“I’ve been told that I have a great voice and should be a voiceover artist.” How many times have we heard that line? Some people are indeed blessed with a lovely warm, rich speaking voice that’s pleasant to listen to and could charm the birds from the trees! But what does it take to become a successful, full-time voiceover artist? Surely not just a good speaking voice, or everyone would be doing it and raking in the cash! Being a voiceover artist isn’t just about being able to read out aloud into a microphone, there are a lot of things to consider.
What is a voiceover?
You get in your car, drive go to the supermarket and your SatNav instructs you to “turn left in 500 yards, then at the roundabout, carry on straight ahead.” As you walk round the supermarket you see TV screens playing a video demonstrating the latest in floor-mopping technology. You finish your shopping and want to use one of the self-service tills, a lady warns you of an “unexplained item in the in the bagging area!” On the way home you decide to listen to the audio book you downloaded, then decide to turn on the radio to hear some music, only to catch the ad break. You arrive at home and call up your bank to enquire about one of your accounts and are greeted with 5 different options and buttons to press before you can actually speak to someone! You get the idea! All these examples would have been voiced by a professional voiceover artist.
A good voiceover artist won’t just have the ability to read aloud in a nice, clear voice. He or she will be able to look at a piece of ad copy and read it exactly to time, if they are over by 1 or 2 seconds they’ll have the ability to take 2 seconds of their read and still maintain the same tone and inflections. Producers will often ask to stress certain words, go up at the end of a sentence and down on the next one, pause after a certain word for a sound effect and be out by 17 seconds before the jingle comes in halfway through. These are all things the voiceover should be able to deliver without being phased and still make the read sound genuine and convincing.
The voiceover could find themselves playing a character such as an evil cat, a dopey monkey, a nervous office boy or a narcissistic banana! How would you even begin to create voices for these? Being able to “do silly voices” will get you so far, but being able to bring lots of options to the table and give choices is essential, as is having a good ear and being able to draw on a wealth of tools from your voice-locker in order to make the character come to life and be believable.
I would advise anyone wanting to start out in voiceovers to find a good coach and to learn basics like mic technique, how to stand, how to use your body and really get to know what your voice can do before investing time and money on equipment. As a professional full-time voiceover artist, I feel that it’s vital that I keep my tools sharp and am still taking lessons with a leading US vo coach Nancy Wolfson. I also attend classes and workshops on character voices and gaming to learn new techniques which I can employ on a session, as I never want to find myself in a situation where I’m not able to deliver and give the producer what they’re looking for.
In my opinion, it’s wrong to think that all you have to do is buy a microphone, plug it into your computer and then start talking for money! As it’s easy to record your voice with a half-decent set-up, you don’t have to look very far to hear lots of shocking demos on the web! Lip-smacking sounds, recorded hiss, popping P’s, echoing rooms. I record my voiceovers in a broadcast quality, acoustically treated professional studio.
Professional musicians care about their sound and spend years and years perfecting it, it’s their signature, what defines them as a player. Why should we pay any less attention to the quality of sound we deliver as voiceover artists? If someone is paying their hard earned money for a voiceover, it’s vital that we deliver the very best broadcast quality sound for them in terms of the read, the recording quality and the editing. If we’re not editing ourselves and are leaving that to a producer, we should be giving them the best quality at source so they have the best representation of our voice to work with.
In this digital age, there are a multitude of different formats we can lend our voices to and indeed have a successful career as a voiceover artist. The idea that we are simply “paid to talk” is wrong and is doing a disservice to professional voice artists who make a living from their craft, and it is a craft.
We could find ourselves voicing in our own booths with no one to critique us or in a big studio with producers, engineers, creatives and clients all sitting round listening to our every word! But no matter what the situation, our aim is to make the listener believe us. Be genuine. Be convincing. Be real.
If you require an experience voiceover artist for your project, whether it’s for a straight read, narration, character, accent or celebrity impression, then please do get in touch and I’ll be happy to help you find the tone and style you require.
FAQ About My Voiceover Services
Q: What am i getting for my money?
A: When you book me to voice for you, you’re not just paying for my voiceover, but the reassurance that it will be broadcast quality with no erroneous room noises for you to have to worry about.
Q: Will I have to edit or do anything to the voiceover?
A: Unless you’re a producer or prefer me to send you the raw file, you can be assured that I’ll edit my read for you, so you receive a finished, high quality file.
Q: How long will my voiceover take?
A: I pride myself on a fast turnaround and will always endeavour to send you back your file within 24 hours.
Q: I’m not entirely sure how to explain the voice, character or style I need, can you help?
A: Of course! I’m more than happy to chat over the phone with you your requirements and won’t hit record until we’re both happy that I’ll be voicing in the style that suits your read or character.
Q: Can I be directed during the recording?
A: Yes! If you prefer to listen in to the recording process and direct me, then I’m available on Skype, ISDN, ipDTL and Source Connect. I’m also happy to travel to studios for sessions.
Q: Do you charge for revisions?
A: Any mistakes made by myself will be corrected free of charge. Any script changes that occur after I have sent my recording will have to be charged. The fee will depend on the length of the read and number of changes.
Q: What are you rates for radio adverts?
A: In the UK, I work to the latest Equity rate card. If your commercial is for transmission abroad, please let me know all the information, so I can quote accurately.
Q: What are your payment terms?
A: Upon receiving your voiceover, you’ll also receive my invoice. My terms are 30 days net and all my payment are on the bottom and as well as cheque and direct bank transfer, I can also be paid via Paypal.