OTM ESSAYS
 

Written by Michael Daingerfield

ESSAY 10
DIVYO! DO IT YOURSELF VOICE-OVER!

There are so many opportunities out there for you to do-it-yourself in voice-over!  You’d be amazed at how many ways you can find work, create free websites or profiles on-line with your demos and learn about voice-over.  It really comes down to your ability to become a master searcher on the web.

Voice-over is one of the only artistic performance careers that you actually have some control over.  You can go out and find the work - whether it’s on line or in your home market.  The equivalent in film and television or theatre would be to produce your own production - but there are many risks associated with producing your own material - and there are certainly no guarantees that you will make your investment back.  In voice-over there are on-line casting sites that you pay a yearly fee to join and then they send you auditions based on your voice profile.  You can audition up to 2 - 3 times a day with one site.  The most common sites that do this are voice123.com and voices.com.  With both of these sites you pay $300 a year - you set up a profile that describes your voice - you upload your demos and then wait for the auditions to flow in.  These sites operate on a first come first serve basis.  Meaning - the people who see the audition, then get their audition recorded and uploaded to the site will be first in line to be heard by the client who is holding the audition.  Typically you want to be in the first 20 auditions.  If you’re past 20 people - you may not be heard by the client as there’s a good chance they will hear something they like within the first 20.  But, having said that depending on the size of the project - they may listen up to 40 or 50 auditions before deciding that they’ve heard enough.  You can also find work even on craigslist - just put in voice-over into the search window and you’d be surprised at what will come up.  And the more elaborate of a recording system you have at home the more likely you could target major cities all over North America. 

The best news is that both voice123.com and voices.com will allow you to create a free voice profile on their site.  So you could actually use that as your first voice-over website - which you could then forward potential clients to listen to your demos.  This is just one example of the many opportunities available on-line to post your demos and create a free profile to represent yourself.  You know that I’m a big fan of you having your own recording set up at home.  I’ll tell you a quick story about how global the voice-over business is getting.  I recently did a voice-over session from home where I was patched into an ad agency in Shanghai (patched meaning I was on my mic - speaking to them as if I were on the phone - (I use skype to facilitate this).  I received direction from the voice producer in Shanghai, recorded the session at my home studio, and then sent the files to Shanghai once the session was complete.  I got the audition from my agent in New York and the spot (a Chrylser TV commercial) is airing in Australia.  So that’s Vancouver, New York, Shanghai and Australia.  Ten years ago this would’ve been almost impossible.  But now it’s happening all the time.  

There are probably a hundred other sites like voice123.com and voices.com that are trying to do the same thing but they weren’t as quick to get to the race.  There is certainly no harm though in joining one of those other sites, just do your research before you pay any money.  Some of those sites operate more like an agency.  If you book any work through them - then you pay a commission instead of a yearly fee.  The more you can get your voice out there - the more chances you have of getting work.  Or at least auditioning.  

The best thing about trying to get work on-line is there aren’t really any consequences if you send in a bad audition.  The worst thing that will happen is that you won’t get hired for the job.  The internet voice-over scene is like the wild west - people are just travelling along on their horse stopping in from one town to the next looking for their next meal.  The chances that you will upset someone so much that they would first off remember you and secondly never hire you because that audition you sent in was so horrible is highly unlikely.  Pretty much impossible.  Which makes the on-line world a fantastic training ground.  You can audition several times a day - get work - build your demo - get clients that will use you again and all the while you’re continuing to learn how to be better.  You can’t make mistakes like this in your home market.  If you do go to an audition at one of your home market studios for a commercial audition or animation audition - and do a poor job - they will be a lot less forgiving.  They’ll remember you and be less likely to bring you in the next time.  They want to know that you’re not going to waste their time.   

The other opportunity that’s free out there is learning.  Take YouTube for example - if you just plug in voice-over lessons into the search window you’d be amazed at what comes up.  Now your not always going to find the best of the best on there - but you’d be amazed at what you can learn and who you can learn it from.  There are voice-over superstars that let you watch their sessions from start to finish - you get to be a fly on the wall and see how the best in the world do their work.  Facebook is another place to connect to voice-over actors or voice-over groups.  People are just dying to give away great information about how to get better.  You might want to remember to take the information you’re getting from these people with a grain of salt - but if you pick up one great tool from every video that you watch - then you’re certainly going to be further ahead then you were when you started.  It’s all about being pro-active.  The voice-over business rewards people who are being pro-active. There’s another place to meet other voice-over actors who are on the way up and that is through Meetup groups.  Meetup is a global phenom and is worth checking into.  As I have mentioned it’s good to find a few friends that are in a similar situation as you - because together you can take on the journey together.

Voice-over is unique in that you really become your own business.  You’re the head of marketing, the salesperson, the studio engineer and the performer.  So think of it in terms of a business in how you approach the work.  Remember it’s show business - it’s a cold hard fact that all of us who’ve been in the business for a while fully understand.  Any time money is involved - and as you know in VO there’s big money involved - people take it seriously.  So get out there, use all of those free tools, build your business and find the work - it’s not just what your home market agent is going to do for you.  If I’d taken that approach I’d have missed out on a lot of work over the passed 6 or 7 years.  The bottom line is that you are in the drivers seat for your voice-over career.  You can take it as seriously as you want.  The people who continue to hustle - are the ones who get the work.  Until next time - stay On The Mic and I’ll see you in class.