Your 5-Millionth Audition

by | Jul 27, 2020 | Auditions | 8 comments

They pop up in my Gmail, and I exhale deeply.

No longer do I gleefully greet each audition request with the hope of opportunity.

I used to.

But now, they’ve become a hassle.  Like a robo-call.  “Just go away, willya?”

I look for reasons to delete them one by one until only the likliest seem approachable.

Is that awful?  Am I jaded?  Is it time to sell my mic on Facebook’s VO Gear Exchange?

A noted VO coach once began her session to a roomful of top voice actors with audition admonition: “Let’s see what books today!”

I’m still waiting for that day.

An extremely successful voice actor once spoke at a conference under the heading: “Prepare for the avalanche”. 

I’m unprepared I guess.  It’s not snowing yet.

When I get emails from VO colleagues asking me about this P2P or that, I’m not sure how to answer.  I’ve tried them all.  Thousands of auditions.  Barely a handful of jobs. So do I tell them the P2P sucks, or my auditioning sucks?

Thousands?  Really, Dave?  

Yeah.  Thousands.

I used to keep an Excel file of all my auditions.  Where it came from, the name of the spot, how long it was, and the date.  You know…metrics are important.  You should know your RATIO, people said.  What’s the comparison of the number of jobs per auditions.

It was depressing.

Another noted coach admits out of, say, 100 auditions there are MANY that qualify, that meet the specs, the direction, the technical and talent demands of the read.

So how does she choose? 

She’s looking for something that stands out…it could have nothing to do with the quality of your audtion, but it gets her attention.  THAT’S what wins the audition.  

Something about that just doesn’t ring true. Something about “you’re good enough, but you have to make a spectacle of yourself to get the audition” seems disingenuous.

What am I missing?  Am I being too straight-laced?  Is my pride getting in the way of getting jobs?  Or is it just THAT competitive out there?

Does anyone else have a sense of helplessness about auditioning any more?

Oh, I’ve heard the wisdom:

  • your job is auditioning, not being a voice actor
  • be persistent…it’ll happen
  • if you don’t audition, you can’t get the job
  • get used to rejection
  • 1 job for every 100 auditions
  • never give up!
  • the next one…the next one
  • only audition what you’re suited for
  • it’s a numbers game!
  • only audition for your age range
  • only audition for your sex/gender/ethnicity
  • have a pro listen to your auditions

It goes on and on and on.  I’ve been at this seriously 13 years.  I’ve attended dozens of conferences, gotten training from the best coaches, my technical sound is tops, and I am not a quitter.

But I’m on the brink.

When I realize an audition email call makes me say “Go away!”…maybe it’s time to re-think this whole thing.

How long do you keep beating your head against the wall?

Til it bleeds?

I hear one of my colleagues telling me: “Dave, that’s why I don’t use P2P’s.  The best VO jobs are the ones you find yourself”.  Great.  I’m excited for you.  I just happen to be lousy at that too.

Out of those thousands of auditions – yes – I’ve actually won a few.  But my ratio is SO awful that any logical person would say, “dude, it’s time to quit!”

I’ve shopped out my auditions to some top pros…all of whom say my auditions sound good.  I’m “right up there”…”keep it up, it’ll happen”

It ain’t happenin’

Every once in a while I write a blog like this, and I always get responses from people who are fed-up with the grand-standing and humble-bragging they see on social media.  They love my transparency.  I suspect it’s ’cause their experience is like mine.

It’s not that I’m not happy for the person who gets the job.

It’s just that I’m tired of it not being me.

CourVO

(sorry, probably not the most inspirational topic for a Monday)

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8 Comments

  1. Joshua Alexander

    What a transparent and vulnerable blog! I love it. Numbers, numbers, numbers. That’s what I always tell people when asked about auditions: “It’s a numbers game.” But though true, it doesn’t really help much. You can do 10 auditions and get all 10. You can do a thousand and get three jobs. Sometimes it’s all chance. They could love me because my name is Josh. They could hate me because my name is Josh. I just keep plugging away. I hate the metrics and tracking of it: steering my career by the rearview mirror. I just keep plugging away. There’s truly something to be said about having your nose to the grindstone, but after a while, you have a sucking flesh wound where your nose used to be, and it kinda smarts! Thanks for this blog, Dave – loved it.

    Reply
  2. Jeffrey N Baker

    I’m 2 years into this game (And let’s be honest it is a game. You’re practically sitting at a slot machine putting money in and getting pennies back for your dollar spent) and I feel this post already. I think what keeps me in it is that… I don’t know what other career I’d do. My day job isn’t artistically fulfilling anymore and despite myself I do still love getting in the booth and reading copy.

    Then again, it’s only been two years 😉

    So, no words of encouragement from me. But you’re definitely not alone.

    Reply
  3. steve Hammill

    Exactly the reason that I decided freelance voiceover is a bad retirement plan. …you’ll find me at the slots in Vegas! 😉

    Reply
  4. Gary Hetzler

    Dave,

    You epistles are always on the money (wish that for you literally!) but what’s most appreciated is your honesty.
    Keep that up.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Gary,

      I appreciate your atta-boys…I’ll do both, the honesty, AND the persistence. 🙂

      Dave Courvoisier

      Reply
  5. Theresa Dodge

    Love the brutal honesty. Pretty sure you are not alone in how you think and feel – at least I get it. That said…I so enjoy the fact that each audition just might be exactly what the client wants and hopefully, I don’t have to explain fair rates to them – but maybe. Thanks, Dave. By the way – nice to see a photo.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Thanks, Theresa…your insights and patronage are always a plus for me.

      Dave C

      Reply
  6. Constance Terwilliger

    I also find that I am deleting a lot more auditions these days. Some because the copy is bad. Some because the concept is bad. Some is not in my age range. Some is calling for a style that I just know is not really me. Some don’t seem worth the effort for the payoff.

    Part of it is that I don’t need voiceover work to pay my bills as I have started to take some pensions, so I CAN pick and choose my auditions, but like you, when I do audition, I am not getting the jobs, for the very kind of work I get hired to do the most. My work these days is 90% repeat business, referrals and direct hits to my website. That work comes without any auditioning. But I do a fair number of auditions every week because I have agents who send me stuff.

    I do get the chance to audition for the high end union spots and have been listening to the voices that get booked when I get a chance. Most of the time, I don’t hear a big difference between what I submitted and what booked. In that respect, it is a true numbers game. I am getting the same audition now from 2-3 agents on a regular basis, so that right there tells you how many people might be submitted.

    Other times, I hear a big difference and that helps hone what I do audition for – or what kind of delivery I end on submitting. One thing I have noticed now is the producers calling for Broadway and working TV/film actors to submit. This tells me that the better actor you are, the more you connect to the words – the better storyteller you are – the more you will be heard and stand out.

    The thing about that is that those are the good stuff – great scripts, good concepts, good money. So, I know that in order to be truly competitive for those gigs, I will need to seek out coaches skilled in breaking through to the authentic me. I hear voices relatively new voices like Laila Berzens and bow to her awesomeness. Then there are the venerable voices such at Morgan Freeman and other stage and screen actors whose natural delivery does the heavy lifting.

    Reply

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