Debbie Irwin, voice talent on Realtime Casting, shares realities of today’s voiceover world
P2P. B2B. M2M. CBC. B2C. H2H.
These are not blood tests or network stations. These are the realities of our world.
- When we called people and if they weren’t home we had to call back.
- When you dialed a number, you really put your finger in the dial to make it happen.
- When mail was real mail, not a barrage of junk.
- When letters were addressed by people, not machines made to act like people.
- When music and TV was innocent.
- When people had manners and swearing wasn’t done in polite company.
- When we seemed to have more time for ourselves and each other.
Funny how with all of our sophisticated technologies and efficiency tools to speed things up, nobody has time for anything anymore. But I am ok with that. In fact, if you are not, you are destined to live in a smaller, slower world. That is not necessarily bad, unless you want a career in voiceovers.
Dream on Dorothy
Once upon a time in the land of “VOz” there were agents, casting directors, producers and ad agencies. Voiceover artists were not famous. In fact, if you were you probably hid the fact that you were voicing commercials on the side because it was considered déclassé. Everybody and their brother was not an aspiring voice actor and the pool of talent was relatively small. People knew each other. Agents had strong relationships with their talent and worked hand in hand with the ad agencies and casting directors to ‘book’ them work.
Fast forward three decades and enter the fast-paced world of the web. And personal home studios. And every Tom, Dick and Harry (and Jane, Joan and Jillian) wanting to be a voice actor. The competition has stiffened with 2,000-3,000 union talent auditioning for a commercial. Hundreds of thousands of voices accessible on Pay-to-Play platforms that connect businesses and producers with voice talent? Yup.
How do you survive that morass? How do you build a career on your own, with admittedly so many more resources and yet less real help from the traditional sources like agents and managers?
Go with the Flow
Today’s world is online. All the B2Bs (Business to Business) and B2Cs (Business to Customer)
are marketing to and finding, each other with a few clicks of the keyboard.
Just visit any P2P and you’ll be overwhelmed by the choices (and sometimes underwhelmed). Voice actors like myself pay a fee to be listed on dozens of casting sites. Annual fees to be a member range from 0 to $2,500. At the zero-level, that’s about all you get in return. In fairness, you get a profile page where you can feature your demos, but they won’t send you any audition leads. For $2,500 you might get a couple of press releases written about you, priority ranking for jobs and better exposure on their site. All of which can lead to work, but there are no guarantees. I know people who’ve paid top dollar and seen no returns, and others who have.
Now that everything is searchable on the internet, production studios, producers, creative directors and the like can hunt for people to voice their medical narrations or explainer videos and better still, submit custom samples of their project’s script so they don’t have to imagine how my voice from my demo would sound speaking their words.
Like Me… In 3 Seconds!
Here’s where it gets interesting. Remember those thousands of people who are also hoping to book the work? Well, it’s a race out of the gates to see who can audition the fastest, and the best presumably, before the throngs of submissions start pouring in.
Hundreds of auditions most likely won’t get heard since time (remember that precious resource?) is in short supply, as are attention spans, and bosses’ demands. But in 3 seconds a seasoned pro can tell whether or not they want to continue listening! How about that for pressure?! Your next job is hanging on your every word— uttered in that tiny window.
After you’ve made it into the like pile, there are scores of other factors that go into making a decision on your merits – Is your profile impressive? Do you have a website and is it easy to use, conveying that you’re a professional? Do you have examples of other jobs and clients you’ve worked for? Are there mistakes in grammar or spelling? Do you come across as someone they would want to work with? Do you go on and on, or are you concise, recalling that they don’t have time?
Let’s say you get the job.
Ah sweet success! Your work isn’t done yet. If you’re recording with the client on the line, how you handle yourself in the session can determine if that client,
or the CBC (the client behind the client) ever hires you again!
And when the session’s done and the audio has been delivered to the client and they’re happy, what’s next? Follow up with a handwritten thank you, maybe even a small gift if that’s your style? What you’re trying to build through the digital cyberspace interface is a personal connection. Because at the end of the day, people need to interact with people in human ways; with a laugh, with a random act of kindness, with an expression of genuine gratitude. That’s what feels good.
Advocacy for each other H2H
Human 2 Human, is the only way we’ll stay one step ahead of the M2Ms (the Machine to Machines) that are already taking over many of our jobs. If we go old school every now and then, and pick up the phone or send a note, we can weave the best of the old and the new into a stronger fabric of our lives.
– Debbie Irwin is a Realtime Casting voice talent and blog contributor