I’m A Singer, Not A Speaker…Why Not Do Both?
I’m a singer. I’ve sung some jingles for commercials…I was once even a sound alike for a famous singer…but I have also done some non-singing voiceover work. Granted it’s been a while, and there weren’t that many gigs…but I did enjoy it. At the end of the day it’s about making a living and if you can figure out a way to add to your paycheck with something that’s fun… and totally legal… well, why not try it?
There are different kinds of gigs you can get in the world of voiceovers. You can get “acting” gigs that include cartoon voices and such, “announcing” gigs, where you are just reading with your own natural voice or even “group” voice acting gigs where a bunch of people (called a “loop” group) work together to do background voices (in a similar process to a Foley Artist) for crowd scenes in film and TV. That last type of gig is THE most difficult to get because the groups tend to be well established (so, it’s hard to break into an existing loop group) and post production companies tend to use the same groups over and over again (so, it can be hard to get work for a newly formed loop group).
I am no actor, so the gigs I’ve done in the past were straight “announcer” type gigs. I was also very lucky because I had made a connection with Chris Orazi, owner of CAS Music Productions in New Jersey, who did, and still does, a lot of advertising work. I talked to him recently to see if he had any advice for me about getting back into doing studio work in general and voiceover “announcer” work specifically. His main bit of advice when it comes to voiceovers, especially if your demo is limited (or nonexistent) is to make a demo by reading print ads from magazines. He also said it’s a good idea to edit them so that each is a clip that fades out…then into the next. You can also put singing examples on the demo if you plan on seeking jingle work. If you have the ability to make a good quality recording at home, go for it! If you don’t, you will have to spend some money on recording studio time. You need to make sure your demo sounds as professional as possible…especially if you’re going the DIY route.
Once you have your demo, make copies, make sure all your contact info is on them (make a nice label, don’t write on the disc with a sharpie…think “professional”) and carry a few with you at all times. Chris said one way to get started is to pass out your demo to local recording studios. You can usually research them online to find out what their specialty is in order to concentrate on those that do the kind of work you’re looking for. Be nice, be professional, and be prepared… you never know when or where a networking opportunity will present itself.
Chris also gave me his Top Ten List of Advice for Voiceover Newbies:
1. Know your voice and learn your distance from the microphone.
2. Warm up. Know your vocal exercises. Never drink anything outside of room temperature.
3. Remember, if the session is not yours, then behave accordingly. Keep conversation to a minimum, especially during the session. If the session is yours, do the same. If the creative team is the right one, there is little to talk about if the script or music is written. Just perform.
4. Ask to get a copy of the script or song ahead of time. It never hurts to have a start on the day.
5. Bring business cards and demo CDs. Anybody and everybody is a lead.
6. No cologne or perfume or very, VERY little. Studios are small places.
(I can vouch for #6 personally…asthma attacks and other allergic reactions caused by fragrance can wreak havoc on a recording session, musical or otherwise. So be courteous, DO wear deodorant, DO NOT wear perfume…be careful of hairspray, too)
7. No garlic for the same reason.
8. Listen to other voices and other talent demos. There’s never too much to learn from one another.
9. When you are asked if your headphone level is acceptable, be honest. You always want to hear yourself optimally. If it is for a music vocal session, be sure to let the music push you. if your voice is too low in the mix, you will over compensate, if your voice is too loud , you will be intimidated and hold back your performance.
10. Remember to thank all who have invited you to be a part of their creative project. In our business, every project is important to everyone and we should all be grateful to share in that moment.
Everything I’ve given you here is super basic. I’m kinda learning as I go but I’ll share whatever I learn along the way with you. Some people promote taking classes…like “on screen” actors do…but that’s really up to you and your budget. To learn some more about voiceovers check out Connie Terwilliger’s site and blog as well as the Voice Actor’s Notebook. If you’re contemplating lessons and you live in NOLA check out the NOLA Voice Talent website. They have $15 group lessons twice monthly in NOLA and Baton Rouge. I’ve checked out some other prices for voiceover lessons and it’s a good deal.
So, there you have it. One more way to add to your revenue stream…and maybe even have some fun.