By Stephanie Ciccarelli
August 14, 2009
If you go shopping for a loaf of twelve grain bread, would you pay much attention to pumpernickel, sourdough, or raisin bread?
You're decidedly going for something very specific and only want the twelve grain bread... everything else is a distraction, no matter how good or healthy it appears to be.
That's exactly what clients go through when they are looking to cast a voice for their project, however it's important to realize that their being picky doesn't necessarily mean that a good selection isn't appreciated by them for future reference, either.
A fine balance? It doesn't have to be!
Get a quick history lesson and discover a number of reasons why you should have a demo for every major application of voice over that you offer your clients.
Do you just record one kind of voice over? Are you only able to act a certain way?
As a voice over artist, you have the God given ability to create a variety of different reads, interpretations, and are able to fluctuate your voice to achieve a desired effect.
You are also by law allowed to exhibit such talent and offer your clients demonstrations of your abilities. Even so, many voice over talent do not record or promote more than one voice over demo, and in most of these cases, only a commercial demo is present.
Reality Check: Commercial voice over accounts for only 10% of the work that you can get as a voice over talent!
Most people equate demos, at least demos produced by someone other than yourself, as very expensive.
There is some truth to that but the expense is relative to what your return on investment (ROI) will be from each demo you have produced.
Have you ever thought of your demos in that way? Acting as a virtual representative drumming up business on your behalf?
You may have noticed that society is consumed with the need for immediate gratification.
Sentiments such as "I want this now," and "I needed that yesterday!" are realities that we all face, whether we are the person making those demands or the service provider on the receiving end having to fulfill them.
This childish need for "Right here right now" has reached an all-time high.
Is this desirable? No. Is there an opportunity? Yes!
Now for a little history lesson.
Decades ago, it was in vogue to have an all-in-one demo that ran 5 minutes, give or take, demonstrating all that a voice artist could do on something we used to call a "demo reel." They were called demo reels because they were recorded using analog technology and the demos were saved on cassette tapes.
This kind of demo is often referred to as a "Montage."
Technology may have changed from analog to digital, however, some producers continued to cling to the one-size-fits-all procedure for crafting demos, albeit the the montages were noticeably shorter.
Within the last decade or so, the montage evolved into four distinct categories, being:
à¹ Corporate / Industrial
à¹ Animation / Character Voices
Compilation style / montage demos are still out there and many feature a variety of different reads for a number of applications, sometimes including bits of commercials, narration, character work, telephony and so on.
These montages, by virtue of the vast material they cover, must by necessity run longer than the present standard time for demos (standard demo time = 60 to 90 seconds) because talent and producers try to squeeze in as many relevant bits as possible to show versatility.
Also, the montage includes more voice over, or at least more styles, than necessary and may turn clients off or fail to engage them as intensely.
While the montage was effective years ago, technology and consumer expectations have changed making it necessary to cater to individuals who have unique needs that a combo demo, at first blush, fails to meet.
As you know, with the way business is today, there isn't usually a second blush.
You've got to be at the ready and one of the only ways of doing this that I know of is to be armed with a good selection of your strongest work featured in bite sized chunks, organized by application or style of read.
This doesn't mean that the essence of the montage needs to go out the window... it just needs to be more targeted to meet the individual client's needs.
Remember that childish need for immediate gratification I mentioned earlier? This is where opportunity is knocking for you!
Imagine how easy it could be to actually serve prospective customers in your sleep.
Now imagine having your demos, any one of them, listened to when you are otherwise engaged or not in your office.
Lastly imagine those demos working for you in your absence and getting you bookings.
How do you make this a reality? Produce a handful of one-minute demos that highlight your best work, each of which focuses on one application of voice over.
à¹ Station Imaging
à¹ Business Presentations
à¹ Telephone / On-hold marketing
à¹ Character / Animation
à¹ Play-By-Play / Color Commentary
à¹ Movie Trailer
à¹ Audiobook Narration
à¹ Husband / Wife / Multi Talent Spots
à¹ Video games
à¹ Tour guide
à¹ Bilingual Demo if you speak two languages
à¹ Real Person
à¹ Celebrity Impressions
à¹ Voice age demos (Senior, adult, young adult, teen, child, toddler, etc.)
à¹ Emotion-based demos
Jump on it! If you are one of those people who could use a few extra demos, I encourage you to consider exploring some of the subject areas and applications above.
Although the commercial and narration demos are absolutely essential, you never know which of these niche demos will surprise you with regard to increasing your marketability, customer base, and your income.
If spending money on a new demo is not an option, you could produce a short dry voice sample to tide you over until (or if) you want to invest in a professionally produced demo at a studio.
Good idea: Ask permission of your clients to use bits and pieces of work you have done for them in previous projects on your new niche demo, for instance, if you have done a number of telephone jobs for customers, see if you can piece together 3 to 5 of those samples for a new telephone voice over demo.
* While it technically would be a montage (piecing together of different parts to make a new whole), at least it would be a montage of various phone recordings, which is precisely what a client looking for a voice for their phone system would want to hear!
Looking forward to hearing from you!
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