Getting Started In Voice Over

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Video 1: Introduction and The First of the Four Keys to Voice Over: Art

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  1. After you’ve watched the video, please ask questions!

    What has always been a problem for you when it comes to VO?

    What confuses you about it? What worries you about it?

    What makes you really frustrated when it comes to being a VO talent?

    I’ll read them all, and respond to as many as I can – and I’ll try to answer the best questions in the next video.

  2. I’m a parent of two minors (10/13) who do VO (as well as on-camera) and I am asking for them, as they are really not old enough to do the work themselves quite yet. Is there much work for kids in the commercial/audiobook/IVR. How do you know which projects are “good” to do? Is it a good idea to just go headlong into whatever and then weed things out later? Or are there some projects/companies that should be avoided and how do you know which is which? And how do you ensure that you are not going to be taken advantage of without an agent to back you?

    1. When you say they “do VO but they are not really old enough to do the work themselves yet” what do you mean by that? Just trying to figure out what’s happening with them.

  3. I’ve been doing VO work (mostly industrials, but now audiobooks, and just happened into my first IVR client) since 1982. My intent is to do more, and transition to full time at some point. I certainly don’t mind shaking the trees, but I have no idea where to find the forest, or what sort of shaking might loosen the nuts.

    1. You win the gold medal for “best extension of a tree-related metaphor,” if nothing else! Sounds like you’re gaining headway in a number of art areas…we just need to expand the number of areas.

  4. Hi David. I am saving up to make a commercial demo but what can I be doing in the meantime? How do I find VO work w/o an agent and w/o using a “pay to play” site?

    1. One thing I would be careful of doing is counting on a demo as the key to getting you work. Usually, it’s a key to getting auditions and attracting an agent, but although it sometimes leads to work, where someone simply books you off your demo, that’s a rare occurrence. I would ask why you don’t want to use a pay to play site – it sounds like you have an issue with doing that.

  5. Making the time to get everything that I want to get done in a day (hubby time, dog time, health time, learning time, cooking time) in addition to my work (8.5 hours plus 40 mins travel time each way) I feel I’m not getting enough studio practice time that I need. I’m enjoying audio books, but when I’m producing one it’s all I can do to get an hour voiced each day, let alone practice and rehearse for other things or search for those other trees to shake. How do these amazing folks do their regular job, have a life, practice and voice?
    I think I’d like to do other things than audio books, but I get frustrated because, as a process person, there’s no do this, then that will happen in this industry. I get confused and really frustrated about where to go to find trees to shake and what to say to the nuts when I do find them.
    Something that I do wonder is if I really am good enough to pursue this or if it’s just a pipe dream? Will anyone ever tell you that you just suck and give it a rest?

    1. Gosh, I hope they don’t tell you that! You’ve made a choice to keep your day job, and that’s fine – but you have to live with what that means to your rate of progress. If you simply don’t have the time to move faster, just remind yourself that you’re surviving and thriving, but you don’t have the time to make it quicker. Patience. Breathe. It’s OK. And I’ve heard you. You don’t suck. 🙂

  6. Hey David, I’ve been around this track before and here we are again…
    It seems to me there’s lots of different coaches and experts that are all waiting for the next little fish that comes swimming by so they can extract some cash or a plan to bolster their own business whilst they too still learn…
    Masterminds on how to navigate fiverr, demo reels that cost an arm and a leg… coaching programs that keep pushing you further down the funnel to the red carpet experience that is filled with fluffy bonuses that don’t really teach you how to execute your business plan before extracting as much as they can from you… I’m sure you’ve heard all of this before… I’m chipping away, spending money on email systems and CRM’s, lifting my profile on Fiverr and being screwed, I just want reasonable return for reasonable work!!! I audition on voice realm, get short listed all the time, always the bridesmaid… hardly ever the bride…
    I obviously need help but as you mention am worried about where I invest my hard earned… I’d love to quit my day hob and go full time, but can’t seem to get all the pieces of the puzzle in order!! HELP!!

    1. I hear you – and there’s a lot to unpack in your comment. You sound like someone who is more than a bit gun shy about all the different options (and wasting money), and I don’t blame you. (I hope you don’t lump me in the same category when I offer my training program at the end of the week!) It might be helpful to look at how your auditions are sounding (cynicism can creep into your performance), the sound of your studio, even your slates to see where the disconnect is – if any. There might not be anything wrong – just remember that the people looking for you to do the work are shopping, and it’s no commentary on you if you go up against 500 other VO talent and they pick someone else. I’ll be answering this with SW SW SW SW – watch the next couple of videos to see what that’s all about!

  7. Yup
    & thks
    ( Virgin to V.O. ….. But ‘not’ to telling stories & for reasons unknown to me (somewhat) ; when I’m ‘dealing ‘ many start listening ; could I make a living at this 🤔 ; can’t drive truck too many more years.

  8. Are there any agencies out there that’ll hear my talent without charging me, let alone charging an arm and a leg?

    1. If you mean talent agencies that represent talent and not producers, can you be more specific about what you’ve experienced? Has someone tried to charge you for simply meeting with you and reviewing your materials for possible representation?

  9. How can I get started doing more commercials? I have been in radio for 35 years and free audition sites just don’t work. I do 2 to3 commercials per month for a small ad firm. How can I put myself in the position to do more?

    1. Where are you looking? Just in your neck of the woods? What about other cities? Are you repped in your town, and in others?

      And what free sites are you using? I’d love to know what trees you’re currently shaking, and that aren’t charging you.

      1. I tried a couple of those sites a few years ago. Cannot remember the names of them. I remember the dozens of auditions and nothing that came from them.As far as local stuff, I have heard over and over again that I am heard on other stations in my cluster, so I am not unique to them. I have not tried other cities as I really don’t know how to go about getting myself out there and and be taken seriously. I am anxious to learn the proper way to seek out clients. I basically want to start from ground zero and start all over again, and this time…do it correctly.

    1. I’m sorry to say not in this forum, no. When I review someone’s demo, it’s not a quick cursory listen – that does no one any good. I only review demos as part of a full hour long private coaching session. In a private session, rather than a public discussion group like this one, I can safely convey to you the good, the bad and the you-need-to-fix-this of your demo. I think that people who will quickly review demos doesn’t do the artist justice, or they are just doing it as a precursor to pitching them on paid coaching. It’s likely that if you are getting into the business, it’s not time for you to do a demo yet – but you can play with the process to see how it works.

  10. Hi David, it’s been a while. About 18 months ago, my voice totally changed, and became very gravelly after about 10 minutes of solid speaking. My auditions have not done well, which is a big change. I have to say my confidence level for audio books has pretty much crashed and burned. I’ve been to the doctor and a vocal coach… nothing so far has helped. Any thoughts???

  11. Just wanted to say Thank You for doing these videos!! And by the way, we still use

  12. Just getting started and in practicing recording and getting used to hearing my voice, I’m hearing that I need to work on annunciation and diction some , it’s really easy to run words together, are there vidoes or lessons covering this?

    1. Yep…all throughout the curriculum, but more importantly, as a part of your monthly workouts should you become a VO Heroes member. It’s not something you conquer in one class, it’s something you need practice and on-going work to succeed at.

  13. Hi! I don’t have a question, just a comment. At commercial, on-camera auditions, I have repeatedly gotten the same comment: “You have a great voice. Do you do voice overs?” I always say, No. They ask why and I usually say, “Well, there’s an ocean under everything in this business: acting for film and TV, stage acting, commercial acting, voice over. You just don’t start doing it. There needs to be a commitment and an understanding of what’s entailed.” I’m happy I came upon your videos. This is a great learning experience for me. And I might just decide to swim in this ocean. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  14. Hi David,
    My question has to do with my voice “quality”. Not the sound of my voice on mic but rather the crazy amount of mouth noise I have. Is this something that is correctable or am I stuck with it. If I am stuck with it I need to throw in the towel now as the amount of editing time I am investing in an audiobook is not viable and no amount of training will matter.

    1. I always reserve judgement on whether or not someone has egregious mouth noises, as we’re always the hardest on ourselves when it comes to that sort of thing. I’d have to hear a sample – and maybe someday I will – before giving you advice on some things to try to ameliorate any noise you MIGHT be making. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  15. I greatly enjoyed hearing about your experiences with AOL. I had a similar set of circumstances with Apple’s eWorld online service. I recorded sound files for their use, not realizing how crazy-popular those would be. A file of my simply saying the word, “Cool!” with a bit of Valley Girl spin on it, was one of their most popular downloads throughout the life of the service. Wish I could have billed them for a royalty each time, but it was experimental fun back then.

    My question for you is: I’d like to record books of my own once I’ve written them. How many different types of distinct voices should I be able to perform, before trying this? I’m not talking about a handful of accents, but simply varying the tone of my voice (in some cases the cadence of speech) for different characters?

    In regard to accents or dialects, I’ve also heard a little goes a LONG way in audio books. Your thoughts? (One of my characters is a Texan from Lubbock, another is a woman raised in Jamaica.)

    1. Your last sentence says it all – subtlety is your friend. That also answers your question about how many voices you need to be able to perform, since a little bit goes a long way – it’s the same for the differences in characters’ voices. It’s their content and intent that makes them different, far more than complete distinct individual voices. Hope that helps! And I’ll see you at the new location of the Voices Anonymous meetup this month!!

    1. WIth rare exception, audiobooks are narrated from PDF files you view on your screen, the same screen you’re recording your audio on – and in the rare instance where you’re working from a hard copy, you have to be aware not to talk while you’re turning pages, and you have to edit those page turn noises out. If you have a manuscript that isn’t bound, but rather a stack of loose sheets, it’s worth every penny to either invest in a good scanner, so you can turn those sheets into a PDF, or take them to FEDEX Office and have them scan them for you. I’m going to do a video on this next week!

  16. Thank you so much David , that was very good stuff I always enjoy what you have to share about voice over artist. Enjoyed Liz also. I have done other classes with you and always get good stuff to help my voice over journey.

    Thank you so much,

  17. Hi David, thank you for putting all of this material together. I’m not quite sure what to say except that I’m feeling quite discouraged at the moment. I was dropped by my voice agent around a year and a half ago and I haven’t had any voice work since then, in spite of doing my own submissions for work on a UK site Mandy Voices (I’m London-based). Thankfully I’ve very recently been picked up on a non-exclusive basis as an international (American) artist by another agency here.

    In drama school I received lots of compliments from teachers about my voice but to be honest I’m not sure I know how to use it for VO.

    Thanks again.

    1. That’s great – you’re on your way back! If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know. We’d love to have you in our Pro group to help you with your journey.

  18. I decided to join your class because I feel stuck at the moment. I am just out of my undergraduate degree in music performance (my focus is opera music) and I wanted to find something that I loved just as much as my time on stage. I have always loved to read, and I thought that audiobook narration would be right in my wheelhouse. I got picked up for my first book within the first 10-15 auditions and I was so stoked because I thought, “If I can get picked up this quickly, I must be doing something right.” I just finished my second audiobook through ACX. I have auditioned for around 20 books in the last 2 weeks and have heard nothing back. I love what I do and I want to grow into a voice over artist on a regular basis and not have to work 2 jobs as a creative (1 for money and 1 for my passion) I know I am behind the curve with questions, but I just want to ask (since you brought it up with your video with Liz) How do you know if someone has what it takes from the start? How does an agent know if the voice they are picking up is ‘the real deal’ as I have heard it said?

    I appreciate all you are doing to help those in positions similar to my own. As an educator myself, I love when people have a passion for teaching others. Thank you again, and I am strongly looking forward to tomorrows video.
    Gordon Blodgett

    1. Gordon – these videos were all released last week – if you want to see “tomorrow’s” video, just click on the thumbnail for lesson 2 below the main video – and so on. I’m so glad you’re finding this helpful! And I hope you choose to continue your studies!