Managing a Successful Voice Over Career 1
The agent question!
In my long career, I’ve both managed my own voiceover career and had an agent.
And they’ve worked equally well for me.
Managing myself always worked, because I’ve understood:
- how to change with the times,
- build my skills, and more importantly,
- build solid and dynamic relationships with studios, radio stations, producers and clients.
However, now that I’m busier – coaching, doing other acting work and producing Web Video, I’m represented.
I’d like to talk about the pluses for both.
So read on, if you’d like to know how the agent relationship works, how to position yourself to get an agent and then in the next instalment, how to find work successfully without one!
First up, let’s talk about having an Agent!
I love having an agent and our relationship works really well.
I’m with EM Voices, Sydney based and one of the top Australian Voice Over Agents. Here’s a link to my page
- a great reputation,
- a solid online presence,
- a great list of premium voice over artists, and
- a mix of fresh new voices who can all be heard via a website that’s slick and easy to navigate.
Being represented by them makes me look good and lets people know that I’m a true pro.
I also love to be part of a gang – voiceover is something that’s done quickly and not much time is spent with others.
In some countries (like the USA) so much work is done from home studios these days that the life of a voice artist can be positively lonely.
Thankfully in Australia, we still favour the studio model, so we get to have that face-to-face experience and the collaborative relationship in the studio, which I really love!
This is shifting slightly – in some areas of voice work – towards working from home studios.
Agents are described as:
- Theatrical Agents – who represent actors who also work in Theatre and on Screen, or
- Specialist Voice Over Agents – who represent voice actors only (many of whom aren’t trained performers and have never appeared on screen, or graced a stage).
An agent’s percentage of your voiceover work ranges at between 10 and 12.5%. This may seem a lot, but if you weigh up the benefits of being positioned on their website, having them suggest you for jobs and taking care of the admin for you, it’s a good investment.
- take your bookings,
- quote on your jobs,
- do your invoicing,
- chase late payments, and
- provide statements – so it’s easy at tax time.
Your agent may invoice on your behalf but you need to make sure they have all of the job details correct.
You may be booked for a certain amount of tracks and for a particular medium, only to find when you get to the job, the reality is different.
One thing I’ve learned in my career is to never leave anything up to anyone else without first checking that the details are right. Getting the job details right, so the invoice is correct, is one of those things.
When you’re booked for the job, get the details from your agent and then confirm what you actually did after the session.
Your agent can also your best friend when it comes to marketing you to potential clients.
If they’re an agent worth having, they’ll have strong relationships with those in the landscape who are regularly booking voice over talent.
However, that needn’t prevent you from making direct contact with your clients in any way that you feel would benefit you.
After all, it’s your career and will never be as important to anyone else, as it is to you.
Some agents like to manage their talent in different ways and will often have a system of making contact or sending demos.
If this differs from the way you want to work, you need to discuss this with them and make some agreements.
It’s important to be “on the same page” as your agent – they need to know what your career aspirations are so they can use their connections to get you work.
Now, your agent may have suggested you for the job, but they didn’t necessarily get it for you.
Either your previous work, or work on your demo (or demos) secured the job, the audition or submission.
So make sure your demo is always up-to-date and reflects the kind of work that you would be cast for.
I update mine every two years, but if you’re just starting out, I think every six months is good to aim for.
These days it’s not unusual for actors to have both a Theatrical Agent and a Voice Over Agent. However, you do need to make sure one or the other knows what your schedule is.
Many voice actors believe that having an agent is the secret to their success. However, you do need to know this.
To get an agent, you need to be someone who has ‘a few runs on the board’. For non-cricketing countries that simply means – you’ve scored some work, and someone out there really likes you, your voice or voice styles.
If you’re relatively new to the business, and have decided to submit your demo to an agent to get representation, it’s going to really help your case if you can give them the name of a studio or a producer you’ve been working with regularly.
I’ve even known of some studios who’ve suggested a non-represented voice actor to an agent.
Agent or not, you are completely responsible for your success.
Don’t forget, apart from growing your skills and keeping your demos updated and fresh, it’s building great dynamic relationships that’s the true secret to your success.
And, there are many freelancers out there who do it all without representation.
Next time, I’ll talk about how you can successfully manage your own career.