If you’re new to voiceover, or returning to the field after an absence, you may discover there are essentially two dominant approaches. Through:
– The Actors’ Track, or following…
– Radio & Broadcast Culture (as I refer to it)
While each approach has its own assets and drawbacks, assumptions and obstacles, whichever tactic a talent follows determines the voiceover’s conditioning, whether good or bad, and ultimately determines their overall success in this field.
Still, there are a handful of sweeping commonalities shared by each. For instance, clients who hire you as a voice talent consistently expect you:
– To be well-trained. “Whatever the job, you’re going to have to train for it,” as the saying goes.
– To have quality demos produced by a trusted, seasoned professional regardless of whether you’re just beginning or beginning again. Demos that define your greatest assets for the specific work you intend to land
– To have a simple, but reliable home recording options
– To be available to the work, especially as opportunities arise – To know your job, and know what you’re responsible for
– To sound natural and realistic. No one wants an ‘announce-y’, robotic, or forced voiceover
Beyond that, the differences between these two approaches can be quite vast.
One of the greatest differences between these two approaches is training. Professional actors don’t generally rely solely on their experience, regardless how extensive or advanced. However, those from radio and broadcast culture, typically depend on their past experience in broadcast, a wholly separate field, albeit related. Successful actors, much like professional athletes, understand they must continue to train in order to remain current, agile, and prepared at a moments notice to deliver their very best. Whereas those from radio and broadcast culture generally regard their years of experience on-air to more than make up for their lack in performance and technique training. It’s easy to understand this train of thought, however, I just can’t endorse it, especially after working with scores of talent from this background who struggle most with stiff, “announce-y” sounding deliveries.
To add to this, far too many talent are advised by individuals who speak “with great authority”, those from radio and broadcast, to run their voiceover business as if they were still or only in radio. The thing is: cold calling local vendors to voice radio and web site videos might have worked well enough 15-20 years ago for smaller radio stations and affiliates, but it tends to infringe on your potential clients’ work day if you don’t already have a connection, and sometimes even if you do.
Those with an acting background, as luck would have it, often don’t have any promotional prowess at all.
Another obstacle former radio and broadcast personnel pass on to budding voice talent is an unhealthy aversion to joining the union (SAG-AFTRA), and also to securing representation from talent agents. Perhaps it’s lack of experience with having an agent, perhaps. Or maybe they don’t know how to secure representation, and therefore they honestly don’t realize how beneficial the opportunities reputable talent agents can offer you and your voiceover career.
Of course, far too many actors mistakenly expect their agents to run their careers, as if they were managers and your career could (or should ever) run on autopilot. Your career won’t run at all at that rate. Novice actors often assume agents are there to be career advisors, who only make 10% of whatever jobs you haven’t booked yet.
As for the ever-elusive voiceover demo, it’s important to note a demo is NOT an ‘air check tape’ like those from radio are apt to produce. Instead the standards that make up a competitive voiceover demo are commonly defined by the producers we create them for in the first place. In other words: the production should vary from spot to spot, yet there’s a seamless flow between each spot showcased in the collection of national caliber commercials, for instance, that best illustrate who you are, and what you do best within the specific genre (i.e. Commercial, Corporate Narration, Games & Animation, or Promo).
Your demos are supposed to define how amazing you’d be under the very best possible production conditions, not under ‘the sorta-best you can do for now’ conditions.
I suppose that’s yet another thing both camps have in common.
Regardless of the approach, most initially assume you only get ONE take to deliver your best. Instead, you’re expected to offer a variety of dynamic options, take after take, all within the context of the piece. How well you’re able to continually create with each talent, given you’re capable of a limitless number of remarkable reads; we just want a a few of them. Nearly all talent struggle with this, which is precisely why technique training is so imperative. Training deals with conditioning. And conditioning, by its very nature, isn’t immediately intuitive. It takes continued practice.
In summary, your success may hinge on your approach. Then again you might need to modify your approach by challenging your comfort zone. This is precisely why, at ACTORS’ SOUND ADVICE, we custom-tailor everything we do with you in order to assist you in achieving the best possible career results.
Copyright © 2020 Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.