I’ve been getting asked a Lot lately about what one needs to get into Voice Over work, and the short answer is that you’ll need to invest money and time before ever starting to record. I’ve addressed the need for a quiet space to record in a previous blog post so let’s talk about a few other investments you’ll need to make – equipment and your time.
First, you’ll need a good microphone and there are many options to choose from but DO NOT get, or try to use, any of these – gaming headphones with a mic attachment, a handheld recorder, a stage mic (or dynamic mic), or a web cam mic – they are not appropriate for Voice Over work. You’ll waste your money and never win an audition. Period.
You need a microphone designed for quiet, clean recording. Like I said, many are available like USB microphones starting at $130 up to $1000+ for some analog microphones. Some also require additional equipment like a preamp and/or a digital interface. You’ll also likely need to consider a mic stand and a pop-filter. Other than the money here is the Space you’ll need to set it all up. Got to keep that in mind too.
A good set of headphones for monitoring your pitch and intonation as you record, and for editing purposes because you need to able to hear every part of your recording in order to master it. You want to avoid the general headphones meant for gaming or just listening to music. Good headphones start at $100.
Recording software is next and, fortunately, there are many free downloads available so your next investment leads into my next point – your time.
All of the above will require you to spend time in setting it all up. You’ll need to learn how to use your new equipment. You’ll need to learn how to edit and master your recordings (getting a sound engineer to do it is expensive).
Once you’ve done all of this you’ll then need to spend time writing and recording your demos for your various potential clients to hear you in action. Along with this is the time (and money) you’ll need to spend in promoting yourself and your talent through advertising and on social media. Also, the expense of the various websites that host client auditions for VO actors to compete for work.
Getting your own website to host all of your demos and contact information is another time and monetary investment.
Now, a few last thoughts for you to consider…
All of the above will NOT make you a great performer. That must come from you. This leads me to my next point which realistically you should consider before spending your money and time. Ask yourself why you want to become a Voice Over Actor?
If you’re wanting to make a lot of money that is certainly possible. Many clients pay very well for their projects and certain industries pay better than others. But, remember, these clients are paying top-dollar in the expectation of getting professional work from you, and this means more than just your vocal skills and audio quality. It means you need to be open to recording on their schedule. Also, expect to be doing various and sundry revisions of your recordings. They may want to direct you via a live session if you’re not local to them. This is all part of being seen as a professional in the Voice Over industry and is essential to doing the job right and ensuring future work for yourself.
If your reason is to become famous? Well, generally speaking, famous VO Artists, like Don LaFontaine or Mel Blanc, are the exception not the rule. Your voice overs will be part of larger projects that must stand on their own. The listener/viewer must not be aware of you reading your narration but be informed by it to enhance their information/entertainment experience. You’re part of a team on a Project and that must come first.
However, if you truly enjoy using your vocal talents to bring Life and Emotion to the printed word? Well… That’s different isn’t it? Chances are better you’ll find a great creative outlet and pride in your work with this reason as well as a solid foundation to start building a lucrative career.
But, for whatever reason you want to pursue a career in Voice Acting you must understand one simple fact and I’ve said it before and I can’t stress it enough – Voice Over Acting is Hard WORK and is Fiercely competitive. You’ll have to make time Everyday to submit auditions and when you start getting work you’ll need to have the time to record, edit and master your audio files. Editing and mastering take the LION’s share of the work when producing a clean audition, an mp3 file for a job, or an audiobook. Easily, 5 times as long as the actual finished recording. Say your finished recording is 5 minutes long. Well it can take a half an hour to edit and master it. Longer if you make mistakes in pronunciation or you have to do multiple takes. A 35,000 word audiobook that clocks in at 6 hours long took upwards of 30 hours to record, edit and master which is quite often spread out over many weeks. Yes, there’s that time investment again.
Be prepared… It often can take Years before you start winning auditions and getting phone calls from potential clients.
Also, think carefully about what kind of Voice Over Actor you are. Can you affect accents? Are you able to sound young, middle aged, as well as older? Are you able to affect various vocal styles – the guy next door, corporate announcer, an excited young professional? These are only some of the descriptions that go with auditions. Ask yourself if your vocal abilities are up to the challenge because that’s what Voice Acting is – a challenge. Remember there is a veritable Host of other VO Artists competing against you at all times.
So, once you know what you are good at performing that will lead you to the VO work you should pursue.
Once you you’ve considered these points, invested the time and money, and honestly answered these questions then you’ll be prepared to begin your journey as a Voice Over Actor.
Thanks for reading, my friends, I hope this is helpful. Until next time, be well and be useful. 🙂