Very often I get emails and phone calls from people who want to get into voice-overs. They want to know where they should start. These are valid questions that every newcomer should feel comfortable asking. It’s good to get advice. My answer is always the same. I tell them they need to get training and a good demo, and lots of other things. I go into as much detail as I can about how and where they can do that and what may be involved.
Then, I get one of two responses:
- “Great! That’s what I’ll do. Thanks for the advice.”
- “Ok, but I want to start marketing myself now. I have a website ready to go. Can I get in on some auditions today? My computer has a microphone built in so I will use that and put some samples up, just for now. I don’t know if I’m ready to invest in training. I’ll think about it. I need to start making money though. I have to go now. My business cards are ready and I have to go pick them up.”
My question to those starting out, “Why are you talking about marketing and auditioning?”. Those things are very important, but not for awhile yet! Why would you market something that hasn’t been developed? You don’t want to set yourself up for failure. No one does. I am writing about this today, not to be harsh. I know it’s rough and sometimes confusing getting started. I don’t want to discourage anyone. In fact, I want to encourage you, and hopefully you will heed my advice and be a total success! If voice-over is something you really want to do, go for it! Please hear me out though.
Auditioning and marketing are things you do, after you have been thoroughly trained. People may have told you that you have a great voice, and that is certainly a plus! However, as with any industry, there are things you must learn and will be expected to know. Can you imagine if you hired a professional painter and paid them good money, only to find out that they didn’t know about applying primer first? Or had no idea what painters tape is? Or didn’t know that you don’t apply latex paint over an oil-based paint because it will peel and crack? You’d feel cheated. You’d be furious and rightfully so. You would expect that as a professional, they would know these things! The same is true with voice-over. You don’t know what you don’t know. There are things you must learn. Training is never an option, but people think it is because professionals make it look so darn easy.
What qualifies as “good” training?
Good training comes from a coach who is currently active & working in the voice-over industry.
- Not someone who works in a seemingly related industry, like a public speaker, singer or a DJ (those are great professions but it isn’t the same as voice-over). You want someone who is an actual voice-over artist. They book work consistently, have a long list of loyal clients, audition constantly, make a decent income, know about all of the recent trends and will be honest with you. They won’t be easy to please but working with them is worth it.
- There are some things that you have to practice over and over again. A dance instructor doesn’t teach a new dance move once and then say “Ok. All done.” The student practices that move until they get it right and that takes time. You may have some bad vocal habits that you need to work through. There may be a concept that you struggle with, and that’s ok. Just be patient and keep practicing under the guidance of a good coach. Remember Karate Kid?
Good training is not JUST a weekend workshop.
- Now don’t get me wrong. Weekend workshops are great! You should attend as many as you can. However, one workshop cannot possibly teach you all you need to know to succeed. Short workshops should be a part of your training, but you also want to take part in some sort of intensive, long term program.
Most voice-over artists work from a home studio and you can too, but this is something else you will need training and guidance for.
- Please don’t wing it. You can be incredibly talented but it won’t matter if you don’t have a professional set-up with quality gear that you know how to use correctly. Not paying attention to your audio quality is a guaranteed career killer.
After you have worked out your bad vocal habits, have been through solid training with a great coach over a long period of time, have some great demos and professional recording gear that you know how to use, then and only then should you start auditioning and marketing. I know it’s frustrating because when you have a desire to do something, you want to get started as soon as you can. That isn’t the way to success though. You can actually do yourself serious harm in the long run if you do not take the time to do these things correctly.
Make 2013 a great year. If voice-over is your dream, go for it, but do it right. Give yourself the best chance you can to be successful in a highly competitive industry. Cheers to your success! Have a great New Year!