Commercial voice-over is a popular, specific genre of the industry. With our industry now including streaming and social media options, there has been more demand for commercial voice-over work in those various mediums. Here are some steps that you can take to securing commercial voice-over work:
Training and Recording a Voice-Over Demo
It is imperative prior to recording a commercial demo that you have the proper voice-over training, so it’s the best quality it can be. You will work with a teacher or coach on various voice-over techniques and learn how to adjust a read based on what the casting director and/or client is asking for, while staying true to your natural and authentic voice. You will also find out through working with your coach, what styles of commercial voice-over suit you and where your specific “voice-over niche” or “brand” falls into the commercial voice-over industry. Do you excel at reads that need a “sweet girl next door” quality or the edgy, millennial, straight-forward sound? Or can you do both if you make the acting adjustment? These questions can also be answered as you continue to book work within a specific “type”, but it is always helpful to know this prior to marketing yourself and recording your demo. Once you are ready for your recording session, you will want to focus on creating a commercial voice-over demo that shows range and spots that reflect your unique self and what you do best. Your voice-over demo is what a headshot and resume is for an on-camera or theatre actor, it becomes your “calling card” and is representative of your work.
Putting yourself (and your demo) out there!
Once you have your demo and training in place, it is then time to let the world know you are a voice-over actor! Make sure it is known on social media, that you have marketing in place to reflect your voice-over talents and brand, and a website where people can hear your work and contact information to book you. You would be surprised how many people work in other industries unrelated to the voice-over field but then need voice-over talent for their in-house training videos, narration, or commercial spots. LinkedIn is a great resource to connect to people who are in your circle, but also work in marketing where your voice talent may be needed. There are also pay-to-play sites (a website where you pay a monthly or annual subscription to have access to auditions) that can also help you secure work and build a portfolio and/or clients.
If you are in a major city with agents and managers who represent voice talent, be sure to research any connections you may have and can politely ask for a referral. Many agencies have contact emails that they release to the public, or a place where you can submit your voice-over demo for consideration. This may not be something that happens right away, but as you continue booking commercial voice-over work on your own, you can also reach out to them and keep them updated on your bookings (with polite discretion! No one likes their inbox bombarded!) A very important piece of advice: voice-over agents and managers should NEVER ask for money upfront or ever, it is only a percentage off of work you have booked through them (usually 10% – 20% is standard). Always do your research to make sure the person you are working with is legitimate and if possible, franchised by SAG-AFTRA (the voice-actors union).
Speaking of representation, many agents and managers (as well as directors, producers and clients!) LOVE when voice-over actors have improvisation training and experience on their resume. It allows for more freedom in your reads of voice-over copy and helps you to pivot when given direction. It’s also just really FUN!
Networking – Be proactive!
Be sure to connect with various casting directors, producers, and directors in the voice-over industry. This is always easier in large markets such as NYC or LA, but if you do your research there may be studios with in-house casting, locally, near you. If you immerse yourself in the industry and treat this as your business, you are bound to make connections that can be long-lasting and help you build a sustainable voice-over career.
There will come a time when you have secured such a great deal of commercial work that it’s possible the original demo you recorded and coached becomes replaced with your booked spots! This takes time but it is a great goal to have your sights on. As with anything, hustle, hard work, and persistence is involved in booking commercial voice-over work. In the ever-changing world of technological advances, it has become more and more frequent to accomplish your goals from your very own home studio. Keep putting yourself out there, working hard and treating this as your business: there is plenty of commercial voice-over work out there!