Ok, so you're interested in getting into voice over and not sure where to start? I get asked about this a lot. Like, a LOT a lot.

 

So, first I say .. .start with figuring out where you want to start.

 

There are many different sectors of VO, all requiring different types of training and skill sets. Not everything is for everyone, so it's usually best to start with one or two instead of trying to do everything at once, and see what suits you. 

 

A FEW MAIN CATEGORIES OF V.O.:

- Commercials

- Animation/Cartoons**

- Anime**

- Video Games**

- e-Learning 

- Corporate/Industrial narrations 

- Narration (long form such as tv and documentaries)

- Medical narration

- Audiobooks 

- IVR (phone systems)

Research these things. Go online and listen to these types of works and maybe even to other talent's existing demos in these categories. See where you feel like you fit in.

 

AFTER YOU'VE GOT IT NARROWED DOWN.

What next?...Make a demo?? Hellz no! Go out and blow a buncha money on expensive equipment for your "studio"? NOPE.

 

You need training.

The VO market is insanely competitive these days (thanks, Interwebs), and throwing together a demo before you're ready is not only a waste of money, it's also an awesome way to make tragic first impressions in opportunities you may never get again.

Instead, find reputable classes/workshops/coaching where you'll learn your craft, meet some great folks, network (super helpful), have a great time and get invaluable insight into the business side from your coaches and peers. Also a great way to taste test (no WE DO NOT LICK MICROPHONES) what's for you and what isn't, with individual one-night workshops or class series that cover multiple genres over a period of weeks.

**Please note the operative word in voice acting for these noted categories being 'ACTING'. If you ever say to me in person that you should do cartoons because "you can do funny voices", my go-go-gadget smacking arm might get activated. It's not about 'doing a voice'. It's about being an actor who can create living, breathing characters. It just 'happens' to be acting with your voice only, so if you don't already have that background, be prepared to really dive into acting. Also supremely helpful for animation? Improv classes. Great for making you stand out, bringin' the funny..and making casting folks love you. Same actually goes for a lot of commercial work.

 

VOICE OVER CLASSES/WORKSHOPS/COACHING I can recommend checking out:

VoiceTrax West  - Studio City, CA - commercial, animation, audiobooks, video games 

The Voicecaster -  Burbank, CA - commercial, animation

Bang Zoom - Burbank, CA - anime 

VO Peeps - Orange County, CA / online - webinars, meetup groups, industry insights

Global Voice Acting Academy - mostly online, via Zoom/Skype - boyhowdy, they really do it all! Contact them for guidance.

There are of course tons of other great coaches out there, but this is a jumping-off point as to not overwhelm you. I've listed several in-person classes in L.A., but most also offer remote options via Zoom/Skype etc. if you live elsewhere.

SO NOW YOU'RE LOVING THE CLASSES AND WANNA KEEP GOING? GEAR UP.

Cool! Once you're in the swing of training and this is definitely for you, you'll need some kind of basic home recording capacity for practicing and eventually for auditions and then more eventually.. maybe even some home GIGS. You don't have to drop a ton of cash on equipment, but ideally you also don't need to waste it on something too low end that you'll just need to replace too soon anyway, right? Plenty of affordable options these days.

If you want to start with a solid foundation from the get-go and save yourself a ton of hassle (esp. if you're not really a tech person), it can be well worth it to do an audio consultation with any of these guys. They can give equipment recommendations, advice on creating the best possible recording environment in your home with whatever you've got to work with, and even get you all set up with which buttons to leave where, software training, etc ..with both home visit and remote options. You'll also find some great add'l resources on their sites:

 

George Whittam - http://www.georgethe.tech/

Dan Lenard - http://www.homevoiceoverstudio.com/

Tim Tippets - https://votechguru.com/

OK, ALL SET UP TO RECORD - WHAT NOW?

Practice. Practice. Practice. And once you've been training awhile and can crank out home recordings, there's a great online resource called VO Weekly Workout you can now add to the mix. Most every week there's a different guest agent, casting director, booth director, etc, who will give you feedback on a mock audition you record at home and upload. Not only do you get feedback on your read, but you get to start getting your name and performance in front of some pretty important folks. Oh, and? It's a whopping **$10** per week and you don't even have to leave the house. 

NOW YOU'VE MADE A TON OF PROGRESS AND THINK YOU'RE READY FOR A DEMO - WHERE DO YOU GO?

Well, first you go to a trusted coach and let him/her tell you if you're ready for that demo/demos. Most of the coaching resources I listed above also do great demos and can help you figure that out. Just please please please don't go to some 'great deal', gimicky demo producer who is really just an engineer, or not even that. It's not just about the technical aspects of recording a demo; it's about having a seasoned demo producer who knows the current market/trends, knows what agents and producers want to hear, will choose copy for you that plays to your strengths and can coach you into your best performances. 

OH BOY OH BOY YOU'VE GOT YOUR FIRST DEMO, NOW WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT?

Ah, ain't that the kajillion dollar question. Well .. many different paths you could take next. The classic path is to use that demo to try to get agents (yes, I said agents 'plural') who will get you auditions. Nowadays there are agents all over the country. You can get one in your home market, but also additional agents in several other markets/regions of the country, thanks to modern technology. And then the newer-school path is to take that demo and just do all of your hustlin' yourself, like by sending it out to every ad agency, production company, etc, you can find that would be appropriate to that specific type of demo.

And then there are some other online 'casting' services these days which I'd rather not even touch upon, as they're largely responsible for decimating the integrity of the voice over industry as a whole and destroying reasonable rates over the last few years (although I will issue the the emergency warning that, whatever you do, might be best to steer far clear of a loathsome enterprise which rhymes with VoicesDotCon, unless you enjoy being horrifically taken advantage of and having up to 90% of your talent fees hijacked, but hey, whatever you're into).

 

But all of that stuff is way further down the path than 'getting started', so this is where I leave you. 

Final word: If you're looking to get into the business because it sounds like "an easy way to make extra money"...it's not. It takes hustle and hard work and rejection after rejection and sometimes YEARS before even becoming moderately successful at it. But if you're looking to get into it because it sounds AWESOME ...well, yes... it often is. But it often takes hundreds or thousands of hours to get to even one hour of 'financially' awesome, so you have to do it simply because you love it. And if you're not doing it just because you love it .. .you'll probably burn out pretty fast. 

 

So if that still sounds good ...just get out there and start meeting people in classes, workshops, workout groups, etc., and one thing will lead to another. You will find your way. The VO community is largely amazingly giving, generous and welcoming, and you will learn every bit as much from your peers as you will from your teachers.

 

GETTING STARTED IN VOICE OVER