Not sure what makes a great voice acting demo? How long should it be? What should I include? How do I know if this is what clients want to hear? Your demo is your resume. You can have all the experience in the world, but it’s that demo that will determine if the client chooses you for their upcoming projects, so it’s worth investing some time investigating what makes a great voice over demo.
Steps to Demo Success – Part One by Deb Munro
5 – 12 different personalities
1 VERY well trained and ready actor
1 Super good coach/director
1 Killer production team
1 Healthy Budget
A targeted marketplace
Mix it all together and you have Demo Success!
This is one daunting affair and yet one of the most important aspects of becoming a voice talent.
Here’s the thing though – you can’t produce a demo before you’re ready and you can’t book the work without a demo, so where on earth do you start?
Step 1 – Am I ready?
If you have to ask yourself this question, then you are NOT ready. You should know if you are ready by the work you’ve invested and by listening to other demos that are good and being realistic about whether you think you can compete. Demos are apples to apples, so don’t give them a grape! Whomever you submit your demo to, they are listening to others, so you need to make sure you can compare. Get the training you need and DO NOT RUSH THIS PROCESS.
It stinks, because you desperately want to get your demo up on the Voice123 website, but you could be losing work for yourself by producing your demo when you’re truly not ready. I can make you mimic everything I say in a demo record and make you sound brilliant, but if you can’t pull it off on your own, you’re truly not ready!
If you’re not ready, perhaps you would be interested in my VO Sampler – this is a sample of three spots (commercial, Narration and Message on Hold for example) on one file so that you can post on Voice123 with some audio, but it’s not an actual demo and it’s much cheaper!
Step 2 – Research
Research your demo coach/director and their production team. Just because they say they can produce your demo, doesn’t mean they will produce something for you that will stand out. Make sure and have a listen to other demos they’ve done on their website or ask for copies. Ask if you can speak to some of their talent (some might take offence but I stand behind my demos so encourage testimonials) and see if they have found success from their produced demos. Find out their methods and if they are someone who makes you feel good. You should be nervous to do a demo, but excited and you should LOVE your time with your coach and what you’re doing, not be fearful of wanting to impress them etc. This is about you, not us coaches! Trust your instinct on selecting your coaching team – but do the research!
Step 3 – Budget
Prepare to budget for this. Just because one production team is cheaper, doesn’t mean you’re going to get the same results. You do get what you pay for, and this is THEE most important tool you can spend money on – so don’t go for cheap – go for the RIGHT team. You can’t afford not to. I can’t tell you how many demos i have to fix because they went with the wrong team!
Step 4 - Content
Work with your coach or demo director to obtain scripts/content. Many of us have our own methods. I personally like to create original copy based on your personalities. If we use copy already out there, then we’re in danger of copyright and more, so I like the talent working with me collecting things like magazine ads (commercial demos), book manuals (narration demos), website links (various type demos), comic books (animation demos), Cartoons (animation demo), Video Games (Video Game demos), TV series (promo demos), YouTube ideas (various demos) and other demos that they like off of Voice123, etc., so that I can bring out the ideas that help me find their personality instead of mine. Then I re-write the copy they provide and make it sound like it’s coming from different writers, different production teams, etc.
There is much controversy amongst demo producers about what is okay and not okay to do on a demo, so we can’t please everyone, but here are my thoughts and my methods:
Demo DOs and DON’Ts:
- DO use original material only or actual work that is amazingly directed and produced.
- DON’T use local spots (agents don’t want to hear local)
- You can use company names – but there are risks in doing this. I personally use company names but only national and only on original copy!
- TALENT should NOT produce or direct the demo
- DO keep it short. All demos have different time requirements but you should have a one-minute version for easy internet use (for most demos).
- DON’T produce a compilation (mixing genres) demo.
- DO hire a top-notch production team that does not use old music libraries/sfx etc.
- DO showcase your personality (not your director’s)
- DO show variety but, you must also entertain the decision makers, agents and producers.
Step 5 – What now?
Once you create your demo, this means the rest of your business needs to be ready as well. Things to consider AFTER you have a demo:
- Where are you going to send your demo? If you have a good director/coach – they will help you get your demo in some hands to get you started.
- Do you have a cover letter prepared to send with your demo?
- Is it in the right format (.mp3 Stereo) to easily upload to your Voice123 profile
- Do you have a dedicated website to post your demo to?
- What if someone wants a CD? Do you have means or budget to create a label (this isn’t needed often in today’s time but should still be considered)?
- Where will you send it next?
I could go on and on – but I think this is enough to get your heads in the right direction. It’s time to find your coaching/directing/producing team and get started on this ABSOLUTELY necessary next step. NONE of us can afford the demos, but we have no choice. It’s part of the investment of having a self employed business. Your reasons and excuses for why you can’t afford it, are getting in the way of your success. If you REALLY want this industry as bad as I do, then suck it up buttercup. Learn to enjoy this process and what demo to work on next – so you can increase your work load and experience level and work towards a full time career doing what you love! Learn to love this process as much as I do.
As a discount to the Voice123 subscribers, mention this article to receive a discount on my coaching and demo production service. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details!
About Deb Munro:
You can hear Deb’s voice in Video Games such as “Pirates of the Caribbean, NeverWinterNight…” thousands of Commercials such as “Ford, Sony, Car Canada, Time Warner Cable…” TV Series such as “CMT’s – Top 20 Sexiest Men, True Pulp Murder”, Award Shows such as “Gemini’s, Juno’s, New Media Awards….”, Hotel Chains such as “The Kor Hotel Group, Sheraton, Days Inn…”, one of her star appearances in narration such as, “Imperial Oil, WHIMS, Enbridge, Microsoft and more…” Deb is also an On-Camera Actor, Host, Coach, Director and Writer. Visit her site at www.DebsVoice.com