It’s been a while since my last post. I have been busy with visitors from oversees and other stuff like Christmas shopping and the like’s. Therefore I was out of the booth for about a month solid. Hey, but now I ‘m back with a new verve and purpose!
Looking back over my Voice Over journey so far I was thinking about all of the important things that I have learned. All of the good things and the bad things and believe me, there are plenty of both depending on where you look. In this post I am going to try and go over all of the best information I have received so far and also the mistakes that have been made. Hopefully this will help others in their journey.
So, I am going to put all of this in a list format and see how it goes.
Figure some stuff out first. The internet is a huge source of information for someone who wants to start out in Voice Over. Realize that this is going to be a longer journey than you expected and that there are literally thousands of people wanting to do voice over for what they initially perceive will be easy money. You can check the following sites out. These are mostly sites that I use on a regular basis:
Edge Studio. This site is an enormous wealth of information for someone who wants to get started in the Voice Over industry and it is very reputable. Their script library is excellent and I especially like the feedback forum. You can post reads on the site and your peers will give you free feedback on how you are doing. They also have a monthly competition where you can submit an audition and their coaching staff will judge and award prizes. You can listen to all of the submissions which help you see where you are going wrong and what other people are doing right.
Voice Registry. I recommend becoming a platinum member for around $90 a year. This allows you to participate in the weekly workout. This allows you to read a script and have it reviewed for free by a talent agent or guest judge. There is an archive of all of the previous competitions and you can listen to all of the submissions.
Voice Over XTRA. Another great site with lots of resources.
Global Voice Acting Academy. This is more tailored towards coaching and paid learning. It still has some great information on it and the coaching seems to get very good reviews.
World Voice Org. The World-Voices Organization (WoVO) is a non-profit, member-driven international association of voice actors that seeks to educate members about the essentials of voice over performance skills, maintaining high industry standards, and operating a private studio. World-Voices Organization provides mentoring to voice talent across a spectrum of techniques and recording skills, engaging membership in a meaningful community, and ensuring proficient and uniform standards for the practicing voice acting professional.
Voice Over Universe. I have not paid the $99 membership fee for this one yet so I cannot comment on how good this community is.
Get a great coach. Not a good coach, not a convenient coach. Do your due diligence and then do it again. You want to work with someone who is actively in the Voice Over industry. Go with someone who has reviews that are good. Someone who is respected in the voice over world. Prices vary between $150-$250 an hour for a good coach. DO NOT think that this is too much and you can’t afford it. You literally can’t afford not to. Edge studio has some great coaches, Nancy Wolfson gets great reviews but she is not for everybody. I would also recommend Marc Cashman. I have sat in on one of his workshop “audits” and was very impressed by the quality of coaching. I am trying to sign up for his next workshop in 2017. You need a coach who is going to tell you straight whether you have what it is required to make it. David Goldberg at Edge studio will give you a coaching session and then give you honest feedback on whether you have what it takes. There is no point in investing a whole load of time and money into this business if you don’t have what it takes or the ability to learn. You have to remember that when you are ready to make your demo you have to be absolutely ready. It has to be awesome. It needs to stand out from the crowd because it is a very large crowd to choose from. The only way to get there is with a GREAT coach.
Practice. Practice all of the time. Whenever you get opportunities. This should make you more comfortable behind the microphone but does so much more. Record everything you do and listen back to it all of the time. I record auditions every day. At the end of the day I will download all of these to a USB memory stick. This is what I listen to constantly on my commute to and from my day job. I also add recordings from talent agency website for voice actors similar to myself. This way I can constantly compare my reads to professionals who are booking jobs all the time. If your read does not stand up beside these people then you will never book a job. Practicing also allows you to read with more fluidity. It allows your eyes to read in advance. It gets your brain trained to read without sounding like you reading. I recommend practicing at least 1 hour per day.
Network. The only way to find out more about this business and improve your skills and knowledge is to talk with like-minded people. Most major cities will have a voice over meet up group. Houston has one, which I joined immediately. You will find that nearly all of the people in the voice over industry are extremely helpful. Find internet forums that discuss voice over related issues. These can be invaluable and let you know that you are not alone. Ask questions on these forums. There is never a stupid a question and you can usually use the search function on the forum and find that someone has already asked the “stupid question” that you were going to ask. Use Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in to find people who are in the industry. Be polite and courteous.
Do not think you know everything! Whatever previous field you come from. Whether it is acting, radio DJ’ing, club DJ’ing or someone who has no experience whatsoever. Respect the industry from the start. This is a craft and it is different from your original skill set. It is not something that you can just pick up a microphone and think that you will become an overnight success. You have to work hard and be willing to listen to advice. There is nothing worse than someone with little experience coming into the VO world and think that they know everything. This will turn a lot of people off you very quickly.
Buy a quality condenser microphone and treat you recording room. When I first started I made the mistake of using a dynamic microphone (as recommended by my 1st coach) and did not treat my room very well. This meant that my recording quality was never going to stand out compared to any other auditions. You need to listen to a professional voice audition or job and compare your raw audio to that. It has to be as good as or better. Nothing else. If you struggle with the technical side then George Whittam at edge studio can help you. You can submit some raw audio to George and he will let you know what to do to improve it for a fee. It is well worth the investment.
Learn how to use your DAW This is essential. You must know how to perform basic edits. Nearly all short-form audio that is submitted for auditions will have all of the breaths edited out. These breaths must be edited in such a way that the listener does not hear the edit. It must also be done in a way that does not leave the listener gasping for breath! In longer form narration it is OK to leave the breaths in. You should also learn how to use features such as EQ, compression, noise reduction and de-essing. This will allow you to produce audio of much higher quality. Using a DAW to its full potential can be daunting. It just takes practice and a willingness to try things. There is a huge amount of information on the web that will help you with your DAW of choice.
DO NOT PUT OUT A DEMO BEFORE YOU ARE READY! I made this mistake. It has come back to haunt me. When I listen to my first demo, which was produced my first coach, I cringe. A wise man once said that your demo must be toe-curling awesome before you unleash it on the world. It has to be stand out. It has to be as good as, if not better than the prime time slots that you hear on the TV. That is who you will be competing with. And believe me, there is a lot of competition. The other mistake I made was that I sent my substandard demo to various production companies and talent agencies. First impressions last and I will know find it difficult to get work with these companies as they think I will provide a substandard product. Another wise man once said “your demo is to get you HUGE JOBS, ENORMOUS JOBS with flashing lights and brass bands playing as you march through town at the head of the parade whilst mere mortals throw themselves at your feet weeping and wailing "you are THAT guy. WE ARE NOT worthy dude!"”. That is how good your demo needs to be. Usually the only way to get to that point is to have all of the correct coaching, plenty of practice and then use a professional demo producer such as Chuck Doran to make your demo. Yes, it may cost $2,500 but it is well worth the investment as that is your one and only tool to get you jobs.
Be wary of Pay to Play sites. Voices.com and Voices123 can make you money. The only thing I warn people about is that it is in no way going to make a new voice talent rich. In fact, I would actually say that it may crush some souls. As a new talent you will find that your ratio of auditions to jobs won is horrendous and may end up making you contemplate giving up voice over. In truth, it may be an indication that you do not have what it takes to make it in voice over. There is also a lot of disdain towards these sites from professional voice actors who feel that sites like these are driving the price of all jobs downwards. What I find the sites are good for is practicing scripts. There is a wealth of new jobs posted every day and it is excellent practice for the beginner and intermediate. If you submit auditions then it can only improve your read quality over time and you may end up winning a job or two!
Enjoy it! I didn’t get into voice over to get rich. I do it because it is something I am passionate about. I wake up thinking about it. I go to sleep thinking about. I feel so comfortable when I am in the booth. If I never make substantial money at it then I will not be deterred, only disappointed. It will not stop me enjoying what I do. Yes, the end game is to eventually make enough money at it so I can quit my full time job and sustain myself and my family. Will that happen? I hope so. Will it be a disaster if it doesn’t? No.
I have my own goals set out. I am determined to meet them. But it will not stop me having a great time while I am in the booth.
Well that is all for now. All I can suggest is that you immerse yourself into this craft. It is fun and rewarding. I wish you all of the success that you desire. You will just have to work hard for it!