So you’ve got a great concept, the creative team has fleshed it out and the boss has approved it. Now all you need is the right Voice!
But how do you find it?
If you haven’t come from a casting background, or this is your first foray into hiring an actor, the process can seem daunting. But before you give yourself stress zits or throw up your hands in confusion and just hope that Annie from Accounting can somehow do it, here are a few tips.
First, Know Exactly What You Want
It’s great if the creative team wants to have different options, but it will make the process a LOT smoother and faster if you can narrow it down a bit. Decide what gender(s), age range, and basic vocal sound you want. Then add what attitudes or emotions you would like to hear in the script. And if certain personality quirks would fit your brand perfectly, make sure to mention those in the casting notice! A good actor will not only give you what you ask for, but also may throw in other options that you hadn’t thought of originally or to show their range in case the creative direction changes a bit.
Know What the Usage Will Be
Where will this VO be heard? There are SO many different mediums now and the actor will need to know exactly how their voice will be used. Find out if it will be for:
- Paid Placement Ads on Digital (Streaming video or radio, Social Media)- TV or Radio commercials
- Company Website or intranet
- Organic Social Media Posts only
- Youtube show/video
- Direct email or presentation to clients
- Live Events/Trade Shows
- Lobby viewing
- E-Learning/Training Modules
- Explainer Videos
- Medical or Technical Videos/Training
- Video Game
- Promos/Trailers online or terrestrial broadcast
Figure Out What Your Budget Should Be
The days of TV ads being the only big dogs are over. Now it’s a Digital world and the rates reflect that. The internet is global after all. But some marketing is much more strategic, so find out just how big the reach will actually be for your project. What will the number of impressions likely be? That way the Voiceover actor can quote you fairly for the exposure – and limiting their ability to do other work in the same genre.
Keep in mind that you can usually get a “bundled rate” if you want to use the VO in more than one medium. You should also feel free to ask if the rate is negotiable if it’s outside of your preferred budget. Most actors are happy to see if they can work out something that is fair to you both!
For a peek at the rate table most pros use: GVAA Rate Table
Know Your Timeline
When do you need to have the VO file? Will there likely be changes needed to it after the project has been reviewed? If so, how many rounds of revisions are expected? What is the probable timeline for all the revision requests?
Having all this information in the casting notice will ensure those that apply for the job can meet your deadlines and be available for pickups if needed.
Decide if You Want to do a Directed Session
All professional VoiceOver Actors offer directed sessions, so you can ensure that the sound and style of the VO is exactly what you want at the time of recording. You can do it via Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, Skype, etc. Or even an old fashioned telephone conference call! Many also offer Source Connect, ipDTL or ISDN if you have your own studio and want to record the session on your end. Make sure to let the Voice Talent know what you prefer. There is also the option of a quick pre-recording phone call to get the tone and delivery right, then just leaving the actor to do their thing!
Have a Sample of the Script
You’re going to want to hear potential actors actually read part of your script. Grab a few important sections of it, or places where there are emotional or style changes and post those on the casting notice. Then you can listen to custom recorded mp3’s to make your decision.
This is especially important if you want someone with a broadcast quality home studio. There shouldn’t be any outside noise, building noise, mouth noise or audio distortions on the recording. And as much as we all love how we sound singing in the shower, you probably don’t want that cave like reverb sound on your VO. So….it’s good to have a sample of what their studio actually sounds like – and not just listen to pre-produced demos, which are often engineered by someone else.
Post Your Casting Notice! But Where?
Pay to Play Sites
If you’re new to Voiceover Casting, then all those sponsored results that pop up when you google it can be pretty tempting. Third party companies that offer a one stop shop. In the industry we call them “Pay to Play” sites. Anyone can pay a fee and submit themselves for jobs. So, you will get everyone from absolute beginners to the occasional seasoned pro who still does a few supplemental gigs on there.
The upside of using these for your casting is you will get a TON of responses. The downside is you have to wade through a ton of responses. There is also a service fee of course since you are using a middle man (who holds your money) and like most things, it pays to look at the fine print for their own usage rights to your recording (One very well known site comes to mind here – VDC.) But if you like the idea of an escrow company, you can always see if it’s the right fit.
Just be aware that actors who simply pay more get featured as “Top” voice talent and not all actors will even see your project since each site has its own algorithm for who sees what. Also, just because you worked with a certain actor previously doesn’t mean that they will see your next casting notice.
Voice 123, Voices dot com (VDC), Bodalgo, etc. are all P2P sites.
Acting Casting Sites
Traditional sites that actors use to find casting notices (breakdowns) include Backstage, Actors Access, Casting Frontier, and Casting Networks. All of these often include VO projects. If you are not a traditional casting director though, Backstage is probably the easiest and most user friendly option. It has a dedicated site for Voiceover projects and an optional payment portal similar to what the P2P sites offer.
VoiceOver Agents and Casting Directors
This is the traditional way to find a professional VO Actor. Agents represent voice talent that they know will get the job done right the first time. They can also help you navigate complex usage terms if needed. Of course, you will pay an additional 10-20% fee on top of the talent’s rate, but if making your life easier is worth it…you can find agents in almost all medium to big markets. Look at their client list and listen to their talent to see if they might be the right fit. If you’re unsure if an agent is legit, ask around or look for reviews. Casting Directors are another traditional path and can deal with a variety of different agents for you if you want to have more options than just one agency can provide. Again, expect to pay an extra fee for their service.
Social Media and Professional Organizations
There are many different groups for professional VO actors on LinkedIn and Facebook, so you could always post on one of their pages. Or, if you just want to listen to some demos from actors who you know have been vetted for both talent and studio expertise, you can check out the non profit World Voices Organization (WOVO) recommendations at https://www.voiceover.biz/ . Search by project type, gender, age range and accent to narrow the field, then message anyone directly who sparks your interest. As always, ask for a custom sample.
In House Roster
This is the goal. Having your own roster of tried and true, reliable voice talent to turn to when a project comes up. They can take your script and bring it to life, all while staying consistent with the brand personality. You can email them directly with the casting details and know you’re going to get a couple of great samples from them without wasting time on casting sites. They take direction well, are fun to work with, and elevate your script. And they get it done on time and right the first time, so you can meet your deadline.
Make Your Selections!
Now you can sit back and wait for the auditions to roll in.
Hope this helps ease the stress of trying to figure out the best way to find the perfect voice for your brand. Look for more helpful info soon on many of these topics, plus Selecting your Voice Talent, Directing Voice Actors in the Booth and Writing Copy for VO. If you have any questions or specific topics you would like to see covered in future posts, please feel free to message me!