Mistakes. We all make them! Making mistakes is part of learning and growing and while we all hate to make them, the value is in what we learn from them. The best part is we don’t have to make all of the mistakes ourselves, we can learn from the mistakes of others.
I get emails daily from people who want to become voice talents. They’ve heard all their life what a unique and wonderful voice they have, how special it is and how they are missing their calling of being a professional voice over talent. With pure exuberance and an unquenchable curiosity they contact me hoping to get the one answer that will make their dreams come true! Some are more curious than serious and some just want to make it happen so badly their excitement and sense of urgency leads to some really bad mistakes.
Here are some examples of bad mistakes aspiring voice talents tend to make:
• Not Investing In Training
Prior to cutting a demo, a voice talent should invest in high-quality voice over training to work on script analysis, delivery techniques, recording, working with recording software, basically, the skills you will need to actually be a voice talent. It takes some time to develop these skills and investing time in training and practicing your skills will increase your confidence and help you to accentuate your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses which will prepare you for your demos.
• Homemade Demos And Recording Demos Prematurely
Your demos speak for you and you need to make sure they speak well! They need to be professionally produced. I do not produce my own demos. Rather I work with a professional voice over talent, producer, and coach whom I can trust to bring out the best I have to deliver and I have been in the voice over business for over 20 years as a professional voice talent, coach, and producer. You need to have an experienced professional who can be objective and pull out your best voice. Demos must be succinct and should accurately reflect your abilities, range, and versatility as a voice over talent. Recording your demos is not the first step! Training and skill development first, demos second.
• Sending Agents Homemade Demos And Audio Clips
Checking out agencies and getting a feel for what is available as far as representation is good. What is even more important is putting your best foot forward. Agents want current professional demos not voice clips, and most will not even speak with you unless you have professionally produced demos to offer them. They want to be able to give a definitive yes or no based upon your demos. Lack of professionally produced demos demonstrates a lack of professionalism and as much as agents are representing you, make no mistake about it, you are representing them when they give you the opportunity to audition for a gig, so the more professional you come across, the better your chances for representation. That said, even some of the best voice talent get turned down periodically by agents because they may have similar voices they are representing too. My best advice is to invest in proper training and send agents professionally produced demos.
Ambition and excitement are wonderful qualities. Learning how to harness them and taking the appropriate steps to make good decisions will help you avoid unnecessary mistakes like these.
Demos! You’ve gotta have ‘em and they’ve gotta be awesome! So what does it take to get an awesome demo? First, understand what a demo is and what it isn’t. A demo is a critical tool, and without it, you’re not in business. It’s your calling card; it’s what gets you in the door! A demo is not just a bunch of spots thrown together and it’s definitely not something to skimp on or cut corners in producing. Your demo reflects your level of professionalism, your range, and the value you have to offer the client. It should provide just enough of a sampling to whet their appetite, draw them in, and leave them wanting for more, and should showcase your range and versatility.
All of this takes proper preparation and training. No amount of producing or background music will cover a talent’s inability to effectively deliver a variety of scripts. Get proper training and coaching before you cut your demo!
Every spot on your demo should be unique with the goal of highlighting your range and vocal abilities. Additionally, each spot should sound real, as if it were a paid gig. Pay attention to detail in your takes, the client most certainly will! The goal should be to make them want you!
Keep your demos clean and keep them up to date. Your demos need to be an accurate representation of you and your abilities. If your demos are outdated, the perception is that you are too! Be authentically you and be your best!
Invest in professionally produced demos! Work with a coach and director who is also a voice talent and producer, who understands the importance of a proper demo, someone who will be brutally honest with you, who is reputable, and knows how to produce awesome demos! You should be able to listen to samples of their previous demos. Is the music appropriate? Do the spots flow well? Does it sound clean or over-produced? Can you depict the versatility of the voice talent in the demo or is it just same voice, different background music? Be critical!
Demo production is definitely an investment and much of the expense is due to production costs. Licensed music can be very expensive. The time to properly edit and mix the audio tracks of the demo and add the music is also quite time consuming. Producers who are worth the price are also voice talents and coaches who have earned the ability to command a decent rate for their services, as the opportunity cost is that of paid gigs they could also be doing. This also accounts for the wide range of prices for demo production.
Look for the value not just the price! You get what you pay for and the most expensive is not always the best. This is an investment in your business that requires due diligence on your part. Your demo speaks for you. What is yours saying?