There are a few tools that are critical for a career in voice over. Tool number one is the voice over demo. This is your calling card in the industry. The conversation goes like this… you: “I do voice overs”, them: “Send me your demo!” You can be James Earl Jones or Orson Wells but if you don’t have a demo you are not going to be taken seriously. The demo to start with is a commercial demo. This can be used to obtain work in a variety of areas: commercials, narration, telephone systems, in-house announcements, etc. A commercial demo is a recording that is under two minutes with from 5 to 10 small commercial segments back to back. Each segment is fully produced with music and sound effects to give a sample of what you sound like selling a variety of products. Many performers don’t realize the wide range of uses a demo has. Let’s look at how you can use your voice over demo to further your career.
Use Your Demo to Sell Yourself. Your demo allows you to take your career into your own hands and sell your self directly to companies that use voice talent. Two major businesses that use voice talent are advertising agencies and video production companies.
Advertising agencies produce commercials for radio, television and the internet. These may be local spots for businesses in your immediate neighborhood or regional spots that play all over the state or several states. Most of these commercials need a professional spokesperson to pitch the product.
Video production companies are involved in producing “industrial” videos for various companies. These can be corporate image pieces, training videos or product videos. Once again, they all need professional narration to present the message. You can contact many of these companies directly and tell them you are a voice over talent. Usually they will be happy to accept your demo and keep it on file. When a project fits your voice… the phone rings!
Use Your Demo to Sell to Those That Sell You. You don’t have to do all of your promotion yourself. There are companies out there who will promote you to possible clients. These are voice over agents and voice casting companies. These companies provide a service to the client by receiving the client’s voice “specs” and then searching their talent base to select just the right talent for the job. Usually they will audition the talent performing the client’s script and then send the auditions to the client to make a final selection.
Voice casting companies do not represent you in any way and are non-exclusive so you should place your demo with as many of them as possible. Voice over agents are usually exclusive in their territory so you can only work with one. Casting companies and voice over agents will find work for you that you may never be able to locate yourself, such as large regional or national commercials, animation jobs and union work. So you want to add these to your marketing efforts.
Use Your Demo to Sell Yourself Online. There is a whole new way to market your voice talent that is now appearing: online casting service. These websites allow you to sign up as a member and then present your demo on a web page to anyone in the world that needs voice talent. In addition, these sites actively solicit companies that require a voice over and list these in daily auditions. You can read each project and submit a custom audition to the client if you would like to compete for the job. This allows you to expand your reach across the country or even around the world.
Whether you market your voice directly, through agents and casting companies, or through online casting, your demo represents you to the final client. They will listen to your voice, your interpretation of the copy, your acting skills and the production of the demo to determine if they want to consider you for a project. Therefore your demo should be the best that you produce. It is wise to work with a professional demo producer who will help you with copy selection, direction, recording and post-production such as music and sound effects. A client should listen to your demo and know that you are competent, creative and dedicated to your craft. Get a great voice over demo and then use these three methods to build your career.