Frequently Asked Questions: Talents
— From Current and Future Voice Over Talents
How do I become a voiceover talent?
You might want to read my blog post: What Does It Take To Work In Voiceover?. First and foremost, you have to realize that nearly everyone who does this for a living is self-employed, because voiceover is a business, not just a job. But it can be a great way to earn a living, especially if you need to work from your own location. It’s also a great way to get to know people everywhere even if it’s just via emails and social networks. But it’s also hard work and requires performance skills, technical skills and definitely business skills.
What kind of mic do you use?
The Shure SM7b — sturdy and dependable. Since I’m in Florida, I wanted a mic that doesn’t mind humidity and that I woudn’t have to baby. The SM7b has the rugged quality of most dynamic mics, but also has the wide frequency response of good condenser mics, which are more common in voiceover studios. To learn more about the differences between dynamic and condenser mics, visit:Condenser vs. Dynamic Microphones
I’m a female voice over doing a project in English that also requires Spanish. Can I or my client hire you to do just the Spanish portion?
Definitely. I get a lot of work that’s referred by other voice talents helping their clients obtain the Spanish voice for current projects. For more details, please contact me or visit FAQ From Voice Over Seekers.
Can you recommend audio software for voice over work?
Adobe Audition 3.0 if you use a Windows PC, Adobe Soundbooth for Mac but reluctantly. Protools is probably better but can be pricey and unnecessarily complicated. People starting out use Audacity which is free and is available for PC or Mac. Adobe Audition is one-stop shopping for audio production. It can easily handle (1) sound recording, (2) sound editing, (3) mixing, (4) mastering and even (5) synthesizing/MIDI production. Adobe also bundles it with “loopology” clips which allow you to create your own sound beds for complete voiceover production. It also comes with all the plugins you would need for the most common sound effects, including its own built-in vocoder.
I’m not very technical or good with computers. Do I really need to be if I want to do voiceovers?
Absolutely. If you want to have your own business, computers are essential tools. For voiceover talents, computers are probably the next most important recording studio component after the microphone. Most voiceover today is produced on digital audio workstations (DAW), which are basically computers with good audio programs and possibly an embedded audio interface (analog to digital converter). Understanding not only computers, but also basic audio engineering principles is really incredibly important in this business.
Can’t I do all my voiceover recording at a commercial recording studio?
If there’s one convenient to your location, absolutely you can. But you’ll be paying for the recording studio session out of your voiceover fee or passing that added cost directly to your client. And of course, that total charge will have to compete with the rates charged by talents who don’t have those added costs because they record at home.
Do I need a talent agent?
To gain access to top commercial projects, a reputable voice talent agent can be a real benefit. A great deal of work is available without an agent provided you network with other talents, advertise through web sites or other media, or use a freelance job posting site. But a funny thing seems to be happening since so much of voiceover work has moved onto the web: more job referrals are coming from other voiceover talents instead of agents.
Do you have a voice talent agent?
I’m happily listed with Voice Talent Productions in New York. But nearly all of my work comes through my own web site. There is little down side to having an agent refer jobs to you. But an agent is not a publicist and so it’s not unusual that more work comes from whatever I do to put myself out there.
I have profile pages in a couple voiceover job marketplaces. Should I have my own voiceover web site?
In my humble opinion — absolutely! A profile page can get some things accomplished but, in my experience, it can also be way too restrictive. Plus, you’re just one page in a database full of other voiceover talents. With your own web site, you can do much more to get yourself found by prospective clients.
Should I join a union?
That will definitely depend on the type of voice work you want to solicit or are already getting. If you’re having to pass on a lot of union jobs you’d like, it may be time to join up. I have an old high school buddy who now does ADR in Los Angeles and he has no choice but to be listed with AFTRA and SAG. Geographically, I’m nowhere near the type of work that would require union membership and I don’t go after a lot of commercial work via the Internet. I do get TV and radio spots but always from production companies that are free to hire union or non-union. I am sometimes sent audition requests for union jobs and have to pass on those. But, the unions may also have some restrictions that would force me to pass on non-union jobs that are more abundant. It’s probably a good idea to see what jobs are more available to you first, and then decide.
Do I need to take acting classes to do voiceover?
I have a real bias in favor of acting classes. I was painfully shy as a girl and acting helped me build confidence. Now that I’m older, I’m totally over all my old inhibitions. I have all new inhibitions now! Beginning acting classes help build skills that you can use in so many situations: presenting a speech, mingling at a party, entertaining your kids, or any time you are communicating ideas and emotions with your body and voice. Many community colleges offer acting classes. There are also workshops and other learning opportunities in small community theaters. If nothing else, acting classes can help you feel more comfortable in your own skin and that’s something that will definitely come through in your voice, as will the opposite.