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Breaking Into Voice-Over: What Really Matters ... Learn From My First Gig
By David Radtke
Voice Actor
Some beginners to voice-overs and voice acting believe that it’s incredibly difficult to break into the industry. Misconceptions abound such as,
  • I need a golden voice, or
  • I can’t get work without an agent.
From my own - and others' - personal experience, this just isn’t so.
To the first point: nowadays, having a golden voice isn’t as important as knowing how to use the voice that you have.
And to the second point: just like countless other voice actors I, too, do not have an agent - but make good money doing what I love.
To help relieve any stress you might have about breaking into voice acting, I’d like to share my “first gig” story.
You’ll see that it just takes initiative and confidence in your own ability to get your voice acting career off the ground.
While cruising through town one day, I spotted a brand new radio station. (I could tell that it was new because there used to be an old grocery store in that exact spot.)
With much enthusiasm, I jotted down the website address that was predominantly displayed outside, and rushed home.
At home, I did a little web research:
  • What exactly is the station’s name?
  • What kinds of programs do they have?
  • What is the main genre of music played there?
I also spent about an hour listening to the station, to get a better feel for their style.
Using this information, I made a sort of “demo” CD of me reading homemade promos and images of their station and their different shows.
The next day, with my business card and freshly-made demo in hand, in walked into the station.
As luck would have it, the manager of the station was sitting at the reception desk, chatting with another employee.
I introduced myself and handed my card and the demo CD to him. After a 20-minute chat he went back to work.
When I went home I felt great!
I had no idea if the station would hire me, but I was proud that I took the initiative and did something constructive to begin my voice-over career.
Three days later the station manager called me and asked if I could come in to record some promos and images.
He said that he liked my voice, but that it was the personalized demo that made him pick up the phone and call me.

As Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is showing up.”
It’s the advice that got my voice-over career off the ground.
Nike’s slogan says it best: “Just do it.”
Go out there and make yourself known. Go the extra mile to make a potential client prick up their ears and take notice of you and your skills.
Breaking into voice-over acting is all about initiative and confidence. In fact, the entire career is about initiative and confidence.
Now go out there and show them what you’re made of!
David Radtke has been an active performer for over 20 years. His experiences include storybook reader for young children, radio DJ and announcer, part-time TV actor, and English language speech therapist. He currently broadcasts at his local FM station, where he does imaging and promos, commercial spots and various other creative jobs. He also writes a highly informative blog, Voice Actor's Notebook.


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Comments (5)
Ernie Douglas
7/29/2010 at 1:52 PM
As a newcomer this is just what you want to hear about. Initiative is that "thing" we all have we just don't all use as best we can....:)

Thanks for the encouragement.
Bettye Zoller
7/4/2010 at 1:24 AM
I am going to share this with my students. Thank you.

So many times I hear "you won't work for years when you are new" or "the competition is too great" or ... well I often tell the story of the student I trained who voiced a Maybelline cosmetics national TV voice over one month after I created her demo. Her first year of residuals amounted to more than $80,000. Another student landed spots for Microsoft in the first few months after starting in voice overs.

However, other students do not start out with a business plan in mind, with marketing strategies in place. Some actually do not give or mail their VO demo to anyone. Is it fear of failure? Well if you do not try, you've failed! It's all up to you.

Yes, success is showing up and success in voice overs is marketing and hustling and advertising and getting repeat clients and selling your own jobs and having agents who sell you and auditioning on the online sites and it takes it all and it takes GUTS. Go for it. Success is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.
7/3/2010 at 8:36 PM
As a newbie, you gave me a good idea ...t o customize a demo for a local production studio with corporate clients. Thanks!
7/3/2010 at 7:03 PM
Well done, David! Always good to know that one can be successful with out having to spend a huge fortune. Just work hard and follow your dream no matter how big or small it may be. Encouraging and inspiring. Thanks
Thais Mills
7/3/2010 at 5:01 PM
Great article !!1 Very inspiring !! - thai
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