If you’re new to voiceover, or returning to the field after an absence, you may discover there are essentially two dominant approaches:
- The Actors’ Track, and…
- Radio & Broadcast Culture (as I refer to it)
While each approach has its own set of assets and pitfalls, assumptions and obstacles, whichever tactic a new talent follows from the start ultimately determines the talent’s conditioning, and will determine their ultimate success in this field.
That said, there are a few sweeping commonalities each approach share. For instance, clients who hire you as a voice talent consistently expect you:
- To be well-trained. As the saying goes, “Whatever the job, you’re going to have to train for it!”
- To have a quality demo(s), produced by professionals for professionals regardless if you’re just beginning or beginning again. Demos that define your greatest assets for the specific work you intend to land
- To have some basic, reliable home recording options
- To be available to the work
- To know what your job involves, stay in your lane, and be responsible for your end
- To sound natural. 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 the body of their experience, regardless how involved. Those from radio and broadcast culture, typically do.
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 those from radio and broadcast, individuals who speak with great authority, to run their voiceover business as if they were in radio. Cold calling local vendors to voice their radio and web site videos might have worked well enough 10-15 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 even sometimes if you do. Whereas those with an acting background, 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, and to securing representation from talent agents, for some reason. Perhaps they don’t know how, and therefore they don’t realize how beneficial these elements are to your voiceover career.
Of course, far too many actors mistakenly expect their talent agents to run their careers, as if it could run on autopilot. Your career won’t run at all if you don’t drive it.
As for the ever-elusive voiceover demo, a demo is NOT an ‘air check tape’, as those from radio are apt to produce. Instead, the standards that make up a competitive voiceover demo are defined by the producers we create them for in the first place. In other words: the production varies from spot to spot, yet there’s a seamless flow between the collection of national caliber spots that fully illustrate who you are, and what you do best within the specific genre (i.e. Commercial, Industrial Narration, Animation, etc.). Your demo is supposed to define how amazing you’d be under the very best possible 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 assume you only get ONE shot to deliver ONE perfect take. Instead, you’re expected to offer a variety of dynamic options, take after take, within the context of the piece. Nearly all talent struggle with this, and precisely why technique training is an imperative. Conditioning, by its very nature, isn’t immediately intuitive. It takes practice.
Voiceover is often more of a sport than many give it credit, and each approach, whether actor or radio/broadcast, opens you up to a variety of remarkably rewarding opportunities, provided the genre of voiceover suits your specific skill set and approach.
Sometimes your success might hinge on your approach. Sometimes you might need an adjustment to that approach by challenging your comfort zone. This is precisely why, at Actors’ SOUND ADVICE, we custom-tailor everything we do with you, the individual talent, in order to assist you in achieving the best possible career results.
Copyright © 2018 Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.