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Not Getting Work? Consider A Voice Over Demo Review

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

February 2, 2009

Comments (4)

Magnified water drops on a leaf

"I'm not getting any work through my auditions? Do you think my demo might have something to do with it?"

"Can you listen to my demos and tell me where I can improve?"

"I've been told that I have a great voice. Do you think I have potential?"

You've likely come across these questions at some point; perhaps you've been on the asking end, perhaps on the receiving end.

What's to be done? A little magnification, as well as some listening, may go a long way.

Can You Review My Demo?

Multiple times each week, requests are sent in to Voices.com staff from voice talent members who ask if we can review their demos.

There are 3 issues with this:

1. Our staff is not trained to review voice over demos
2. Reviewing demos is not part of our service offering to members
3. We don't have time to review demos

While I, or any member of my team, cannot personally listen to your demos and give you the feedback you are seeking, there are people out there who do this as a professional service, including:

Voice Over Coaches and Some Agencies

These are the folks to approach if curious about voice over demos or vocal delivery. You can locate some instructors here among the Voice Over Experts faculty.

I took a rather brief, informal poll moments ago on Facebook through a status update to see who reviews demos and did receive a couple of responses, including a comment from Nancy Wolfson of Braintracks Audio and an email from Mike Elmore.

Be advised that there will likely be a fee for the consultation and review because you are buying a professional's time, attention and expertise to guide you through to more successful climes.

Some Advice From Nancy Wolfson About Demos

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

As we begin to stare tax season down the throat, the word AUDIT comes to mind - it is CRITICAL to have an AUDIT run on your business and all the marketing pieces and collateral and TOOLS (demos) that sell you in your business before you take that business to market.

Relationships are far more valuable than individual jobs and particular paychecks, so it is imperative that one not blaze forward recklessly engaging and promoting oneself to even one buyer or talent rep or casting director with something that represents this business that is YOU with a product that is corny, dated or sub-par given contemporary standards.

In producing something that is contemporary and useful, there are certainly plenty of "do"s and "don'ts."

Some of the basic requirements are outlined in the "YOUR VOICE OVER BUSINESS" mp3 for sale in the store section of braintracksaudio.com.

While visiting my website you can also click on the DEMO PRODUCTION knob - then the arm off of that knob that says DEMO MAKEOVER to see great examples of BEFORE and AFTERs.

The "BEFORE" examples were too versatile/dated/corny/too long - the kinds of issues that would have an agent or buyer hitting "eject" early or just tossing it based on poor branding or a lack thereof.

The "AFTER" examples on those same individuals were produced after proper coursework helped the talent deliver better reads and know the boundaries of the personal style we are marketing. The "AFTER"s are upscaled, upgraded and customized portraits of those same people, and offer each one a sales tool that cuts through the sameness of the "competition" and returns better revenue to the talent and their VO business.

But because every sales tool (demo) must be TAILOR-MADE to honor and promote each individual, it is critical that the content has been carefully scripted and produced to honor the brand of the individual.

A demo that sounds like it came out of a "puppy mill" will not break you in - one that is specific and produced in a top market by someone whose business it is to customize and tailor for you will help honor what's unique about YOU.

And therein lies all the difference.

Nancy Wolfson

Forums

Another way to gather feedback (which happens to be free) is to join a voice over forum or networking group. You may find that there is a thread set aside specifically for demo reviews. In such cases, members are invited to share their demos to gain feedback through peer reviews.

Don't Take It Personally

Whichever route you choose to take, be sure to keep in mind that any feedback, good or bad, is simply someone's opinion and not to be terribly discouraged should a dark horse pop out and rip your demo to shreds.

Although your voice is tightly knit to who you are, the feedback, if provided in a constructive and generous spirit, should be taken in the context of improving your voice over business, and is not an attack on you as a person.

Any Comments?

If you've had experience on the asking or receiving end of a demo review or review demos yourself, please leave a comment and join the conversation.

Best wishes,

Stephanie

P.S. If you know someone who would benefit from this article, be sure to let them know and send them a link to this web page!

Image from HiggySTFC's photostream on Flickr

Related Topics: Demo Reviews, Facebook, Mike Elmore, Nancy Wolfson, throat, voice over demos


Comments


    Thank you for sharing this, Steph.

    You are so right to mention that folks who are brave and smart enough to get their demos reviewed by a professional need to emotionally disconnect from the feedback. They must trust that it is a critique of the TOOL, not a criticism of the human. The goal of a critique is to drill into what is and what is not working to serve the talent's business. The GOAL is to help refine and ameliorate the tool, never to tear down the person. Sure, the person whose demo is being reviewed is sometimes getting told that their performances could have been better, but this is only a call to improve skills with the hope of improving the talent's overall business model and increasing their financial returns.

    The INTENTION of a professional reviewer is to help by critiquing the sales tool, never to criticize the person.

    It actually hurts my heart to have to break it to some people that the money they'd invested in a tool is not serving them well. But the higher moral obligation is to inform them HONESTLY about what agents and buyers are REALLY thinking so that losses can be cut and better sales tools can be built. There is always more money to be found out there, but there is never more TIME, so a good critique, while it might trigger a new investment, endeavors to spare talent wasted precious time that cannot be made back.

    To fluff ego at the expense of potential business risks for talent is of no value to anyone. I love it when, as I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do on our "YOUR VOICE OVER BUSINESS" mp3, I get to say to talent, "This demo is awesome - go THANK your demo producer and pat yourself on the back - now get out there and market this with confidence." But when that's not the case and even fractional constructive notes need to be given, it's always done with an eye and an ear towards something POSITIVE.

    Posted by:

      Nancy's comment "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" is extremely important to keep in mind. It's worth the investment to make sure you have a professional produce your demo... and if you're new to the biz and experimenting while creating new characters or practicing commercial copy, definitely hire a professional 'ear' to give you feedback before you send your work out into the world.

      All the best for vo success in '09,
      David

      Posted by:

        Nancy definitely has the "ears" and the experience! I have been extremely pleased with my progress since working privately with Nancy. She has proven to be unique in her approach and provides information I have not been privy to before. I highly recommend Nancy for any of the services she offers; she is so professional and right on the money. Thanks to Jason at Village Green Studios for recommending Nancy to me!

        Posted by:

          This is worthwhile info. Thanks. I'm going to browse Nancy's site. I've been voice acting less than a year, had my demos professionally produced, and submitted auditions to 150 or so jobs, with no success. I do trust the quality of the produced demo.
          I know it takes a long time and I need to be tenacious in presenting a professional appearance, which I've done.
          I think this field is very hard to break into, so even if you DO have a professional demo, you still cannot expect much attention until you establish yourself a bit.

          Posted by:

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