Hiring a voiceover talent through a job posting marketplace is generally free to the voice seeker and extremely easy. There are a number of voiceover marketplaces where you can post your job and obtain auditions from qualified voiceover talents as well as others struggling to break into the business. The voice you are searching for may be relatively new and untested or a seasoned pro. At any rate, there is something you should understand before you post your job:
- Usually, anyone can sign up. Most if not all of the voiceover marketplaces work on a subscription basis. That’s how they generate their revenues and it’s in their best interest to have a lot of subscribing voiceover talents. This means their are no prerequisite auditions to join. The marketplace’s income grows with the talent pool and pretty soon everyone’s drowning. You can invest considerable time auditioning people who just can’t deliver. If you have that kind of time, go for it. The average open job can yield 100 submissions and most are probably upwards of 200 unless you’re able to set submission limits and do so.
If you’re OK with volume submissions, here are a few things to consider to minimize risks and make the process more effective for all parties:
- What is the talent’s voiceover background? All the voiceover talents answering leads in a marketplace are provided with web space for a profile page. That page should provide information regarding voiceover experience, training, and something of a client list (certainly if the voice talent does commercial work). There should also be links to quality demos.
- If that page has little or no information, you may be dealing with a hobbyist or a voice talent who doesn’t take the profession very seriously. You can still get good work but blind trust may have to factor in.
- Also look for an external link to the talent’s professional voice web site. Few professional voice actors rely solely on profile pages. It’s not a slam dunk but a lack of a pro website may indicate you’re not dealing with a pro.
I don’t mean that to sound elitist but some projects require a level of professionalism and discretion. Maybe it’s a corporate DVD promo which includes trade secrets or a training video on hospital policies and procedures requiring non-disclosure agreements. Voice actors get the inside scoop on a lot of content. You want to deal with professionals who understand confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.
- What is the talent’s technical background? Although the voiceover industry in the 80’s developed almost exclusively in professional recording studios, today home studios are the predominant method of production and delivery. You’ll want to hire a voice talent with either easy access to a studio or who has at least a basic understanding of sound engineering for voice. If the information isn’t on the profile page or pro website, find out how and where the talent handles recording sessions and whether they charge extra for the recording session.
- What and how will the talent deliver? A professional voiceover talent can accommodate all standard audio formats.
- You should know what audio file format you’ll need for your project: wav, aiff, mp3, uLaw. For example, uncompressed wav or aiff formats are generally better for broadcasts and film narrations. High quality compressed audio files at 16 bit/48k or 24 bit/96k are generally better for DVD, and 8bit uLaw is usually needed for older voicemail systems. Although you can generally convert audio quality down (downsample), you don’t want to convert up (upsampling). So don’t ask for 8 bit uLaw files unless you know that’s what you need.
- Mono is the standard for unmixed voiceover. Let’s be real. It’s one voice, one channel. You have a single source going into one mic through one cable into one channel on sound editing software. Even if you record through two microphones for a special effect, those mics each have a designated cable and pipe the audio stream onto one channel each. So, technically all audio production is a process of recording in mono (one source per channel ). Stereo and Dolby are post-production mixing processes. But I digress . . .
- Also, consider how you’ll get the finished audio files from point A to point B. Larger files are too cumbersome for email attachments and no one wants to wait for a CD sent by snail mail. See if the voiceover talent has a client FTP site for immediate downloads or create your own FTP site if you’ll be hiring a lot of voiceover talents. This will simplify the process of audio file deliveries.
- Many voiceover talents who maintain a client FTP site don’t charge extra for this type of delivery. I don’t. I find that maintaining my own FTP site which is reliable and familiar to me speeds up the delivery process and more than makes up for the cost of maintaining it. In fact, most web hosting packages will include at least one FTP account, so really there is little reason not to have that capability at either end.