Launching a Voiceover Career

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Are You Ready?

Is this you?  You’ve decided you want to work as a voice over artist.  You’ve had some studio coaching with a professional and you’ve recorded some tracks during coaching that you really like…and now you’re busting to get some work.  You decide to launch into making a demo and getting it out there…but are you ‘really‘ ready?

As well as coaching voiceover artists who are working in the industry, I coach a lot of people who have heaps of voiceover potential but haven’t worked before.   They become so excited about the possibility of a voice over career that sometimes it’s hard to grab their reins and convince them that, while they might feel comfortable and nurtured in our studio training sessions, they need to be proficient in the many different skills, rules and thought processes that will enable them to walk into any studio and do a great job of any script they’re handed.

When I work with voice artists, I can always direct them to give me a performance.  But not everyone you meet out there in studio land who hands you a script, is going to be able to give you direction that really ‘helps you’  to understand, and make the most of the script.

In some studios, when the budget allows, time is not a problem and they will happily work with ‘new’ voiceover artists to guide them to a performance, but for many studios and especially radio stations time is of the essence, so they need to be sure that an example they heard on a demo can be replicated fairly quickly, and extremely confidently in the studio.

I think what happens in many cases is the voice artist ‘jumps too soon’, so I’ll repeat myself and say that you need to ‘ready’ for a voiceover career.

The reason I want to let you know just how important it is to be ready, is this.  I often talk to engineers and producers about what’s happening in their studio or at their radio station and what voices they’re looking for.   Just recently, in conversations, a few people have told me that in 2010 they’ve given many ‘new’ voices a try.  It’s becoming a bit of a trend to do this and this is good news for new artists…and I know for a fact that some of those ‘tries’ have converted to more work for the voice artist and the building of a relationship.  But it wasn’t a success for everyone and this is what I was told happened on several occasions.

A demo arrives at a studio via email on an mp3, or across the desk on a CD, and on first listening, the casting person, producer or engineer hears a voice that’s new and interesting.  Not only that, the script choices are right for the voice artist and they sound like they know what they’re doing, so they give that person a go.

However, what they told me was that there were several times that it all fell apart at the seams… when the artist was in the studio and couldn’t come up with the goods and either became anxious and couldn’t take direction…or lost confidence completely.   Oh, oh!   Not only an embarrassing exercise for the producer, but sudden death to the voiceover artist!  Some voiceover artists find it very difficult to recover from a bad experience…and I don’t want that to happen to you or to anyone I coach.

But how can a demo sound so great and a performer be so unable to deliver?  Two things could have happened here that, when combined, made for a not-so-successful session.  One, the performer had worked with a good coach to produce tracks but lacked real experience and confidence with script styles and just wasn’t ready to go-it-alone out there in voiceover land…or the demo was put together by a really good demo producer, who literally ‘made the demo sound great’.  If you do decide to get someone to produce your demo, make sure you have the right kind of coaching first.

Before you launch yourself into a voiceover career, you need to be really confident that you can competently reproduce, in any studio, with any producer or engineer, the reads that you have examples of on your demo.  If you can’t, then you’re definitely not ready.  So, this year, if you’re serious about a voiceover career, make sure you really make a study of it by listening to other work that’s out there. Practice your sight reading.  Read stories aloud and get some great studio coaching, with a voiceover professional.