It isnt enough to have a good demo. You have to get it into
the hands of the people who actually do the hiring. You need
to do some marketing. In fact, you need to do a LOT of
marketing and promotion to get your demo heard
agent representation, cold calls, snail mail, e-mail, web
sites, networking, and volunteering.
Get an Agent?
While not a necessity, being represented by a voice over agent
is good for the voice artist. However, in some parts of the
country getting an agent is easier said than done.
In many larger markets, youll need to be introduced
to the agent by a producer or director. This means the agent
gets your demo along with a personal letter touting your
abilities. Yes, in these cases it really is whom you know!
Agents in smaller markets may be more open to unsolicited
Do your research to find out how each agent takes submissions.
They will either have this information posted on their web
sites, or they will include the information in their opening
phone message. Be sure to follow the directions as explained
by each agent. Not doing so will result in your demo ending up
in the trash.
Of course, all of this is predicated on the presumption that
you have a professionally recorded demo that will compete with
the other voice over demos in your market. And a second
presumption is that you can easily recreate the delivery of
everything that is featured on your demo.
Market, Market, Market
good agent will do some minimal marketing of their agencys
capabilities not specifically your capabilities by
sending out a House Demo once a year or so to key potential
clients. You will be asked to provide a short audio clip that
will be compiled on a CD with the rest of agencys voice
The agents primary job is to respond to incoming calls for
talent and negotiate compensation. They do not make calls on
your behalf. You need to be actively involved in your own
You can be the most talented voice over talent in your neck of
the woods, but if no one actually listens to your demo, then
you wont be paying your bills off voice over work. On the
other hand, you can be moderately talented and make a living
doing voice-overs if the people who sign the checks have your
demo in their hands.
Pick up the Phone!
of the most effective methods of contacting people is on the
telephone. Ick! I hate to make cold calls. Yes, dont
we all. But take a lesson from Marketing 101, pre-screen your
contacts. This way the people you end up talking to will be
the ones interested in your services. You dont want to
spend a lot of time or money with people who simply dont
need voice over talent.
Depending on the type of demo(s) you have, your cold call list
will vary. For the sake of brevity (and we know that web site
content should be brief), well use a Commercial Demo as our
example. Your cold call list would include Advertising
Agencies, Radio and TV station production departments and
Production Companies that make radio and TV spots.
Not all Ad Agencies or Production Companies produce radio and
TV spots, so you need to find the groups that would most
likely be in a position to actually use your services. A lot
of radio and TV stations produce low-end spots that dont
pay well, but if you are just getting started and need to test
your skills, this may be a good way to break in. Most large
cities have local directories that include long lists of Ad
Agencies and Audio/Video Production Companies. If you cant
find a specific directory of creative types, use the Yellow
Start Smiling and Dialing
The first words out of your mouth, other than a polite hello,
should be to ask if the company produces radio or TV spots. If
they say no, then thank them and get off the line. If they say
yes, then ask for the name of the Creative Director, Producer,
or Production Manager. Alternately you might ask for the name
of the person who would most likely listen to voice over
Verify the spelling of the persons name and the correct
mailing address. Get an e-mail address if possible for follow
up. If you can, try to speak directly to the contact and let
them know that you would like to send them a demo. They
usually will say sure, go ahead. Think about it. This is a
very subjective business, the more options they have -- the
happier they are!
Your Demo is Your Business Card
Your CD demo should be at the ready for a wide variety of
marketing and networking. Send them out to your pre-screened
contacts. Bring them with you when you attend meetings. Have a
couple stuffed under the seat of your car in case you run into
someone who needs voice talent. That happens a lot more than
you would think.
The demand for professional voices is actually increasing as
technology advances. While this article is focusing on radio
and TV spots, there are more and more non-traditional uses for
voice talent. Bear in mind that you need to customize your
demo for the different markets, but the general approach to
marketing remains the same. Figure out who is in need of your
voice style (or styles) and be sure to get the right demos
into their hands!
2003 by Connie Terwilliger
is a working voice over talent based in San Diego CA and
provides voice tracks to people around the world through her
home studio or in one of the many great audio recording
facilities in the area. She has a wide range of straight and
character reads, and is known for her ability to knock out
complex technical scripts. In addition to teaching a voice
over acting class at San Diego City College, she is also a
scriptwriter for corporate communications. Her voice demos can
be heard at: www.opuzzvoice.com/Connie_Terwilliger.asp
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