Back whenever, voiceovers made tenth place on MSN.com’s “Top 10 Coolest Jobs” list. At the time, I refuted the other nine and suggested that a VO career simply must be number one in that offers just about everything anyone (well, at least I and presumably you) could want.
That got me thinking.
There are a hundred things I love about working in this field and I know I'm not the only one who loves my job. So I figured I’d step away from the mic for a few minutes and list, in no particular order, my Top Ten best things about Voiceovers. Because, beyond being one of the coolest jobs you can have (see #9), it is so much more. At least nine things more...
1) Let’s get the money thing out of the way first. The fact that it might not be as lucrative as you wish, or that some vo artists might have to supplement it with something else, is beside the point. The point is you can do this and get paid at all. How cool is that? Don’t tell the clients, but most voice artists I’ve known would do it for free just for the fun of the work. Which leads us to….
2) It’s fun. Sometimes ridiculously fun and that’s something you can’t say about a lot of other jobs. Even when you’re recording the voice for an entire IVR system, including every letter of the alphabet and every single number from 1 though the thousands. And if it's not enough fun, the outakes make up for it.
3) You meet the nicest people in a voice booth. Most voiceover people tend to be slightly left of center, less conventional, more creative and rarely take ourselves too seriously. (That's one more reason the job can be so much fun.) I’ve had sessions where we were laughing so hard, the producer had to pause the recording while we caught our breath.
4) It’s like a secret society. Without the handshake. It is a competitive business but that rarely stops anyone of us from helping out another. Reviewing demos, sharing advice and experiences, successes and failures, even swapping client horror stories, we share a certain sisterhood/brotherhood within the VO community.
5) It scratches the acting bug. There are a lot of closet actors in this business and getting a good piece of copy is as revered as a brilliant script. That :30 spot is a tiny play and you are the star. Plus, you don't have to memorize anything! And you can be anyone or anything. From an instructor to a frustrated housewife (or husband) to a wiseacre tot… performing in the Theater of the Mind, lets you channel a world of characters without concern for body type, age or costuming.
6) You don’t need an expensive wardrobe. Sure, there are occasional studio sessions and client meetings, but nobody expects ‘the voice’ to be looking like a corporate exec. They see us a different sort of breed and therefore cut us plenty of slack. Plus, with today’s technology so much of what we do is possible from our home studios. This is one of the few jobs you can do in your sweats or pjs. It rarely matters how you look and only always matters how you sound.
7) It's Flexible!! Yup, you can make your own hours and work as much or as little as you want. Of course, most of us work as much as we can, but the freedom to set your own schedule has served many a mom well, allowing us to make the school plays and deliver cupcakes for the holiday party. Need some time off? Take it. Or take it with you, because...
8) It’s completely portable. As long as you have the basic techonology or can look up a local production studio, you are set to work. Can’t say that about most careers.
9) It’s a great conversation starter. No doubt about it, tell someone you do voiceover work and they’ll ask you more- what have you done, what have they heard you do, how’d you get into it? It’s not unreasonable to assume that insurance agents don’t get the same response. Nor car salesmen, or podiatrists or accountants or… well, you get the idea.
10) Applying for a job is as much fun as getting hired. Forget resumes and interviews, the audition has every bit as much sparkle and creativity as the job itself. The only difference is, well, you're not getting paid. But like I said before, as most of would do this for nothing anyway so that’s not even a negative.
Oh dear, I’m already at ten and am just getting into this. I could go back and make additions and adjustments but then it’s like tweaking an audition and, as my experience is that the first take is usually the most spot on, I’m going to leave this as is… and just rename it: Top Ten (of the Many) Best Things about Voiceovers.
Want to add to the list? Be my guest.