VOICE OVER AGENTS
Why Should A Voice Over Agent
Represent YOU? Six Ways To Matter ...
April 8, 2016
By Rob Marley
It seems like right after the question, "What is the best microphone to use for VO?Ē the most often asked question by new and aspiring voice artists is, "How do I get an agent?Ē
Recent advances in technology have made things a lot easier for voice artists, but the digital nature of the business has also made it more challenging.
While there is a ton of work out there, the competition for that work has quadrupled, making it harder for everyone to land the gigs. Having an agent can help.
NEED AN AGENT, REALLY?
Do you need to have an agent to get voice over work?
Absolutely not. But they can be a very useful tool to open doors that you may not have even been aware of. Agents can get you jobs that are not posted on the online casting sites.
Thereís also a "status thingĒ about having representation. It shows that someone believes in your skills enough to want to represent you to the big name companies. And that can convey a certain level of professionalism and commitment on your part that is implied, rather than just being said.
And some production companies and advertising agencies simply won't work with anyone who doesn't have representation.
So if you want to get into the major leagues of commercial work, an agent might be the only way to get there.
SIX WAYS TO MATTER ...
With all that in mind, here are six points to remember when courting your first (or second, or fourteenth) voice over agent.
1. Be Good
This should go without saying, but Iíll say it anyway. Have the skills to deliver copy the way it needs to be read, and have a demo that shows off those skills in the best possible way.
Your demo is your calling card - your headshot for voice over. It needs to be the absolute best it can be to show off your skills. Even if you have the skills, if they are displayed poorly, your email will be deleted with barely a blink of an agent's eye.
Having a professionally produced demo is crucial.
Yet even with a solid demo, youíll only get a brief listen by an agent. You have an incredibly short amount of time to impress someone before they move on to the next voice.
Talent agent Jeffrey Umberger suggests that the first seven seconds of your demo present the absolute strongest material you have. Seven seconds - thatís all you get.
If the demo is REALLY good, perhaps 10 seconds, but donít hold your breath. And if your demo is particularly bad, it will get saved in a special file that agents share with each other to laugh about.
I originally thought this was just an urban legend, but itís been confirmed to me by multiple agents. You want to be remembered, but definitely not THAT way!
2. Be Constantly Improving
So youíve had some acting experience, enjoyed some voice coaching and have a professionally produced demo.
So what? So have 50,000 other people who call themselves voice artists. Receiving some training doesnít mean you know everything about voice over.
Always work to improve your skills. This shows the potential agent that youíre serious about VO as a career.
3. Be You
Donít think for one second that being able to do a great impression of someone makes you qualified to be a voice artist.
Dr. Seuss once said, "There is no one alive who is you-er than you!Ē (and that line is truly truer than true.)
An agent wants to hear how YOU are going to interpret the copy. Not someone else. Just be yourself and perfect THAT.
4. Be Persistent
The only way to get an agent to sign you is for that agent to know you exist. Don't just send an email to an agent and leave it at that. You have to follow up.
Touch base with the agent every 3 to 6 months to make sure you are still a blip on their radar. This is called "being top of mind.Ē Even if theyíve said "no" in the past, their opinion may change in a few month's time.
Show agents work youíve done since the last time you contacted them.
Just keep in mind that there is a fine, and barely visible line between being persistent and being annoying. Know where that line is and never cross it.
5. Be Flexible
While attending the VO Atlanta conference this year, I had the opportunity to read for a top talent agent.
The script was a hard-sell car commercial. I delivered the script exactly how I knew most car spots sounded. In my mind it was a solid delivery.
But immediately, the agent said, "Donít try to sell it to me. Instead, talk to me as if you were trying to convince a close friend they needed to go to the hospital.Ē
In my mind, I was thinking, "It's a freakin' car commercial!Ē
But that wasn't the point. The point was to see how well I can adjust my voice when thrown a curve. Your ability to take direction and how well you can adapt your style to that direction are important features to a potential agent.
6. Be Fearless
If youíve worked in VO for a while, you know that rejection is par for the course. More people will say "no" to you than say "yes." Itís just the nature of the business.
After a while, this can weigh on you. You start feeling that you arenít good enough. Or that no matter what, you think theyíre going to say "no," so you stop trying at all.
Giving up should never be an option. If you want to be a voice talent with representation, you need to thumb your nose at all the things that would normally paralyze you.
Itís OK to be nervous, but donít let it push you into inaction. Acknowledge your fears and do it anyway. Remember: an agent doesn't get paid if you donít get paid, so you have to convince them that by signing you, you will help make money for you.
Focus on things you bring to the table that will make an agent want you. Sell yourself. Convince them that they would be foolish not to sign you!
A Los Angeles native, Rob Marley is an accomplished voice talent, producer and writer, now living in the hill country of Austin TX.
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