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Getting Big Money Voice-Overs:
@ Agents, Ad Agencies & More
Note: The author is also teaching a unique webinar, Big Money Voice-Overs: How To Get Those Jobs, on June 14, presented by VoiceOverXtra. For details, please visit:
By Bettye Zoller
Voice Talent & Coach
Often, I speak with voice talents or have students in my studio or my seminars - some of whom are very experienced - who still do not know how to get into voicing national commercials. Or at least, how to be in the running to voice them.
Huge corporations hire advertising agencies to design their campaigns. So who books these big-money gigs?
If you are only auditioning on the Internet pay-to-play sites, or if you are trying to sell your own jobs in your city (and that’s great … go for it!) you still will not get to:
  • voice one of the big corporation spots, or
  • narrate a giant best-selling audiobook that pays big fees, or
  • voice a toy or other product audio that is sold to the public, and for which you’ll get a percentage of retail sales revenues.
Granted, the big money accounts do not come to us every day, although there are plenty of us who get a goodly share of them.
I’ve voiced spots that paid residuals for up to 16 years! Another spot totally paid for my home addition. Sending kids to pricey colleges: commercials paid the bills more than once.
One Christmas eve, a check arrived in the mail for $14,000 - a residual payment for a year’s buy-out of a major national campaign.
One of my students bought a new Mercedes Benz with her first residuals on a national Visa campaign. She drove to my studio to take me for a ride!
Another made tons on Mabelline Long Lash Mascara radio and tv spots. She was brand new in our industry, a story I’m fond of reciting to encourage all newcomers.
Yet another became an announcer for a series of national sporting events an advertising agency is running.
First, you need a voice over agent(s) who stays in tune with large advertising agency clients.
Ask who the agent’s clients are. Does he or she name major advertising agencies? You don’t know who the majors are? Do your homework!
Google and ask around to learn the top 20 or 50 advertising agencies in the U.S.
Next, determine the 10 largest advertising agencies in your state. Send your voice demo to each - first, learning to whom the parcel should be addressed, of course.
More homework for you: read Advertising Age and Adweek magazines regularly. The latter publishes four versions weekly based upon areas of the U.S. They are goldmines of information.
If you do not have agents booking you yet, get going on that chore now.
Don’t expect everyone to adore and sign you.
What voice does an agent need now? What type of voice does an agent have too many of?
That’s what determines who an agent signs and who he or she rejects.
Remember that “no,” is NOT forever. Reapply in six months or so, if that agent is one you really favor.
Of course, square one is having a "killer" demo(s), but we presume you know that by now.
  • How do advertising agencies create campaigns for clients?
  • How do they determine whom to ask to audition for these jobs?
  • How does an audition for a major advertising agency usually happen?
  • What is it like when you audition?
Find out this and more in our webinar, Big Money Voice-Overs, Monday night, June 14. For instance, you'll also learn:
  • How do agents receive casting notices from advertising agencies?
  • Why are some agents asked for talent while others are not?
  • Do you have to be a union member to snag big money clients?
  • Do you have to be a union member to be in an advertising agency’s stable of talent?
  • How do residual payments on national commercials come about?
  • How do you get paid?
  • What should you expect after you voice a Kellogg’s or a Visa or a promo that runs on the Leno show?
Misconceptions about all of this are plentiful.
In the webinar, I will dispel myths and teach you facts you need now. There will be plenty of time for live questions, too. And don't worry if you can’t be with us on the evening of June 14: the recording will be sent free to all registered attendees.
For webinar details and to register, please visit:
Bettye Zoller is one of the nation's best-known voice, speech, acting, and voice-over coaches, and is a winner of ADDY, Clio, Golden Radio and Audie Awards. She holds advanced degrees from three universities, has served on university faculties for 30 years, and currently is the Feagin Artist Guest Professor at Tulsa University, and presents workshops sponsored by Women in Film and Television. She is a professional audio engineer and producer, and a Simon & Schuster audiobook author and reader. Her VoicesVoices recording studio and training facility is in Dallas, but she also teaches by invitation worldwide.


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Comments (2)
Heather Farrar
5/19/2010 at 11:04 AM
I enjoy your information; it is building blocks poignant to voice artist. Budgets are very tight & the knowledge you share freely in your articles, others ask payment for. Now that's paying it forward!
Marcus Weems
5/19/2010 at 12:29 AM
You were right, yet again Bettye. I auditioned for one of the VO sites and stated in my cover letter to them that their fee was acceptable - PROVIDED the project did not go over the time they had estimated it would take.

For once, I stood my ground and decided that I had worth. I got the job (50% deposit Up Front) and although I won't be flying to Paris with the proceeds, they did come up with almost double their original offer. Thanks again for your wisdom.
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