Getting Rejected By An Agent Doesn’t Mean Armageddon

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Getting rejected by an agent is not Armageddon.  We’ve all been there.  We continue to be there.  Even though I’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years, I still get turned down by the occasional agent around the country.  It happens to everybody and it happens a lot, especially when you’re first starting out.  You could have a killer demo and still get turned down.  Do me a favor and don’t be offended by this, because this is a big part of the industry. Don’t be a glass half empty person when you get turned down by an agent.  Be a glass half full person and do something about it.  If you get rejected from an agent either just move on to another agent or figure out different ways to get voice over work on your own – for example through networking through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’re very lucky that we have all of these tools that we can use today through the Internet.

As I’ve said before, 15 years ago the only way to get a voice over job was if you were booked by an agent.  So don’t sulk if you get turned down. It’s not Armageddon.  There are plenty of other opportunities to get voice over work without the help of an agent.   Sometimes when you do get turned down, it doesn’t mean that your demo is awful or your voice is awful.  The agent may have loved everything on the demo, it’s just that they might have a voice that’s already similar to yours and they just didn’t have a place for you right now.  That’s actually a pretty common response from agents who have enough talent and just are not willing to take any more on.

So don’t just sit there all wounded like you can’t do anything about it.  Just because you don’t have an agent doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in this industry.  I get along with agents pretty well and I still consider them a big player in the game.  They’re just not the ONLY player.  Some will tell you that.  Some will not.  They’re not going to tell you there are other ways to get voice over work other than through them.  They’re not going to go into all of the different ways you can network on social media.  They’re not going to tell you to call major corporations and ask to speak to the audio-visual director to see if they need voice talent.  They’re not going to tell you to join your local Chamber of Commerce or local business MeetUp groups where you can network by passing out your business cards, meeting business owners and marketers who might potentially need your voice.  Agents aren’t going to tell you that if you have an enormous web presence that clients are going to come to YOU looking for voice work.

Again, agents are wonderful people and I consider some of them to be my friends but If I had to depend on them to make a living doing voice over work, I would seriously be living on the street.  So again, if you get rejected by an agent, don’t think of it as the end of the world.  There are still other opportunities out there where you can get voice over work.

Now is it possible to go back to the agent who rejected you?  Well of course! As a matter of fact, they should be leaving the door wide open for you to do that.  If they didn’t like your demo or if they just didn’t feel a need for your voice, they should normally leave an open invitation for you to contact them maybe a few months down the road.  Or if they had certain problems with your demo and they wanted a couple of things switched around, once you get that done, you should be able to go back to them with a revised demo and set up another meeting. In the meantime, take advantage of these membership sites like Voices.com, VOPlanet.com, Voice123.com, Bodalgo.com.  Sure you have to pay to be a member of those sites but your guaranteed to get auditions sent to your inbox practically on a daily basis.

This is a great way to start your client pool.  You get a few jobs here and there.  Then you get a referral from somebody.  Then you get a couple of clients who want to use you for another project, so they contact you again. This is how you start your voice over business.  You start with just a handful of clients who could potentially grow to a dozen maybe two dozen clients a few months later.  It’s like any other entrepreneurial business.  You have to start from the ground up.

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    15 Responses to “Getting Rejected By An Agent Doesn’t Mean Armageddon”

    1. March 14
      Rick Jensen @ 10:00 am

      Great cheerleading, Terry. You may not appreciate how often the word “I” will be used in this personal example of Terry’s coaching, so maybe you can think of a better way to share this affirmation. Working as a radio personality and commercial producer for over 20 years, I got “serious” about Voiceover work in late 2008. My demo was cringe-worthy until I finally got it right in July 2009. I’ve done a little work for Nestle and regional producers by marketing myself and just signed a “non-exclusive” with a NY agent in December having been ignored by dozens of agents over the last year. My list of client production houses and ad agencies is slowly growing as is my work. I invested about $1,500 marketing myself last year, not including phone calls. I could easily have invested more. I also continue marketing myself to agents and thanks to learning from people like Terry who’ve been at this side of the biz for more years, I have no expectations, only goals.
      Asked what I do for a living, I say, “I audition… and then do an occasional voiceover.”

      Rick Jensen
      [email protected]

    2. March 14
      Morgan @ 1:12 pm

      I completely agree with you! I haven’t even tried to get an agent recently because I get more jobs outside of an agency. Though I can see the merit of having an agent, it’s definitely not all there is. Thanks for the tips in there, as well.

    3. March 15
      Cicely Mitchell @ 8:16 am

      Terry…. So well-written… We all experience rejection but it means that is apart of the journey. So often, demos get passed to others and other doors open… Stick with it, know that all is well and you are on the road to success…with different infinite numbers of paths to get there!

    4. December 19
      Howard Ellison @ 2:36 pm

      The power of positive thinking! From my ground start, and that’s not long ago, I called a biggish VO agency here in Devon, UK. I didn’t send a demo, just enquired politely. They replied ‘we engage only very experienced performers. Newcomers may send in a demo CD, but we are unlikely to listen to it sooner than six months’. Woweee! Howzat for a confidence booster! So I joined Voices.com and after a brief silence started to get auditions and then my FIRST BOOKING. And then the next…with kind feedback.
      So I am well plugged into America: thankyou. I have found encouragement, friendly advice from old hands, masses of material that you and Stephanie put out, Kevin Delaney’s workouts, webinars, the Alburger book… it all HAPPENS, and I never feel rejection, I just learn.

    5. February 8
      Maya Kuper @ 9:19 pm

      You say “agents won’t tell you there are other ways to get VO work than through them,” but actually agents WANT and EXPECT you to market yourself on your own. Their job is NOT to “get you work.” Their job is to NEGOTIATE ON YOUR BEHALF. They send you auditions because they have access to the work, but an agent is MORE likely to sign you if you are out there drumming up work on your own.

      So, want to get an agent? Then by all means, sign up on the pay-for-play sites and do the social-networking game and everything else. Work begets work.

      Agents will always be interested in WORKING talent. Last week, I recommended one of my VO students to a producer who needed someone for a specific VO booking. My student was hired. Two weeks later, the producer called my student to hire her for two more booking. Since my student could obviously use help negotiating her rate, I emailed a few agents on behalf of my student, including a link to the first spot. Several of the agents wrote back and TWO signed her right then and there.

      • February 8
        Terry Daniel @ 9:55 pm

        Hi Maya,

        Thank you for your comments. The point of my blog was to encourage new talents to keep their chin up and move forward EVEN if they get rejected by an agent. I’ve been in the industry for over twenty years and I am aware of what agents responsibilities are. They are still a big part of the game but they are no longer the only player. There are more ways than ever to get voice-over work today without an agent and it doesn’t necessarily mean being a member of one of the pay-to-play sites. It could mean having a good voice-over website that is visible in the search engines. That is how I get a lot of my work. And please don’t knock social networking. In 2010, I met 20 clients from either Facebook or Twitter and it really wasn’t hard work.

        Yes, agents are interested in working talent. That isn’t relevant to the point I was trying to make in the blog. I have dealt with too many students who just quit because they were turned down by an agent. It is important to teach those who are getting into voice-overs that it is not the end of the world, if they get turned down. As I mentioned in the blog, I would be living on the street if I had to depend on agents to get steady work.

        I work with a ton of e-learning and medical companies direct and that has been my main bread and butter. I realize it is different for all talents. Some do great with agents and some don’t. I am lucky enough to be making a decent living without them. It’s no knock on them. I have just found other ways to get work. I teach my students to do it both ways. Work with agents but also work to find other ways to get VO work.

    6. February 9
      Davie Kimm @ 11:20 am

      Terry,

      Great blog, and I have referred back to it a time or two just to keep my chin up!

      Funny how this came back around when I was offered representation yesterday with my first agency! No, I do not expect to get rich now but, just another piece of my marketing arsenal to obtain steady repeat clients!

      Rock on!

    7. February 22
      Where are the agents? Right here. « eVOlutionary steps @ 7:28 am

      […] representation. And as it has been pointed out before, getting rejected by an agent isn’t the end of the world. But you have to start somewhere, and this is a good place to […]

    8. March 7
      cameron foord @ 1:43 pm

      Thanks, Terry. Encouraging and informative!

    9. April 8
      Robert @ 11:08 pm

      Thanks Terry!

    10. April 26
      Lisa Simon-Ramsey @ 10:08 am

      I have been an entertainer for many decades and am a fledgling voice artist. I wish I would have discovered a knack for this work a long time ago and thus saved myself a lot of years. Being of “old school” mentality, finding an agent was on the top of my list, but I hate to rely solely on that avenue. By the same token, I am clueless about modern technology and tools that can help market my work. My online research “VO for Dummies” hasn’t been very helpful because sites I’ve visited contain things I already know or have done to launch this endeavor. I am industrious and no stranger to hard work and perserverance. However, I would love to find a mentor willing to share their guidance/experience so that I can stay on the right track, especially when it comes to self marketing. Any volunteers?

      • April 26
        Terry Daniel @ 10:13 am

        Hi Lisa,

        Thank you for the comments. We do coaching, so let us know if we can help. In the meanwhile, you can try our members area for only a buck. All kinds of educational training modules on recording, auditioning, marketing and more. Good luck! http://www.voiceoverclub.com/join-now

    11. November 17
      Jerry Lord @ 7:34 pm

      Terry,

      During the webinar featuring E. Clark, you referenced a sound deadening material that could be purchased at Wal Mart. What is the name of that material?

      Thx

      • November 17
        Terry Daniel @ 10:46 pm

        Hi Jerry,

        Egg-crate mattress material works great!

    12. July 22
      ross pakula @ 7:23 am

      i agree but it seems since i am starting out that home studio seems to “pop” into almost all that i do.. and id like to get some traction through other means.

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