The Importance of Listening Skills for Voiceover Work

Voice acting requires that you speak and act well, but what you may not realize is that this career requires that you listen as well. Listening, which is an integral aspect of any form of communication, helps any voice actor learn control, adapt to new styles, and become more confident overall. Listed below are three of most compelling reasons why listening skills for voiceover work are vital.

  1. Listening helps you build your collection of voices.

Voice over projects can come in many forms. So whether you will be working on a corporate project or doing trailer voiceovers, you have to be equipped, voice-wise. Listening allows you to be more creative and to lend more authenticity into whatever role you are voice acting. In fact, more than just listening, you also have to observe how certain people behave and how they sound in specific situations. Pauses and silences are natural in day to day conversations. By having a reliable stash of voices, whether inspired by real people or an imagined character, working on any project will be easier for you.

  1. Listening helps you learn and maintain voice control.

Without control, any voiceover result will sound scattered, inconsistent, and devoid of the necessary impact. According to voice acting experts, control is achieved not necessarily by varying the volume of the voice but by changing the intensity and applying the right intonation for certain words and phrases. Active listening will make you understand this much sooner than later, especially if you listen to the more established voice actors.

  1. Listening informs you of the most recent styles.

Since you plan to work and stay in this industry, you have to keep yourself updated of the latest in voice acting. Thus, you have to set aside time for listening to other voiceovers. A specific project may point to an existing voiceover as reference. If you have no idea what specific voice acting style the job alludes to, it will be easier for you to lose rather than book the project. Your knowledge of the recent trends in the industry will establish you as a serious and driven professional in the industry. This makes listening all the more essential for voice acting newbies.

If you want to make it in the voice acting industry, you have to learn to love to listen. It should be something that comes as second nature to you. Acting is definitely the top requirement in voiceovers, but this cannot be realized without listening. Now that you’ve read more about listening skills for voiceover work, you can start working on being a more versatile voice artist!

 

Training to be a Professional Voiceover Talent: How Expensive Is This?

A little investment, when done right, can go a long way. This is no different with professional voice acting. To start earning as a voiceover talent, you have to be willing to put in something first. But how expensive is it to get started in this career?

The answer will depend on how far along you are in terms of professional training and whether or not you have already put up a professional home studio.

Voice training expenses 

A good way to prepare yourself for professional work is to train. Whether you get the services of a voice coach and train behind a microphone or enroll yourself in an hourly online class, you have to be prepared to put in a little expense if you want to polish your craft. The cost, of course, will depend on your location. In New York, for example, you can get a two-weekend voice coaching session for $160. There are also continuing classes and workshops that allow you to stay updated on the recent voiceover styles, trends, and technologies. This will mean training expenses, but if these workshops are meant to give you an edge, they are definitely investments worth making.

Voiceover work studio 

You can do your voiceovers from a home studio, but ‘home-based’ should not mean sloppy. If you want to be treated as a pro, then you have to produce professional work. It’s impossible to create top-notch voice-over results without the requisite equipment and a sound-proofed environment. Working with microphone recordings means that even the slightest noise will be picked up by your mic. Thus, sound proofing should be a priority. For these you have to opt for broadband absorbers and bass traps rather than acoustical diffusors, which are typically installed in concert halls. Diffusors encourage room tone, but what you are looking for is a studio that is ideal for voice-overs not loud concerts. You may be needing expert help on these, which means spending more on other necessary equipment, such as recording software, computer, and mixer.

As in any other field, the voiceover industry requires that you put in a bit of work and money if you want to improve your professional skills. This does not mean to say that you have to spend a fortune to break through as a professional voice-over talent. But the right investment will almost always give you the best returns, no matter which industry you find yourself in.

How Acting Ability Helps in Voiceover Work and Ways to Improve It

As a voiceover professional, you know the few essentials when it comes to taking care of your voice. After all, your voice needs deliver and it needs to sell — whether you’re recording for a commercial or doing narration work.

But there’s more to voiceover work than just having an incredible voice. You need to be an actor, too. If you’re having a hard time turning yourself into a character required in a voice recording project, maybe it’s time you try acting classes on the side.

Listed below are some suggestions on where to get acting experience and exposure.

Volunteer at a read-aloud activity 

Whether it’s at your local community or in your child’s classroom, reading aloud can be beneficial to both the speaker and listeners. Given that stories will have different characters, you will be compelled to read the dialogues and vary your voice acting styles according to the personality of the characters. While this is definitely not an acting class, you are essentially practicing your narrative and acting skills through the vicarious experiences provided for by the stories.

Attend poetry readings 

Poems are not crafted solely to be read in silence; they have to be read aloud in front of an audience. A good first step towards improvisation is to listen to poetry readings. Poems are often laden with emotions, and the reader will often vary their speaking styles to convey a specific emotion. Of course, you could always try reading aloud poem or two, too!

Participate in an acting workshop 

The last thing that any voice acting project requires is a flat, unexciting voice. There’s no better way to improve your acting abilities — and gain better confidence in the process — except to immerse yourself in acting workshops.

Acting workshops may be available through your local community theater or acting schools in your area. Your acting teacher may ask you to improvise on a role, read a script aloud, or perform by way of music and dance. These workshops may also include breathing exercises for flexing vocal muscles and improving voice range, tone, and flexibility when acting on stage.

Voiceover work always requires you get into character and convince your audience. This means ‘acting’ through your voice. All the essential emotions and inflections have to be conveyed in your narration, and you cannot do this if you have zero experience at improvisation. As a voice actor, you have to be able to perform. This is why exposure to and experience in actual performances can benefit your voice-acting career in more ways than one!

Debunking the 5 Common Myths about a Voiceover Career

Are you planning to make more out of your voiceover capabilities? Nowadays, people are able to make a living out of their pajamas while working from home, and doing voiceovers has proven to be one of those careers.

But like any other career, voiceovers have been linked to some misconceptions. The following are the five myths about a voiceover career and some of the truths behind them.

  1. You cannot find good voiceover offers where you are.

The truth is, you don’t need to camp out in a bustling metropolis in order to secure offers. Of course, market matters a lot when it comes to advertising your skills, but the Internet has shrunk the distance between seller and consumer in recent years. If done right, you can have the rest of the globe as your voice acting market.

  1. You have a good voice.

Unfortunately, a beautiful voice is just the bare minimum in terms of voice acting requirements. Even if you’re capable of impersonating many kinds of voices, this will not instantly translate to job offers. However, professional training and lots of practice can give you that edge among all the others.

  1. People are telling you to pursue voiceover work.

If others are telling you that should do voice-overs, perhaps they are right. But your natural speaking voice is different from the kind of voice which you will be producing for projects. If you think you have it in you to start taking on projects, you also have to be familiar with your acting voice.

  1. You don’t need a good area for recording.

Auditions are make or break moments, and voice acting auditions are no exception. A professional recording studio, with ample equipment and soundproofing, can help you produce a clear-sounding demo material. This helps in building your confidence as a new voice actor, too!

  1. The work is easy.

No work is ever easy, except if you are planning to produce sloppy results. Voice-acting is meticulous and challenging, but it can also be fun! Try not to be too relaxed with your efforts, but don’t stress yourself out either. Voiceovers are never easy, but if you love what you do it will be easier for you to deal with almost anything.

If these myths have been keeping you from doing what you love best, maybe now is the time to convince yourself to finally try voice acting.

Whichever kind of career you pursue, preparation is key. To get to where they are voice actors have had to train, practice, and invest in more than just sheer talent. By getting down to these myths about a voice-over career, you can see more clearly what you need and how to get things done as a budding voice-over professional.

Tips on Reading Voiceover Copy Like a Pro

Most voiceover professionals read straight out of a copy during recording. This means that a voiceover artist has to be three things all at the same time — a voice actor, a reader, and a speaker. This fine balancing act requires skill, but the good news is that this skill is something any serious voice acting newbie can learn. The following tips on reading voiceover copy can help you multitask to the best of your abilities so you can, read, act, and speak effortlessly, all at the same time!

  1. Develop keen visual abilities.

Given that you will also be reading while recording, your eyes have to be a priority. It is important that your script be readable and without distractions. If you need to wear spectacles, cleaning them ahead will get rid of dirt and other marks that can distract you once you have started recording. Also, you have to practice on your eye-to-mouth coordination skills. While some people are naturally born with this dexterity, there’s nothing that regular practice cannot improve. Through constant rehearsing, you can easily get used to reading from a script and voice acting at the same time.

  1. Establish your role, audience, and purpose early on.

The delivery of your script will depend on three things: your role, your audience, and your purpose. By knowing about these ahead of time, voice acting using your copy will be easier compared to tackling things without preparations. Early preparation typically affects interpretation. Once you know ‘who you are’ in the copy, who you’re supposed to be talking to, and why you’re doing it, you can bet your voiceover results will be right on track.

  1. Connected speech and correct pronunciation.

An excellently-written copy is next to nothing if you fail to pronounce crucial words correctly or emphasize isolated words instead of adopting a natural flow of connected speech. To get the most out of your script, you have to be able to pronounce correctly, adopt the right inflection for certain lines, and deliver impeccably every single time. When inspecting your copy for the first time, try to highlight certain words and lines. This will signal that you need to vary your voice tone or adopt a certain voice acting technique for certain parts of the copy.

To ensure an effective and compelling voiceover result, you need excellent visual abilities, reading and speaking dexterity, and voice acting expertise. Beyond just voice acting, you also have to handle expertly all the materials you need while recording. This includes your copy or your script and other requisite tools especially if you work out of a home studio.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll soon be on your way to voice acting and reading voiceover copy like a pro!

 

A Buyout Fee for Voiceovers: Is This a Good Option?

Now that you have started to book voiceover projects, it’s time to determine how much and how often will you get paid. While some voice actors are paid residual fees, others are compensated through a one-time buyout fee. But how do you know whether a buyout fee for voiceovers is best for you? Here we give you some of the reasons why a buyout may be good or not-so-good for you.

Base-rate and residual payments for union projects

One of the biggest considerations for you as a voice actor is whether you will be working on a union rate or non-union rate. For a union project, you can command a base rate depending on several factors such as the nature of the recording, duration, and airing coverage. In addition, you may be entitled to residual or royalty fees depending on the length of time that the recording will continue to air. This residual payment is done on top of the session fee or base payment.

A fair one-time fee that covers everything

Many voice actors, however, work as independent contractors. If you happen to be one of them, you may be tackling non-union projects and, thus, will be paid a pre-determined rate or negotiated rate. This is what exactly a buyout payment is. One result of a buyout is that you won’t be expecting any residual compensation even if the client will use your recording several times after its initial run. Even so, there are many things you can do to ensure you get paid well.

First, you have to discuss everything with your client — from your basic session rate to any factor that may determine additional charges. The client may propose a budget or you may provide them with your quotation on specific projects. Second, you may negotiate. Sometimes, a negotiation will help in determining a fair rate. The rate, moreover, may vary from one project to another. Commercial works can fetch up to a thousand dollars, while narration projects may be paid by the hour.

Whichever kind of voice over work you do, you have to know which rate works for you and your client. Billing a very minimal amount may make it difficult for you to demand higher fees in the future. If you quote an expensive fee, you are essentially building yourself to be a serious player in the industry. But if this goes any higher, you may end up losing, rather than earning, new clients.

Yes, a buyout fee can be an excellent option if you are a non-union voice actor. However, the more crucial thing to factor in is the amount you will allow for a buyout. Make sure you don’t sell your services for too low or too high! A buyout fee for voiceovers becomes a good option only if you are paid with what you rightfully deserve!

Important Voiceover Work Legal Considerations

In this day and age when content, images, and other multimedia files are easily published and circulated on the Internet, overstepping on legal bounds can happen easily and frequently. You may not know it, but not everything you do as a voice over artist is permissible. Without prior knowledge of voiceover work legal considerations, you could end up compromising years of hard work and client-list building.

Listed below are some important things you need to focus on when you do voiceover work for your clients.

  1. Permission to use previous voiceover work for future auditions.

Depending on the signed agreement between the voice over professional and the client, a voice over recording may become the property of the client after full payment. There are cases, however, wherein the artist may be granted royalties on the recording, but this will depend entirely on prior arrangements. Should you plan to use a prior recording as demos for succeeding auditions, it will do best if you ask for permission from the purchasing client first. This is especially crucial if the script or the material came from the client himself or herself.

  1. The question of brand names.

One of the easiest ways for a budding voice artist to gain recall is to use well-known brand names in demo recordings. Although this is understandable, it can be tricky and troublesome. For one, using a brand name without permission may result in legal troubles later on. Secondly, mentioning a brand in your recording could make you sound as if you really are working for that brand. This misrepresentation may make it difficult for you to establish trust with future clients.

  1. Imitation vs impersonation.

It’s not uncommon to hear about voiceovers that are actually imitations of famous recordings or actual advertisements. But here you have to tread with caution. If you are not the ‘official voice’ of a specific brand, it is best to veer away from mentioning a brand or imitating a personality who has previously endorsed the brand.

Nonetheless, if you have made it clear that your recording is no more than a parody, and not an underhanded imitation, the celebrity is less likely to pursue legal action.

Success as a voice artist cannot simply be measured in the number of projects you have finished. You also have to ensure that all your projects are completed without raising crucial legal questions. By taking into account some of these voiceover work legal considerations, you will have a clearer idea about what is permissible or not in terms of voice recording.

5 Customer Retention Tips for your Voiceover Business

Any business owner or freelancer knows one clear thing: it is the clients that drive a business or career. If you are in the industry of providing voiceover services, it is no different. Without your market and a solid customer base, you will not be able to translate your efforts into profits.

Nonetheless, there is more to effective marketing than just customer acquisition. You also have to be able to keep your clients. Remember, a returning customer is a customer that has chosen to trust in you and your voiceover work. This is already an opportunity for your voiceover business to maintain that customer and obtain other clients in the process.

When done right, the following customer retention strategies may improve your list of loyal clients for the long-term:

  1. Provide exemplary work.

Without top-notch services, it will be difficult for your other client retention strategies to work their charm. You have to focus on delivering stellar voiceover results every single time, from one project to another.

  1. Create loyalty programs.

Loyalty programs are good way to give back to your returning clients. Whether it’s by way of a discount or a freebie, these offers will surely build a stronger rapport between you and your clients.

  1. Ask for constructive feedback.

Clients appreciate it when their comments are also appreciated. They have listened to you voice; maybe this time you can also listen to what they have to say. The practice of soliciting feedback also helps in establishing you as a trustworthy, confident professional.

  1. Resolve issues quickly.

Prompt resolution of issues is clearly important in any business. Your customers are just as busy as you are, so they would appreciate it if you act on any concern as soon as possible.

  1. Reach out to your customers consistently.

You don’t have to wait for your customers to actually transact with you again before you resume communicating with them. Voiceover talents can have a lucrative career, but the degree of competition online can be overwhelming. By reaching out to your customers, through newsletters or even a simple birthday greeting, you are helping them remember you and your business.

In today’s business climate, where offers are available offline and over the Web, you need more than just making new customers. You have to be able to keep them from choosing the next voiceover talent. While there are many other ways for you to retain your loyal patrons, these above-mentioned tips will no doubt help your voice-over business be a top-of-mind choice.

 

 

How to Succeed in the Voiceover Industry

It is no secret that the voiceover business can be intensely competitive, especially when just starting out and making a name for yourself. It takes practice and a serious investment of personal time to learn the skills needed to become established as a go to voiceover actor. So, what are some tips to succeed where others have failed in the voiceover industry? Below are some expert tips that have been tested and can help you on this journey to make it.

  • Read anything and everything you can find on voice over. For example, pick up a copy of “The Art of Voice Acting” written by James Alburger, a multiple Grammy winning voiceover artist. The wisdom of those who have succeeded in the path you are now on is worth the investment.
  • Get some professional training. This is not just limited to voiceover specific trainings either. Try some acting classes or even some production workshops. It will help to know what other performers are doing so you can use best practices across the board in your own work. This also can include finding local classes offered at a community center or adult learning center or, if you have the resources, hiring a private coach to mentor you.
  • Produce a killer demo. This is the first impression many companies will have of your talent. By putting in time and money to produce a great demo, you can save a lot of time and money down the line on networking and marketing for yourself. Bonus tip: do not rush into producing your demo and instead take your time to make sure it is ready to distribute.
  • Quality equipment is your best friend.  You can have the best voice in the world and immeasurable talent but that makes no difference if you are using an old and battered microphone to seize your voice. How and where you record your sound will play a huge part in how your final product comes out and DIY digital audio recording cannot replace recording done in a studio.

Finally, and most importantly, have fun with your craft. If you don’t love it, it will show and you can’t expect anyone to want to hire a passionless voiceover artist. Let your passion bleed into your work.

 

What New Technology Means for VO Talent

In the last half a century, the increase in global technological prowess has boomed loud across many industries. Every day there seems to be more and more capabilities computers and other tech have access to including AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, voice and facial recognition, and even text-to-sound (TTS).

Computers, usually in the form of robots, are now charged with managing and dispensing prescriptions, filling out mundane paperwork, and handling numerous tasks once done by humans alone. But those are all technical or manual labor related tasks, right? What could that mean for VO talent  and for other artists, like actors, writers, and painters?

Well, it can mean a few things both positive and negative. One negative is the switch from manual craft in the arts to the use of automated systems. An example of this is the use of electronic voices in place of actual human voices for National Weather Service broadcasts since 2014. Likewise, some of the most successful and profitable movies of all time are animated films like Frozen and the Toy Story franchise.

This escalating drift towards using AI and digital personas for entertainment could mean actors, especially voice over actors, facing an industry ruled by robotic or computerized replacements. However, there is some good news to help ease the transition.

According to the Chief Technology Officer at DreamWorks, Ed Leonard, the industry does not see the rise of tech to be an actual threat to the actor’s craft. He advised that there is no replacing raw talent in entertainment and that technology is nowhere near human enough to fully replace actors. This is a fair point since while digital technology is getting more and more lifelike, like Amazon’s Alexa or Siri, there is still a distinct difference between those computerized voices and a real live person.

For the time being, innovation is actually more of a help to VO talent than a hindrance. Digital recording can clean up voices, remove extra noises that take away from a final product, and help match real voices to computerized or animated stories. Even in areas that could be easily switched up like broadcasts, audiobooks, and the radio, studies show consumers prefer the voice of an actual person to a synthesized AI person.

Voice actors are safe for the time being. Only time will tell what comes next.