OTM Essay 10: DIY-VO! 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.  You just need to become a master at searching things on the web.

Voice-over is one of the few artistic careers that you actually have some control over. You can go out and find work, be it online or in your home market.That’s like producing your own film or TV show. The difference is producing your own TV show or film is really risky, with no guarantee of making any of your money back. Voice-over, on the other hand, has on-line casting sites. You pay a yearly fee to join and they send auditions to you based on your voice profile. You can audition up to 2-3 times a day on one site. The most common sites are Voice123.com and voices.com. You pay a fee of $300 a year on both sites, set up a profile to describe your voice, than upload and your  demos and wait for the auditions to come in. The sites run on a first come, first serve basis. Meaning the people who see the auditions and get their recording in first are the first ones in line to be heard by the client. You’ll usually want to be in the first 20 auditions, since clients usually hear someone they like in the first 20. But, it also depends on the size of the project, they may listen to 40 – 50 auditions for a large project. You can even use sites like Craigslist, type in “voice-over” and you’ll be surprised what comes up. And the more elaborate your recording system at home, the more likely you can target major cities all across North America.

The best thing about Voices123.com and Voices.com is that you can make a free profile on their site. You can use that as your first voice-over website to forward to potential clients to hear your demos. That is just one of the many ways to post your demos on-line and create a free profile to represent yourself. 

I’m a big fan of having your own recording space at home. I’ll tell you why. I recently did a voice-over session from my house and was patched into an ad agency in Shanghai. Patched means I was on my mic and speaking to them as if I were on the phone. I received direction from the producer in Shanghai, recorded the session in my house, and than sent the files to Shanghai once I was done. I got this audition from my agent in New York, and the spot is airing in Australia. That’s Vancouver, New York, Shanghai, and Australia. Ten years ago that was unthinkable, but now it’s happening all the time.

There’s hundreds of smaller sites like Voices123.com and Voices.com, they do the same thing but just aren’t as well known. There’s no harm in joining one of the other sites, but always do your research before spending any money. Some sites operate more like an agency. Instead of charging you a fee they take a commission if you book any work. The more you get your voice out there, the better you chances of getting work, or at least getting auditions.

The best thing about on-line work is there’s not really any consequences if you send in a bad audition. The worst thing that happens is you don’t get the job. The internet voice-over scene is a lot like the wild west, actors going from audition to audition trying to find their next gig. That chances of you upsetting someone so much is slim, the chances of them even remembering you is slimmer. It’s impossible to go wrong, which makes it a great training ground. You’re able to audition several times a day, get work, build your demo, build relationships with clients who’ll hire you again, and continue to learn how to get better. 

Your home market is a lot different. There’s no room for error. They are not forgiving if you land an audition at a studio and do a poor job. They will remember you and be less likely to bring you in next time. They want to know you won’t waste their time.

There’s loads of ways to learn on-line for free. YouTube is a great example. Searching “voice-over lessons” brings up hundreds of results. You won’t find the best of the best there, but you’d be amazed at what you can find. There’s voice-over stars who let you watch their sessions from start to finish. You have the chance to be a fly on the wall and see how the best in the world do their work. Facebook is another great way to connect to voice-over actors or voice-over groups. People are dying to give away great information on how to get better. Meetup is another great tool to meet people. Meetup is a global phenomenon and is worth checking into. It’s a good idea to find friends and go on this journey together. Just remember to take this info with a grain of salt, but if you pick up one great tool from every video you watch – you’ll be further ahead than when you started. The voice-over business rewards people who are proactive. 

Voice-over is a unique field. You need to become your own business, be the head of marketing, the salesperson, the studio engineer and the performer. Be business-minded in the way you approach the work. Any time money is involved people take it seriously, so take yourself seriously. Get out there, use the free tools, build your business and find the work.

The bottom line is that you are in the driver’s seat of your voice-over career. Remember that the people who hustle the most and the ones who work the most.

Until next time, stay On The Mic – I’ll see you in class.

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