ASK MARC #8:
How Long Should A Voice Over Demo Be?
Plus: Training Kids, And VO Biz Software
By Marc Cashman
Voice Actor & Coach
© Marc Cashman 2012
This is a Q&A column on VoiceOverXtra where I answer a veritable smorgasbord of voice over questions. If you'd like to pop a question to me, please see my contact info below.
DEMOS - HOW LONG?
Q: I just wondered something. How come, on the websites of agencies, you will see some listed as over a minute long? I thought most VO demos had to be 60-seconds long, and no longer. -Tina W., Irvine, CA
A: The 60-second demo was a trend started by Voicebank years ago, to streamline and downsize demos into an efficient length for voice talent to focus on their "signature voice."
Most demos back then ran 1:30, 2:00 or longer, forcing most talent to edit their demos down to :60 to be Voicebank-eligible. But sometimes their full demos were uploaded onto agency websites, hence the discrepancy.
A lot of talent got used to hearing their 60-second version demo and liked it, but others want to show more versatility and range, so they opt to showcase their longer demos on their websites or landing pages.
Today, most VO demos being produced run about 60-seconds to accommodate Voicebank and the talent agent, who simply uploads the :60 version to Voicebank without really listening to it.
When I produce VO demos, they usually run between :60 and :90. I feel that this longer-than-sixty-second version shows a potential client range. Tt also forces a prospective talent agent to critically listen to it, so they can suggest specific changes to forge a 60-second version for Voicebank.
TRAINING CHILDREN IN VOICE OVER
Q: What advice would you give a pre-adolescent boy interested in pursuing voice overs? He was referred to me by someone in my dance group. Apparently he doesn't have experience in the entertainment industry but would like some guidance in getting started in voice overs and believes he has the ability. Since I've never encountered kids in any of my classes or workouts, I'm not sure whether the same rules apply regarding training, demo, marketing, etc. Are there special VO classes for kids? Should he simply take acting or improv classes? -Margo Z., West Hollywood, CA
A: Yes, there are a few voice over instructors in Los Angeles who specialize in working with kids, Tracy Martin (contact info below) being one of the best. But you could Google "Voiceover Classes for Kids in L.A." and come up with a few more.
And all the same rules apply: learning the skills, making and marketing a demo, finding an agent, etc. Acting/improv classes wouldn't hurt either.
SOFTWARE FOR VO BIZ?
Q: Do you have any thoughts and recommendations with regard to small business (mailing lists/invoicing/etc.) and/or accounting software for, or suitable for, voice actors? Many thanks for your help! -Bruce E., Los Angeles, CA
A: Bruce, whenever I get a question about an area I don’t know well, I ask one of my colleagues for help. And one of the most knowledgeable, James Alburger (author of the "bible” of the VO industry, The Art of Voice Acting) will answer your question:
"Bruce, thanks for writing. I have yet to find a viable mailing list (or list service) that will adequately serve voice talent. Most mailing lists are industry, or subject specific, and so are only of limited use to voice talent who ultimately serve a broad spectrum of clients.
"What I would suggest is that you determine your strongest niche and begin marketing to that niche. Direct cold calls will be far more productive than direct mail.
As for software, I highly recommend using business-grade accounting software rather than conventional consumer (personal) software.
My personal preference is Quickbooks Pro. With business software, there are many more options for setting up invoices, cash/check sales, and tracking.
Also, QB Pro can connect directly to Quickbooks Merchant Service for credit card transactions. This eliminates the need to double enter credit card transactions through a Merchant account with Authorize.net or any other service that does not interface with Quickbooks. QBMS is the only service that will directly interface with QB. Hope this helps."-James R. Alburger (contact info below).
Marc Cashman creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he also instructs voice acting of all levels through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles.
ALSO TO CONTACT ...
Tracy Martin: firstname.lastname@example.org
James Alburger: email@example.com
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