If you have the pipes that can stop traffic, a career in voiceovers may be in the chords for you. But first learn the inside tricks that the professionals use to land gigs — and avoid the ones that will leave you speechless.
It’s worth the effort, because the cash can be ample. According to the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, radio “session fees” (a single recording gig) can pay $249.50. Every 13 weeks, you’ll earn the same amount as long as the spot is still in use.
If the spot goes national — what AFTRA calls a “wild” spot — you can earn $338.80, with an additional rate depending on the number of ads aired and the size of the cities the ad airs in.
Television pays even better. AFTRA says that a single session fee on TV pays $426.40, while a “wild” spot in a city like Los Angeles or Chicago pays $685.10, plus cycle fees.
The gigs are as diversified and plentiful as ever. After all, we live in a multimedia age where voiceover talent can find work not only in TV and radio, but also on the Internet, and in video games, phone messages, smart phone applications, television animation and book narrations.
How can you get in on the action? First, be realistic. Even if you think you have the smooth gravely tone of a modern age Orson Welles, that alone won’t do the trick. You’ll likely need a demo tape, maybe an agent and you might want to join an accredited union like AFTRA.
Before you get that far down the road, you need to prepare first. Start with these tips:
Budget for your new career. Like most entrepreneurial efforts, entering the voiceover game is like running a small business — and every small business requires capital and a budget. You’ll need money for good audio equipment, your marketing campaign and voiceover lessons and training courses, among other expenses. A few thousands dollar should go a long way here, but you’re not going anywhere on a shoestring budget.
Start your training. Practice speaking into a digital recorder or a live microphone (most electronics stores carry both). Warm up first by slowly reciting your favorite poem or lines of dialogue from a movie you’ve memorized (or just read the dialogue off a script). Focus on speaking slowly, and find a rhythm, pitch and style that’s natural for you.