Many years ago, we voice over talents had one demo, on a cassette (!) and before that on a REEL (reel to reel audio machines were all we had...cassettes hadn't come in yet...). No, I didn't have a Thomas Edison wire recorder. PULLLEESE I'm not THAT old! (lol) But today, needs are very different. Here's what agents and producers say they want:
Your first two demos should be separate tracks on one CD (you also should duplicate them as separate CDS for those who do not want to hear anything but commercials or narrations or vice-versa) and one track is commercial jobs and the other is narration work. Now let's clarify: The narration demo should NOT contain poetry or literature works. This narration demo should feature cuts that mirror where the work is today. These categories include, but are not limited to, medical, educational (for all ages pre-school to college), real estate tours, corporate training, computer training, industrial cuts such as 'how-to' audio such as those used by Home Depot and similar corporations for do-it-yourselfers, perhaps travel (very popular) or cooking video scripts.
I hear so many narration demos that are a mix, a hodgepodge, and include literature. This is wrong. The literature or audio book demo is a very different type of demo. First, it's long--often 5 to 10 minutes! Second, it shows voice acting abilities including narration which means the voice talent must show how he can alternate between a narrator's voice and a character in the book's voice. I remember when I was in college as an undergrad having an acting coach who spent many weeks teaching us this skill. How fortunate I was. Third, audio book publishers do not care about or want to hear corporate training pieces or medical etc. They ONLY want to hear literature interpretations and judge your voice acting skill level. So, if you are with a producer who is not yet 'in the know' about demos today, politely talk about this development in our industry and explain that you want a narration demo that is what producers want today.
Also, keep in mind that voice talents should be selling jobs on their own, developing a client base. If you want to get medical narration work, you should not give a demo to a hospital audio visual dept. that has anything but medical on it. Real estate...same thing. Video tours are so big today, so popular. Maybe you want a video real estate tour narration demo. Perhaps you need to have special demos of this sort in order to lasso clients. They are easy to do and probably many of you can do these in your own studio, hooking together cuts of like types into a demo of about 90 seconds.
FYI: I believe a talent just starting out should not do an audio book demo or cartoon voice demo first thing. Oh no. The first demos should be commercials and narrations. Then the specialized demos can come after you've some work history.
Hope this helps.
Happy New Year Everybody