January Newsletter 2014

“Ability will never catch up with the demand for it!” – Confucius


Running Your Small Business as a Working VO Talent

Let’s assume you’re after what we’re after: to work steadily as a professional talent, earning a decent living while scratching your aesthetic itch. It can be done, you know. People do it every day. However, as with any small business, it helps to be as systematic and as efficient as possible. That’s where SOUND ADVICE comes in.

After all, this is a small start-up business you’re embarking upon here, as you train and set out to produce your voice over demos. This business requires attention to detail on many fronts: in your performance, in the production and marketing of your demo, in your continued pursuit of representation, and so on.

The problem, however, is that far too many people will focus on details that are of absolutely no consequence to the overall goal of establishing and maintaining a career in this business. The purpose of our book, “The SOUND ADVICE Encyclopedia of Voice-over & the Business of Being a Working Talent”, is to help you maneuver through the industry minefield with greater ease than ever before—even if it may be contrary to popular belief.

If you are, or once were, established in this business, recent changes in technology may have left you in the dust. Yet, technology is inevitable if you intend to make yourself accessible to the work. And even if you have embraced technology fully, it’s imperative you remain in step with how advancing technology applies to this field.


If you resist change, you’re bound to become the effect of that which you resist, and the future of your career will be in jeopardy. Lucky for you, we cut through the weeds and simplify what you honestly need to know, and what you can avoid completely—regardless of your technical prowess!

As H. G. Wells once said, “Adapt or perish.”

Many aspiring talent have been taught only stage skills and the result has been a forfeit of any real attention or advancement to establishing and forwarding their careers. The question remains: what does your job entail in addition to showing up and performing? What is it you specifically need to know to adapt, rather than perish? No short answer, which is precisely why we offer our one-on-one Orientation/Career Reboot. Each individual’s experience and education, like their skills and assets, are as unique and individual as they are. For the more experienced talent, a recharge of what works and what is simply an outdated approach needs to be addressed from time to time. (I wrote and completely updated our book for this very reason as well. Consider it the owner’s manual for running your small business as a working voice over talent.)

The truth is you make your luck. The world won’t seek you out as a talent you have to go to it! Discover what you have to offer as a talent and how to realize your dreams. ›

Why Producing a “Demo” of Your VO Demo Is a Bad Idea

Probably the greatest misconception many talent have with regard to this industry is to create a “makeshift” demo to (supposedly) tide them over until they are “making money”.

“I’ll get a good demo later.” “I’ll produce a better demo after I’ve landed some work and I’ve made some money.”

Unfortunately, that train of thought drifts you further from shore, rather than the other way around, and only succeeds in establishing a poor professional precedence. Every employment opportunity expects and demands your very best. That begins with how you represent yourself with your voice over demo.

However, the impression you make with a poorly produced demo defines you and your level of commitment in a negative manner. This applies, even while you may justify to yourself, “It’s not that bad.”

The recipient of your demo can only deduce that you feel this is the very best representation of your abilities. If you promote a half-baked demo then potential clients will assume this is what you consider to be the best you can do. A low-rent demo, as your potential client views it, translates into a low-rent talent and that’s simply not worth the investment of their precious promotional dollars. Let alone YOURS!

As a wise man once told me, “Cheap… is very expensive.” Is it worth your professional credibility? Besides, how many times do you honestly want to start all over again?

Talent agents, casting directors, and producers use your demo to submit you for projects, especially when they have a very quick turnaround which happens more often than not anymore. Even if the producer or agent truly believes in you and hopes to use you in their project, they typically need to get approvals from a number of sources prior to casting you. This is done most often by presenting your demo reel. Therefore presenting a sub-standard demo becomes a direct reflection of you to them. And doing so only makes their job harder if what they have to submit is less than reputable and doesn’t honestly define what you truly do best.

Every strata of the production food chain is required to have “demos”. Directors, producers and various creatives are all expected to define themselves with demo reels. They are the greatest tool to demonstrate you know what you’re doing and understand the business you’re in. Or… they don’t.

The objective of your demo is to instill confidence in who you are and what it is you bring to the table. Simply put, a demo gives the impression that this is what you do best and what you want more of. So your demo better consist of precisely that while fulfilling your potential clients professional needs and standards. The harder you make it for people to hire you, the less likely you will work with any regularity.

Even if you may be just starting out in this field, you are still held to the very same professional standards as everyone else. There really is no beginner, intermediate, and advanced job out there. Every job deserves to be considered to be as professional as the last. Every client expects the top of your game, the top of your profession. Regardless of whether the job is union or not, you’re expected to consistently offer the very best of your abilities – this standard begins with your demo tracks.


So, if you deliver a demo that doesn’t sound like actual, well-produced national television spots, you won’t be doing yourself any favors, and thereby miss the opportunity to “land work first” prior to investing in a proper voice over demo as you had originally intended. The fact is you can’t land profitable voice-over work with a poor example of what it is you do best.

Keep in mind the goal here is to establish yourself professionally. You want to become memorable in a good way! Produce your demo properly the first time and you won’t have to make excuses for yourself at a later date, or desperately try to play catch-up with your career by continually doubling back. And you’ll alleviate a good deal of your overall frustration considerably if you do.

Ironically, many novice talent often pose the question, “Why doesn’t someone give me a chance?” The answer is, if you present an unprofessional, substandard demo to an agent, they can only assume you don’t know what you’re doing, which would be the truth. Do it right the first time and get on with your career already.

If you’re planning to produce your voice over demo, plan on investing in yourself first. It will cost you far less frustration, and money, and be exceedingly more time effective if you do.

Do it right—right from the start! And the best time to start your future is right NOW! ›

Listen to what truly professional demos should sound like on our site, voiceoverinfo.com


Copyright © 2015 by Kate McClanaghan, Inc. All Rights Reserved.