Is Auditioning a Numbers Game?

How many auditions do you imagine it takes to land a single voiceover job? Five? Ten? Twenty? There must be an average. There is, but it’s likely to be a great deal more than you might think.

You build your professional reputation as a voice talent and as an actor by consistently delivering exceptional auditions. Lots and lots and lots of them. Which is why tenacity is such a critical element to succeed in this, or frankly, any business. So, if it’s walking and chewing gum you’re after… best keep walking. There’s not much demand for that.

You can’t underestimate that a bulk of your job as a professional talent is auditioning. You could even consider them your greatest form of promotion. They just shouldn’t be your only form of promotion, as it appears to be for better than 85% of all talent out there. Which might explain what’s undermining the success of so many remarkably talented individuals. Without persistence and promotion, it’s not likely you’re going anywhere.

So as much as voicing all those auditions may seem like a numbers game, rigged in favor of someone else, but not you. While you might be invited to audition for one or two projects without a demo, you can’t go for very long without training and professionally produced voiceover demos if you hope to score auditions on a consistent basis.

Voiceover demos, by design, audition for you PRIOR to being considered to audition directly for a project, whether that be through a talent agency, a casting source, or an independent contractor. Demos, left to their own devices, aren’t able to do that. Simply having a demo won’t score you work. They only drive employment, if you drive them. And for the record demos are not a resume of what you’ve done, but rather a professional demonstration of the work you’re best suited to land. Even the most talented, skillful and experienced create work for their demos, often whole cloth. Demos are expected to sound like the real thing: nationally broadcast union commercials and narrations. They’re meant to seamlessly advertise your very best abilities, and define where you belong to encourage auditions from multiple streams.

Which is why you can’t be under estimate the importance of momentum and its impact on whether you have a career or not. The problem is so many talent lean back rather than double down directly following having their voiceover demos produced. Careful. You can create a habit out of starting and stopping your career, which only serves to undermine your confidence, and derail your career before it’s had the opportunity take root.

But, before you throw in the towel, convinced auditioning is a numbers game, consider a few key stats from SAG-AFTRA and the US Department of Labor and Statistics:

  • There’s been a 900% increase in the amount of voiceovers required to be voiced over the last 3 years.
  • It takes an average of 200 auditions to book a job.
  • There are approximately 9,000 union (SAG-AFTRA) voiceovers produced a monthly across the country.
  • A bulk of voiceovers both in and out of the US are non-union.
  • Of all those auditioning, the likely contenders to book the project are consistently narrowed down to about 10%.
  • Better than 85% of all auditioning aren’t even considered to book the job for a variety of reasons, including:
  1. The talent didn’t follow the basic specs of the audition
  2. The talent delivered the least they could possibly do and nothing more
  3. The audition was submitted too late or poorly recorded
  4. The talent doesn’t understand basic professional standards and expectations
  5. Or, the talent simply lacked the ability to self direct, and deliver a quality performance when they are perfectly capable of doing so

Okay, I can’t technically verify that last stat except from my own professional experience as a talent, producer, and casting director. But it stands to reason because when casting we weed through an extensive pool of talent to determine the very best submitted within the timeframe allotted, and we only seriously consider about 10 to 15% of all the auditions submitted—for all of those reasons previously stated, never mind a healthy dose of subjectivity.

So, what does this tell us? Well, for one, the best audition doesn’t necessarily land the job, but one of the best does. Your objective is to deliver your very best on every audition, but because your reputation depends on it. And second, you can only compete with yourself. Continually challenge yourself to be better than your last audition.

Auditions are meant to test your mettle. The only real difference between the audition and the session is the number of takes. A booking may require 5 takes, or it may require 55 takes, it varies dramatically from job to job, genre to genre, and from director to director. Whereas on an audition, we usually get only one or two takes to deliver our very best, unless we are auditioning from home, which of course comes with it’s own learning curve all talent must master.

Certainly auditions are an art unto themselves. Ideally, the more of them you do, the better you get. But even the most-experienced talent require coaching a few times a year to improve their techniques, break bad habits, and sharpen their skills.

As the saying goes, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Therefore, the more experienced you are, the greater the expectation, and the higher the yardstick. Not the other way around.

 

© 2017 Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.