Thursday, 25 October 2012

'Everyone says I've got a nice voice!'

Many people out there have great sounding voices, but how many of those great sounding people can make a successful living out of the gift of the gab? In my experience getting anywhere in the Voiceover world takes a lot more than just being blessed with an interesting, likeable or charismatic voice. 'How hard can it be to talk into a microphone all day?! Surely anyone can do it!', I hear you say...

In theory, yes. Anyone can rock up to a microphone, speak into it and record a demo. But how many aspiring Voiceover Artists are aware of the basics of microphone technique, studio etiquette, the significance of branding, the importance of networking (cyber and in the flesh), and the pressures of coping with auditions and rejections on a daily basis? And what of the significance of vocal care and preparation to enable VO's to consistently provide a quality product? Because like it or not, if you want to work as a Voice, you have to see your voice as your product; a product that requires branding, packaging, marketing and advertising. Constantly.

The Voice world differs greatly from other sections of the performing arts. It is more corporate, often better paid, and must be approached as a business from start to finish if clients are to be won, secured and retained. Agents are of course an asset, but the buck does not stop with them when it comes to expanding and growing the awareness of your voice within the industry.

That brings me to another point - which industry are you targeting with your voice? Commercials, Video gaming, IVR telephone work, elearning, audiobooks, are just a few sectors that Voiceover Artist work in. Each area has different demands for a VO.  For Video gaming, can you effectively and quickly use your acting skills to place yourself in a strange world you have never seen- often without the other characters voices to respond to? For Audiobooks, can you sustain the same style of narration throughout a novel, with up to 16 -20 hours of recorded material? Can you be consistent with character voices that you create in the story, and move swiftly and seamlessly from one to the other, and back to your narrator voice again? Can your vocal cords cope with the stress and demands of speaking for hours on end? For commercials, are you capable of selling a product, of connecting with the audience quickly? Do you understand exactly what it entails to hit the right words in the script copy, in the required time, without sounding rushed, and whilst maintaining clarity, all under the watchful, hopeful eyes of the producer, client and sound engineer? And for all Voice work, do you have enough awareness of your voice to ensure that you aren't making ugly noises with your mouth, or breathing heavily? Are you able to sit or stand still enough to not knock your chair or your script stand to ensure you don't inadvertently ruin an otherwise perfect take? (It happens to everyone at some point!)

So yes, in theory everyone and anyone with access to a micrphone could work as a voice artist. In practice, though, only those with commitment, a desire to learn and improve, and who can run their career as a thriving business are going to see the career highs and financial returns they desire. It is a highly competitive market. Do you have the skills to make a significant entrance into this exciting career?  Something to think about next time someone comments on how great you'd sound as a Voiceover Artist. The skill is in making it all sound easy. Do you have more to offer than just a 'nice voice'?