This post probably should have been done a while ago, but hey, better late than never, right? I’m talking about the most frequently asked questions in voice over. I’ve been in the business for some time now, and there are a lot of things I’ve learned along the way – some of them the hard way, unfortunately. Here is a list of what I think are some of the most common questions that VO newbies have, along with the general answers.
How do I start?
When establishing a voice over career, the first thing to do is take a few acting classes or hire a voice coach. While most people are able to read off a script fairly easily, few have what it takes to make it sound good, professional, and convincing. Taking some classes or tutoring under a coach can help you find the finesse you need to make it in VO. Do your on line research about the industry's latest trends. And seek out tips from the well known working pros. Listen to their demos and advice and formulate the beginnings of your business plan.
What is a demo and what should be on it?
Another thing you need to do early on, when you are well practiced and ready, is to create a demo, which is essentially your calling card. Like a headshot is to an actor. It is a recording featuring a sampling of your work. Or short "clips" of your work edited together to equal about 1:00. Your demo is what you’ll use to market yourself, and what will be sent to potential clients or agents. Creating a good demo is an essential step. One I will go into deeper in another article.
Do I need an agent?
Speaking of agents, you’re probably wondering if you need one. This answer isn’t cut and dry. Many VO actors have found success acting as their own agents, while others find that working with an agent is the best and most consistent way for them to get work. If you do decide an agent is right for you, make sure you do your research and find one that is experienced and reputable within the voice over industry. I work with several agents around the country as well as promoting myself and finding working directly. A good working relationship with your agents is important. They need your cooperation to produce the best results for you. Just remember that agents are not business managers. Their primary function is to create opportunities... mainly through auditions... for you to obtain work.
Should I join a union?
Another tricky question with an answer that is highly dependent on your situation. While more and more VO actors are going union-less, there are many who like the support that a union can bring. There are a number of pros and cons to union work – some of the pros include higher pay (usually), benefits, and high quality work. There are some negatives as well, though, including greater competition for work, annual dues or fees, and inability to work outside the union. Most new talent will find it easier to obtain non-union work early on in their careers and may be better suited to wait to decide if/when they are ready to join the union.