A couple of days ago I came across a sixteen year old kid who wanted to start a career in voice acting. At a young age, he has already started building a small recording studio in his parents home. He asked what he needed to do to break into the voice over industry. I wondered, if I can go back in time and meet my wide-eyed and eager self, what would have I told her, knowing what I know now? I came up with 5, uncomplicated tips that can get you started, or should I say “start thinking” if you are ready for the voice over industry.
1) Develop an arsenal of voice and acting skills. The most successful voice actors or talents are those who have not just have a great voice, but also have the talent in acting and timing. And to be better at it you also need to train. Don’t limit yourself to just acting lessons, but take voice and music lessons as well. Having those extra skills in your arsenal helps you improve your rhythm and timing. It makes it easier for you to take directions and understand what the message wants to convey. Skills in acting can help you articulate and deliver the scripts with believability and clarity.
2) Learn to be technical. It is not enough that you have the state of the art studio and equipment or rely on sound engineers and editors to make you sound good. Knowing the tricks of the trade gives you an edge and a better understanding of how the industry works, moreover how “sound” works. You may have the most expensive microphone available today, but if you don’t know how to set your studio up or know microphone techniques, you’ll just end up with echoey or bass sounding demos all the time.
3) Get to know your peers. I love what I read once on The Voice Realm blog about talking to people in the industry. It is true that the best people who would be able to guide you are those who have been successful in the field. The voice over industry is more of a community, and willing to be a mentor to the greens. A good place to start is participating in voice over conferences in and around your area.
4) Take care of your voice. Your voice is your commodity. Unfortunately you can’t just eat everything you want (sadly, most especially chocolates) or smoke. Caffeine in coffee and chocolates before recording is a NO NO as they dry out the throat. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your voice. It irritates your vocal chords and can lead to chronic laryngitis, vocal cord polyps, or cancer of the larynx. So be warned!
5) Be Patient. And be a whole lot of it. This is not a 500 meter dash to the finish line. This is more of a marathon. You need a lot of perseverance to be successful in this industry. Rejection is part of the game, so don’t be discouraged when you don’t receive that first (or the second, or the third…) callback. The voice over industry can be challenge but those who stick it out will be rewarded. And if you really have the love for this work, it is definitely worth your time and wait.
These are not quick tips that assure you of an instant success in breaking into a tough industry. Amongst other things, you really have to have the talent, ingenuity, passion and determination to become a working, successful voice artist.
Good luck and work hard!