Questions About VO Job Opportunities

A question from a newsletter subscriber:

I'm no spring chicken at 52, but I have been told by a lot of  people that  I should do voice over work, since I can do a lot of different voices. I  am in the process of cataloging and recording each of these voice as  recommended by Pat Fraley.

I don't expect to suddenly become famous and I certainly  can't afford to move to California. My question is, once I have this recording done, who  do I send it to to possibly get work locally doing voiceovers?

It appears that you've either taken one of Pat's workshops or you've purchased some of his products. That's a great start!

However, as creative and unique as they may be, "doing a lot of voices" alone won't get you very far in the world of voiceover - even if you've got a CD that demonstrates how well you "do" those voices. What's more important (and critical) is the character behind the voice.

Each unique voice you create should have the substance of a real and believable character behind it. If it doesn't . . . It's just a voice with no base in reality. The perceived reality of a character is what listeners respond to, whether they're listening to a commercial, a cartoon, or a training video.

The voices you're currently cataloging are your "starters". Their purpose is not intended to be the actual, final voice characterization you'd be using in a commercial or other project. Producing a demo of your starter voices may be good for your own reference and experience, but it will do little for getting you work as a voice talent.

Have you read any of the books on voiceover that discuss demos, demo content, demo production, and demo marketing? If not I suggest you do some research. Have you studied any form of acting that develops skills for creating compelling characters? If not, find a local acting class and get some basic performing skills. Have you worked with a variety of voiceover content: commercials, dialog, narration, telephone IVR, etc? If not, I'd suggest you find some additional training before you produce a demo and start marketing yourself as a voice talent.

Voiceover is not the sort of work you should get into simply because other people have told you you should be doing voiceover. This is show-business, and it will take some diligent effort and persistence to make the connections for getting work.

Your questions on how the business of voiceover works - how to market yourself, and who to send demos to - will best be answered by reading some good books on the subject and by studying with a variety of voiceover coaches. Visit voice talent websites, study voiceover demos to learn what you are competing with, subscribe to as many voiceover discussion groups as you can to gain insights to the craft and business (go to www.yahoo.com and do a search for "voiceover" groups), and take some workshops to develop your talent before you produce your demo. Your demo must be able to stand on its own when listened to immediately prior to or after that of a voice talent who's been in the business for many years.

A question about money . . .

I am an experienced public speaker and former singer. I have a good voice that projects well.  I want to get into the voiceover business as a freelancer, but have no idea what pay I might get. Where can I get this information?

If you approach voiceover work from the point of view of "how much will I get," you might as well stick with professional speaking. You can easily research AFTRA union scale at www.aftra.com. However, be aware that most non-union voice talent start out making much less than union scale. As with speaking, compensation will vary widely. Every market is different, every project is different, and the ultimate compensation depends on what the producer is looking for, their budget, and the skill/experience level of the voice artist.

Voiceover work today requires the ability to record high-quality voice tracks on your home computer, so there is an additional expense in the recording equipment (mic, USB interface, etc.) for doing this.

Voiceover work is not about projecting, speaking ability, or even voice quality. It's about acting and the ability to create compelling, believable characters who communicate a message. The real challenge is developing the skills for doing this without rehearsal while reading from a script.

To get started, I'd highly recommend reading some books on the subject (mine would be a good start), and taking some voiceover training. Most books cover the basics of the business and cover the performing skills necessary for voiceover work.

I'd suggest reading the articles at www.voiceacting.com/vo101 to gain a better understanding of the workings of the voiceover business.Hope this helps.

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