(Embarrassingly) True Story

by | Aug 2, 2012 | Auditions | 12 comments

Setting the stage:
A well-known, top-notch commercial audio studio in a major city puts up a call for auditions on Voices.com.

The Specs:
The voice-seeker is looking for a Pirate voice…something…well….loud and boisterous and over-the-top mean sounding…like the sterotypical pirate we all think of.  The producer states these directions in the job listing, which is for 5 short lines for a game.

The rate offered:
For the above-mentioned 5 lines,  the price was set at $450 which, in that producer’s mind, is a good rate for a regional, 13 week.

The # of respondents:
Roughly 400 male voices.

The quality of auditions returned to the voice-seeker  (as perceived by this seasoned producer):
“…about 15% were just their demo reel and easily half  were terrible recordings that make it very difficult to understand the audition…”

Additional Feedback (off-the-record verbatim comments from the producer that all auditioning talent say they would DIE to hear):
 “…MORE than half of these auditions were so lazy and laid back…I was so surprised.  And some of the names are very recognizable, some of these folks are players.  The rule in auditioning for a big character should always be go big or provide a laid back and a big read.  Producers always feel they can pull a talent back but it’s very difficult to push a talent to a bigger, more energetic read.  I am really surprised at what we received.  Out of over 400 male auditions the initial narrowing down took it to 21.  Out of those 21 I’ll find the best 5 or 6 to send off to the client.  And so many didn’t make the initial cut because they just didn’t bring it…”

The above story is absolutely true down to the small details, and the quotes.  The producer did not wish to be identified in return for my being able to share the facts and the feedback.

I hope you were one of the final 21, and not one of the other 379.

People complain about these P2P sites, but look at what auditioners are doing!

You need to decide that if you’re going to audition for these cattle-calls, that you MUST “bring it”.  Your reputation is at stake.

CourVO

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12 Comments

  1. David Sigmon

    Thanks for the terrific insight behind the green curtain. Very helpful indeed.
    DS

    Reply
  2. J S Gilbert

    Your producer mentions “And some of the names are very recognizable, some of these folks are players..” What a grand misunderstanding this individual has about who is doing the work. Just because somebody tends to be vocal online and/ or has strong web presence shouldn’t be confused for them having developed skills or abilities, or that they are making much money at voice over. There are individuals being interviewed and quoted with regards to voice over who are selling things on eBay to come up with the rent.

    $450 was probably a decent enough rate to run this past vetted individuals with proven auditioning skills. Personally, I’ve helped cast and produced hundreds of commercials, corporate training programs and even several games. I’ve never had to go through more than 30 or so auditions to find 5 or 6 good ones to present a client.

    This simply tells me that not only are there a ton of people out there who shouldn’t be trying to get work as a voice actor, but that they are quite wrongly categorized as players.

    As someone who once found good talent at voices.com (It was called interactivevoices.com back then), I will never use that service to look for talent. It is a monumental waste of time.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Thanks, JS….I know you speak from experience as you’ve done a lot of casting, too.

      My friend did not say, and I did not ask, what he meant by “players”…but I know darn well, he knows what he’s talking about, ’cause he’s no rookie…so let’s just leave it at that, and not try to get into his head about any misunderstandings of the marketplace and who’s qualified.

      What this all tells me is that at least some producers DO listen to hundreds of auditions, and that I should not get discouraged when I see how many have already responded to the posting.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Dave C

      Reply
  3. Debbie Grattan

    Wow, very interesting. I’m wondering if the same is true on the female side. If this same scenario played out with just female auditionees, would there be a higher ration of usable talent? It is fairly gratifying to know that if you are truly a pro, sending in good quality audio, and offer a custom audition, that your chances are much better than what you see posted as number of folks auditioning. But, as JS points out, you may not even be heard if you’re not in the early responder category.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Hi Deb!….thanks for commenting.

      That’s a great question you pose…where do we find the answer? I wish I could work out an agreement with a steady producer to offer one response like this once a week. It would be great to hear the feedback….ANY feedback.

      Hope you have a great weekend!

      Dave C

      Reply
  4. Mark

    Not surprised at all at the poor quality auditions. For business purposes, I’ve occasionally added voices to my database, by invitation. Although the reads have generally been okay, the audio quality generally has been horrible.

    And you can confirm the abilities of people – the ones who “got into voiceover” – just by listening to a hundred demos on any of the p2p sites. I bet the “cringe factor” will prevent you from listening to a hundred demos.

    This situation actually leads to a different topic: The future of the anybody-can-join p2ps. Perhaps services that offer a curated roster of fewer than 10 people will be more and more in demand. Kind of like… agents.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Mark,

      You might be right, and I think that’s been tried…as in talent agencies. ‘Not sure they’re doing all that well these days, either!

      I always appreciate your visits and comments, here!

      best,

      Dave Courvoisier

      Reply
  5. Bob Green

    Unfortunately, one has to accept the realities of auditioning on P2P sites. Whereas the criteria of: voice, interpretation and audio quality have been traditionally how talent gets the gig, they’re now joined by another element ,,,TIME. Swell that there are SOME occasions where the client will listen to an abundance of auditions, but in this age of “good enough”, if audition # 4 is good enough…higher #s will likely not ever get listened to. You’ve done your homework…found something that pays appropriately and fits your profile. You RUSH (at least I do) to get it sent before you become read # 30 or 50 or God forbid 60. Success in the time category…you’re # 15 out of 55. But it never gets listened to. Happens more often than not.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Bob,

      I think the scenario you describe is more often the norm instead of the exception. I tip my hat to “JJ” for listening to them all, but I think his actions are rare among producers.

      Such is the case today in this P2P world!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Dave C

      Reply
  6. Silvia McClure

    I think a lot of VO people also underestimate the “acting” side of the job. A job such as this requires a lot more than high quality recordings and stamina. That might be enough for an Elearning job, but for something so character specific, it takes training, talent and a will to play and have fun with the copy.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      TOTALLY agree, Silvia…our producer is right…be aware of what the “Zeitgeist” is…come ready to PERFORM!

      Thanks for stopping by to comment!

      Dave C

      Reply
  7. Dave Roberts

    Hi Ladies and Gents;
    Here’s another part of this business that so many over look. This is a big family-friend-associate relationship business. Talented writer/producers who work with talented graphic artists, visual editors, sound editors, VO artists and everyone else in the production chain like to know each other face to face. And with each other share communication/laughter/dinner at all levels of fun at the same venues downtown on a Wednesday/Friday/Saturday nights, while paying tribute to their latest creations and endeavors. Dare I say the phrase, “Out of sight…out of mind?” I can’t tell you how many times over the last 20 years that sharing a moment of friendship with a fellow producer/writer, fellow voice over artist, hanging with many of the broadcasters that create for living…lead to the one line that crops up that makes it happen; “Dave…you know what? I hadn’t thought about you for this project but you’d be great….perfect for it. I’m calling your agent on Monday.” Done.

    In closing, what I’m saying is that this business is a relationship business. People like people they work with; and over time, you as a VO artist know their wants, their needs, their style, what they’re looking for; even to the point where you’re hired for a job, and you know your producer so well that you work only with the studio engineer. No producer! And the producer has just called you prior to the recording session on your cell and said, “You know what to do Dave…give me all the variations you can…do your thing, mannn…I’m dropping my kids off at school right now. See you Friday at Copa…by the way…is Rua 6 playing that night?”

    In short, no matter where you live, be it a huge city like LA or New York, or Atlanta or Miami, or even medium or small market cities such as Rochester, NY., if you can find a place to be friends with your co-producers, co writers, co broadcasters and find good friendships there, even inviting them into your own home for a cocktail and dinner, you will be constantly considered for work. And let me be very clear; this is not “networking.” This is building true honest friendships that last for years, even decades. And best of all it’s not work. It’s playtime.

    All my best, Dave.

    PS. One other thing; if your writer/producers and co-workers are coming over to hang at your place for cocktails and dinner you better have a nice guest room (or two) complete with white towels, fresh soap, hairdryer, new toothbrush, new toothpaste, and clean sheets! Also here’s the house rules: “You want it? Go get it!” In short, Mi casa y su casa.”

    Reply

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