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Agents: How To Submit Your Demo
(So That It Doesn't Get Tossed)
 
Note: This article is a chapter reprinted with permission from Demo & Marketing Magic for Voice Actors, by Penny Abshire, now available as a downloadable e-book.
 
By Penny Abshire
Voice Actor & Coach
VoiceActing Academy
 
When you have your "killer” demo ready, you may decide you’d like to seek representation by an agent.
 
The recommended methods for sending out your demo to potential agents vary from teacher to teacher and from area to area.
 
Since I’m on the West coast, I’ll tell you how we do it here, and also what I’ve learned from coaches in other parts of the country.
 
THE WESTERN WAY
 
On the West Coast, it is not recommended that you send out your demo unsolicited.
 
Whether it’s to an agent or a potential client, if they aren’t expecting it (or they’re not accepting demos at that time), it will probably either be set aside indefinitely or it will be thrown away.
 
After all the time, effort and money you’ve put into it – that’s the LAST thing you want to happen!
 
CALL FIRST!
 
It’s pretty easy to save your demo from this fate. CALL first. It’s that simple - and it's common courtesy.
 
I’ve had students tell me that they just want to send out their demos blind and see what happens. They’ll do most anything not to have to talk to someone on the phone and risk rejection.
 
You’re in the wrong business if you think every time you present yourself you’re going to be accepted with open arms. Facing and accepting rejection is an integral part of show business!
 
MIDWEST & BACK EAST
 
In the Midwest and East Coast, VO talent and coaches tell me that it’s quite common for a voice actor to mass produce demos and send them  to every production company, agent, casting director and potential client.
 
This is very different from the West Coast, but it’s the way things are done there.
 
The best advice I can give you is to contact a VO talent, coach or agent in YOUR area and find out how they want to receive demos.
 
COLD CALL EXAMPLES
 
The following are some examples of what you could say on the telephone when contacting a potential agent.
 
1. To determine if an agent is accepting demos ...
Agency: Good morning, XYZ Talent Agency, may I help you?
 
VOA: Yes, Can you tell me if your agency is currently accepting new voice demos?
 
Agency: Yes, we are.
 
VOA: Can you give me the address and person’s name I should sent it to, please?
 
Agency: Certainly, our address is P.O. 123, Opportunity, New York 20003. Send it to the attention of Matilda Brown.
 
VOA: That’s P.O. 123, Opportunity, New York 20003 - Attention Matilda Brown, correct?
 
Agency: Yes, that’s right.
 
VOA: Thanks for your help – goodbye.
2. If they say 'No' ...
Agency: Good morning, XYZ Talent Agency, may I help you?
 
VOA: Yes, Can you tell me if your agency is currently accepting new voice demos?
 
Agency: No, not at this time.
 
VOA: When would be a good time to check back?
 
Agency: Probably in about 6 months.
 
VOA: Thanks for your help – goodbye.
Both calls are pretty simple. And in both you are anonymous! Also remember, rejection one day can turn into acceptance the next. That’s a part of show business.
 
3. Follow up to see if they’ve received your demo ... 
VOA: Hi, this is (your name).  I spoke with you last week and sent you a copy of my voice demo. I’m just checking to make sure it arrived and that (name of the person they gave you) received it.
 
Prospect: Yes, it came in yesterday, but I don’t think (name) has had a chance to listen to it yet.
 
VOA: No problem, just wanted to make sure it arrived. When do you think it would be a good time for me to check back?
 
Prospect: He’s pretty busy, you’d better give him a couple of weeks at least.
 
VOA: Great! I’ll do that – thanks so much for your help.
Then make a reminder to call in two weeks from that date and DO IT!
 
Agents are extremely busy – so expect that if they are interested in you, it will probably take some time to get a response. If they aren’t – you won’t hear at all. That’s Showbiz!
 
KEEP MARKETING
 
Important: Don’t be duped into thinking that if you have an agent you no longer have to market yourself.
 
It is a show business reality that an agent will only really WANT you – when you don’t NEED them.
 
This meaning: they will only pursue actors who they know already have a client base – and a proven track record. In short, they want the actors for which they can make a large commission.
 
Don’t misunderstand - agents can be terrific people to have on your side – and when it comes to negotiating contracts, they are invaluable.
 
But my point is that if you have any dreams that an agent will be "pounding the pavement” on our behalf (and that all you’ll have to do is sit back and count the jobs rolling in) – it's time to let go of that!
 
NEVER GIVE UP
 
If you have submitted to an agent and you don’t hear back or you get a rejection letter – don’t give up!
 
They may not be interested in your voice right now – but things can change. It may be they already have enough people in their talent pool with similar voice characteristics to yours.
 
In the next couple of years - when you send them your new and improved demo - you may be exactly what they are looking for.
 
Never give up!
"Every exit is an entrance to somewhere else.”
-Tom Stoppard, playwright who won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love

ABOUT PENNY ...

Penny Abshire is senior producer, creative director and voice talent at the VoiceActing Academy in San Diego, CA, where she co-teaches workshops (in-person, by phone and on the road) with James Alburger. A classically trained concert pianist - performing since the age of seven - actor and dancer, she has won numerous industry awards and is author of the popular book, Demo and Marketing Magic for Voice Actors.

Email: info@voiceacting.co
 
 
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Comments (3)
DJ Rouse
4/6/2016 at 11:41 PM
I wonder if people are assuming too that agents do all the work? I know I have been doing things for 3 years. I am still starting as far as I'm concerned. I have a GOOD produced set of tracks for a video game or movie voice acting sample. Just time to get it in front of the right eyes.
maresha
7/7/2012 at 10:03 AM
Excellent article! I have my demo now, it's time for me to get calling.
Jan Anderson
11/11/2010 at 6:54 PM
Thanks for the info, Penny! Very insitefull and will be valuable once I get my demo produced.
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