How to Get Started in Voiceover

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You’ve heard it your whole life, “You have a remarkable voice.” Everyone’s told you that you should be in radio. Of course, none of them are in the entertainment business, so you probably never really pursued it.

But how do you get started in voiceover? Well, like all things acting, voiceover as a subject can appear elusive from the onset, in part because your professional experience, or lack thereof, is uniquely your own. Just as no one does what you do quite the way you do it, no one will bring your personal expression to the production at hand. The greatest variable in the production equation… is you!

Maybe you come from a corporate business background, but you have a remarkable capacity for accents and original character voices. Or you’ve been in radio and broadcasting for a number of years; or you’re an actor looking to expand your employment opportunities. Whatever your specific experience has been to date, getting started in voiceover most often requires the following:

  1. You need to get oriented with the industry. Do some homework. You need an education in this business prior to investing in it, especially if you hope to be valuable as a voiceover. You need to understand who your core clients would be and who you would eventually create a voiceover demo for: namely, producers. If you’re not servicing them, you’re not servicing yourself. This is precisely why I wrote The SOUND ADVICE Encyclopedia of Voiceover & The Business of Being a Working Talent. You need insight as to what’s needed and wanted of you in this field, and how professional sessions are run. Otherwise, you’ll likely frustrate yourself with unrealistic expectations. *
  2. You need training. ‘Winging it’ isn’t professional because it’s unreliable and could explain why there are so many one-hit wonders in this profession. You need a professional approach, mic technique, and time dedicated to practice, practice, practice in order to build your skills. Your confidence will build from there. Much like circuit training fine-tunes your physical acuity with continued use, technique training conditions your performance muscle. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you don’t train. And, if you consider what your experience has been up till the present, coaching adds value to who you are and instills in you the stamina to go the distance in your career. This is why every skill level benefits from proper coaching.
  3. You need a simple, reliable home recording set up. Keep in mind: your objective is on being the best voice talent you can be, not the best production studio or recording engineer. Nevertheless, you do need the ability to record, edit and turnaround a proper audition. There’s a bit of a learning curve to this, but recent industry advances have made this easier. Don’t let all those old radio guys online brow beat you into thinking if you can’t produce a documentary that rivals Richard Attenborough’s “Planet Earth” series, you can’t join their exclusive voiceover club. You could have the best gear and the coolest toys on the block, but if you can’t use the advanced options they offer—it’s a waste. (TIP: What you’re recording on matters less than WHERE you’re recording. Find a quiet place like a closet full of clothes to record into.)
  4. If you expect to sound professional, you need professional demo production. Please don’t attempt to do this on your own.
  5. Promote yourself to agents who specifically handle VO. Agents, just like talent, typically specialize. And not every hat fits every head.
  6. AUDITION like crazy! Let’s face it, voiceover, like so many things, is a numbers game. The best audition doesn’t necessarily book the job. Beyond a well produced demo, consistently offering the best of your abilities with every audition will further establish your professional career.
  7. Make sure your demo is posted online in as many places where lots of voice talent can be found and hired. You will increase your opportunities by a great margin if you make your professionally produced demo accessible to anyone and everyone who may hire you.

That’s a great start. And as the adage goes, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”!

* Here at SOUND ADVICE, we offer you a number of options to get started in voiceover: We have e-Tutorials, which you can do from your home computer, and are incredibly affordable. Regardless of your experience level, we typically begin with a 2-hour career coaching session, our exclusive one-on-one Orientation. There’s really nothing quite like it offered anywhere else in the industry that’s as in depth and custom-tailored to you. And, of course, a simple phone call to speak with us directly is always a great place to begin. 323.464.0990

Copyright © 2016 by Kate McClanaghan, All Rights Reserved.

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