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 dramatic increase in the amount of voiceovers required to be voiced in recent years, and an even greater demand since the pandemic came to pass. EVERY industry, every product and service has been busy updating their approach and policies in order to maintain and build relations with their client base on nearly every level.

– It takes an average of 200 auditions to book a job.

– There are literally thousands of union (SAG-AFTRA) voiceovers produced a monthly across the country.

– A bulk of voiceovers both in and out of the US are non-union. (This has always been the case, however the aim should be to achieve union status to gain access to the most lucrative, financially sustaining voiceover projects.

– Of all those auditioning, the likely contenders to book the project are consistently narrowed down to about 10%.

– Better than 85% of all those auditioning for any given job aren’t considered for the job in the final analysis for a number of reasons, including:

a) The talent didn’t follow basic directions required of the audition or take the time to deliver their best
b) The talent ignored basic professional standards and expectations necessary to build their professional reputation
c) The talent delivered the least they could possibly do, and likely only read the spot once, recorded that take, and submitted the read regardless of the quality
d) The audition was submitted too late, or was poorly recorded
e) Or, the talent simply lacked the ability to self direct, understand the context, and deliver a quality performance when they might be “right” for the project they simply don’t see it

When casting we weed through an extensive pool of talent to concentrate on a smaller, curated group of talented options after casting a wide net and submit the best of that pool that will make the agency look good. We seriously only consider about 10 to 15% from all the auditions submitted.

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. Again, 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 if we have the benefit of auditioning live. Today, all auditions, both on- and off-camera are recorded from home, which of course comes with it’s own learning curve all talent must master. This is where training is an imperative.

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 our technique, break bad habits, and sharpen our 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. You won’t have an edge over anyone else auditioning if you address every audition with the same attack as the 3-4 other auditions you already submitted earlier today. You have to train to maintain expert skills.

Copyright © 2020 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.