Every day a new voice is born. When the big voices get older, people tell them “you should be in radio” (not knowing that radio these days hardly has any live humans to speak of anymore).
When that happens often enough, the person with the golden pipes starts to believe they really SHOULD be a voice actor. I mean, with that voice and all…it’s gonna be a cinch, right?
This is the first turning point. The crux of the matter… and the challenge to all those of us who know the real truth: it takes MORE THAN JUST A VOICE. Hey! Someone wrote a book with that title!
Undeterred, the VO newb follows his/her dream. Forging ahead with passion, vision, and determination.
The few who make it past the first couple of months are the real problem. They’re not going to quit, but they are finally getting desperate for their first kill…a job that pays something…ANYTHING.
This is the second turning point…the threshold that makes them a perfect victim for Fiverr, Thumbtack, O-Desk, Elance, V123, and VDC and Such A Voice.
It’s that desperate place that marks them as target #1 for unscrupulous, fraudulent, and enterprising predatory coaches and demo mills.
The NEWB is inexperienced, grasping, naïve, and largely ignorant of those who have come before, who take pride in this profession, and who are trying to uphold compensation rates.
What, then, do we do with the newcomer? The anxious, next-gen, hopeful, but rate-standard-destroying inexperienced freelance wannabe voice actor???
Who are we, after all, to tell them they can’t get their start SOMEWHERE?
It’s that old Catch-22. You can’t get a decent-paying job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a decent-paying job.
Haven’t we all been there? Where did you get YOUR first start?
The truth is, the list of things we CAN do starting out is relatively short, and it mirrors most of WoVO’s mission statement:
What’s the novice’s responsibility? To do their research.
What’s the seasoned VO’s responsibility? To help when asked.
If you were to suddenly decide you wanted to be a photographer (a freelance profession with AT LEAST as many star-struck hopefuls as voice-acting), you’d want to understand the lay of the land first, right?
You’d carry out your due diligence online, seek a mentor, read books, hang out with other photogs, visit studios, see the work that being produced out there, tinker with the hardware and the software, talk to pros, see the costs that are ahead, and certainly…CERTAINLY gain an appreciation for what other photogs have done to raise the standard of compensation in the field.
Why don’t newbie voice-actors do that? Some do, and God bless ’em for it! But those who don’t are missing an essential ingredient, and we all feel the negative effects.
So when the latest hopeful calls me to ask about how to get into voice-overs, I try to take the time. We all should. It’s the only way to help preserve our way of life. Be realistic, but not discouraging. Tell the truth, and don’t sugar-coat. Don’t take their dream away, just temper it with hard answers. Give suggestions. Offer the name of a good coach. Give them links and reading material. Send them to Peter O’Connell’s VoiceOver Entrance Exam or https://iwanttobeavoiceactor.com.
Remind them it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Explain that a good voice is only 15% – 20% of the success formula.
THAT’s how you write your own VO playbook.
[reprinted from March 2016, and it holds true more than ever]