By Stephanie Ciccarelli
March 11, 2008
Join Voice Over Expert Bernard Shaw as he tackles the subject of "Do You Need a Voice Over Agent?" Cutting straight to the core Bernard reveals the truth about voice over agents and dispels myths that perpetuate certain notions that limit potential in the industry.
Bernard Shaw, UK, Voiceover Coach, UK voice talent, Creative Edge Audio, Voice Overs, Voice Acting
Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It's never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won't find anywhere else.
This week Voices.com is pleased to present Bernard Shaw.
Bernard Shaw: Any voiceover agents listen to this issue switch off now because you're not going to agree with the word that I say but the reason is you see things from a different prospective some of the people that I might actually talking too. It's a known fact that if you want to get an access to talk for 15 minutes, you ask him to tell you about his agent. He will then wisely recall about how terrible his agent is, who never does anything for him, never gets him a job, never (finds) him up da-da-da-da.
And the question is why do you need an agent to told, by the way talking about voice, why do you need a voiceover agent? Again, let's come to focus, you have to focus on the job of a voiceover agent. Now, I can take a class of 20 people in the Artist Center asking this question, what is the job of a voice agent? And I can sit back for 20 minutes plus they come up with succession of wrong answers. Very few people, in fact I think only one person ever has ever come up with the right answer. The job of a voiceover agent is to make money, that's it. They're not there to help you. They're not there to get you work. They are there appearance simply to make money to pay their own mortgage, to educate their own children and to try and have a nice lifestyle.
Now, if you're looking for a voiceover agent and think that you need one. You're going to have to demonstrate to them that they can make money out of you and the only way that they can make money out of you is obviously by offering you to clients for vast sums of money from which they then take 15 or 17 and a half percent, depending on your agreement with them.
What you should do if you really do think you need a voiceover agent is to get on to the internet and research all the voice agents sites and listen to all their clients, if you're male listen to all the male clients, if you're a female listen to all the female clients. If you come across somebody who is offering exactly the same thing as you then my suggestion is that you move on and don't waste the voiceover agent's time. When you come across somebody who - an agent who doesn't on their books somebody offering what you are offering, these are the people you should be contacting.
On the principle established earlier that your best way of employment is to offer yourself as solution to somebody elses problem. So you would then be able to phone voiceover agent and say, "Look, I've researched your site, I see you got 64 excellent clients however you don't have somebody who's an expert in you (inaudible) in dialect and can do a fantastic talking parrot routine". They may then possibly take you seriously and be more incline to listen to any CD that you sent to them because you are showing them that they could money out of you. But the fact that you maybe represented by voiceover agent. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get work. The reality of life is given that the voiceover agent is in business to make money, if a larger advertising agency phones a large voiceover agency in research of a voice for a French perfume and then the voiceover agency is obviously going to suggest that somebody who is famous on the tally and charging 40,000 pounds per hours recording should be the person to be considered They won't ask you what they weigh down the scale and as for you who would think that 500 pounds would be a very good reward for an hour's work because they are obviously intent on selling the expensive people.
So, just because you sound like somebody famous, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get any of their work because the agency's have a vested interest in selling the expensive people. The other thing about getting the voiceover agent is one has to answer the question, why do you need one? You know where the work is, most of it. You know how to find out the telephone numbers of the people offering the work, why can't you just phone them yourself without going through an agent? You can get something call, voiceover contacts which is a contacts books which can be found on the internet at voicecontact.com.uk. These contains hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of contacts within the voiceover industry, many of here will be pleased to hear from you and I often say to students conducting an experiment, to phone an advertising agency, phone a voiceover agent and see which one tells you to get lost.
Interestingly the advertising agency will be polite and kind to you and thank you very much for you call and having spoken to you for a few minutes will suggest that you do send in your CD, if they think you could be of interest to them. Where as the standard rebuff from the voiceover agent is, "I'm sorry our books are full. We've got six people here sound just like you or we don't deal with beginners" and they know you're a beginner because you're phoning them saying, "Would you take me on?" rather than saying, "You haven't got one of me, how about representing me?"
So, a lot of voice people actually don't bother at all than agency, they represent themselves and in some cases they even go so far as to have their own mini recording facility within their home, so that they don't need necessarily to come in to London or any other studio. There is a system called ISDN which is much beloved the voiceover artist who live in the country who are able to send their work to London or Los Angeles studios on telephone lines and in the case of radio commercials which are (poorly and) badly paid. Most people do not travel to a radio station to do a commercial but it is done over the ISDN lines.
One of the myths about voiceover is that you can't get in that it's an area of work which is control by 15 people who do very nicely thank you and you wouldn't dare to look in. This is not the case my first in knowledge, there is more voiceover work available now then there ever has been. It is expanding all the time and the voice is the one area which the technicians have not yet been able to produces synthetic alternative. We have interestingly called, synthespian in the computer-generated figures that you can see in the films and computer games but computer-generated voice are never use unless that is exactly what is require. The problem is that human now are can dictate the fake very, very quickly, so I think there will be work for voiceover artist for many, many years to come and the areas of work are expanding rapidly.
So you voiceover artists must be needed because the magic 50 people who live in Soho Square cannot possible service all the needs and in any case they get already as time goes by and younger voices are needed. For example, in the computer games industry which is the one the biggest growth area of voice work, they the employers tend not to use a established voiceover artists most interestingly and anybody approaching the computer games company will certainly the biggest run which is outsource media in (inaudible) anybody approaching them and saying, "I an a voiceover artist, I wish to work in computer games" may well find themselves not being considered.
The phrase that this particular companies looking for one, this is a piece of inside information is voice actor. They foresee voiceover artist as being people who sell carpet furniture, a chocolate and the like where in fact they are looking for people who can act with the voice for computer games and the computer games area is worth talking about for a few minutes. As I've said, a huge, a huge growth area. Outsource media recon to employ something like a thousand artists a year having audition 3,000 to find their 1,000. Many of whom will never have done voiceover work before. So, it's an area where people trying to get into the business are more likely to find employment more quickly and interestingly, the rate of pay is far and above the rate of pay for radio commercials, I mentioned them earlier. The rate of pay for doing a radio commercial can be a as low as 15 pound if you're doing directly for the radio station, the rate of pay for a computer game can certainly be 350 pound the bottom of it's scale, average is probably a 1000 pounds a day and in many cases people get up a 40,000 pounds for providing a character voice for a computer game.
If you get voiceover contacts and look at the radio station listing for example although the pay is bad you might decide that because you happen to live on the outskirts of Darby and Darby is possessed of four radio stations who have prepared to use voiceover artist that you want to proceed that kind of work for little while to maybe get some experience or whatever. You will find phoning people with the right approach you will meet with the very good reception and you may well get work out of it long before you thought about getting agency representation and the trick of course is to build your self a portfolio of clients then if you're looking for agency to represent you approach an agency saying, "I am doing this and the other with my career. If I allowed you to represent me, what could you do that would improve things for me?"
In other words, redefine the relationship that you don't work for voice agent, a voice agent or any other agent who in fact works for you. What would you put on a CD that you would going to send to prospective employers? Obviously you have to put stuff that of interest to the employer, as I've said don't put your Shakespeare next to your flake commercial, it won't do either areas of work any good. The trick is to send a little as possible, the trick is to send as little as possible but something that you have got them to ask you for. So, all approach for voice work begin with a phone call, on the very simple principle that if you can't use your voice to sell your voice how the hell can you sell that scripts, that products, the concept, all their idea. So, unsolicited CDs sent out in brown (jiffy) bags with horrible handwritten letters. Do not get taken seriously. You need to phone your potential employer. You need to have a script ready type out by the telephone which would be something along the line of, "Good morning. My name is Bernard Shaw and I'm a voiceover artist. I'm about to send you a CD but I have a lot of material. You're a very busy person. You've had 10 second listen to voice. What could I send you that would help you?"
So, you put the bold very firmly back into the other code, so they will then having listen for you for 10 seconds make one or three replies they'll say, silence, that would be nice or two they will ask you to send them something that perhaps show you as a young dad or shows you as being a sexy chocolate seller or something that shows you being reassuring, for example selling insurance that kind of thing or they will say, "Please can you send us a one minute overview of the things that you have to offer" which is where the famous one-minutes collage comes in or as voice agents call it, the house minute which is a tightly edited one-minute slot showing the range that you might or might not have to offer. So, having got them to tell you what they would like to hear, you then send them a letter saying, "Dear, Mr. Smith. Further to our conversation I have place you an inclosing as requested my CD".
So, in the event that, that lands on the desk of a secretary he will know that's its being requested by the boss and he'll pass it on her. Keep CD's a short as possible. Decision are made in five second, it's exactly the same as if you're sitting down watching the television with the remote control in your hand you goes up, don't want to see that, up, don't want to see that, yup, don't want to see that, yes, that's looks good. Voice decisions are made equally as quickly and it is the first five second of the CD that will get you considered for a particular job.
Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
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Voice Over Expert Bernard Shaw
Bernard Shaw has been working with Voiceover artists since 1980 and has produce over 1,600 'Demo tapes' making him one of the most experienced voice directors in the world. He is also a freelance audio producer with credits as diverse as 'Tweenies', 'An Evening With Peter Ustinov' and 'The Nations Favourite children's Poems'. His book 'Voiceovers a Practical Guide' published by Routledge has become a standard work on both sides of the Atlantic. He runs Voiceover and Radio acting classes at the Actors Centres in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Newcastle.
About Creative Edge Audio
Launched in England in 2006 by two actors and a producer, Creative Edge Audio is the world's first monthly audio magazine for Professional Actors. This unique series contains exclusive interviews and mini master classes with established industry experts and key decision makers of the British acting profession including: 'Lord of the Rings' casting director John Hubbard, Actor Sir Derek Jacobi and former artistic director of the National Theatre Sir Richard Eyre. They all speak openly and honestly about careers, casting, marketing, the craft of acting and voice over.
Creative Edge Audio was designed to help established and aspiring Professionals gain the Creative Edge. Its reputation in England quickly grew and was soon dubbed by the British Press as:
"The missing link in the Acting Industry." creative week 2006
Until recently Creative Edge Audio was only available to subscribers on a month-to-month basis. However the series was so successful as a monthly subscription that it was decided to reprint the entire 12 episodes.
Series one of Creative edge audio is now available to buy as a complete set of 12 CDs.
Free previews of the entire series can be heard at:
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