“Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.”
– Nolan Ryan
Q: How do I know if I have a voice for voice over?
A: If you have a voice…you have a voice for voice over. The world is full of different types of voices, and the voices used in traditional and new media are mirroring a more authentic and “natural” read. The Zen lies in the performance and delivery. So, instead of focusing on your sound, work with someone who can help you determine what avenue of voice over (e.g. commercial, promo, animation) might be the best fit for you.
Q: How long do I need to work with a voice coach/consultant before I can produce a demo?
A: There’s no way to know how long it will take before you’re properly prepared to head into a studio and put together this essential audio “calling card”. Once you can consistently deliver the reads on your demo, then you are likely ready to cut a demo that you will be proud of.
Q: Do I have to live in Los Angeles, New York or any other large market to be competitive?
A: Just like film acting, there are benefits to living in Los Angeles and New York. However, unless you’re shooting for large network promo or movie trailer work, where you live has little to do with your success as a talent. That being said, the use of ISDN and real-time internet delivery of audio (e.g. Source-Connect, ipDTL, etc.) make even the most coveted of bookings within reach…regardless of where you are located.
Q: Do I need a recording studio to be a working voice talent?
A: Yes and no. If you get to the point where you’re consistently booking, then you should likely investigate your own home recording setup, as it would be more cost effective and efficient. However, right out of the gate, there’s no reason to invest in equipment until you are earning a fair amount of income. I offer my studio up for my student’s use for a very small fee. When it’s time for you to put together your own studio, then I’ll be happy to consult with you on a setup that will work best for you.
Q: How much money can I earn as a voice talent?
A: I know talent that earn a few hundred bucks a year, and talent that earn over $1 million a year. There are simply too many variables to consider when calculating earning potential. Inherent skill and ability (both of which are greatly enhanced by training), the type of work you do (e.g. promo, commercial, etc.), the quality of your marketing and your representation, etc. Anyone that makes any promises about your income is selling you some snake oil. Solid skills, working hard and working smart…it gets the ball rollin’ and helps you reach your full potential.
Q: Why do you teach voice over?
A: I am very fortunate to have had a great mentor in Dallas, TX early on in my career. His name was Jerry Houston and he provided me a wonderful wealth of knowledge and training. That helped me build a very rewarding career that I still enjoy 20+ years later. He was a very successful voice talent and carved out a few hours a week to teach others. I started doing the same thing quite a few years ago and truly enjoy it. The opportunity to help develop talent…to help them set and meet their own personal goals…it is one of the best feelings in the world. Working as a full-time VO coach/consultant isn’t practical for most of us that earn a living in this industry. However, in my case, dedicating a few hours a week to assist others remains a source of satisfaction. It’s a joy to share something that has brought me so much personal and professional satisfaction.
Q: How do I know if I’m working with a reputable voice coach or consultant?
A: There are plenty of very capable and talented people that offer up their professional services as VO coaches and consultants. However, just like in the world of acting training, there’s a general diligent “buyer beware” attitude one must take before making a cash investment in their development as a talent. I know of very few full-time working talent that are also full-time coaches. They are out there…but few and far between. Some working talent, such as myself, offer up a few hours a week to coach others and provide guidance. Whether you work with me or with someone else, you should keep the following in mind as “positive” aspects to look for in a coach/consultant before setting out on a path of training:
- They earn a living as a VO talent.
- They can offer up a short list of working VO talent as their clients.
- They have a history as a successful creative (producer, ad agency, talent agency, etc.) professional. Actually, some of the most talented VO consultants I know of came from an agency or other creative background.
- They have been working as a coach and/or working voice talent for at least ten years.
That being said, there are things which should send up a warning flag as you explore the best route for your development. There are some out there that are voracious marketers of their services, but offer very little actionable information and guidance. They are in business to make money, yet fail to provide a reasonable return on your investment. Here’s a short list of initial warning signs you might encounter. These don’t necessarily indicate that you should be concerned, but you should remember to be diligent before entrusting someone with your career development.
- They make promises about your progress (especially without a reasonable prior assessment of your skills).
- They try to sell you ancillary services and products (e.g. representation in their “talent agency”, offer immediate demo production with no prior training or experience, training CDs/MP3s, etc.)
- They cannot provide you a list of working talent that are current or former students/clients.
- If they are a working talent, they cannot provide audio or video of recent projects.
“The moment you hear Marc’s smooth voice, you know he’s a true voiceover professional. He might not be able to give you his voice, but he’ll do the next best thing and teach you to use yours in his top-notch sound booth.”