and get it around to studios who have retail clients.
If you do want a great technique program that gives you the rules of successful retail reads, I have an audio program you can download. It comes with scripts as well. Just go to my shop and have a listen. It’s program 4, ‘Mastering The Retail Read’
For anyone wanting a voiceover career, the trick to finding regular voiceover employment is to know what you’re good at, and get better at it. So, do the listening practice that I recommend to anyone who coaches with me. Listen to (and watch) television stations for the very different way voiceover is used in television commercials. Listen to radio stations you wouldn’t normally, just to hear who’s out there doing what. Listen for the reads that really connect with you and the one’s that don’t and start to work out why. This kind of practice is really valuable for you to be able to assess where you’re at and then where you want to be.