As experts in the voiceover industry, we’ve always done our utmost to offer each individual voice talent we work with our best, most insightful advice. Certainly while we all continue to wrestle with this on going, combination social-psyche stress test and health threat, we continue to assist voice talent across the country establish, maintain and expand their voiceover business. It may surprise you to learn, it’s never been a better time to double your efforts in this field.
That said, we’re not fortunetellers, but we can offer educated, insightful guidance based on our extensive experience. Determining what continues to be needed and wanted of you as a professional voice talent and what’s recently changed should help you better navigate your voiceover career.
First, here’s what hasn’t changed:
1. You’re still expected to approach every audition as if it were a booking. (In fact, NEVER audition for anything unless you intend to accept the job! Whether you’re union or not.)
2. You’re still expected to deliver your professional best, even if you’re only just starting out. So, continue to invest in training prior to producing your voiceover demos, regardless of how much or how little relative experience you may have. (It’s not a time or money saver if you can’t follow some basic suggestions or career guidance from your trusted producers and the industry’s best coaches.)
3. And, yes, you’re expected to continue to train throughout your career. Even when times are good, scheduling coaching can be a difficult pill to swallow because it requires you invest in your self. Without it, however, you’re considered unreliable and unprepared. Every professional has at least one coach they work with to maintain at their best skills. Keep training!
4. The industry standards required of your voiceover demos remains high. Demos are produced to service producers and their productions. Your voiceover demos define you professionally… or they don’t. Which is why we continue to create voiceover demos to elevate your career to the professional standards producers and casting consistently rely on.
5. Without professional training and exceptionally produced demos, it’s nearly impossible to land reliable talent agents who have access to better paying work—just as it’s always been.
And here’s what’s changed:
1. Regardless of what any one may try to convince you, you honestly cannot work in voiceover today without a simple, stable home recording set up.
No more heading over to your agent’s to record a quick audition. They’re likely working from home just like everyone else. No more running over to your local recording studio to track your daily auditions, either, unless you want risk your health and theirs. (Even if they’re technically “open”—you can’t wash a mic, and their booths are typically rank and musty from lack of fresh air. Frankly, most recording studios were a health hazard PRIOR to the pandemic!) The same issues apply when it comes to recording your bookings and demos, for that matter. You’re better off becoming as self-reliant as possible when it comes to all of your recording studio demands.
Frankly, the industry has been heading in this direction for more than 20 years now.
So, this has been a watershed moment that continues to require budding VO careers to rise to the occasion. Those with reliable home studio set ups have flourished since the pandemic began, while the scores of talented voiceovers that never invested in their home recording options were, unfortunately, left out in the cold and out of work.
Until we hit herd immunity, or something comparable, no responsible studio will likely welcome you in to their brick and mortar establishments for you to potentially shed the virus into their mics and recording booths, or to contract it for that matter. Again, recording studios have notoriously been petri dishes, as it is. It’s far safer and easier, production-wise, to ensure your home recording set up passes muster. The client would prefer to avoid these liabilities as well.
Lucky for us, having reliable home recording options has never been simpler to establish and maintain today… with a little assistance, of course. Doing so will grant you greater access to secure work from all over the country, and remain available to book jobs at a moment’s notice, which translates to both immediate and long-term benefits.
2. The quality of your self-taped auditions matters more now than ever.
Prior to the pandemic, recording the occasional audition from your smartphone from your car (because it was better than nothing and would do in a pinch) might have been acceptable. Not anymore!
The reason being: whatever the audio quality of your auditions is today will inevitably be assumed to become the quality of the final audio of the production you’re hired to voice. Why? Because when you book the job the client will patch with you from their professional studio to your home recording set up, however humble that may be.
Welcome to the club! You certainly not alone!
No one needs to see your crazy sweater collection, or all the stuffed animals you have piled up in the corner of your closet (which doubles for ‘sound dampening’ and storage). However, the audio quality of your auditions has never mattered more since clients now also consider this factor when hiring you to narrate their projects.
3. Don’t let the ‘Digital Divide’ keep you from scoring work.
All art demands some mastery of technology. Always did. Always will.
The difference is today you can connect with high-end production clients from the safety and simplicity of your simple home recording set up. In fact, it’s expected!
The object is to reduce or remove as much of the digital gap standing between you and securing as much steady work as possible.
For many, this likely means confronting and overcoming some basic tech anxiety, for others it means improving what you’ve currently been contending with home recording-wise. Depending on your specific technical situation or relative shortcomings, there’s a definite learning curve. So, it’s essential you master a couple simple adjustments if you intend to work with any regularity.
Keep a bulk of your attention on your performance rather than focusing an undue amount on the technical side of the production.
This is a process. If you wait until the opportunity presents itself to set up your home recording or ensure what you have meets industry expectations, you will most certainly discover this lack of preparation will backfire on you. Instead, we strongly suggest you avoid undermining your professional reputation by taking a little time and attention ahead of time to establish (and test) your home recording set up with our Head of Production, Jeff Finney, (who will work with you privately).
My point: if you hope to join the land of working voice actors again, or ever for that matter, it’s imperative you enlist professional services to save you time, money and professional embarrassment.
4. You must have both Zoom and SourceConnect Standard to patch with clients today if you hope to work as a voiceover. Regardless of whether you’re a union or non, the safest, most expeditious studio for you to record in is your own.
However, you’ll need to master a simple recording protocol, which includes the ability to “patch” with potential clients. In the States today, the industry standard to digitally patch from one studio to another is now SourceConnect. (To be clear, there are two versions of SourceConnect. There’s the Standard version as opposed to SourceConnect NOW, which is not an option embraced by clients and talent agents alike.)
Additionally, a Zoom call is also a common form of patch today, which has become a reasonable replacement option for the once traditional ‘phone patch’.
SourceConnect is the brand name for the standard American ‘patching’ option today. ‘Patching’ is the technical term for digitally connecting with production clients from their respective professional recording studios.
This may sound too technical to incorporate into your seemingly “make-shift”, bedroom-closet-slash-booth and ‘recording studio’. But this is in fact how it’s done today if you intend to be one of the accessible voice talent carving something truly productive out of the melee.
Our head of production, producer and coach, Jeff Finney, now offers an affordable private, home recording diagnostic to set up or upgrade your home recording from home and ensure you’re ‘road worthy’, technically speaking.
6. The world is rebranding.
Every product, every service appears to be re-establishing their mission statements and renewing their approach to better serve their potential and recurring clients alike. And so should YOU!
All of this rebranding translates into a tidal wave of voiceover work for far more voice talent, again provided you’re prepared when the opportunity presents itself. The truth is so many voice talent were caught off guard when the pandemic initially hit, especially if they hadn’t had recording options from home when it did. Many, if not most, still haven’t ‘rebranded’ themselves in this way, two years later! Which presents you with the opportunity to rise to the occasion and fulfill the need.
And all those loose ends so many businesses neglected or overlooked, from mission statements to marketing that needed retooling and attention even prior to the pandemic, are now facing sweeping updates. It’s an unexpected opportunity for prepared voice talent that’s sprung from adversity.
Certainly the demand for voice talent has increased dramatically across the industry for both union and nonunion voice work alike. Every industry has had to pivot to remain useful, current and to convey the immediate and long-term value of the business at hand. It’s adapt or perish!
Production clients across every medium continue to repurpose past production on-camera footage to update projects, while incorporating updated voiceover to commercials, corporate industrials, mission statements and web site content alike.
What’s next? Only time will tell.
Copyright © 2022 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.