10-15 years ago you had a chance to get into the voice over industry to become a voice talent. It’s what I wanted to do and was able to pursue it. I had a full-time TV production job making commercials (writing, shooting, editing, voicing, etc). Actually won 2 Telly Awards for my commercials. My heart was in audio and voice over. So I started a website GoodCheapVoiceOver.com, advertised on Google with low rates and turned out a good product after my day job hours. Within a year I was able to make the jump to do this full-time I was criticized heavily for my rate structure for doing voice overs. NASTY emails from the ‘good ol boys’ voice talent group. You know, the people who say ‘I won’t power up the mic for less than $500’. I was on a mission to make it work. I worked hard, worked long hours, but guess what, I had the work load to make it work. And I was blown away at how I could be making a good living doing what I loved. Cruised for about 10 years, then sites like Fiverr came along. At first it was a gag type site. ‘Get a dancing Santa-gram for $5’. So there were a hand-full of voice talent that had nothing to lose (and sucked) so they thought they could make some money. They probably did, $5 at a time. Over the last few years, Fiverr has grown, and more and more voice talent have hopped on board, and some decent ones, pushing down all the lame fiverr starter voice over talent out of existence. So now, if you are trying to start a career in voice over work, good luck trying to get any traction, thanks to the 500+ voice talent on fiverr that are working for peanuts. And they have grown to be a huge confusing ‘mark up scheme’ type company. If you think you are getting a good deal with them, just wait till all the mark ups are factored in. It’s actually cheaper to get voice over with ProVoiceUSA. All our basic services (that they mark up) such as editing/formatting/de-breathing/etc are included. What would cost you $85 with them is $30 with us. But people think that they are the best deal, so they have a decent gullible client base. It sucks to say, but it’s pretty true….if you are just starting out in the voice over business, it’s going to be a reallllly hard (if not impossible) journey. I am glad I was able to get in when I did, hit it as hard as I did, and made the money that I did. I wouldn’t have done anything different. I have been able to build up a strong client base that is able to carry us through the slow down. The last few years and the years coming up have been/definitely is the fall of the voice over industry.
Getting into the voice over industry is challenging. It’s as competitive as any other acting career, sometimes more so, and you have to have a thorough control of your voice to succeed. Here are some tips from ProVoiceUSA for enhancing your skills and launching your career.
Know Your Voice
In the past, voice over work was dominated by the ubiquitous “Mr. Announcer” style of voice overs; a deep booming voice with a consistent tone and enunciation. You have probably noticed that this isn’t as common anymore, and when it does see use, it is often in parody. Today’s voice overs are more commonly very relaxed and conversational in tone and style. What hasn’t changed is the importance of being able to speak clearly and give your voice presence.
Use Good Gear
Talented as you may be, there’s more to selling your talent as an actor than just what you can do with your voice. You will often have to share your skill in order to get work, and you want to have good equipment when you do that, which will represent you well. Invest in a quality microphone and good audio software.
While voice overs have become more casual, there is a little something that’s lost in a truly casual tone when recording it. To compensate, you’ll need to exaggerate a little bit; enunciate more clearly in certain places. This is usually easy to figure out by recording yourself and identifying places where you might sound a little slurred or unclear, and focusing on them.
Learn the Material
Some voice over jobs depend on a very specific script. Others offer some flexibility for ad lib and variation. In either case, you should know the intended material backwards and forwards. The better you do, the better you can deliver it exactly and the better you can add your own flavor if needed.
Provoice USA understands the ins and outs of voice overs for all kinds of purposes, and we offer a wide range of services including on-hold messages, commercials, IVR, and more. Check out our rates or contact us now for more information.
For voice overs, the TLM 103 is a ‘Really Good Mic’. Nothing spectacular, but a very good mix of frequency response and saturation to give the voice over a nice neutral sound. I sold my TLM before I got the Apollo. Once I got the Apollo, I wanted to hear how a TLM 103 would sound for voice overs using the different preamps. Found a never used, 6 month old TLM 103 on Craigslist near here listed for $600. I think the guy thought he was going to be a music producer at one time, but now he needed to pay his mortgage. I pull up and he brings out a pile of stuff, TLM 103 on a small stand, wires, boxes, etc. Hands it all to me and says ‘here’ Sweet. He took $550. I took the extra Mogami cables and left him the crappy little stand. He was happy and I was blown away by the deal. I have to admit, the TLM is nothing great, but through the Apollo, it does sound a bit more pro than the modified MXL v67 I had been using and has some more saturation than the Mojave 201 I use on occasion. If you have the cash, a TLM 103 will never let you down for voice overs. Just be sure to pair it with a preamp that adds some saturation to the sound in order to tame the sometimes referred-to ‘harshness’. I don’t think the mic introduces anything obnoxious, but if you are using a cheap preamp, it won’t flatter the TLM at all. Good combo is the Daking mic Pre One or the apollo using a Neve or Manley preamp and the LA2a compressor to soften it all up. For your voice over needs, visit us at here
I really didn’t want it to work that well for voice over. I have invested thousands of dollars on a rack of gear I have fine tuned over the years for my voice style. I didn’t want to think that anyone could just get a UA Apollo Twin and have just a good of a sound. I did want to get something that was better than a basic interface for travel voice over recording (I had been using Shure X2U interface, which was great). I also wasn’t sure if a UA Apollo twin USB would work with my laptop and/or Cool Edit Pro, which I still religiously use, even after trying Audition CS6 and even ProTools..still prefer the speed of Cool Edit. GET OFF MY LAWN! Found out my laptop DID have USB 3 and the processor wasn’t listed on the approved processors, but I found a Twin USB on Craigslist for $500, so what the hell. D A M N. I’ve had it 2 months now and have used it to do 95% of my voice talent work. I bought 1300 bucks worth of plugins and have been so happy with it. I purchased a 2nd one and also a 2nd laptop. Amazing how good it sounds and how versatile it is. AND how you can save settings for any amount of sessions you want. Fantastic. Selling off some of my rack gear now. Hurts to do so, but for voice over, the Apollo from UA is fantastic. For your voice over needs, visit us at provoiceusa here.
If you’re planning to commission a voice over video for your company, there are a lot of different things to consider before going to production. Some of the most important elements include:
The Purpose. A voice over video can be an extremely effective sales tool in a lot of cases, but there are times that a voice over video is more a waste of money than it is a boost for business. Consider the purpose of the video before production. If the purpose is to educate customers or to advertise a sale or promotion, it may well be worth the money.
The Script. Once you’ve decided to create a voice over video, it’s time to come up with a script. The script shouldn’t be a lot of information that viewers can’t easily digest. It should be interesting and engaging. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a compelling script, a great formula to follow is to present a problem your clients face, show them that you have the answer to that problem, and give them a call to action.
The Talent. When you’ve got the script written and ready, it’s time to search out talent. Be sure that you find professional talent that can provide you with a portfolio of their work. They should have access to high-quality equipment so that they can provide you with high-quality productions. Consider too, though, that although you may’ve found talent that you like, they may not fit with the overall message and purpose of your video and you should find the talent that is the best fit.
The Cost. A large agency may be able to provide you with the talent that you’re looking for, but keeping them on retainer, or even paying them for just one project could cost you more than the project is worth. At ProVoiceUSA, our rates have been the same for over 13 years. We believe that you can have quality work for an affordable price. Our rates include fully edited and polished files, ready for production and our rates aren’t based on the market size or for how long the video airs. We simply charge for the work we do.
I am always on the quest to find the next great piece of voice over gear. Not that I need it, just never know what I’m missing. A couple of days ago I did a ‘why the hell not’ purchase of a new USB audio interface after hearing a fellow VO friend mention it was a good unit. I was using a Focusrite FORTE for voice over recording (keep in mind, only using it to convert the analog output from my audio gear to digital, wasn’t using the preamps in the unit) and I liked it. But had heard some good things about the Audient ID14 usb interface. Got a good deal on a ‘as new’ one ($200) vs the retail price of $299, figuring I wouldn’t loose much if any if I didn’t like it and needed to resell. In the past I had used an RME Babyface for voice over recording, but actually found it too clean and sterile. I know, you don’t expect a USB interface to introduce character to a voice file, but the converters can add some flavor. Anyway, got the Audient hooked up and dialed in and love it. It’s kind of a mix between the Forte and the Babyface in terms of some character but also very clean. I hear good things about the preamps in the Audient interfaces, but since I don’t plan on using the phantom power/preamps, I can only attest to the sound of the converters….love it. My ‘studio B’ setup (that I do auditions on a dozen or so times a day) uses the Scarlett 2i2 For converting and it’s a good box. You can get those for like $100 street price. So Audient ID14 interface, $225 or so street price, AWESOME interface. Not too complicated, seems solid, hope to last for many years. Focusrite Forte, about same street price. VERY good interface. The drivers and digital control system can be a bit sketchy, it treated me right, but for some reason I was expecting it to start smoking at anytime. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, good box, many MANY voice talent use this and have great results. I read some voice talent saying they fail after a while, so we’ll see what happens. A GREAT portable usb converter/preamp is a Shure X2U. This is what I use on the road and it’s a great tiny ‘in line’ interface. REALLY a smart purchase. I did work on the road with it this summer with my Sennheiser MKH416 and nobody noticed I wasn’t in my $8000 studio. Here our work here and ask for a custom demo!
I’ve been doing voice overs for the last 15 years full time. The one thing that amazes me still after all this time is how much a microphone can contribute to the feel of a voice over read. It’s subtle, but the different sound characteristics of a microphone can change the feel of a read a LOT. I have gathered up a selection of microphones that work with my particular voice talent style that covers most of the bases. Things like transformers/frequency response/etc all determine how things will sound once your yap hole hits the microphone diaphragm. There really is no ‘one perfect’ voice over microphone for all talent and all applications. But there are some ‘fail-safe’ microphones that won’t be ‘wrong’ either. If you want a very clean and neutral microphone that is nothing special, but will be ‘okay’ on all voice over applications would be the Neumann TLM 103. If you don’t have that kind of money sitting around ($700 or so used), you can always go with the CAD E100S ($250 or so used) or a MXL V67G ($70 used). All sound similar. I sold my TLM 103 once I heard the CAD E100s. Same sound, but for much less cost. I didn’t use the TLM 103 that much, but wanted ‘that sound’ incase I needed it. The MXL has similar frequency response and saturation, a great mic for the TLM 103 sound without the cost. I’ve guided a couple voice talent to the MXL and they’ve been happy with it. Another popular voice over microphone is the Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun mic. It’s the ‘lazy mans’ voice over microphone. Pretty good to use if your recording booth isn’t very good and you don’t like to do any EQ work. I have one that I mostly use for travel and also auditions that I record in my main open area (not my booth). Voice talent also like the MKH 416 due to the frequency push in the upper mids that make it push through the mix….it’s okay that way but can get annoying/shrill pretty quick. Do NO use it for long form narrations..also has a tendency to respond better to male vs female voices. The Neumann U87 mic is kind of the ‘holy grail’ for voice overs. However, this seems to be one of the most ‘picky’ in terms of the voice style that it makes sound good vs absolutely awful. It’s enhances voices that have a naturally lower register. Anyone who has a neutral voice or higher pitch will sound awful on this mic…’like ass’ due to the mid low frequency hype. I have had talent get all excited about getting a U87, then use it for one or two session and then shelve it because they sounded awful. Most of them had a mid range to higher pitch voice (females). One of my favorite microphones is the Blue Baby Bottle mic ($250 used). It can be temperamental if EQ is not set right, but it’s fairly smooth, doesn’t hype frequencies that interfere with voice overs (such as REALLY low frequencies that turn the reads into mud), has a natural push in the upper mid frequencies, but still maintains pretty smooth voice sound. I use that most of the time for long form or commercial work. Then a very HI-FI voice over microhophone, with a very full frequency response is the Mojave Audio 201Fet mic. EXTREMELY clean/clear. Not much saturation sound at all, very easy to EQ to get the rumbling low end and clean high end. That’s the mic I use when I know I am going to process my voice over a lot with compression in post. So these are the microphones I like most for my voice over style and what I need to do day in and day out.
You’re ready to launch your new marketing campaign; all you need is a little voice talent. Trouble is, you’ve never hired any before. How to go about it? What should you look for? ProVoice USA has you covered. Here’s what you’ll want to consider before hiring a voiceover actor for your campaign.
- What Do You Need?
You already know you need voice talent. Begin to define what kind of talent you need. Does your campaign demand a certain age rang for the actor? Should they be male or female? Would a regional accent be appropriate, or problematic? As you check off these questions, your ideal candidate will be clearer, and you’ll be able to further guide the actor you choose to meet your needs.
- Define A Budget
Know your budget before you start your search. This will keep you from overspending on talent that you don’t need. A larger budget will give you more options, which is an important consideration. You’ll need to decide if the campaign us worth investing in to have the highest quality voice work.
- Equipment Matters
Get the right gear. Unless you’re doing a very simple, low budget recording, you’ll need to reserve a proper studio to do your recordings. Don’t skimp on the studio or equipment, as that can make or break the quality of your campaign just as much as the actor themselves.