"Don't judge a book by its cover", could now be translated to the phrase "Don't judge a voice talent by their stock demo". In recent years, the voice industry has experienced exponential growth and enjoyed interest from new markets, particularly aspiring talent who want to get started in the business of voice acting. The doors have swung wide open. Now, anyone with a computer, microphone, and access to the Internet can claim that they perform voice-overs, whether as a hobby or as their career. How did professional voice actors differentiate themselves as in the past? Until a short time ago, all a voice actor needed to have was their voice-over demo, a polished and expertly produced sample of what the voice actor could do with their voice.
Usually, these demos were, and are currently, compilations of various voice recordings or spots including television or radio commercials, station imaging, promos, corporate narration, telephone work, and character voice acting. These demos were, and in many cases still are the most popular tool used to promote a professional voice actor with to get them hired without having to physically audition for a client. Nowadays, if someone has the money and knows of a good recording studio, they can easily walk right in and record a demo, too.
These demos are fully produced and edited by professional recording engineers, and perhaps, the aspiring talent is also coached by an in-house trainer or by the recording engineers as an added-value service. That being said, how do voice actors differentiate themselves as professionals applying for voice over work today? The answer is manifested in the form of a custom MP3 demo. The custom MP3 demo plays one of the greatest roles for validating or exposing the quality of a home recording studio.
Custom MP3 demos reveal the setup of a room, acoustics, and room temperature as well as the quality of the microphone, recording software and editing skills of the demo producer. A custom MP3 demo, when performed by a professional, demonstrates the confidence that experience brings. Seasoned voice actors' or voice performers' talent and interpretation will shine through in recordings, supporting their claim of being a career professional, both as a performer and a producer.
When the technical and artistic elements align properly, a great custom demo emerges, leaving no doubt as to the professionalism of the candidate applying for the job and will not present any surprises after the fact for a client when the real job begins and the audio recordings are received. Custom MP3 demos are also an indication of the professionals' interest level in a given job posting. When a client receives a custom demo, that custom demo of their script reinforces the professionalism and genuine enthusiasm of the service provider who applied for the respective job posting. Lastly, recording a custom MP3 demo illustrates that a voice actor can efficiently record and produce audio at home. If a voice actor works from home employing a professional-grade home recording studio, it should be quite easy for them to open a new session and record a brief piece of copy.
This is another indication to a client that a voice actor will be able to get their job done in a timely if not expedited manner. The barriers to entry in the voice acting business are few, but proper recording equipment, technique, dedication, and talent still amount for something. Those fundamental elements are achieved with experience, time, and education. Custom MP3 demos validate the quality, expertise and talent of a voice actor.
By requesting custom demos, there are no surprises and working with the right voice for the job will be a lot easier.
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the VP of Marketing with Voices.com, the voice over marketplace hosting more than 7,000 professional voice talents. Stephanie is also the author of The Definitive Guide To Voice-Over Success.