Working Freelance in Voice Over!
Sometimes voice over artists will have an agent, while some work freelance without representation.
The truth is, you don’t have to have an agent to get mainstream voiceover work in most places.
Of course, the most important thing is that you find a way to get your demo heard by all those who are looking for voices.
These days you don’t need to go to the trouble of making a CD. You can simply email you demo on an audio file (an MP3 or WAV) with an email that’s simple, and to the point, about what kind of voice you are – the demo will do the rest.
Make sure you have your contact number recorded at the end of the demo and that it’s also in the body of the email and next to your name on the actual demo (audio file).
So, how do you make sure you’re heard and seen in the studio?
It goes without saying that building relationships can be the hardest aspect of getting into voiceover.
Until someone has met you in person, it’s just your disembodied voice they’ve heard – you need to find a way (or ways) of becoming a person they know as well.
“How do I do that?” you ask!
Firstly you need to build a list of studios and producers who are looking for voice over talent just like you.
To do that, you may need to do some calling and ask them:
- What kind of work they do,
- What kind of voices they use,
- How they’d like to receive a demo, and
- Offer to email yours.
Some studios don’t give feedback, but if you get good feedback from a studio, make a note.
Some studios want to meet people they like the sound of, so if you haven’t heard from them within a month, give them a call and ask if they’d like to meet you.
Another canny thing to do, especially if it’s one of those studios who gave great feedback, is to becoming a paying client.
All you need to do is call and ask if you could hire the studio after hours just to record a couple of tracks to add to your demo- you’ll only need an hour!
Next: find a couple of tracks that are different in style, and unlike anything else on your demo.
They could be replacing other tracks that you feel aren’t as strong as you would like or adding to your style repertoire.
(Remember when choosing scripts, make sure they’re interesting and use language in an engaging way; scripts that allow you to drive a personality, emotion, feel or mood through the read).
When you make the booking make sure that you ask for a senior engineer.
You can add that it’s because you’re fairly new to voice over and you need someone who can direct your performance.
Before the session, your demo will be sent to the engineer – this could be the first time this engineer has heard the demo.
If your demo arrived in a busy time, the person who received it and liked it may not have had a chance to play it to other ears at the studio.
Now the engineer will hear it!
And then you’ll arrive, as a paying client…and meet and work together to achieve a result.
The engineer now knows you and, if you had a great experience together, may even suggest you for upcoming voice over jobs.
That could be the beginning of a great relationship.
Like any business, you need to make an investment is growing it. And you don’t have to do this once. Make this investment every couple of months with a different studio.
If you’re working freelance and booking jobs, you’ll need to take care of your own invoicing.
It’s crucial that you have all the information you need to make sure you get paid the correct fee for what you’ve recorded.
At the time of taking the booking, usually from the studio, but sometimes from the client direct, always ask, “Who am I invoicing and what are the job details?”
- Which medium: TV or radio? Corporate, online, multiple platforms, online, stadiums, in-store etc.
- What is the release? As in which states or territories will it be broadcast and for how long?
If you’re a Union member, the rates for Television, Radio, Cinema and other broadcast mediums (including Online) and/or devices will have been and set through a process of negotiation with the Advertising industry.
If you are working as a professional voice actor and you’re benefiting from rates the Union has achieved for you, join the fabulous community that is your Union
I’m a proud Union member (MEAA in Australia) and love the benefits I receive from being part of such an amazing organization, as well as a sense of belonging and connection that’s imperative in this, sometimes fickle business.
Back to rates…
For ‘other’ rates, such as Corporate, (also called Business and Industrials) including Online Content for Individual Businesses, On-Hold Messaging, Dubbing etc. you might need to ask Studios or others you know who work in voiceover to give you a copy of the rates.
I know that you can download rates in the US from the SAG-AFTRA website without being a member.
In the UK, you’ll need to be a member of Equity to get access to the rates.
Some Voice Over Agents websites will have rates on their websites but you can always ask a studio that you’re friendly with to email you the rates.
In Australia we charge rates that are commensurate with our negotiated rates. We don’t have non-union rates and rates charged below our base rate are considered as ‘under-cutting’.
I’m constantly appalled at online producers and casting hubs who promote incredibly low rates for their voice artists.
This is bad business and could undermine the rates structure that we have fought so hard to achieve over the past 40 years.
However, there is such a thing as a low budget, short shelf-life commercial. Negotiating a rate that is fair for both parties is considered valid. There is always room to be flexible.
Advertising and voice over can be very anomalous and sometimes what is a fair rate for one job, can be considered too much for another.
And it goes without saying that when you’re booked for a job, you turn up fresh, warmed-up, on time and ready to put in a brilliant performance.
So, whether you’re working with an agent or making waves on your own terms, think like a business owner with an amazing product that everyone must have…your voice!
Find Your Voice As a Voice Over Actor And Artist With The Voice Over Coach. For over 30 years I've had a successful voiceover career. I work in mainstream voice over for radio and television, narration for the corporate sector, website content and documentaries, as well as characters for animation, IVR, ADR, on-hold and foreign film dubbing.