As experts in the voiceover industry, we’ve always done our utmost to offer every 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 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.
While, like the small handful of our seasoned professional colleagues who also cast, produce, coach and counsel, we’re not fortunetellers, but we can offer educated, insightful guidance based on our vast experience. Determining what continues to be needed and wanted of you as a professional voice talent and what’s changed should help you better navigate your voiceover career.
For instance, here’s what hasn’t changed:
1. You’re still expected to approach every audition as if it were a booking.
2. You’re still expected to deliver your professional best, even if you’re only just starting out. So, continue to invest in training in advance of 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 recommendations of your trusted producers and 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. (You don’t know what you don’t know until you know, y’know? And what you don’t know can hurt you. Keep training!)
4. The industry standards required of your voiceover demos remains high. We continue to create them to rise to the professional standard producers and casting rely on. Your demos define you professionally… or they don’t.
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 or to your local recording studio to track your auditions or recording sessions during lockdown as you may have done prior to the pandemic. Ironically, the industry has been heading in this direction for 20 years now.
So, this past year has been a watershed moment that continues to allow many budding VO careers to expand. Those with reliable home studio set ups flourished over the past year, while the scores of talented voiceovers that never invested in their home recording options were unfortunately left out in the cold.
Until we hit herd immunity, or something comparable, no responsible studio owner will likely welcome you in to their brick and mortar establishments for you to potentially shed the virus or any of it’s future mutations into their mics and recording booths at least for the time being. (Or contract it for that matter.) It’s far safer and easier, production-wise, to ensure your home recording set up passes muster. The client would prefer to avoid the liability 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. It’ll enable you to be far more self-reliant, secure work from all over the country, and remain available to book a job 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 in 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 today will inevitably be assumed as the quality of the final audio of the production you’re hired to voice. Why? Because when you book the job we will likely patch with you from our professional studio to your home recording set up, however humble that may be.
Welcome to the club! They won’t see your crazy sweater collection, or all the stuffed animals you have piled up in the corner of your closet (which double for ‘sound dampening’ and storage). However, the audio quality of your auditions has never mattered more since clients now have to 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 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. While we aren’t wrestling with the postal delays or supply issues we initially encountered last year, 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 find this approach will backfire on you. Instead, we strongly suggest you avoid undermining your professional reputation by taking a little time and attention establishing (and testing) your home recording set up if you hope to join the land of working actors again, or ever for that matter.
4. You have to have SourceConnect today if you hope to work as a voiceover.
Regardless of whether you’re a union or non, the safest studio for you to record in is your own, provided, of course, you’re not parading the world through your front door.
SourceConnect is the brand name for the American standard ‘patching’ option today. And ‘patching’ is the technical term for digitally connecting with their production clients in 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 how it’s done today if you intend to be one of the accessible voice talent carving something truly productive out of this pan-ultimate pandemic.
For what it’s worth, a Zoom call is a form of patch, which is a reasonable replacement option for a ‘phone patch’, especially since the pandemic hit.
You’ll need to master a simple recording protocol, which includes the ability to “patch” with potential clients. Again, today in the States the industry standard to digitally patch from one studio to another is now SourceConnect.
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.
5. The world is rebranding. Every product, every service appears to be re-establishing their mission statements and reviewing and renewing their approach to 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… provided you’re prepared when the opportunity presents itself. The truth is so many voice talent were caught off guard when the pandemic 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, which may give you the opportunity to rise to the occasion and fulfill the need.
And all those loose ends every business neglected or overlooked, from their mission statements to marketing that needed retooling and attention even prior to the pandemic, are now facing broad updates. It’s an unexpected opportunity that’s sprung from adversity.
So, the demand for voice talent has increased dramatically over the past year, across the industry, for both union and nonunion voice work alike. Every industry has had to pivot to remain useful, convey their immediate and long-term value, and rebrand. It’s adapt or perish!
Production clients across every medium continue to repurpose past production footage to update projects, while incorporating updated voiceover to commercials, corporate industrials, mission statements and web site content. Will this trend to continue into the immediate future? Time will tell.
So, stay playful. Stay healthy. Even while our literal reality continues to struggle with our virtual in a way that’s clearly leaving a lasting impression to our collective and professional psyches, we’ll be here to counsel, suggest and inform you every step of the way.
Copyright © 2021 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.