It happened today...sorta.

I got an email from someone I don't remember and here's what the email said:

"...we contacted you for the xxxxxxxx commercial. Your demo was really great, but I'm pretty confident your VO will be perfect for this product."

Now, the interesting thing about this is that I did not get the job for the commercial I auditioned for. In fact, I went back to check the demo to see what voice they were looking for, and the date was almost a year ago - A YEAR AGO!!!! But...the client remembered me!

I used to look at auditions as a pain in the butt. To me, every audition was an insult. The way I looked at it was that the client could, or should be able to listen to my demo and determine if I was the voice/character they wanted. And to make me jump through hoops to get a job was demeaning and reflective of their incompetence.

Then, several years ago, I became friends with a major infomercial producer. Watching how he worked and how he selected talent became a real eye-opener for me.

One of the first things that struck me was that he actually has a tremendous respect for voice talent. He is amazed at the range of talent out there. And asking a talent to audition for a project is not a simple process. First of all, the copy has to be pretty much completed. The video has often already been shot. He has to know the style, character, voice, and delivery that he needs. Most demos are not comprehensive enough to convince him of that voice.

So, he auditions.

It's a painstaking process. He will sometimes listen to over 100 auditions to make his selection. It takes days. In some cases, it takes longer to select a voice talent than it does to shoot the video! I was amused to discover that he hated it more than I did.

But it is the best way for him to find what he needs for that particular project.

So, I began looking at auditions differently.

Then one day, out of the clear blue, it dawned on me: Every audition is an invitation for me to make a sales pitch. Every audition gives me a qualified buyer to which I have been invited to make a presentation.

I have some good friends in the advertising business. They tell me if they get a chance to audition for one or two projects a month they feel fortunate. And here I get a chance to audition for that many or more EVERY DAY!!!

So, every day I get a chance to make my presentation to one or more qualified buyers. It really doesn't get any better than that, does it?

And the long term benefits of that is that on occasion, a client will remember me months later, and track me down and offer me a job.

Every audition. EVERY AUDITION is a pitch for work for that particular project and for future projects.

Every audtion should be part of your marketing strategy to entrench yourself in the minds of producers who will someday remember you and the talent you bring to the table.

Don't make the mistake of tossing off your audition opportunities. Think about it: who else gets as many opportunities to pitch their wares to qualified buyers every day???

I could go on with audition tips and some ideas to make your audition memorable, but I would rather see what you have to say. How do you make your auditions really stand out. How do you make producers remember you so well that even if they don't hire you right away, they remember you months later and come back to you?

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Replies to This Discussion

Same boat. Similar oars.
I had a producer contact me after about a year. She raved about the audition I had done but said the client wanted a different feel for the initial job. Still, it felt good knowing that when we speak into the mic to audition we're not ALWAYS speaking into a vacuum.
Dennis Quaid changed my perspective on auditioning (I mean it can be a pain firing up everything, tweaking the nobs, and pulling the heavy curtain closed on a hot summer day!) But when I read Quaid's quote about his job being to audition and the jobs being the gravy, that showed me that the love of the game sure better trump any possible rewards.
Auditioning STILL feels like throwing my voice into the void, but when I log onto one of the popular pay-for-play websites and see a note that the client has added my audition to their list of favorites...well, at least I don't feel like I'm just treading water any more.
Thanks for making the point Dan. It's nice to be reminded our first impression can come months after we've made it.
Dan I too look at auditions in a similar way, and how I make my auditions stand out is this:

1) I say thank you right to the paper that the audition is printed on, so that my positive intentions are embedded right into the audition. I have no way of measuring this technique, but I feel really good about it.

2) I send each audition only after reviewing the specs at least 2 or three times. I've learned to read them very, very carefully as this has gotten me noticed when many other auditions I was told were simply trashed because they did not read the directions to the T.

3) I am always polite, thankful and gracious to whomever sent me the audition. If I know if it came from a friend of a friend situation, I send each one a thank you note via email or call them and thank them when it's appropriate. Obviously a short thank you going back with the audition takes care of the last one in the chain.

4) I take a break at least once an hour (like in session or editing) and return calls, and if need be schedule a time to speak with whomever in detail with a firm time either by phone or email. This too has put me in a favorable position with people, because I made it known that I can be reached, and that I return calls. You never know when the first chosen can't do the job, then they call me. Yes, it's happened three times so far. Come to think of it I think I should upgrade to a blueberry or blackberry or strawberry, or something. This technology thing seems to be catching on now.

5) I remind my peeps of my talent and any relevant short news every so often. They know I'm there and they come tap me when it's time. With my existing clients, I have much FEWER audtions this way and the job grab rate is alot higher.

6) I always offer to help by telling people that I can help. They aren't mind readers. But being sincere and really helping when you can opens alot of doors not only to business but friendships. I meet alot of really awesome people. It's self perpetuating- and that's really cool :~) It works for me and That's the way I roll.

-Barry
Great post, Dan. We tend to see ourselves as being scrutinized and rejected or accepted by a bunch of cold hearted folks, rather than trusted partners in the creation of great work. Those who hire us are as much artists as we are, they just work in a different medium. An audition is not only an opportunity to market yourself (and thanks for reminding us of that), its an opportunity to spread some love and good vibes to our hard working partners on the other side of the mic.

-Susan
Hi Susan (one of my favorite Voice Talents in the biz...and I don't even know you personally!)

Yeah, as you say, it's really important to recognize that we're just a part of the whole creative process. It's not about us...it's about the client!

One of my favorite things to do in our line of work is to hook up on ISDN with the client creatives, the producers, the engineers, and whomever. I know some people dread that, but I love it! There's more energy and creativity when we all get together - it's challenging and stimulating at the same time!

Thanks for your input!!!

dan
Thanks again Dan,
This tip directly applies to me, as a beginner. Class "auditions" or assignments help to give your teacher and classmates, who may/may not be plugged in to acting/voice communities, an idea of your skills, early on. After that I've been encouraged to audition, as much as possible, at this stage of the game. The first (only so far) audition that I had for an acting role was nerve wracking, until I opened my mouth to do my monologue. Then, I was in releaved by a good response, and more importantly, the knowledge that I had done what I wanted to do.

Afterwards, I asked for input from the director who suggested that I raise the stakes even more. It was good advice. Although I didn't get a role in the play, I did get casted on the wardrobe crew, and that gave me an intro to the performing environment (on a community college level).

That has helped me so far in getting to know people better, what's expected and what I can do to be well remembered. One of the best pieces of advice from a Voice instructor has been, don't be afraid to make a mistake. Meanwhile, he's the same person who drills the importance of daily practice to perfect skills, auditioning as much as possible, importance of being relaxed, et. al.

I'll be auditioning tomorrow for another play. I've yet to do a voice audition, but I'm sure that there's something out there for me, as I take it one audition at a time.

Thanks again, and all the best.
MiKO
Good reminder. Go ahead, continue with your thought on audition tips, you have such a wealth of information. Thank you.
I look at auditioning as if it were the Lottery... you can't win if you don't play! The best part is, there's no cost for auditioning, yet the payoffs are great when they come.
Hi Dan,
Great comments about the auditioning process from everyone!
I've been a member of VU since it's early beginnings but my start in the VO business started very slow. I've recorded professional demos, trained with some great professionals in the business and continued auditioning, reading, listening to other talents and more over the last couple of years.

Sometimes it can be easy to have the wind taken out of your sails with a dry spell when you know you can perform the VO and make it sing, if only they would pick you and then nothing happens! I do see at times that the person requesting the audition doesn't give much of a directive on what kind of read they are looking for and just when you think you've nailed it in your own mind based on how you think it should sound and given them the read of a lifetime it doesn't get opened or you just don't get the gig. I have great respect for the person sitting on the other end of my VO having to listen to audition after audition and do my best to have fun with it in hopes that somehow that might make me standout from the crowd and keep the listener interested and wanting more.

I'm not a full-time VO talent, I mean I still have my day job and so this pretty much leaves me to nights and weekends auditioning in my booth (closet) at home on sites like Voices.com and Voice123 with laptop, protools and a good mic. The learning curve has been pretty big and getting agents, and pursuing clients during the daytime hours is not something that is easily accomplished. I almost exclusively do dry reads without effects on most auditions because this is what I was told was best to do and maybe that's were I'm missing the mark?

I am very interested in not only how professionals such as yourself audition but also where to audition, and direct my attention to gain more experience and a paying gig once in awhile? I've had a few but usually low dollar and nothing with the substance I crave so much! I've had a couple of opportunities to audition for the same clients because of my previous work with them and the way I handle myself with the client in the past but for the most part these are few and far between.

I love auditioning but sometimes it's nice to get the prize as well! I have never recorded for a client in person at a recording studio with a producer, with the exception of recording my demos so that experience is somewhat foreign to me but is something that I really looked forward to getting into the business. I'll bet it's fun and a boost to be able to bounce ideas back and forth with the producer and know exactly what kind of read they need!
I welcome responses from you and the group on how to better my knowledge and enhance my experiences to be successful in this wonderful industry!
-Kirk
Hi Dan,
Just recently had a good audition experience. There was an audition call for a play that was forwarded to students at my school. I had been auditioning more confidently at school without any resulting parts. I was excited to see this new opportunity outside of school. When I went to the audition, I was kinda nervous, and prepared, because of the previous auditions, and our acting class had us also prepare head shots and resumes, and to understand somewhat, the expectations of the directors.

I arrived and found it was a somewhat informal setting. I did a monologue, a cold reading, and danced a simple piece of choreography that they taught on the spot. While I was dancing, I had a big smile on my face, because I was having a good time. The director noticed this, and began to smile herself. She commented, it's like she's having fun! I really was. I just felt so relaxed and ready to show them what I could do. When I first began auditioning, having fun was the last thing on my mind. But now, a few good acting/script/speech classes at the community college have helped to give me the confidence that comes with preparation, even without much on-the-job acting experience.

Well, I got a part in the play and it will be playing in KC during the last week of July and August first.

VU has also been an encouraging forum for me. I've also got a radio gig coming up for the next school term. Looking forward to great experiences. Thanks for the encouragement!
MiKO

Dan,

 

Your assessment is right on.  I have always enjoyed auditioning.  I look at each new audition as an adventure...my pursuit of the next possible big project which could get me noticed by someone else which
might lead to more work.  Each audition is just as important as the
last.  I learn something new with each audition.  No matter how small
the lesson, I have learned something new which helps me do better with
the next audition/project.

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