But how do we know when we’re ready? Well, consider what the agents are looking for: if you have all of that and a bag of chips, you’re ready! Below are some examples of what agents are usually looking for:
- Strong demos (preferably commercial and narration) that are well produced, but not overly so. The performance is obviously what they are listening closest to.
- Home studio capabilities that include professional equipment, an acoustically sound environment and the ability to do a live directed session through phone patch, Skype patch, ISDN or an ISDN replacement service such as Source Connect or ipDTL
- Experience in the industry that shows that you are a working professional. Demos are necessary to show off your talents, but agents also want to know that you’re booking gigs regularly. After all, that’s how they make their money.
- A friendly and professional demeanor is important, as we all want to work with people we like. Keep your correspondence confident, but not cocky. The attitude should be positive and direct.
- Having someone to vouch for you helps out tremendously. As with any job, references help give the agent confidence that you are the real deal. If you know a talent that’s on the agent’s roster and you feel comfortable asking for a referral, go for it!
- Work with top coaches in the industry regularly, so that you are keeping up with advertising trends and are continuously evolving as a performer. Agents often ask who you are training with. If they don’t, it’s not a bad idea to bring it up in conversation. Serious actors and actresses are constantly training and strive to keep their performances fresh and relevant. The agent needs to know you take your work seriously.
Having an agent that you respect and admire is a wonderful thing. They can take you to the next level. It’s true that having an agent will give you a certain amount of clout and respect in the industry. When you find a great agent, they will fight for above standard rates and take negotiating and invoicing off your plate. It’s an important step for any aspiring voice-over talent to make, and I encourage you to take it. However, don’t feel rushed. View your career as a marathon, not a sprint, and take the time needed to gain experience and hone your performance skills. Build your client list and your online presence. There is no reason you can’t have a successful career independent of an agent while you build your portfolio. When the time is right, you can approach agents with the confidence that you will be an incredible asset to them and really sweep them off their feet!