What is a voice actor?
Let’s start with the basics. Any time you hear a voice and don’t see the speaker, that is a voice actor. Voice actors are performers who lend their voices to a wide variety of projects. This can include animation, audio books, commercials, narration, e-Learning, video games, trailers, promo, documentary, IVR and much more. A voice actor is first and foremost an actor.
Acting skills are a must have, but there is a lot more that goes into being a successful voice artist. It requires technical knowledge, marketing abilities, a home voice over studio and all the various aspects of running a business. Most successful voice talent have spent time training with coaches, have professionally produced demos of their voice and are always honing their abilities.
Tips on how to get into voice over
The voice actor market is continuing to grow, thanks to the increased need for broadcast, animated and digital content. From e-learning courses to smartphone games, to online ads, there’s a wide range of opportunities for talented voice actors. Learning how to become a Voice Actor means understanding the voice over industry, working with a voice over coach on voice acting exercises, getting some good voice over demos produced and a great website to show off your new voice over career.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional voice actor, you may be wondering where to start – and whether this could be a rewarding career for you. Read on some tips on getting started in voice acting.
1. Voice Over Equipment
Get the right equipment. Do you need the highest-end studio setup? Not necessarily. But you should have the hardware and software it takes to produce clear, crisp recordings. You don’t want a hiss in your audio to take away from the character and nuance in your voice. You also need a dedicated, enclosed home studio with sufficient noise-canceling capabilities. Voice acting is not a business you can run from your kitchen table.
The good news is, you can build a nice home studio for under $4,000. Here are the basics you’ll need to get started:
- Audio mixer and booth
- Audio mixing software
- Room or closet with acoustic treatment material on the walls
As you get further into the field, you may want to upgrade your equipment, but make sure you’re paying for quality items that will make your job easier or help you become more marketable.
2. Voice Actor Training
Invest in training. You may have tons of natural talent, but education and training will set you apart from hobbyists, introduce you to key terminology and best practices, and help you deliver the quality your clients expect.
There’s a wide array of courses and coaches to choose from. Ask yourself:
- Does this program or person offer case studies, testimonials or other results?
- Do they specialize in the type of voice over market I’m interested in (e.g., commercials, video games, e-learning)?
- Is the subject matter thorough and comprehensive?
- Is it a mix of theory and hands-on practice?
- When can I expect to make my investment back?
When you’re evaluating options on how to become a Voice Actor, don’t underestimate the value of getting personalized feedback from a real person. Many voice over coaches can advise you on how to read copy. They’ll pick up on things the average listener might be aware of on a subconscious level. This could be the inflection when you end a sentence, or the excitement in your voice when there should be concern.
Voice over coaches can also help you connect with your target audience — for instance, an e-learning spot for seniors might need to be read at a slower pace.
3. Voice Over Demos
Creating voice acting demos. Different genres of voice acting require different terminology, vocal characteristics, personalities and stamina. For instance, longform narration for audiobooks requires hours of recorded copy, while 30-second Pandora spots might only take an hour to record. Video game voice acting can require screaming and other sound effects, while corporate content will feel more tame and subdued.
Examine the different genres and what they entail, then focus on a few to start. You’ll need a demo for each industry you want to break into, and a quality demo can cost $1,000-$4,000. The most cost-effective approach is to pick a few genres that seem interesting and a good fit for you.
4. Join Social Networking Groups for Voice Over
From Facebook and LinkedIn to Twitter and Instagram, get on the social networking platforms. You’ll find TONS of VO groups, with all sorts of advice on everything from where to get a demo to how to set up a home studio, to what producers you want to avoid.
Helpful links to get you started:
- Members-Only of World-Voices (WoVO): A professional group supporting VO rights. They’re big on community building, serving up a host of podcasts, conferences, round table discussions and other activities. Also check out the World-Voices main website.
- VO Peeps: Meetup group delivering resources and info about the industry. Great for networking and ongoing learning.
Search around for more group on all the social platforms. But be careful to not waste too much time chatting or posting. Like most social media, it can be a huge time waster if you get sidetracked. If you stay on track, it’s a fantastic way to get connected to others in the industry and LEARN.
You’ll find the VO community to be among the warmest and most helpful out there. Everyone was once in your shoes. They all had to figure a way to get wherever they are.
If you’re not in-person in a workshop, then interface with the VO community online:
- In groups
- Chat rooms
- Wherever you can
Keep in mind they are doing a favor in handing out any advice (unless you’ve hired them for coaching services). That means you don’t want to over-impose. And never send a one-line note asking, “How do I break into the VO industry.” That’s just a big turn-off for most VO pros.
Keep in mind that the most successful voice actors have an entrepreneurial spirit and are self-starters. They listen to clients, adapt to meet their needs, and always look for ways to get better and learn more. The voice acting market is rapidly evolving, and the best voice actors love the challenge of staying current in the field.
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