Melbourne Recording Studios Surveyed

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What Are They Looking For From Voice Over Artists?

Whether you’re already working in voice over or are ready to start, it helps to discover everything you can about those who’ll potentially employ you.

Knowing what they want and how to deliver it, is often hard to gauge, but in my recent travels I’ve asked some of Melbourne’s top mainstream studios, Bang Bang, Flagstaff, Final Sound, Gas and Big Ears Audio what they’re looking for in voice talent and demos.

Yup…it’s all about the voice demo.

When I asked the question, “What are the fatal mistakes voice actors make with their demo?”, these were some of the responses.

“Don’t think you need to sound like other ads or other people.  Being yourself is the best tool you have to stand out.  Give some genuinely natural reads in there, or complete adlibs, something that shows a more unstructured approach.  Please don’t yell…”

“Don’t give us too much of one style.  A good demo should include all types of VO – character, retail and brand work, if you’re good at it. It’s especially hard to sell through ‘character-heavy’ demos, since straight reads are so popular at the moment”

Some other big ‘no-no’s’ include; using accents and characters or anything you can’t do properly…supplying a demo with four reads the same…a demo of all accents and no straight stuff…demos that are too long or too complex with a whole lot of little snippets…very hard to cast from…demo’s that have a lot of ‘other’ voices in them.

I also asked how they felt about the inclusion of an introduction on a demo, what they like to hear and why?

“We tend to listen to the intro’s so that we get a vibe for the voice. Sometimes the demo itself won’t give you an indication of the natural speaking style of the talent. Just keep the intro brief – name, city, agent’s name, number and any relevant industry experience like acting, singing etc. Our clients like to feel they’re getting experienced people sent to them for consideration.”

“They’re really good, as long as they are not rehearsed.  A natural unstructured bit of chat may be what we use to show our client how the person sounds.  Anything with an ulterior motive or that is another “sell” won’t add anything to the demo.”

“Intro’s are essential. For us it can be the most important part of the demo.  It lets everyone hear the person’s natural speaking voice.  Sometimes when we know we’re dealing with a client who lacks imagination, we only send the introduction, especially if we know the artist.  Otherwise they listen to the demo and, if the read they want for their script isn’t represented in the demo, they’ll just assume the artist can’t do it and shop elsewhere.”

When I asked how often they look for ‘new’ voice actors, they all answered in a similar way.

“We’re always on the lookout for new talent, as the needs of our clients are constantly changing and its part of our job to keep up to date with these needs.”

“This is a constant area of growth, because the generally derivative nature of advertising means that a fresh voice or approach will make more of an impact.  There really is a place for many styles and experience levels”.

“Sometimes you can’t beat experience.  Sometimes you need someone who just sounds ‘different’. We’re always looking for a new voice and we often submit suggestions that contain a new name to our clients when we can, as long as we can feel that they’ll be up to the job”.

I also asked the question about demo length.

“It depends on the capabilities of the artist.  If they only do a couple of things well (like a lot of straight VO artists) it doesn’t need to be too long, long enough to give us a range and, if they’re getting plenty of work, a few extras to tell us they’re experienced.  Two or three minutes is usually plenty.”

“Two minutes is heaps unless it’s really special.”

“Around 90 seconds is enough to hear what someone can do, but I think it is generally accepted that 2-3 minutes is sufficient.

And finally, I asked about the length of samples on the demo.  I think this is a really important component in scoring you the job or the submission.

“Our clients won’t listen to the whole ad, they’ll just grab bits at random throughout the demo so pieces that showcase the voice are best, don’t include a radio spot that has heaps of SFX and music but not much voice.”

“Up to 30 is fine.  Smaller grabs can be OK to show variety, but if everything is 3 seconds long, it is too small to cast from.  Maintaining a performance is the most important thing.”

“It needs to be long enough for us to get what the artist can do, and that depends from performance to performance.  If the inclusion of something in a demo is all about demonstrating a style of voice, perhaps not long.  If it’s about an actor’s performance, then it’ll probably need a little longer.  Whatever, the artist needs to remember that the snippet, of itself, doesn’t need to make sense.  It merely needs to tell us what that artist sounds like.”

“I like at least 15 seconds”.

So there are some great insights into what some of the studios want to hear and what they’re looking for.  I would say they are a pretty good example of all studios today.

Crafting a really great voiceover demo is crucial to your success.  However, there’s very little written about where to begin, how to create one from the ground up or how to get it right.

You do need to know your own abilities, what you’re good at and what you’d be cast for, but you also need to know how to craft the demo, and make script choices, so that all the tracks on the demo are going to be useful in the casting process.

If you need some help, advice or guidance with this, just give me a call.  We can re-create or update a demo, , or if you come and do one of my Saturday ‘One Day Studio Intensives’, we record four tracks on the day that could go a long way to building one.  Here’s the link, if you want to plunge in.