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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Getting Started in VO: An Alternative Path

If you are a new talent, you may find yourself struggling to break into the business for any number of reasons. Many aspiring voice actors have the talent and desire to make it in this industry, but are held back by a lack of funds which prevents them from getting the coaching and training they need. Professionally produced demos, (an essential item for any talent who wishes to be competitive,) can often seem out of reach financially. Websites, online casting memberships or union dues, gear and acoustical treatment can all seem far too expensive to someone who is not yet earning at the level of a pro VO. Furthermore, the often career-defining element of building a brand, networking, and making connections who can help you book can be mystifying at the start of a career.

For motivated talent who need an entry into the business, and a little income that can both help pay the bills and cover the cost of beginning a VO career, there exists an option that is becoming more and more common with the advent of social media and the interconnected nature of the business today: Offering support services to established talent.

Talent with longstanding and successful careers don't get there entirely on their own. Long-form narrators would suffer tremendous profit loss if they edited their own audio. If you are in the studio all day between client work and auditions, what time does that leave for marketing and brand building? Even fielding all the emails a working talent receives in a day can be a challenge. If that talent is a coach and demo producer, like some of us are, that volume can easily double. I've had this conversation with many well-known pros, and we all agree on one thing: Our business would grow a lot faster if we could simply clone ourselves!

Fortunately, we don't have to. Today, dozens of aspiring talent have put their knowledge of editing, production, communication, marketing/branding, and the industry in general to good use by offering these services to working pros. These support services certainly don't pay like VO work does, but they offer an entry into the marketplace for talent that may not yet have found their foothold. They earn some money, build contacts and relationships, find themselves on casting lists, and learn by doing. Ultimately, they can apply the knowledge they gain and the hands they shake, (literally or virtually,) to the advancement of their own VO careers, and transition to full time voiceover work with a wealth of experience and insider tips that many aspiring talent would happily pay for.

If you are at a point in your pursuit of VO where things aren't moving as quickly as you hoped, spend some time on social media, (especially in the VO groups on Facebook and LinkedIn,) and see if you have skills that other talent may find useful. You will be amazed at the doors that can open for you.

7 comments:

  1. Great idea! Learning the business with a defacto mentor while making valuable contacts is a key for success in this industry. There are a lot of great experiences people can bring to the VO world, especially if they have been in a corporate environment exposed to how a company needs to run to be profitable.

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  2. Great post J.Michael! I'm finding exactly what you are referring to by making it known to my circle of contacts that I'm available for editing their audio for medium to long form e-learning and audio book projects. I keep my rate affordable and my turnaround fast to help the talent meet their deadlines, and their budget. It provides an additional revenue stream and keeps me in my studio, and therefore accessible, instead of say, a part time job somewhere else. Ron Allan, BIG VOICE Productions, LLC

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  3. Can you give me an idea of what reasonable rates are for this sort of thing? Thanks!

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  4. Hi Judy,

    $20-$30/working hour is pretty standard.

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  5. Thanks for the information. Another approach to getting your feet wet before diving in. I'll explore this approach. Warren

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