Voice-over agents can become an integral part of a voice actor’s career. When you reach a certain level, voice-over agents can be an entree to exciting, high-earning gigs. Most major national commercial campaigns, high-profile documentaries, film trailers and the like get cast through talent agencies. So, it’s important to know when to try to work with them, where to find them, and how to get signed by them; as well as the dos and don’ts when it comes to all of the above.
Due to the explosion of home studios and remote sessions, you can pursue representation from any city/market to any other city/market. Meaning you don’t have to live in the market for which you want agency representation. To do this though, you must have a fully pro-audio home studio from where you can submit auditions and sessions. What a talent agency can do is get you top-level, high-budget auditions to which you otherwise likely wouldn’t have access. But they are exceptionally difficult to get represented by unless and until you’ve proven that you are a marketable talent who’s already been booking work. Because they take a 10 – 15% commission (depending on the market) it behooves them to sign working talent who can be earners for them.
There are a few main sources to find talent agencies that represent voice actors. Voicebank.net provides the most comprehensive one, with detailed listings of union and non-union agencies in the US, Canada and UK. Call Sheet magazine (formerly known as The Ross Reports) is another great source to identify agencies and the individual voice-over agents who work there. Call Sheet specializes in the larger markets of LA and NYC, but they occasionally publish an edition that issues a roundup of agencies all over the country. For the local/smaller regional voice-over agents, your basic Google local search is the best bet.
When contacting voice-over agents, be sure you have something to offer them, and be respectful and professional. Also, know what NOT to do. Contacting repeatedly and without reply is ill-advised. Keep attempts to no more than six month intervals; and be sure that you have new credits to report on each time you reach out. Don’t take it personally if you don’t receive a reply. Voice-over agents are very busy trying to get their clients work and network industry relationships, so just because you do not hear back from your submissions to them does not mean that they did not receive them. They may have determined you weren’t right for them, or that they will hold on to your demos until they see an opportunity that may be right for you. Either way, do not misinterpret silence as disinterest or that a connection was not made. This is why it’s really important not to badger agents. It’s ok to send a follow-up email, but keep it to that. And never call initially unless you’ve received a request to. Keep correspondence to email.
So, initially, whether you end up signing with voice-over agents is out of your hands. However, if as your career develops, the doors open to these opportunities, ultimately the decisions are yours.
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Alan Schwartz is a nationally recognized voice over talent who has served as the voice for Sprite, Verizon, Smirnoff Ice, and “Alex” from the Mac Operating System, among others. You can find more of his work at ajsvoiceover.com.