How To Be A Voiceover Artist

Posted in

During a recent voiceover mastery I was running in Melbourne my sound engineer was asked this question by one of the students.

How do you know if you can be a successful voiceover artist?

He answered the question like this.

Anyone can do voiceover…just not everyone can.

But what did my engineer friend mean, anyone, but not everyone?  And how can you find out if you can?  Here are my answers to these questions.

Being a voiceover artist has to rank among the top most lusted after jobs and there are plenty of reasons for that.

  • The pay is astronomical, ranging from a basic radio fee of a couple of hundred dollars for a short run radio track to literally thousands of dollars for Television commercials that run nationally.
  • Another reason why it makes the ‘dream job’ list is that the hours are really short. You are usually only required for less than an hour, although some larger narration jobs can take longer. A top voiceover artist may only work 10 hours per week to earn a six figure income annually; and that includes getting to the studio. And, you don’t need a degree to get into it. In fact, all you need is a voice demo and a heap of ability.

So, it’s no wonder so many would love a career as a voiceover actor…but what about my friend, the engineer’s, quote.  Let’s talk about it.

First of all, ‘anyone can do voiceover‘.

This is true. Advertising markets to whoever will buy its product. If that’s a 30+ woman, then its radio or television commercials will be voiced by, or feature, a woman or women in that age group or perhaps a male who can capture that age group’s attention. It’s the same with any kind of advertising, which means that a voiceover artist can be any age. If you listen to your local commercial radio ‘talk’ station (I use ‘talk’ as an example because their audience covers a broader age range than any single targeted music station you might listen to) you’ll hear children, teenagers, young women and men, right through the age groups to seniors, and those people will also range broadly across class types. So, anyone, of any age, can be a voiceover artist.

Now let’s move to ‘but not everyone can‘.

Since I’ve been coaching voiceover technique, I’ve thoroughly analysed the skills required to be a successful voice artist and discovered that some people have them in abundance and others don’t.  Let’s look at the skills of voiceover.

  • You have to be able to read, really well and confidently.
  • Next you have to be able to understand the script.  What is it saying?  Who is it talking to?  You need to know how to make performance choices, based on how you want the listener to react or what do you want them to do?
  • And you need to understand how to work with words on the page and lift them off the page, so that they sound completely natural, that is make the words your own.

Every script has a job to do, whether it’s selling knickers or retirement homes and you, the voiceover artist, are required to tailor your read so that it gets the attention of its target audience.  If you’re able to lift those words off the page, make them your own, deliver the message in a clear, appealing way, then you can probably be a voiceover artist.

People think that you have to have an amazing voice to be a voiceover actor. Not necessarily true. I’ve been providing coaching for voice over for over ten years now, and I’m often amazed when I witness a person, with a quite ordinary sounding voice, transport themselves when they are in the studio. They are able to jump into the shoes of the character or person in the script and create a believable, engaging performance. So, that, in a very small nutshell is an outline of the skills you need to be a successful voice over artist. In answer to the question, ‘How do you know if you can be a successful voiceover artist?‘   The only way to find out…is to do it!

But before you spend hundreds of dollars making a demo in a studio or putting one together at home, make sure you know what you’re doing. An amazing ‘dream job’ like being a ‘voiceover artist’ takes commitment, investigation and great coaching.

That’s where I come in.  Check out my voiceover courses page for information on the best, most proven techniques in voiceover coaching and prepare to live the dream.