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Bob Bergen: 'No Agent Needs Another Voice.'
So Why Should An Agent Represent YOU?

April 12, 2016

Note: A recent VoiceOverXtra article by Rob Marley about obtaining voice over agents (click to read it) quickly caught the attention of voice over star Bob Bergen - the voice of Porky Pig and many, many beloved cartoon characters. Bob also voices commercials and in additional VO genres. Below is Bob's comment in a social media group to Rob's earlier article, reprinted here with his permission ...

By Bob Bergen
Voice Actor & Coach

Rob, you're always a wealth of info! Thanks my friend! The VO world is fortunate to have your valuable contributions. I'd like to offer my two cents on the whole agent thing.

It all depends what you want out of your career. If you want to compete at the top, yes, you need an agent.

When I teach, I treat every student as if they were me. Which means, I go in assuming each student wants to be where I am in my career. And that requires an agent.

However, 90% who try to get an agent get turned down. That's because 90% make the same mistakes over and over.

Those mistakes are:
  • they aren't ready for an agent
  • they went cheap on their demo, which just represents another voice, not a brilliant fresh talent,
  • they bring nothing to the table for the agent to represent,
  • they have no idea what they want out of their career, therefore the agent has no idea how or what to represent.

No agent needs another voice. They have all the voices they will ever need, and most of those are not working.

So, why would an agent want you?

First of all, you should come with an impressive referral. Don't have an impressive referral? Perhaps you are not ready for an agent.

A brilliant demo is a dime a dozen. A great demo producer could make Helen Keller sound great! Agents get upwards of 20 - 100 demos a week, depending on the size of the office.

Believe it or not, most of these demos are great. But a great demo is not enough.


Your cover letter should include past work. But not just a laundry list of the jobs you've done like: Commercials: McDonalds, Kia, Macy's, The Gap, etc.

For instance, what ad agencies produced these jobs? Who were the writers/producers? That is the info that will get the agent interested. If you mention an ad agency or producer the agent has a relationship with, you are a much easier sell the next time the agent gets an audition from them.

Or, if you mention an ad agency or producer the agent doesn't know, you come with valuable relationships the agent can benefit from. 


Don't have past work or relationships? Perhaps you are not ready for an agent.

"Make a living" is a relative term. Some live in markets where 30 grand in VO is a great living. For many, however, that's poverty level and requires additional  income from a day job.

Professionals like myself demand that every VO job comes with a contribution to our pension and provides health insurance. As well as residuals, which make up about 75% of my annual income.

No one at my level makes a living at session fees. It's all about residuals.


YOU need to decide what you want out of your career. Or if you even want a career.

You do not NEED an agent for voice over. But you do NEED to decide what you want out of your career.

Once you decide, stop making excuses. Don't complain if you aren't willing to do what it takes to have the career you desire. And if you decide you want the kind of career that requires an agent, be willing to do more than everyone else to get one and nurture that relationship and your career.

And the most important thing about any agent is this: An agent gets 10%, so you must do 90%!
Bob Bergen's decades of voice over experience began at age 18 when he sent famed DJ Casey Kasem a tape of 85 voices - which Casey forwarded to an agent who signed Bob - and soon after, Bob voiced his first cartoon, Spiderman, and His Amazing Friends. (See Bob's fascinating bio.) Today he's a voice over star - the voice of Porky Pig and many, many cartoon characters, in addition to voicing commercials, promos, radio imaging, interactive games, and live award show announcing. His popular Animation Voice-Over Workshop, taught in Los Angeles and in cities nationwide, is now in it's 29th year. And he is also touring the U.S. with Bob Bergen: So Here's The Deal!, an update of his critically-acclaimed one-man show, Bob Bergen, Not Just Another Pretty Voice.


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Comments (2)
Tom Kane
4/13/2016 at 7:20 PM
Excellent information. I voice 10 to 20 IVR's, 10 radio commercials and 2 or 3 telephone on-hold recordings each day, which I create and script myself. Lots of work but I need more guidance in getting the V/O deals that really pay well - more national attention, can you help? Tom.
Peter K. O'Connell
4/12/2016 at 7:01 PM
You. You reading this and wishing you had an agent.

Read this again. Bob is right.
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