Jump in voiceover newbies…you won’t have any competition!


I’m serious.

You’re probably saying “What?!?” And if so, well…just humor me for a moment. It’s a ‘positive thinking’ thing…lemme explain:

As a new voice artist, it’s safe to say that you’ll do little more than participate in hundreds of auditions during your first year — especially if you’ve subscribed to one of the voice websites; convinced an agent to represent you; and are constantly engaged in self-promoting. And if you land even a single job during your first year, that’s a really good thing. But if you don’t, it’s still not a problem. That’s just how this business goes sometimes. Hang in there. Read books about voiceover. Practice. Record yourself and critique your performance. Listen to everything your agent says (if you have one). Update your demos as you improve. Stay the course. These are the things I did and still do today. It works.

Now, let’s jump back in time for a moment…

Playing drums, I competed against hundreds of other drummers in countless auditions just like in voiceover, but here’s the thing: unlike voice actors, we drummers are obviously separate from our instruments — meaning we can change the way we sound without changing the way we play simply by moving from one drum kit to another. So for example, if one of the judges at an audition likes my delivery but doesn’t like my tone…well, there’s an easy fix: I can simply play a different kit.

The distinction I’m trying to make between drummers (or any musician for that matter) and voice artists is that the drummer’s gender doesn’t matter at all…Neither does race, age, size, or any combination of these attributes. The only things that truly matter are the drummers’ ability to play in time; execute appropriate parts; perform with dynamic sensitivity; etc. The drummer might be a young black female, or an old white man…it wouldn’t matter so long as he or she remained faithful to the musical objective.

But with voice work, things are different: If a client loves my delivery but not my tone, I lose. Likewise if a client loves my interpretation but hates my age, I lose. I can’t merely swap out vocal chords the way I can swap out drums. No — age, gender, race, size, plus more affects our vocal delivery, and ALL the desired qualities must exist in a single person in order to win a voiceover job. I sound like I sound, and that’s it. So do you. In other words, just about everything that makes you uniquely YOU comes into play and separates you from the rest. And it is this uniquely perfect set of attributes which you possess that some client somewhere, sometime, will absolutely LOVE…and no one else but you will do.

No competition.

Now, here at the end, I’ll go ahead and admit: I’m aware that this is not a bulletproof argument for my original statement (because of course we’re still held accountable to that pesky thing called acting), but I really do believe that being the only ME out here has to count for something! And you know what? I think it has! Sure, I’ve lost out on gigs because my acting wasn’t good, my script interpretation missed the mark, or that I failed to honor the writer’s description of the character’s motivation, etc. But, ultimately what I’m trying to say is that we all have a completely unique sound: we just have to learn to ‘use’ that sound in as many ways as possible.

So! Jump in! You’re just as likely to make it big as anyone else.

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-Tom

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