11 Step Guide to Voice-Over Success
The voice over industry is estimated to be worth $12.3 billion worldwide with expanding mediums into mobile radio, apps with audio, and podcasting. Having a successful demo is the key to finding voice-over work. Here is a guide to promoting your voice with tips on what works and what doesn’t.
1. Perform Market Research
Tracking trends and popular voice-over applications will help you keep up to date. You can use resources such as Forrester Research, Nielsen, and the National Association of Broadcasters to gauge growth and trends in the industry.
Currently, the five most popular demo types searched on Voices.com job listings are business, internet, educational, telephone, and television listings. The available job posts listed are 65% business related and 25% education.
2. Have a Performance Preference
Take some time to identify your preferred voice-over role such as an instructor, spokesperson, narrator, real person, or announcer. You can choose from many target applications from commercial, narration, animation, and more. Aim for the types of roles you want or are best suited for.
3. Map a Timeline
There are three main categories that demos fall in. If you intend to distribute over the internet, plan to keep the demo no more than 60 seconds or 1mb in size. Here is a look at what each category entails.
• Commercial: Highlights a range of emotions, selling styles, moods, and characters. Normally 60-90 seconds.
• Narration: Can be used for business, educational, medical, technical, or storytelling. Average time is 90 seconds up to 5 minutes for audiobooks.
• Animation: Featuring anywhere from 8 to 12 characters, each with a distinct tone, sound, and style. Humorous based scripts can offer animation focused demos and should run for 60 to 120 seconds.
4. Seek Help
Connecting with voice coaches, teachers, and attending seminars can help you build relationships and enhance your current knowledgebase of the industry. Be sure to also connect with local recording studios.
5. Use a Script
Your scripts should be conversational and friendly. Cover a variety of topics and avoid using brand names. Consider royalty free scripts or working with a producer.
Continue to practice so you will know your character. Listen to music of the time period to seek inspiration and practice speaking in character. Be familiar with how the story ends before you get there.
This is something you can do yourself with use of software such as Sound Forge, Cubase, or GarageBand. You can also contact a local recording studio to demo with more sophisticated equipment. Use multi-track recording to add depth and layers to your recording.
8. Use Music and Sound Effects
Stay away from using music in demos focused towards audiobooks and narration. Choose music that is appropriate, complementary to your voice, royalty-free, or licensed when used in your recording.
Music is typically chosen for demos that are aimed towards commercials, animation, promos, telephony, trailers, imaging, and jingles. Did you know that more than 90% of television ads feature music?
9. Edit and Finalize
When listening to your recording, ensure that your voice is the loudest and clearest element of the mix. Export the recording as a MP3 and AAC file and test it on a variety of systems.
You can upload your video to sites such as Voices.com to increase your visibility. Properly name and describe your demo with the name of it, description, tags, category, language, and voice age.
11. Promote and Manage
Your voice is your small business so promote and manage it as such. Keep track of your expenses and create a professional website. Add your experience to social profiles and link to your demo.
If you choose to solicit a voice talent agent, they typically receive 10-15% commission. Unions such as SAG, AFTRA, ACTRA, and AEA accept voice talent inclusions.