Demos are considered a necessity to primarily get an agent since most clients don't search demos to find a specific need for a certain gig. If they do, that's insane and bad for us voice talents who can't put everything we do on a 1.5 min demo. Clients aren't visionary so if they are looking for a Suave French spy and you don't have it on your demo, they won't presume you can do it.
That said, since I often get talent sending me demos or links to theirs as a way to get into my talent pool, let me try to help with a few bullet points.
1. You could be a lot better with more potential than I hear on your demo. Demos can be self-limiting.
Or worse, they can turn someone off if done poorly AND if done well you better be able to deliver the goods instantly. You don't get rehearsal time and do overs in a session.
2. I can't tell how long it took you to perfect whatever voices or get your takes right nor how directable you are nor what kind of persona you have by listening to your demo.
3. If you took a class or two and spent substantial money which might have included getting a produced demo in the end, you may or may not be able to live up to your demo when faced with a real job. Better put, if you don't have good enough voice control or maybe you can't stay in character, or maybe you can do a voice but you can't act, or you aren't accurate cold reading copy.....maybe you should concentrate on perfecting and expanding your abilities before rushing out and slapping a demo on as many "desks" as you can.
4. Start your demo off with a bang. Catch attention in the first 5 secs. Don't go back and forth between two voices and try to do voices the industry wants. I go over this in coaching, but for now, just don't do impersonations that you label unless you are 100% spot on. Otherwise if your Elvis Presley voice produces an interesting character, play with that instead of saying "Thank you. Thank you very much," as a bad Elvis.
5. Keep your demo no longer than a minute and a half and if you can't supply totally different good choices to fill that time slot, don't try. Leave people wanting to hear more instead of them thinking, "Yeah yeah, heard that voice already.,"
6. If you're a guy and don't sound like Sam Elliot, don't put western cowboy voices on your demo and if you're a girl, forget being another one of the hundreds doing a Wicked Witch "I'll get you and you're little dog too." Try to do something different, or if it's one of the latter, or even a pirate, say something funny and clever. If you make a client chuckle while listening you get bonus points and they'll think you're fun to work with.
7. Unsolicited demos sent to anyone, especially agents, seldom get listened to, and if all you do is email someone saying "go to my link. I'd love to be part of your talent pool," that treats your recipient like cheap spam and they'll be thinking, "The nerve...like I have nothing better to do than go to your site, when you obviously didn't do anything to personalize your email or find out anything about what makes me or my agency tick."
THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN USUALLY GET AN AGENT TO LISTEN TO YOUR DEMO IS TO IF YOU HAVE A BUDDY WHO IS ALREADY REPPED BY THAT AGENT INTRODUCE YOU WITH PLENTY OF KUDOS.
8. PRODUCTION VALUE CAN MATTER WITH A DEMO. DON'T HAVE TO PAY TOP DOLLAR TO GET AN ENGINEER TO DO IT FOR YOU, IF YOU KNOW HOW TO CUT AND PASTE BACKGROUND MUSIC OR JUST A TASTE OF DIFFERENT SOUND BEHIND EACH OF YOUR CLIPS. MAKES IT SOUND LIKE IT WAS TAKEN FROM AN ACTUAL PRODUCTION INSTEAD OF YOU SITTING IN FRONT OF YOUR MIC AT HOME. IF YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE MUSIC, LEAVE IT OFF. BY PUTTING ONE TRACK UNDER ALL YOUR CHANGE-UPS it PROVES once again, it's not from a perceived production.
9. COMMERCIALS--Always do national tag lines or spots. Nothing sounding local with a city or local location mentioned. If your mic sounds decent and you put a bit of music behind "Today shop at Sears," no one will know you didn't actually do that spot.
10. Do as many separate demos as you want by category. Commercials, Promos, Animation and characters, Game Demo, IVR, Tutorial, Narrative & Documentary, Dialects, Audio Books. Keep them short and sensational rather than long and mediocre.
11. Try not to tell a story like Once upon a time there was this Frog, "Ribbit Ribbit" who met a fairy, "Goodness me, a frog!"....unless it's for an audio book demo. For character demos, slap totally different sounding stuff together in 5-10 sec increments and if you don't have a lot of characters, make a 30 sec demo.
12. I'm happy to go over more of this in detail and offer private coaching at a very reasonable cost with a money back guarantee. But the above info is worth a lot more than any price tag, so I hope it helps. Best of luck.
There are a lot of scammers and parasites out there, and the #1 fact of this business that none of them will give to you straight is that this is an overcrowded field where a small percentage of the talent pool makes the great majority of the $$$
And answer me this about voice coaches, demo producers, etc... if they were so busy and had so much VO work as talent themselves, where would they find time to coach/produce demos? Now if you're a person that loves producing VO demos and you get off on coaching talent and making them happy when you deliver to them their bright shiny, newly produced, pretty demo...that's great ..that's a different story... Go for it....
The fact is, producing demos is easy money ( especially when you bring in people who are green) and is a great way to fill up the down time and pay for all that cool gear. I know of a studio that does demo production upwards of $2500 per 1-minute commercial demo, and just takes in people, gives them line readings, and slaps their voice on top of commercials and spots they've already produced for clients during the course of their other pursuance of their vo/broadcast/production endeavors.
Either way, even if you get your foot in the door, get your demo listened to, get signed, start getting submitted..and do not start booking on a regular basis..if it's a major agency, they will drop you in a heartbeat... I know at least 4 or 5 people in the last year that this has happened to... You have to continually work on your skills and find every possible way to get better and make yourself more and more employable... And try to have fun at it along the way...
Lee, you're tossing out a "those who can't do, teach" argument here, and it's not fair. Maybe Lani and I and a few others are alone among people who don't try to scam money off of green VO wannabes, but we don't. I have angered people in our area (Chicago), because I have skimmed the greenhorns out of the lucrative demo mill mix. By offering my Voiceover Exploration, people find out about the business, pay me $150, and enjoy themselves. They've learned every possible thing there is to know about voiceover, including all the bad stuff. Nineteen times out of twenty, that's the last I'll ever hear of them. They've had fun learning about it, but the fact that this is a business that takes work takes the wind out of their sails, and they're done.
But watch that mean-spirited argument there, buddy. My two or three auditions every day for my top Midwest agent for national and regional spots often go through Voicebank, and if you're as experienced as you say you are, you know what that means. I call it "throwing a softball off a hill." And though I get my share of Voice123 jobs, that's an uphill battle as well. But I'm working, and yes, I still have time for a few coaching sessions every week.
My next push is to start cold-calling my brains out. I know that would bear fruit, but, call me crazy -- it's hard to motivate myself to start to work in that salt mine.
Attached you will not find my unsolicited demo. Despite years of training with one of the best, I'm horrible at this and could probably make more money crocheting. You wouldn't want to add me to your roster under any circumstances, unless you wanted it to shine a bit brighter by comparison. And you risk having your peers question your sanity. Despite my obvious lack of talent I have had the unmitigated (not to mention delusional) gall to join Voices.com and Voice123 and post my demos there. I will absolutely not send a link as you might accidently click on it and find yourself inexplicably listening to some of the worst, though professional recorded, VO you've heard since receiving, well, your last unsolicited demo This will only serve to embarrass you and have you question your own sanity, which may be compromised by the recording anyway.
Once you finish this PSA, I recommend you visit a hypnotist and have my name erased from your memory.
Thanks for not listening,
W.E. (Bill) Stewart
OK, here is one I never see posted (unless I post it) but since I am in a pool of talent of all ages and types
I have been wearing dentures now about two years.
They fit well and do not offend my mouth in any way. The issue is when I am speaking, no matter what adhesive I use they tend to 'drop' which makes reading / speaking (Public) difficult because of the need to 'adjust' while speaking. If I use creams (which are water and heat sensitive) they allow the denture to become 'loose'.
If I use a wafer type (Sea-Bond) the thickness of the wafer permanently lowers the plate and doesn't give the tongue room to navigate the enunciation of the words.
I spent 5 years in a call center and going from bad teeth to dentures was not that hard but reading script and delivering a
VO is much harder than I dreamed it would be because it these two issues.
The last object is the dreaded whistling noise. I can edit it out easy with software but If I have to go into a studio I don't want them to go head in hand on me.
Any suggestions from this talented pool?
Am alternative to false teeth... Implants!
Lots of fun... drilling titanium pegs into the jawbone to hold false teeth as solidly in place as if you'd grown them yourself. You don't take them out at night... you CAN'T take them out! They wont fall, clack, slip, or feel at all unnatural once you've adjusted to them. Of course, they're not cheap. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 per tooth, depending on where you are and how experienced the oral surgeon is.
Just hope you've got enough jawbone left to act as an anchor. And a fat wallet.
I think I'll have to hold off on that! Woah that is steep indeed.
My wallet is so thin I don't know if I'm sitting on it half the time :-)
I may just go for the simi-perm implants a couple friends of mind did that and it was about $10g's for upper and lower plates.
Thanks for the advise though; It would be the best option.
"So what's the connection between the call center the dentures and the VO? Were you doing vo beforehand?"
Glad you asked!
In The Call Center, I could speak with minimum jaw extension, plus when customers were irate a lower voice and slower speaking would serve to calm them down (In the 70's I wrote and recorded relaxation (non-subliminal) tapes.
In 2006 I was instructing nurses on computer software and the head nurse starting falling asleep as were some of the others. I asked her if I was boring and she said "No, not at all. It's just your voice is so relaxing." The others agreed.
So, I raised the pitch of my voice for the rest of the classes. ;-)
I trained with the Columbia School of Broadcasting in 1984 - 85 and they focused on the "Voice of God" sound. Well needless to say I did not do well there but found reading copy for commercials and radio drama to be a lot of fun. I did some commercials for "The American Radio Network" and listening back they were terrible by today's standards but I had a ball doing them.
Alas, I had no support from wife or family and have spent the last 30 years on 'real' jobs. The kiddies are on their own now raising rug-rat, house-apes, and curtain climbers of their own now and I get to again turn my attention to the unreal world of Voice Overs and am much happier for it.
I know you didn't need to hear all that but your hug just popped it right out of me! ;-)
Thanks for the advise!
Oh Ron, I could SO do with some of your relaxation tapes.!
Sleeping is one of my major bugbears. If you want to record me some computer software tutorials I would be grateful. :D
Loved that little vid up there - gave me a giggle.
(Not kidding bout the sleep firstname.lastname@example.org)
cheers - Sin :)