13170: Your Brand: On-Camera vs. Audiobook Auditions

Hey there, hero!

The consideration you make for a single role in an on-camera or stage opportunity and the many many characters you might voice in an audiobook…

…means your personal brand is likely going to be less of a discriminator.

You’re not auditioning for that one character.

You’re auditioning for the entire cast.

Once you let that marinate…does that help? Or does that give you pause? Let me know in the comments below.


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  1. I like the idea and practice of audio books and VO in general. I am feeling challenged and yet comfortable here.
    There is so much running around in my head right now and I need to quiet the chaos.
    Thank you for always striking the chord I need to hear.

  2. Yes! I am working on my first audiobook now and it is a romance novel. I am LOVING playing all the different characters! AND none of my mobility challenges matter when I narrate an audiobook!

  3. David, I want to nitpick the title you gave this episode, but first off, huge thanks for shedding such a bright light on this topic. It’s fascinating how you’ve highlighted the distinct worlds of audiobook narration versus film acting. I’ve done a few commercials as principal on-camera talent so I know what you mean. What you said really got me thinking about the unique challenges we face in narration. And the rewards, too.

    As you said, rather nonchalantly, when we’re diving into audiobook narration, we’re not just tackling one character but an entire roster. It’s like being handed the keys to a whole universe every time we step up to the mic. The versatility we need is massive, but oh, it’s so fulfilling when we can pull it off.

    I did my on-camera work a long time ago; I’m not nearly so pretty anymore so I don’t think I’ll get picked up for any such gig now. But, isn’t it something how, in our line of work, what we look like doesn’t factor in? It’s all about the voice and how we use it to bring stories and characters alive. We’re painting pictures with sound, not appearances. It strikes me that’s a kind of magic film actors don’t always get to experience in the same way.

    It’s so simple we often overlook it, but the emotional range we need to cover is another thing. We’re not just connecting with a single character; we’re juggling the emotional depth of a whole cast, keeping the narrative engaging and fluid. It’s a scary, huge undertaking but incredibly rewarding when it all comes together.

    And, our technical skills, too — we’ve got a whole other set of tools we need to master. Managing our voice to keep it fresh hours into recording, then all the rest of the audio processing we do. It’s a different ball game, but it’s all part of crafting that perfect listening experience.

    And creativity, David, the freedom we have to interpret and shape a story, is something else. If you think about it, it’s a solo performance but with the weight and joy of a full cast production. Making those artistic decisions solo can be daunting but also liberating.

    Wrapping up, the depth and breadth of what we do in audiobook narration—it’s just vast, going beyond the demands usually placed on film actors. It’s a unique craft, and although I haven’t yet done a ton of audiobooks, I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this community. It challenges us, sure, but the satisfaction of bringing stories to life? Unmatched. We have to admit it; it’s a rich, fascinating world we’re part of.

    And, now to the nitpick. As you can see from the foregoing, I agree with you on most of what you said. In fact, I think you might have somewhat understated it. Where I tend to disagree is branding. I’m pretty sure you think branding is important, and I just KNOW Dan does. Where you say, “Yes, your brand matters to a degree, your voice range matters to a degree, but you’re going to be doing little kids and old people and men and women and foreign people and domestic people and you’re going to be … you have all kinds of opportunities to do things that you don’t get to do when you’re auditioning for that one role for that one on camera opportunity” It makes me wonder how you see our role evolving with new technologies, with both the increasing popularity of audiobooks and the onrushing Juggernaut of AI. This latter point is a big one for me.

    In my opinion, in competing with AI, branding is going to become even more important; a real differentiator in the marketing of audiobooks. I think for human-narrated audiobooks, the identity and skill of the narrator can become a significant part of the book’s branding. Well-known and popular narrators can attract a following, and their name attached to an audiobook can be a strong selling point, similar to how actors draw audiences to movies. I have what I’ve said so far. I’ve got many more thoughts on this thrashing around in my head, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, David.

    1. I think things need to play out more before I can even begin to figure out what AI is going to do to the careful thought some people put into branding. When I was talking about all those different characters, it was because NONE of them are usually on-brand.

      And regarding “,,, But, isn’t it something how, in our line of work, what we look like doesn’t factor in? It’s all about the voice and how we use it to bring stories and characters alive.,” yeah…look at me!

      1. Yeah, David, look at us. Thanks for your view on this. I agree that it’s early in the “game of AI.” We do need to know a lot more before we can figure out how to make it work for us instead of against us. But, I’m no Joe Btfsplk; never have been even a bit like him. It’s not too early to start looking at things through a telescopic lens to see what might be coming down on us. Using new, better, perhaps lower-cost tools to help us in the recording/processing could help reduce the time and effort it takes for us to deliver our work. This might make it easier for us to do more projects in the same amount of time. Or, perhaps, it would allow us to become more competitive in pricing, although I don’t know what that means in a practical sense.

        For me, the bottom line is going to be affected by purchaser decisions. Do they buy the AI-produced, presumably lower-cost and lower-priced version, or do they find greater value in a human-produced audiobook and so are willing to pay more for that version? If the difference between the two versions is indistinguishable, I think the likelihood is that the consumer is going for the lower price. I think it’s going to be a really nasty, series of hit-and-run shootouts; maybe ending with “one-man standing” or maybe with “two-men standing” with the two versions each filling a different niche in the marketplace. Whichever way it goes, right now, I think branding will be the crucial factor in this determination. A fundamental question comes to my mind, “Will how audiobooks are brought to market change and if so, what will the answers to the 5W and the H questions be. (The what, who, when, where, why, and how of marketing?) And, the 4Ps of marketing, too: (Product, Placement, Price, and Promotion.)

        We’ve got to keep our eyes open on these matters so as not to be blind-sided by the inevitable changes that are coming. Regardless, I am maintaining a positive attitude toward the changes and hope to be able to stay, at least, near the leading edge, if not the bleeding edge, of the on-rushing changes.

        Thanks again for all you do for us.