Break into voiceover…

Reading through my Twitter feed this morning a question struck me, do we sell ourselves short as an industry?

The reason I ask this question is that my Twitter feed seemed to be full of statements such as:

  • “How to break into Voiceover”
  • “Make it in voiceover in 5 easy steps”
  • “How to build your VO career with this simple trick”

Now while all these links and courses came from reputable sources is the language we use to describe VO training really doing it justice? We all know that there are a lot more steps to making it in Voiceover than 5 and that there is no one simple trick to building your VO career.

When I entered VO I have to admit I was naive, I thought the fact I could do funny voices and a bucket load of accents would be enough, boy how wrong was I! Only once I’d started training in VO did I come to realise what an art it is and how it is the absolute definition of a “craft”, how it takes years to hone your skills, build your business and learn the dynamics of the industry you have entered in to. I watch hours and hours of interviews with voiceover artists at the top of their game, I read countless blogs and indulge in training from as many different sources as possible all to attempt to grasp the massive undertaking that is becoming a professional voiceover artist.

Perhaps that’s why I take umbrage at seeing it laid out so simply, it just doesn’t do the industry or the people that work in it justice. It also creates another problem, a mass influx of amateur talent. Now I mean amateur talent in the nicest possible way and I’m simply referring to people who fancy giving VO a bash but it’s not really their passion or their work. The internet has already made it easier for anyone and everyone to get a website and a microphone and call themselves a “voiceover artist” so is this something we really want to encourage by advertising in a way that doesn’t give credit to just how hard it is?

The saying goes that “a high tide raises all boats” and I have no issue with competition, in fact I think in the VO world it’s a great thing and actually people are competitive and collaborative all at the same time because we understand that ultimately each of us has an utterly unique product to sell. But if a high tide raises all boats what will a low tide do…

The other impact of this of course, is on the buyers of voiceovers, why would they pay $100 for a VO when someone who on the surface looks just as professional is charging $10? Both client and professional VO’s get a raw deal here as ultimately the customer is most likely going to have to get the VO redone and waste time and money in the process. It reflects badly on us as an industry and damages our reputation as a whole, the last thing we want is to end up being considered in the same vein as second hand car salesmen or estate agents.

However, there is an upside to this and that’s the law of the pendulum (as I call it) meaning when something game changing such as the Internet affects an industry it will always cause a swing one way before going the other. By this I mean after the industry has had it”s influx of new talent and gigs on Fiverr (I’ll cover that in a separate rant!), customers will get tired of getting poor quality and back the pendulum swings.

Let’s just try and hold up our end by advertising these new courses:

“How to break into voiceover in a number of years and significant investment”
“Make it in voice over in 2,356 steps”
“How to build your VO career with hard work, sweat and training, training, training”

All the best!


No Comments

  1. Gary Terzza on November 2, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Some salient points Jay – voiceovers in 2356 steps is a blog in itself.
    That said, we need to make sure we don’t deter new talent. Creatives are constantly scouting for fresh voices and I feel it is my role to encourage newcomers to take the plunge. Trying to explain the complex workings of the VO industry to a novice is very difficult, but distilling this down to a few pointers helps them see the wood through the trees giving a sense of perspective.
    You have to start somewhere.
    Of course this approach does need the coach to explain fully that these are the first tentative steps and success is not guaranteed.
    Thanks for asking the questions. Plenty of food for thought.

    • Jay Britton on November 2, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Completely agree, certainly don’t want to deter new talent as that’s the lifeblood of any creative industry. It’s a difficult mix to get right!

  2. Nicola Redman on December 2, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Anyone entering into this has a right to do so but what they need is a realistic outline of what it takes and all the factors in play. For most, it becomes primarily a solo business venture, not an artistic endeavour, although the initial sentiment will come from an artistic angle. That is what needs to be outlined in training first and foremost, in terms of giving newcomers a realistic viewpoint of what their life as a VO may be.
    *Relative newbie (3ish years and counting…)

    • Jay Britton on December 2, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Very true Nic and completely agree, thanks for coming by my blog!

  3. Debbie Grattan on December 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Great post, Jay! Voice Over is so much harder to go than it looks. I’ve written posts about this topic too and I look forward to when people begin to realize early on that there are very few overnight successes in voice over, just like in pop music or tv acting or professional sports or brain surgery! There is the theory that to really master something it takes 10,000 hours of doing that thing. Voice over is no different in that respect. Maybe that’s another good blog title for you, “How to Master Voice Over in just 10,000 Hours” — Cheers, Debbie

    • Jay Britton on December 2, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks Debbie, I’m certainly not trying to discourage anyone from attempting VO but just commenting that we need to be wary of selling ourselves short as a profession.

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