Here are some follow-up questions from my correspondent, and my reply.
the key thing for you is to find a good agent who can get you auditions there in your market. You’re non-union, which limits your options somewhat. But, I believe there’s plenty of work if you can find an agent who will get you auditions.
You say here that being non-union limits my options. Would you please explain a little more about that.
Also, would you know of any agents you might recommend? As I have 2 school age kids it’s very challenging to make myself available for auditioning. However if it’s local, that is [in my county] I have a little more leeway. But [going into the city] is totally out of the question. As I was reading in one voice over book you are expected to be available at the drop of a hat for auditions. Working at home allows me more freedom than that. So, I’d love a little more guidance from you there.
Finally, as far as bidding on a job goes, have you ever UNDER bid from the posted budget? At this point I’m ready to bid “FREE” just to get some work already!!!
Thanks so much,
And my reply:
Hello again, Ann…
In the New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago markets, especially; but in every large city in the US, the vast majority of the decent paying voice-over work is union only (AFTRA or SAG). This applies to commercials for radio (most often AFTRA) and television (most often SAG) as well as narrations for non-broadcast projects. Some non-union work exists of course, but it generally doesn’t pay all that well.
On the other hand, you’ve commented that you’d be willing to do work for free, just for the experience. A young lady I knew in Pittsburgh a few years ago did just that. At the time I was the program director of a small cluster of radio stations there. She contacted me and offered to do voice-over work for the station for free, just for the experience. Within a year, she had gained enough confidence and experience that she was starting to book paying work. The last time I talked with her, she had found an agent and is doing a decent amount of work each month.
So, perhaps that is something you could do. Call the local radio stations there in [your county] and volunteer. It would be a win-win situation, as the station would get some free voice talent and you would gain some valuable experience.
Honestly, I don’t know anything specific about agents [in your market]. Most likely those that are there do more than just voice-over representation. They probably also represent models and on-camera people. Look in your yellow pages or search through Google or Yahoo. Then call and ask if they work with voice-over people. If they do, find out if they will give you a shot.
But, yes, if your agent calls to ask you to audition, you need to do the audition; or they’ll stop calling you. An agent only makes money on you if they book you work, so if you won’t/can’t audition, they aren’t going to be able to get you much work and won’t see you as a valuable talent for their roster.
Under-bid? No. One of the strange paradoxes of this business is that if you sell yourself too short, you actually eliminate work you could be doing. If people think of you as available for $50, then you may not be considered for a job that pays $1000. This is why I don’t audition for jobs that pay too little. And I’ve booked multiple jobs that paid $1000 or more through Voice123.com, so I know it can be done.
I hope that’s answered your questions. You’re welcome to write more, if you like.