Do Yourself a Favor and Save Time AND Money in Your Search
You have a project that needs narration or perhaps an interesting character voice. You’re looking for a voice actor. A good one who is also professional and experienced – and available at a reasonable rate. So how do you go about finding one?
If you’ve never hired voice talent before, chances are that you’ll turn to your friendly search tool on your browser. And that friendly search tool will most likely bring up page after page of overly friendly and eager options – mostly ads for casting sites and other companies that will help you find talent … for a price. You’ll have to dig pretty deep before you get past all them to see results that actually represent individual voice actors themselves.
Now this is one way to find talent. And it might be your default method, especially if you like to find and work with them directly. But there are a few others we can talk about, so let’s just review them all:
Certainly one of the least expensive, but more time-consuming, ways to find talent. You’ll want to develop search criteria to hone in on the types of talent that best fit your project. For example, are you creating a branding video for your website or looking to create a company overview? You’ll want to search for “corporate narration” and perhaps specify a male or female voice. No doubt you’ll still see some ads, but you’ll begin to see individual names whose websites have been optimized for the search engines. These are just the top of the iceberg, so narrowing your search with additional criteria may help you find many more good options. If you know that you want to work with local voice over talent, only middle-aged female voices, and those with home studios equipped with Source Connect so that you can conduct a remote recorded and directed session…well, now you’ll have a smaller pool of candidates.
Once you have a good handful of options, narrow your list again by listening to each person’s demos. What type of voice best matches what you have in mind? Is there a voice that sparks your interest and therefore should catch the ears of your intended audience? This is all subjective. Whatever sounds good to you is worth exploring.
Finish up by contacting each person on this short list and ask for an audition sample – a few lines to a paragraph of copy – and a quote. You certainly want to make sure that the person today sounds the same as the voice on the demo! And that the talent can easily replicate the quality of his or her demo. Be careful of hiring someone with too little training or experience. An excellent quality demo track may have taken one or fifty reads from the talent to get it “right.” It may have been cobbled together from multiple reads and enhanced with effects to make it sound better than what the talent is currently capable of providing. Do your due diligence by asking for an audition!
Most talents will ask you about your project, too: the length of the intended recording, usage, etc. before they can quote you a rate. The more information you provide, the more accurate the quote. Be sure to define what you want from the voiceover service, such as deadlines, a retake policy, etc. The more detail you provide, the easier it will be to find the right talent who understands your requirements, as well as the business side of voice over. The right professional is also the one who values your business and delivers great customer service.
2. Casting Sites
Casting sites are pretty easy to find. Hey, they’re the ones usually paying for the ads that you saw from your Google search for talent. They can be a quick way to receive hundreds of auditions for your project, but they can also cost you a lot of time sifting through them to find the professional, well-trained voice actors, especially if you are looking for a “deal” and offering lower than a standard rate for your project.
Casting sites are not all the same. Some operate like boutique agencies that vet their talent and accept only those with professional demos and broadcast-quality studio capabilities. In turn, they expect listed projects to offer professional pay. Others focus on quantity over quality of talent and jobs, making their commissions on a high volume of bookings. As a client, you may want to save money by offering a low rate, but just realize that the job will not likely attract strong, professional talent. As with anything, you’ll you’ll probably get what you pay for.
Within the industry, Casting sites are referred to as “pay to play,” so-called because they make their money from voice actors who pay to receive auditions for jobs like yours. As the client, there’s usually no cost to you; the casting site or P2P profits from their member subscriptions and, depending on the P2P, sometimes a commission from off the talent’s pay from a booked job. Some of them may help you price jobs. If you want to familiarize yourself with the standard rates that most professional voice actors reference, look at the rate guides provided by the Global Voice Acting Academy at www.globalvoiceactingacademy.com or (direct link ) https://globalvoiceacademy.com/gvaa-rate-guide-2/. Gravy For The Brain at www.gravyforthebrain.com has a smaller, less comprehensive, but very useful rate guide at: https://rates.gravyforthebrain.com/?view=1&country=en_US.
So who are some of these casting sites? There are literally dozens in the U.S. and overseas, but here are some of the better known ones: VOplanet and Bodalgo focus on quality of jobs and voice actors (talents’ demos have to be vetted before joining their rosters). Voice123 has talent and jobs at all levels, with an extensive list of membership tiers and subscription costs to the actors. Fiverr, VoiceBunny, and others promote inexpensive voiceover services. Voices.com was one of the very first casting sites and has undergone many changes since then. They’re known to the voice actor community for taking extremely high commissions off the projects that their members book. There are many others, too; check them out carefully to see which best fits your needs, should you decide to look for talent through casting sites.
3. Agents and Casting Directors
Agents are the gold standard for finding top talent, especially for commercials, promos, animation, and video games, but also in other areas. You can’t go wrong with an agent, if you’re looking for strong voice actors. You will pay an industry standard rate to the talent, as well as a commission to the booking agent, which is a percentage based on the pay of the job itself.
If you contract with an outside casting director, that individual will work with you to detail the job specifications, manage the agency submissions, and present you with a curated list of who he or she considers the top contenders. An additional and separate fee will be payable to the casting director.
Just as it’s easier to keep clients then to have to go out and replace them with new ones, it’s often much much easier to work with talents with whom you’ve worked before. It’s also easier to meet new voice actors that come highly recommended by those same proven, reliable talents.
The voice acting community is well networked, with people who genuinely like to help others. If you’re looking for a specific skill set that your regular talents don’t have, ask them for referrals. Oftentimes, they’ll know someone who has the particular accent you need, a skill that’s hard to find, or a personal background that matches your client’s specifications. Or even another voice actor who’s immediately available for a last minute, rush call.
5. Direct Marketing from VO Talent
Do you receive emails from voice actors introducing themselves and their services? Don’t just trash them. There may be some real gems in there. Take a quick moment to listen to their demos and if you hear something you like and think there’s a possibility of using them in the future, keep their information handy in a file folder or flash drive. You can save yourself a lot of time and money if you keep your own list of available voice actors that you can pull out at a moment’s notice.
Keep a simple database or spreadsheet of their names, contact information, and skills, so that when you need auditions to share with your client, you already have a short list of reliable and responsive voice actors to call on. You’re in a stronger position with your clients when you can respond quickly with samples of good, qualified voices for their projects.
It’s a great feeling to search for something specific … and find it. It’s even better when it comes looking for you!