Professional Voice Over Demo
First of all, if you are a beginner, I encourage you to work with a reputable voice over coach before even THINKING about creating a demo!!! The coach will often provide demo creation for you as part of their voice over coaching services. Working with a coach is a good idea even if you have years of experience! There’s always something new to learn.
If you’re creating a demo on your own it’s often best to find a reputable studio with an engineer who produces a lot of commercial and corporate work. This voice over demo will be your major selling tool. You want it to be as professional as possible. If you want to rough out a voice over demo on your own beforehand to take with you to the session, that’s fine. It might be helpful for both you and the engineer. But don’t do a first time, beginner, homemade voice over demo and start trying to get an agent with it! Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Some smaller agencies might take a listen, but they’re going to send you for a professional voice over demo before they start representing you for voice work. If you’re working on your own without a coach (which I don’t recommend unless you have some good, solid experience), be sure you work with a very experienced engineer – someone with whom you have a good rapport. These guys and gals, who have been engineering for many years, have heard it all and can give you valuable guidance, but, you don’t want to be completely intimidated either!
As a beginner, you may just want to make one voice over demo to start. Usually, everyone starts with a Commercial Demo. Try including a variety of styles, attitudes, and tempos. After creating a solid Commercial Demo, if you feel your voice would lend itself well to the corporate world, you might follow with a long form narration demo.
After you have some actual work under your belt and have acquired copies of actual spots you’ve done, you may want to create separate specialized voice over demos. Keep the demos SHORT – Usually 1 minute with Narration demos SOMETIMES stretching to 1 ½ minutes. Most directors and producers make a decision as to whether you’re right for their project in the first few seconds – much as we’d all like to think they listen all the way through to hear all that we can do. So, put your best material FIRST! That’s assuming, of course, that they even take the time to listen at all. Sorry, it’s a tough world. Unless they’re casting something at that very moment, your CD or mp3, cute as the label or email is, probably won’t get heard if you randomly drop it off or mail it, which is why your marketing will be so important – more about that in just a moment. As for the snap judgments when they do listen to voice over demos, try it yourself. Visit a voice talent web site and just cruise through the voice over demos. At first, you might listen to each demo all the way through. Then, you’ll find yourself, hearing the first few words, and feeling like you’ve got the essence of that particular voice and you’re ready to move on. By the way, listening to other professional voice talent demos is a great way to learn what you’re going for – and what you want to avoid. You’re an individual and you want to be yourself, but listening to other working professionals will give you an idea of what’s booking and how you measure up.
Be sure to find out what the studio will charge for your voice over demo. Some studios offer a special rate to talent producing a voice over demo. Others will not. You will have to pay for studio time, editing, effects, music, and duplication – and your coach if she/he is producing it for you. Studio time varies, but can run around $100 – $150 + per hour. You will probably be recording in the studio for about 1 hour and then the editing process, with the addition of sound effects and music, may take another 2 – 4 hours or more. This is why you want to be as prepared as possible! If you find a good voice over coach, it would be helpful to have him or her attend the session to help direct you. They will often help select the pieces of copy that would be best suited to you, as well. You will need to budget payment for the coach as well. One of the most excruciating things for a performer can be trying to create that perfect voice over demo. It’s hard to be objective and hard to know what to cut. An experienced “ear” can be a tremendous help!
You’ll want a CD or two at minimum – although you’ll use mp3s most often. If you have an agent or are seeking an agent, you may need to either drop it by or send a copy to them. More often, now, you can just email an MP3 or a link to your demo on the internet. Some agents and internet listing services request that you mail a CD as they are concerned about opening attachments. You’ll have to either have professional CD labels made or create your own on your computer with special software that is readily available at office supply stores. You can either have many copies of your CD voice over demo made by a studio or web sites that specialize in making copies of CDs or you can burn them yourself as needed from your master if you have the required computer skills. You probably don’t need a huge quantity of your voice over demo CDs on hand as you may find the need to “tweak” the voice over demo as soon as you actually do some work or to meet the requirements of your new agent.
To learn more about becoming a professional voice talent please follow the links below:
Voice Over – Articulation Exercises
Voice Over – How To Read Copy
Voice Over – Demo
Voice Over – Agents
Voice Over – Talent
Voice Over – Home Studio
Voice Over – Internet Professionals
Voice Over – Professional Voice Talent
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