voice over acting: explain to me like I am 5
February 2, 2019 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Recently a friend of mine who did voiceover work in his youth (nearly 25 years ago) told me that I have a really great speaking voice and he could see me having some success at it if I tried. How does one pursue this?

He doesn't have any real tips for me given how long ago it was that he was doing this kind of work. But it has piqued my interest, and I would like to look into it to see what it takes. However, I have no idea where to even begin.

Does anyone have any advice for me on how to research and potentially pursue this kind of work? What do I need to know? Are there classes or workshops I can take? Are there networking events I can attend? How does one get their foot in the door? I assume I'll need a reel; how do I put one together?

Any and all input from you guys would be much appreciated. I'd love in particular to get advice from those who have done voiceover work before, or know someone who did, or have worked in an industry where they hired voiceover actors.

If possible, I'd like to avoid getting advice to the effect of "this is hard and almost no one succeeds and you are dumb and naive for even considering this." I am well aware that breaking into any performance industry is difficult (I work in the arts) and I'm not expecting to be able to become super famous or super rich or be able to survive solely on this kind of work. It just seems like it would be a fun thing for me to look into, and I am a musician and have recording experience and am connected with a fairly prominent recording studio with a great engineer in my community so it seems I might have some resources available to me already.

I live in the NYC Metro area and getting to the city takes me an hour, tops, and is super easy.

Thanks in advance.
posted by thereemix to Work & Money (4 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine in the bay area has a really good voice for this. What he did was take voice acting lessons to establish some baseline credentials, then started working with an agent.

This was around 2007, and I don't remember him getting any work because at least at the time is seemed like a really competitive field. And/or there wasn't much work in the bay area.
posted by BenevolentActor at 12:10 PM on February 2, 2019

I have hired and worked with many a voice over actor and also their agents. I have also taken a voice over workshop, which helped me realise it wasn’t for me, but you might experience the opposite.

I believe that the majority of voice over work in NYC is in commercial acting and audiobooks. Cartoon, video games and other forms are mostly in LA. So, if you wanted to give it a shot in NYC, i would suggest focusing on developing mic skills, recording skills, and finding what’s unique about your voice. I would focus less on trying to do lots of voices but instead build out what’s special about yours. Also, listen to the radio, to the bumpers on TV, keep your ears open for all of the VO you hear all the time. See if you can spot styles or trends or techniques that you can imitate or practice with.

Then, find yourself a workshop. You will learn some of the basics, meet others that are also learning, and learn how to make a reel to submit for gigs.

You say you are in performing arts already. Do you know anybody who knows anybody who runs in those circles? Do you know anybody who knows an agent? They usually have recommendation for a good workshop or tutor.

You can also check out voices.com. I have never used it because the only hiring I’ve ever done has been union and they are a resource of non union voice actors, but i do know some folks who have had success with it so it’s worth a look.

Good luck!
posted by pazazygeek at 12:17 PM on February 2, 2019 [6 favorites]

Voice Over is a great big industry. it's very different then when your friend pursued it 25 years ago. One good thing you have going for you is that you're a musician so I'm guessing you have some basic recording and editing skills. Today's voice over artist works a lot from a home studio. That said the fact that you live close to ny is certainly helpful as ny is a major hub for voice over. If you wanna do animation and video games LA is the place to be. But you can find plenty of work in ny...commercials, promos, narration, ect. There are some animation and video game opportunities in ny. But much more in LA.

So where to start. Start with a class. This will help you to decide if voice over is something you wanna pursue. I'm sure there are several options for good classes in ny.

If after you take a class you decide you want to pursue voice over you will then need to continue training until you are eventually ready to have a professional demo produced.

At some point you'll wanna set up a home studio....you may already have that.

You'll need a website.

Eventually the key to getting work in voice over is to audition for it. There are a few ways to gain access to auditions. Those ways are agents, managers, pay 2 play websites, and self marketing.

You may find you gravitate towards a certain type of voice over genre. Perhaps you'll be good at commercials, narration, promos, movie trailers, animation, corporate narration, audio books, phone promps....there's many different areas of work. Perhaps you'll work in several areas of voice over.

You can also find tons of info just researching on google. If you love it enough you'll find yourself endlessly searching for info online and eventually you'll find your way. In the beginning it may seem tough to find your way. The keys to success are talent, basic business skills, recording skills, and cold hard perseverance.

Having a great voice will help but it's only a small portion of what defines great voice actors. Voice over is acting behind the mic. Being a great actor is more important than having a great voice. But having an interesting voice helps. But it's the same as having an expensive beautiful instrument. You must learn to play it. But if you can, it's a fantastic way to earn a living.
posted by ljs30 at 10:39 PM on February 2, 2019

I know two working voiceover actors. One does primarily animation & commercials, and the other does mostly audiobooks. Both of them are skilled actors first and foremost; they have studied and practiced acting through classes and workshops for years. They have also both done specific training in voiceover work -- specifically, workshops and private lessons from established voiceover professionals. One of them attended the National Audio Theatre Festival workshops for several years and made some helpful connections that way. One of them also had connections to a local recording studio, where they were able to get small gigs recording voiceover for local commercials, which provided some experience and material for their first demo reel. It sounds like you're already aware that it's a highly competitive industry, and it can take years of hard work to establish yourself, so I won't go on about that part of it.

So, some possible first steps for you to consider:
- Contact the recording studio you're connected to and see if they might have any local voiceover gigs for you.
- Take acting classes/workshops to get some training in the foundational skills you'll need.
- Look for voice acting workshops like the NATF workshop I linked above. I'm not sure what's available in NYC, but I assume there's something for you there.
posted by ourobouros at 5:51 AM on February 3, 2019

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