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How To Vet A Voice-Over Agent: Here's
What To Know About How They Operate ...
September 5, 2018

By Tom Dheere
Voice Actor and Coach

As voice talents, we all want great agents representing us.

I think the challenge is in reconciling the 20th century attitudes that been thrust upon us about what agents are, and our relationship to them, with the 21st century need to effectively vet an agent and nurture a healthy, equal relationship.

The agency In both Ears, which is a staunch member of the VO Agent Alliance and vocal advocate for the integrity of the voice-over industry, has some specific requirements for talent to be considered for representation.

You can read it in its entirety here, but for the purposes of this conversation I want to focus on one bit:
We believe talent should have no more than seven agents total – three in major markets and four in regional markets. Even this is pushing the envelope. More representation than this leads to over-saturation and duplication of efforts, in our opinion. There's no need for everyone to spin their wheels on the same casting calls, which is what happens when talent have too many agents.
In the U.S. I have one manager and six regional/national agents that regularly send me on auditions. I'm signed with one agent exclusive to one market and I freelance with the rest.

I get a few duplicate casting calls each month, but I think it's hard to avoid. It seems like a pretty good balance where I'm currently at in my career.  


With all that in mind, here are some questions you should ask when you vet an agent:

1. Are they franchised?
FYI: The term "franchised agent" means a talent agent that is licensed by the state in which they operate and has been officially approved by SAG-AFTRA.

2. How many voice talents are on their roster?
Too many may mean too little or no personal attention.

3. Which markets do they cover?
NY, LA, etc.

4. Do you have to sign with them?
Some require it, some don't.

5. Do you have to be exclusive with them?
Some require it, some don't.

6. Where do they get their auditions from?
If they get them from certain P2P sites, that may be an ethical issue.

7. Are the auditions union, non-union, or both?

8. Are the auditions online, in-person, or both?

9. Do they require a commission from just the gigs they book you, or for all of the gigs you book everywhere?
Some do, some don't. Unless they are truly managing your career and you're booking gobs of great gigs with them, I wouldn't go with the "all gigs everywhere" agent.

10. Do they require you take classes with certain coaches before they will represent you?

11. RED FLAG: Do you have to pay any "listing fees" to be represented?

Remember: you don't work for your agents. You work with your agents.

It's an equal B2B relationship and it's both your and your agent's responsibility to ensure that both of you are well-represented.
Over two decades, Tom Dheere has narrated thousands of projects for clients in over a dozen countries and voiced more than 60 audiobooks. He is also a voice-over business consultant known as the VO Strategist, was the marketing consultant for the Voice Over Virtual online conference, and is writer/producer of the sci-fi action comic book Agent 1.22.

Agent 1.22

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