So You Want To Be A Voiceover Talent?

For some time now, I’ve been asked some very interesting questions by people who desire to get into our voice business because they either have been told, “My oh my, you have the perfect voice for voiceover work.” Or… they think the voiceover business is cool and they want a piece of the pie because it looks like fun!… Or…they lost their gig in radio and since they spoke on the radio reading liner cards, they feel they are qualified to do voiceovers… Or finally…they have lost the will to live and think Voiceover work is easy and they want you to do their home work for them and tell them how easy it is and how to make gobs of money!

Sound familiar? Is that why you are reading this blog today?

Let me get right to the point… I really do not want to listen to your demo because all I am going to be able to give you is MY opinion of what I hear on your demo. I’m flattered if you think my opinion is worthy enough to ask me. However, it is only MY opinion and mileage may vary. I can’t guarantee you will get any jobs from your demo, nor can I explain what and why you should do it a better way. And during this entire period, I may be missing out on some viable work that could be making me a better Voice Actor and that doesn’t help you or me.

It’s always wonderful to hear from someone who is interested in something you are passionate about. However, it’s not as easy as one may think. Just because you have an interest in doing voice work, remember, everyone has a voice, but only a limited few have the ability to make it work better than most everyone else and make any money with it. Voicing commercials is a skill. I’ve been doing voiceovers for over 30+ years. And I would have to admit I didn’t start making any serious money until after I had been doing it for about 15 years. As an example, of the 40,000 registered AFTRA/SAG union members in Los Angeles alone, about 400 of them make a living out of doing voiceovers. That’s 1%. Now multiply that by every city in the country. Are you sure you want a piece of this competitive pie? If you do, be prepared to invest a lot of time & money into it, because success will not come quickly or easily. It’s a hard road, so be sure you want this badly enough before you proceed. It’s not all glamour and luxurious as you may have thought. BTW… out of that 1% there are about a dozen that do the majority of all the BIG paying gigs that Don Lafontaine used to command.

Today, one would have to start locally and develop their talent/skill and reputation before expanding. Putting together a demo that can demonstrate what you CAN do and not necessarily what you HAVE done is the key. One minute up to two minutes at the very most total. A Commercial Demo should be :60. A Narrative Demo can run 1:30 -2:00.

What are your strengths? Networking…..developing connections…etc….. Build a relationship through your radio station with local media, production houses and advertising agencies is very helpful. Right place – right time is the key. Besides the obvious – You must have TALENT. Not just the ability to speak on the air. Don’t be misled by well meaning friends that say, “Oh you have such a wonderful voice – you should do commercials!” It’s not that easy. In fact, I guess you could say I’m an overnight success! It only took me 30 years! Remember, this is a developed SKILL we’re discussing here. I know many people that have wonderful speaking voices that have no idea how to use them when it comes to voicing a radio or TV voiceover.

Do you have an original delivery, sound, twist, quirk, etc.? Why would someone what YOU over someone else? These are the questions that will assist you in “finding yourself”…. I wish you all the luck and success – we all need it.

Workshops are a worthwhile way to find out if you are cut out to do voiceovers. Do a simple search in one of the bigger search engines on the Internet. Yahoo, Google, Ask, Excite, etc.. Use the keywords “voice” + “workshop”. Then look for one that is right for you and your interests. If you are looking for a voice coach, I can suggest Nancy Wolfson’s BrainTracks website to give you a plethoria of information: Also, David Goldberg’s Edge Studios are quite abundant with info: (#Nancy Wolfson, #David Goldberg, #edge studios)

Additionally, stop by Amazon for the most popular voiceover books available through them. Read the reviews and choose for yourself who best fits your needs of development. Additionally, in the appendices of both the Susan Blu book, “Word of Mouth” and Terri Apple’s, “Making Money in Voice-overs”, you’ll find listings of agencies & agents with addresses, phone numbers etc.. I strongly recommend reading at least two of these books to get the proper perspective. Other professional coaches of consideration: Rodney Saulsberry, Deb Munroe, Randy Thomas/Peter Rofe, to name a few.

By the way, just as a point of interest concerning “agents”…I wouldn’t worry about getting an agent until you ARE making some money and you are building experience with your local production studios, radio stations, etc. Experience is still the best calling card. And you want to start a positive “buzz” on your ability. So move slowly and deliberately. You don’t have a second chance to make a first and lasting impression. And don’t forget, YOU are the best agent you could have because YOU believe in you more than anyone else does. Right? Market yourself to anyone who can utilize your talents.

One very important thing to consider upfront…IF you really want to get into voiceovers, you have to be ready to accept auditions from websites and/or local production houses. I get anywhere from 2 – 10+ auditions each day of the week. They want me to have the ability to record that audition as a quality audio file that represents what I can do and how I sound. If they like what they hear, you have to be ready to complete the project from your studio. They will not pay for you to go to a studio unless the agent or studio that is hiring you is in your same city and you can go to them. Over 90% of the voice talents today have spent anywhere from $1000 to $25,000 to build their own studio to show they are really in the business with both feet. I don’t mean to scare you. These are just the facts.

Be prepared to work long & hard and spend hundreds and thousands of dollars putting together your studio, find a voice coach who is willing to work with you, produce a demo and then be able to audition a spot right when the request comes to you. And then be able to do the job as well IF you get the nod to do it. There are many “IFS”. Be prepared for rejection. Lots of rejection. If you are thin-skinned – this is NOT a business for you. I may audition 30-60 auditions for various products and clients before I get one of them. Thank God I have been doing this for a long time and have just been making a full time living at voice work alone for just over 5 years. Before that, it was on a part time basis while I worked at a radio station as a Production Director or Creative Services Director. That gave me the freedom to do those auditions as they came across my email. If you have a full time job, you can’t always stop what you are doing and run to a studio to do an audition and expect it not to hamper your job security.

But wait, there’s more! If you need to be sure you have made up your mind – please take the time to read The Voiceover Entrance Exam by Peter K. O’Connell. Peter is a wonderful voice talent and has written this insightful book for interested people like you. He tells it like it is.

In closing, may I say the competition is getting heavier each and every day. I probably get a request like yours several times each week. You can imagine what that must translate to worldwide. But if you are really good, you might have a chance. But honestly, you are looking at a very long road of good hard work and dedication. Are you ready to jump in?

The only thing I request of you, for this information, is to please return to my facebook page and make any appropriate comments. Was my website helpful to you? Did the information you have obtained make a difference? Will you return and post a follow-up? I would appreciate any feedback.

Search: “Johnny George Communications”on facebook.

Thanks in advance.