Getting a job in the voiceover industry is hard, and hardly pays. I get that. But what are some arenas in which I can give it away for free?
I did voice over bumpers for a local PBS TV station in college, did work at an NPR affiliate at the same time. The only acting I've done is for friends' film projects in college and for fun, but it's possible I wasn't terrible at it. Even with a little experience under my belt, I know that the odds of getting work in the field are slim.
Thing is, I'm okay with not getting a dime, but I'd still like to use (and hone) my talent if I could. I just don't know where to offer it--I'm stuck between feeling like a singer who'd be happy finding a place in a small community choir and feeling like an arrogant jerk who thinks he's so pretty he should offer to flex around places because his face is nice.
I have some experience sound engineering and have fairly good equipment. I'd prefer to do something digitally rather than live, and if live, behind a curtain rather than in front of it.
Things I've looked into/tried:
- Three years ago I contacted Futurismic offering to do audio versions of their short stories for free. Jeremy Lyons was busy, but liked my sample. They were only doing a story a month, so he told me it might take awhile to get match me with something. He never got back to me, and for a time there were audio versions at the site, largely read by the author. (I wasn't bitter, I just assumed that when they started asking, the authors thought, "That's a great idea, but why don't I read my own work instead?" He was also doing this as a hobby, so I don't begrudge the irregular emails).
- I read some friend's well-written blog posts and attached links to the audio files as comments. They replied positively, but it's hard to feel confident in the responses of those close to you. I didn't want to distract from their writing and I didn't want them to feel uncomfortable asking me to stop, so I only did a couple.
- I've done the same for a few forums I frequent, but never posted as a thread reply, instead emailing them to the writer. Again, positive response and suggestions to do it more, but I did not want to distract from their work or "Attention Whore".
- I looked into reading text books for visually impaired students at a couple universities, since the service was free for the recipient, but those positions went to fellow students.
- I've read some stuff for Librivox. This seems a good resource, but projects move so slowly I've only submitted a few, in fear of over-committing myself and having to renege.
- Browsing Newgrounds, which I loved 10 years ago. There are a lot of audio projects available, but few seem to come to fruition and the majority deal with requirements I know nothing about (anime, video game characters).
- Podcasting with a friend. Ironically, I'm not much of a talker, and podcasting hardly seems like something that would help anyone else.
- Suggestions from my friends to record modern audiobooks or children's books for them seem questionable legality-wise, although I wouldn't be selling it and it would be for a small, personal audience.
- I've toyed with reading to patients in coma wards or in veteran's spaces, but I have no idea how to approach this, if it is even proper, or if it has all been replaced by podcasts.
- I've also thought about reading short creative pieces people post for critique on some sites, even if only to send it to them directly. Hearing what you have written aloud, especially by a second party, can be an excellent tool for revision. I'm not sure if this is something that would anger people.
The selfish part of all of this is that I want feedback. I want to get better at it, excellent at it, even if I never even apply for a full-time job remotely tied to it.
Ironically, I work for the National Association of Broadcasters. All day I talk to people from or in TV and Radio, so everyone I talk to has an excellent voice. They notice and compliment my voice, but some of the higher-ups in the company have cornered the voice-over market (for webcasts, PSAs, etc.) in-building.
Is it wrong to want to be excellent at something, but happy toiling away at it in obscurity?