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Voiceovers are much more a part of our daily lives than most of us probably notice. In fact, more than ever before, the need for voiceovers and voiceover actors is growing by leaps and bounds. Advancements in computer and media technology are giving actors more and more opportunities to showcase their chops, all while getting paid handsomely for this sought out skill set. From commercials to promos, audio books to narrations, video games to cartoons, podcasts to live announce, the voiceover industry is exploding at the seams, and if you’re a stage, film, or television actor you should take advantage of this growing trend.
If you’re someone with a good voice, a deep voice, a sexy voice, a quirky sound, or just a person with the strong desire to tell a story, educate, or entertain audiences, then you owe it to yourself to seek out this creative outlet. The fact that voiceover work can be quite lucrative is just another welcomed byproduct of this global and ever-expanding industry.
Seriously, ask yourself. “Hey self, wouldn’t it make more sense to earn supplemental income while I pursue my acting career?” Voiceover acting is acting, just behind the microphone, and it’s a close cousin of your already-chosen profession.
There’s nothing dishonorable in reciting tonight’s specials for the hundredth time or answering someone else’s phone in an office, but doesn’t it seem smarter to vie for high paying VO jobs instead?
READ: Voiceover Training 101
In fact, a big part of today’s industry is online, so you can audition for projects right from the comfort of your own home. Today, home recording studios are simply made up of laptops or desktop computers, a basic preamp, a decent microphone, and a quiet soundproofed corner in your house.
Thanks to Mr. Steve Jobs, auditions can even be recorded and converted into MP3 sound files directly into your mobile device, not to mention all the app and programs that will help you record, edit, and deliver your sound files in a timely manner.
But before all of this good stuff can happen, you must first study your craft. Some people are born with innate talents, but no one is born with voiceover skills. These aptitudes are honed and shaped in a recording studio with the help of someone who knows what they’re doing: a mentor, coach, or well-respected teacher who’s got your best interests at heart.
There are many avenues to choose from when selecting your coach—but buyer beware! For every genuinely amazing teacher, there’s one false teacher or school simply looking to cash in on your lack of knowledge about the industry.
Make certain that the person or company who takes you on as a student has credible work experience on both sides of the glass, preferably someone who does voiceovers for a living. Someone that can easily showcase their own talents and experiences in the business. Someone who produces demo reels that knock you off your feet. Keep in mind, your coach is someone you want to emulate, not imitate. If he or she can’t prove to you that “hearing is believing,” then it’s time to move on. Be very selective in this process.
I know from my own experience that when I take on a new client, I do everything I can to assess my potential student’s talent level before committing. I’d rather work with fewer people than have more students and water down the results. My goal is to impart my knowledge and experience on how to present oneself, in and out of the booth, in the most professional manner. From audition etiquette to script interpretation and microphone technique, there’s so much to know.
Regardless, your coach should know what you can and cannot do. It’s always good to showcase your strengths and limit your weaknesses. As you start the process with your coach, these things will come into focus. Your coach should always steer you in the right direction by working on the voiceover genres that suit you best. There are many, so choose wisely.
Some students of mine have incredible range, both vocally and otherwise, while some are good at straight reads, informative reads, and even technical hard-to-understand reads. Everyone is so different and unique that there should be no such thing as a cookie cutter voiceover actor or demo.
Bear in mind that eventually, your coach will become your producer of your all-important demo reel. Your entire voiceover career revolves around this reel: it’s your calling card, three-dimensional picture, and resumé. It’s important that your demo sound like you and provide the listener with a range of what you—and only you—sound like in different life circumstances. There’s so much more than meets the ear.
One thing to remember, though, is that there’s no such thing as an overnight success. So stay focused, don’t let rejection get you down, and keep reaching for that golden ring—it’s just outside your reach for the taking!
Peter Rofé is the author of the book “Voice For Hire: Launch and Maintain a Lucrative Career in Voice-Overs.” In addition to being a working voice over actor for the last twenty years, Peter owns and operates PDR Voice-Over Coaching, a premiere voiceover recording and production studio located in Westchester, New York. View his full bio here!
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.