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Demo Spots ... Union / Fi-Core
Sound Real? Work Anywhere

By Marc Cashman
Voice Actor & Coach
©Marc Cashman 2011

This is the start of a monthly Q&A column on VoiceOverXtra, where I answer a veritable smorgasbord of voice over questions. If you'd like to pop a question to me, please see my contact info below. Ready? And you're on ...


Q:  I live in a small market and am worried that I don’t have a lot of experience in voice over, even though I’ve got a demo. On it were national brands, but of course they never aired. Do prospective employers ever ask if you’ve actually performed what’s on your demo? - Katrina K., Irvine, CA

A:  Katrina, don’t be worried about the fact that the commercial excerpts on your demo never aired - it’s a demo, and "demo” is short for demonstration, which showcases your ability to perform commercial copy proficiently. 

Most agents and prospective clients won’t even think about whether your spots aired.  All they’re listening for is what your voice sounds like, whether you can act, and whether you might fit into their talent roster. 

As long as you sound great, and your demo is professionally produced and packaged, don’t give the actual status of your spot elements another thought. Break a lip!


Q:  I’m thinking of joining the union (AFTRA), but I’ve been doing a lot of non-union work.  Will they still let me join?  - Tom T., Orlando, FL

A:  Certainly.  They just want your money.  And you don’t even have to join right away. 

If you get a union job, you can do it without joining, thanks to the Taft-Hartley Act, which says that the first union job can be worked without having to join AFTRA.  However, you’re obligated to join on the second union job. 

But if you do non-union work after you join, you’re breaking the rules, and the union can throw you out or fine you or both.

A lot of voice actors have found a way to do both union and non-union work by declaring themselves Fi-Core (Financial Core). They still have to pay quarterly dues, but they give up their right to vote on any union matters and don’t receive the union newsletter. 


Q:  A lot of people say that my voice is interesting, but I don’t think so. Can I be successful in voice over even if I don’t have "great pipes?” - Sam G., San Francisco, CA

A:  "In a world…where people with the Voice of God rule…one man, with a normal-sounding voice…stood up against the V-O status quo…to show everyone that he could succeed as a voice actor.” 

You could have the most beautiful voice in the world, Sam, but if you don’t know what to do with it, it’s useless. 

Conversely, you could have a fairly ordinary-sounding voice, but if you learn how to use it well, you could make a career of sounding like a real person.

The funny thing is that the hardest thing for professional voice actors to do is to sound like a "real” person.  If you work on sounding believable, and not "read,” your demo showcases that, and you market yourself well, you have just as much of a shot as succeeding in voice over as anyone else.  


Q:  Can I get work in voice over even if I don’t live in a big city? - Janet W., Las Vegas, NV

A:  Absolutely.  The Internet has been a game-changer in this respect, giving you the ability to promote your V-O talent to markets all around the country and across the world.

If you can do multiple accents, if you’re bi-lingual or multi-lingual, if you specialize in character voices - in other words, if you’re versatile, your chances of finding work increase, no matter where you live. 

And if you can put together a decent-sounding home studio, you’ll be prepared to do a job anywhere in the world - quickly.  


Marc Cashman is president and creative director of Cashman Commercials/L.A., creating and producing copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he's a guest speaker at Ad Clubs and Broadcasters Associations throughout the U.S. and has been interviewed in trade magazines, newspapers and on radio and television programs.  As a working voice actor, he was named one of the Best Voices of the Year by AudioFile Magazine. He has been heard locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, voicing thousands of radio and TV commercials, foreign films, animated series, video games and over 75 audiobooks.

In addition, he teaches voice over at the California Institute of the Arts and instructs all levels of voice acting through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, as well as nationwide tele-coaching. He was also the keynote speaker and Master Class instructor at the VOICE 2008 and VOICE 2010 conferences. Look for him appearing at VOICE 2012 in Disneyland. 


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Comments (2)
Earl Thomas
10/14/2011 at 7:12 PM
Thanks for answering questions. Talent Agents appear not to want more talent. I have had poor response and discouraged about hiring an agent.
Roy Wells
10/14/2011 at 9:50 AM
Marc, I just love this idea of a monthly column with tips on vo such as you have provided here. I just wish you had thunk of this idea sooner. Thanks.
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