Monday, 27 January 2020

How does a Voiceover Artist get a Voiceover Agent?

90% of voiceover talent say they have an outstanding demo.

Research the standards for demos in the genres you plan to create them in. Use top quality national copy that is customized for your voice. Do not self direct; rely on the expert skills of a trained coach. Do not self produce. Hire a skilled producer who is known for their work on voice-over demos.

84% of the voiceover talent said they have a great coaches and instructors.

Having had the right teachers speaks to your ability beyond the highly produced demo. Each coach should have a clear area of expertise. One coach may not be all you need. Many talent find that training with a variety of coaches helps them to fast track their goal of landing a big agent.

75% of voiceover talent said have a great referral.

It’s important to have friends. Other voiceover talent are not only a wealth of hints and advice but they may be your golden ticket to a high powered agent. 

But choose wisely; a referral needs to be someone the voiceover agent works with and respects.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Voiceover Artists are cool

According to new research, conducted by MSN, being a Voiceover Artist is among the ten coolest jobs. 

Working as a Voice Actor, as the Americans seem to prefer to call it, is the tenth coolest job to have. How lucky are we?!    

Monday, 6 January 2020

How does a Voiceover Agency cope without the internet?

Terrific! On Tuesday afternoon the broadband connection to our office went down. Completely. It had been playing up all morning, but then after one of those wonderful “power cycles” to try to solve the problem, the internet failed. Completely.

How can you run an internet-based voiceover business without the internet? Quite Tricky.

Why the phone line (on which the broadband is carried) still works is a mystery to me – and my neighbour – who had the opposite problem a few months back.

After a frustrating call routed via India and a guy instructing me on how to diagnose the problem which involved a series of increasingly bizarre questions, a screwdriver and the BT socket, he gave up and transferred me back to the UK.

Eventually a nice man from BT was promised on Thursday morning who would come out to fix the problem on what the nice woman in Southampton called ” a free visit”. Quite why she was so pleased to speak to someone else in “the south” I don’t know. I was going to ask, and then reminisce about my seven years living there (working for BBC Radio Solent and Ocean Sound/Power FM) and my first ever professional voiceover engagement in Eastleigh, but I decided against it.

True to their word a nice little man from BT turned up today, got out his screwdriver and laptop, fiddled about under my desk and the mass of wires there and eventually diagnosed a faulty filter. He then apologised and said he’d have to charge me for the filter. (That’s fair enough I thought). Oh and for his time. So which bit of the this was a “free visit”?

Still, I am delighted that the voiceover business is back up and running again. Now to that backlog of emails….

Monday, 30 December 2019

How do I find voiceover work?

Sometimes finding voiceover work when you are self-employed can come from the most unexpected sources.

Through a strategy of a good new website, advertising using Google Adwords and a great guy who does most of our search engine optimisation work (to get the website listed high up on the google free - or organic - listings), BigFish Media is now proudly on page one. It's very rewarding and has taken most of last year to achieve.

It is because of all these things that clients find our voiceover services. However, a great source of new unexpected work came through a most peculiar route: My partner had his hotmail account hacked and lost all of his contacts and emails. All of his contacts were then emailed with a link which threatened to do the same thing to them.

So, being the nice guy I am, I emailed all the contacts to tell them to ignore the email and delete it. One of them then returned the email offering me some lucrative presentation training work with an international law firm.

Even for voiceovers, its a funny old world eh?

Monday, 23 December 2019

How do I get to be a Voiceover Artist?

Every week we get many people calling or emailing for advice on a voiceover career, so I thought it worth posting this.

So how do you become a voiceover artist? How do you get to be as good as the people who do voice-overs for radio stations and provide the voices of so many commercials?

Well do you know who they are and what they do? Why do you want to become one? Why do you think you can do it as well or better?

Things for you to do and think about. What you need to do first?

Get involved with your local hospital radio station. It will give you technical experience, experience in front of the microphone: everything you will need to give you a thorough grounding in using your voice.

Do you have a local theatre group or amateur dramatic society? Find them and volunteer, voiceover work IS ACTING!!! Even the simplest voice over requires performance skills.

Do you have a mobile phone? Change the voice mail message on it every day, try to impress people with it. Make a note of what works for your voice-over and what doesn't.

Find someone to whom you can regularly read a story. If you're good at characters, well a good story will give you plenty of opportunity to prove it.

Do you want to go on a course and get some professional voiceover training? They'll teach you how to get the best out of your voice.

Enthusiasm is great and it will get you through the tough times, but a space shuttle pilot got to sit in his seat through a combination of training, experience, dedication, enthusiasm and hard work now you must do the same.

I suspect like most people keen to follow a career in voice-over work you would like to phone someone up tomorrow morning and be paid to voice something for them tomorrow afternoon. I've never known that happen for anyone. Now it's time for you to put in the work.

A good, clever or flexible voice is only rung one on a very long ladder. Imagine I am a producer and you need to give me a reason why I should use you in preference to someone else, what would you say? You can't say good voice, good impressions, good at accents; the other guy has got that already.

Work in the voiceover industry can be feast or famine and in the early days it will be thin on the ground, you just need to keep telling people that you are out there. Remember it is not a salaried job so if you don't work, you don't earn. There can be travel involved depending on what voiceover work you are doing.

With the right equipment it is possible to work from home but you will need to find the space for an office and voice-over booth. You can set yourself up for about £4,000. You will need to buy at least one computer and printer, an ISDN codec, editing software (eg Pro Tools or Adobe Audition), Microsoft Office and a decent microphone (Neumann are the best by far but very expensive).

Using ISDN technology you can be accessed live from around the world; most local radio commercial voiceovers are recorded this way. If you are working alone from home (especially without an agent) you will need the drive and determination to succeed, as well as being your own IT expert, accountant, office manager and marketing manager. Just having "a good voice" is not nearly enough.

You will then need to build up your voice-over contacts book, market yourself using the internet, the phone and email. It is possible to break in, and there are lots of people who will give you a first chance, but if you try before you are ready you could very easily blow it. Producers of voiceovers talk to one another so your first session could also be your last.

Practice reading aloud, record yourself, listen to voice-overs on TV, radio, film and ask yourself why they are good or bad. Could you have done better?

BigFish Media are happy to produce your voiceover showreel. Please contact us for details. Any demo longer than 90 seconds is too long. What are you going to put on it? That's up to you, but before you decide, get advice from the experts.

How do I find a good Voiceover Artist?

What do you normally do when your client comes to you and asks you to find them a Voiceover Artist?

Do you point them towards an agency and let them get on with it?

Perhaps you suggest hiring the voice you hired last time, to save the trouble?

Or maybe you panic about the best way forward, perhaps even by trying to convince them that they don’t need one for their project, and that it’s strong enough to speak for itself?

If any of the above seems familiar then you’re not alone, but it doesn’t have to be quite like that. In the same way that technology has revolutionised the business of making video in the last decade, that same technology has seen a quiet revolution in the world of the Voiceover Artist.

The equipment to produce professional audio doesn’t cost what it once did, and this has meant that more “voices” than ever are working from home studios and marketing themselves either outside, or as well as, traditional artiste/agency relationships. I know because I’m one of them.

Voiceover Artists all over the world now use the internet to find, or attract, work,  whether through their own websites like BigFish Media, or via one of the online casting directories. 

If your client is on a budget, then cutting out both the agency fees, and the time and cost of taking your talent into a production facility with an engineer, could make an attractive difference to the balance sheet. Not only that, but the quality of the finished audio might well surprise you.

Of course you need to do your homework. The lower the bar of entry, the more any profession becomes attractive to those who don’t necessarily possess the skills to do it justice.

But the beauty of the internet is that you and your client can check out what you’re likely to get back before you engage a voiceover talent. You can even ask for a sample as an audition. Most voiceovers will be happy to record a part of your script and deliver it in a format of your choice.

If you get them to do that, then you’ll know exactly the quality of the end product,  including the voiceover artists delivery, technical quality and editing skills.

What should you expect to pay? Well, the price range varies hugely. On some casting sites you might be lucky and pay well under the £250 or so that’s still perceived to be the ballpark hourly rate you’d pay for taking your talent into a studio.

But make sure you do that homework: if you don’t, then that £45 voiceover track that seemed like such a bargain at the time might not turn out to be all it promised.

It’s still true that in voiceovers – as in life – you generally get what you pay for. Buy cheap, buy twice. And if you’re paying £250 for your voiceover artist, but not paying the traditional associated costs on top, that is still a huge saving.

Check that your agreed rate includes things such as preparation time, session fees, studio costs, de-breathing editing and file transfer. BigFish Media will do all these for you.

Check the talent’s policy on re-takes or amendments in case there’s anything that you or your client aren’t happy with. Don’t be afraid to ask for a written quote. And make sure you have agreed any usage fees, if appropriate.

It’s true that not every project needs a voiceover, but the next time that one does, take heart: With a bit of care, and with the help of the internet, Voiceover Artists from all over the world are now well within your reach.

Monday, 16 December 2019

A strange tale from our Voiceover Agency

Sometimes life as a voiceover agent is exciting: you never know how the day is going to turn out or what challenges and riches await.

Other days it is just bizarre.

We took a call from a guy who we will call Mark so claimed to be, let's say, Leeds. We have a chat: what's the voiceover price for a job and what's the project etc. We agree a fee and he will email me the script. He is surprised that I can deliver by tomorrow lunchtime, so I thought here's another potentially happy customer.

A few hours later there is still no email, so, after checking my spam inbox, I call him. Mark must have been on the phone because it was one of those annoying "I am busy, call back later" answerphone messages that don't allow you to leave a message. This is my first alarm bell.

A while passes and I call him back again and speak to the same guy about the voiceover he wanted (at least it sounds like the same guy) who denies being Mark. Bemused I hang up.