Of course, sometimes in takes a while to get an answer. Just ask my friend Glenn. He waited over 6 months before I finally took the time to give him a thoughtful response. But, Noel, who wrote to me a few days ago, prompted some thoughts about Voice123.com (which is what he was asking about specifically) and about Internet casting sites in general.
I’ve asked his permission to use his emails for this blog post. Here’s his first.
I am a fellow VO at Voice123.com. I am writing to you because your testimonials at V123 led me to view your very impressive profile. – Awesome dude! Although I have made a living at industrial sales for most of my life, I truely want to break in to the VO business. I won’t bore you with details but I do feel the need to ask someone with your credentials and experience in the business for some advice. So, in a nutshell; I have an AKG Perception200 mike and a pc laptop with a free audio recording program called Audacity- no, I cannot hear myself as I record, so I playback quite a bit. I’ve taken some short course workshops in VO and came out of it with a professional studio demo CD. Since I joined V123 last February, I have submitted over 200 demos. Although I came close on a small handfull, I still haven’t gotten even one gig. What am I doing wrong? Is my voice that bad? Should I add music and effects over a dry read demo? Is V123 the wrong place for me? Anything you can tell me would be much appreciated and well taken. I pray that someone of your caliber can tell me something that I just don’t know.
Hello. Thank you for your kind words. I’d be happy to provide you with a bit of advice, but you should probably remember that it’s only worth what you’re paying for it.
First, after reading your email I found your Voice123.com listing and listened to your demos. Good work. Clearly you have talent. Now you have to examine yourself and determine how serious you are about this business. Because that’s what it is, a business.
You’ve worked in sales, so you know that you’re not going to close every call, especially not every cold call. Now, imagine that at about the same time you made one of those cold calls, 150 other sales people (with varying levels of experience and ability) are also making a cold call on that client. How likely are you to make the sale under those circumstances? Especially because the client’s final decision isn’t always going to be based on price, but often on his or her perception of which sales person can deliver the goods. This, I think, is a pretty fair analogy for your situation with Voice123.com. It’s not that you’ve done something wrong or that your voice is bad. It’s that you don’t match up exactly with what the client is looking for.
Second, the only way to grow and improve is to practice, study, and practice some more. You should read aloud every day. If you have young children, read to them. If you don’t, just read aloud to yourself: web sites, newspapers, books, whatever. And when you’re reading aloud, practice communicating more than just the words. Practice communicating the story or idea contained by those words. (For example, read this email aloud to yourself.)
Third, you have decent equipment. As time and work permits, make some strategic additions to your tool kit. I highly recommend you join the VO-BB.COM community. And then spend time reading through the archives. Since I joined in July, I’ve made it through about 30 percent of their archives, reading every post. I’ve already gained tremendously by doing so. You’ll get ideas of gear you might want to put on your shopping list someday, things to avoid and lots of different opinions. And many valuable insights into how to grow your talent and experience. (You’ll find some of my reactions to a few in the posts on this blog, too.)
Fourth, keep studying. As you can tell from my profile, I study every year. My first professional voiceover was recorded in 1974, and I’ve been working steadily in voiceovers since 1983. But, I know there’s much more for me to learn. I don’t ever want to allow myself to get complacent. Is Voice123.com right for you? I can’t answer that question for you. But, it might help you to know that I’ve done over 800 auditions there in the last 2 years. I’ve booked less than a 100 of those jobs. But, I look at my Voice123.com membership fee as advertising money. And I only respond to the auditions from which I want to get cast. Which means that I’ve NOT responded to over a 1000 auditions in the same 2 years. So, my testimonial for Voice123.com is more true today that when I wrote and sent it to them over a year ago.
Keep in mind there are other sites where you can put your demo. Some of them are more cost effective than Voice123.com. For example, voiceoverdirectory.com has a category for New Talent in their database. I’m not a member there, so I can’t speak to how good a site they are, but you can check. Also, Voices.com offers a level at only $100. As does CommercialVoices.com, I believe.
I hope these comments are helpful to you. Please feel free to write again, if there’s anything else I can answer or help with.
Noel resonded to those comments:
Thank you for your timely reply – The mark of a true professional!
And, thank you for taking the time to check out my demos. Compliments most appreciated. You have confirmed my initial impression – that V123 is a Monster.com of the VO world and I may not be a fit to every job description. I cannot imagine how someone that is not accustomed to rejection can stay alive in this industry. All the same, I must admit to a bit of recent discouragement and dissappointment myself. I’ve never experienced this degree of rejection – what a beating. V123 however is probably one of the best places to cut my ‘eye teeth’ in this business. I do read aloud daily (I’ve got a little one for bedtime stories – at my old age) and I do practice voice drills daily as well.
I will check out the websites, blogs and archives that you have referred me to, join and post my demo. I will keep reading and learning. I want to know every detail that all the successfull VOs do and then do it myself. Your advice has helped me know where to find it.
If you think of anything else, feel free to send it along.
Best Regards and Big Thanks,
Not only are you not a fit to every job description, you’re not a fit to most job descriptions and neither am I (by fit I mean an exact match). Here’s how I look at it:
It’s not a competition for a job against all of the other voiceover people auditioning. The client is selecting the right voice, the right sound, the right interpretive ability to match what they need. Sometimes, I’m the match. Sometimes you are. In those cases, the only thing preventing you or me from getting that respective job is if the client doesn’t know about me, or you. And that’s not the client’s fault. It’s mine, or yours, as the case may be. So, I don’t look at an audition from which I don’t get cast as rejection. I look at it more the way Michaelangelo answered the question of how he knew when he approached a new block of marble from which he hoped to carve a statue. “I just remove everything that’s not the statue.” When I don’t get cast, I’m just removing another bit that’s not part of my paying work.
And there are even times when I’m the match, but I don’t want that job. Maybe the subject is something I’m not comfortable with morally, or politically or for whatever reason. Maybe the budget isn’t enough for me to bother with. Whatever. In that case, the client is going to have to settle for someone else, who maybe isn’t as good of a match as I would have been. But, assuming they hire a professional, they’re going to be happy with what they get.
98 percent of your job is finding the paying sessions that give you the income you need to pay the bills. The other 2 percent you’ll actually be in the studio getting paid for your time. Think I’m exaggerating? Wait and see.
I wish you much success, in whatever manner you describe it. (The fact that you’re already reading and practicing every day tells me you have a better than even shot at getting somewhere.)
A final thought. Spend 1 to 2 weeks lurking and reading before you begin to post anything on VO-BB.COM. I think you’ll be glad you took the time to learn the ropes.
And I hope these thoughts are of value to you, too, dear reader. I have more to say on the subject of Internet casting sites like Voices.com and Voice123.com, but that will have to wait for another day for a complete post. Meanwhile, you can check out this thread at the Voiceover Bulletin Board for some thoughts worth reading. A few of them are from me.
(note: some of the email correspondence has been edited to correct grammatical or factual errors.)