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 at the onset, regardless of your experience level, or lack thereof. 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. You need an education in this business prior to producing a voiceover demo, especially if you hope to be valuable as a voiceover. You need to understand who your core clients would be, why they require professionally produced voiceover demos, and how to find work. If you’re not servicing the producers most likely to hire you, you’re not servicing your voiceover career. 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 they need and want from 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, you need to master 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 stamina to go the distance. Every skill level of talent benefits from proper coaching.
3. You need a simple, reliable home recording set up. Keep in mind: your objective is to be 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 aspect infinitely easier. Don’t let all those old radio guys hanging out online brow beat you into thinking that if you can’t produce a documentary that rivals Richard Attenborough’s “Planet Earth” series that you can’t join their exclusive voiceover club. The truth is 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 an utter 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 your auditions and the occasional session.)
4. You need professional demo production and direction if you expect to sound professional. Please don’t attempt to do this on your own. Leave it to the professionals. That’s where we come in, not a friend of a friend who knows how to record and edit, even if they are ‘a professional recording engineer’. You want an experienced voiceover producer who understands you and the industry you’re attempting to navigate.
5. Promote yourself to agents who specifically handle VO. Talent agents, like talent, specialize. And not every hat fits every head. Not all agents handle voiceover, and even those who do, don’t necessarily have access to the type of voiceover work you’re most likely to land.
6. AUDITION like your life depends on it! You can’t get auditions without a demo. You can’t land work without auditions. However, voiceover, like so many things, is a numbers game. The more you do, the better you get, and the better your odds of landing work. Auditions are how you build your professional reputation. However, the best audition doesn’t necessarily book the job, but one of the best does.
7. Make sure your demos are posted online in as many places where lots of voice talent can be heard and hired. You will increase your opportunities dramatically if you make your professionally produced demos accessible to anyone and everyone who may hire you.
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 quite the way you will. The greatest variable of every production equation… is you!
As the adage states, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”!
*At Actors’ SOUD ADVICE, we offer a number of affordable options to get started in voiceover from private coaching & career guidance, home recording help, demo production, Webinars and more… which can be done simply, affordably and either in person (depending on where you live) and from your home computer. Regardless of your experience level, we beging with a private 2-hour career coaching sessino, our exclusive Orientation. There’s really nothing quite like it offered anywhere else in industry.
Copyright © 2019 by Kate McClanaghan, All Rights Reserved.
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