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CAREER
You Have To Work Your Ass Off
Before Getting A Voice Over Agent
September 29, 2016

By Tom Dheere
Voice Actor

Recently I saw a post on LinkedIn by an individual who claims he can help you land a voice over agent. Interestingly enough, when I checked the post later, I noticed that he'd taken it down.

Anyway, I want to examine a paradigm that many, if not most, aspiring voice talents and some veteran voice talents have:
You need an agent to be a successful voice talent.
Is this true? First, we need to define "success.Ē

WHAT'S YOUR DEFINITION?


Success means different things to different people. For some, itís a certain level of income - and that can vary greatly.
  • Enough to pay for the groceries?
  • Enough to quit your job?
  • Enough to buy a mansion in Beverly Hills?
For others itís a certain level of fame.
  • Famous in the voice over community?
  • Famous like walking down the street and "everyone knows your name" famous?
How many famous voice talents can you name who werenít already established film or TV actors?

FOCUS ON HARD WORK


In my experience, you do not need an agent to be a successful voice talent, but there are some out there who want you to think you do.

Why? So they can charge you money to learn the "secretĒ to landing an agent. 

Here is the real secret to getting an agent: Be really good at what you do.

That takes training and hard work, lots of it.

Invest enough time and money in quality training by established coaches to have a well-produced demo that reflects your actual sound, and then keep training. All professional athletes have coaches and you should, too, if youíre serious about this.

The training and professional demo will lead to a body of work that proves you can make an agent money.

But anyone who  says you need an agent to get work is either misinformed or trying to sell you something.

MARKET YOURSELF

I have been making a good living as a voice talent for many years, and only about 10% of my work comes from representation. The rest of it comes from my marketing efforts.

Donít be a dreamy, uneducated jerk. What bugs me the most about this topic is that many aspiring voice talents do everything in their power to relieve themselves of the responsibility of their own career.
"But Tom, if Iím lucky, get some good connections, and avoid the competition, Iíll get my big break and land an agent, right?Ē
Wrong. Luck, connections, competition, and breaks are external: outside of your control.

The keys to your success are internal: all within your control. I hate to break it to you, but yes, Santa, you have to work your ass off to get an agent.

SUCCESS DEPENDS ON YOU


With all that in mind, I will say this: I love my agents! Theyíre wonderful people and have helped me get cast in some fantastic projects that I could not have gotten on my own.

Agents are a crucial part of your voice over career once you have achieved a certain level of success. But you cannot and should not depend on your agent in order to become a successful voice talent, no matter how wonderful the agents are.

Your success depends on you.
-------------------
ABOUT TOM
Over nearly two decades, Tom Dheere has narrated thousands of projects for clients in over a dozen countries and voiced more than 40 audiobooks. He is also a voice over business consultant, coach at Edge Studio, was the marketing consultant for the Voice Over Virtual online conference, and is also writer/producer of the new sci-fi action comic book Agent 1.22.


Email: tom@tomdheere.com
Web: www.tomdheere.com
Agent 1.22

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Comments (2)
Jay Lloyd
10/3/2016 at 9:56 PM
I loved this whole effort. And agree with all of it. Agents for VO are the same as agents for all forms of "show biz": They're your "sales rep" who sells you to buyers and collects a commission when they're successful! They're not going to take on a "newbie"... they're only going to take on products (performers) they can make that commission on. So, "get good first...Then, agents will come to you." It's basically avarice & greed. But I saw another thought that I'd like to paraphrase: Watch out for "wannabe VO people" who want to teach you how-to-do-it, so they can charge you money to earn a living at something they can't earn a living at themselves!

The woods are full of them! Go to a reputable school where they have trained teachers and a proven...accredited...program! Watch out for "Bob Baritone's Voiceover School."
gene tognacci
9/29/2016 at 7:35 PM
Tom - Great comments. I share your experience - about 10% of my work comes from my agents, and even much of that work, I brought to them.

I think the real gem in this article is your advice to "define our success". And I would add, to realize that definition may change as we move through the years. In the 90's when I first got into the business a successful year was defined by how much my gross income went up over last year. Later it was defined by caliber of client and client retention. Now 25 years in, I look for work that challenges me, makes me smile and my family proud.

Thanks for keeping that thought present.

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