Voice Over Audition Psychology – Part 1

The other day, as I was just submitting my last voice over audition for the week, I got an email from an actor friend of mine. He’s someone who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on stage in recent years. He has honed his talents and acting craft over a long time and he’s a very skilled actor.

Of all the folks who’ve asked me about getting into voice over acting, he is one of the few to actually take it from the “just curious” stage to a more serious committed level. He attended some live voice over workshops, researched and bought equipment, set up a good quality studio and conscientiously embarked on the voice over audition road through Pay to Play (P2P) sites and whatever local connections he could establish.

Oh, by the way, he’s married with a teenage daughter, a mortgage and a full-time sales job, so it really takes some drive to set all of this up. He has been steadfastly focused on the dream of eventually switching to a full-time career in voice over acting so that he can finally get paid for doing what he really loves to do.

Voice Over Audition PsychologyHis email to me the other day included a half-dozen voice over audition samples that he’d recorded. He wanted my feedback. He was wondering about what he might be doing wrong and what he could improve on to land more jobs.

While there were a few things I could suggest, overall I felt his auditions were pretty solid. I think that my answer was more disappointing to him than me giving him all of the “reasons” why any particular voice over audition hadn’t been chosen.

Waiting for bookings from P2P sites can be a long, hard wait. It is frustrating to not get the job even though you feel you’ve delivered exactly what was asked of you in the voice over audition. This points to an aspect of voice over acting that can create a lot of mental or emotional pain and suffering for people who may not fully realize the challenges of succeeding in the voice over business.

… It Might Not Really Matter

I recently caught an interview with Jason Bateman on the local NPR station, and there was one particular quote that relates to this topic that stood out:

On why Bateman wouldn’t let his kids act – I wouldn’t only because it is a profession that you can’t really help yourself in. In most professions, if you stay at the office an extra four hours every day, you’re gonna impress the boss, you’re gonna get that promotion, you’re gonna get that raise, you’re gonna at least have some job security. But with acting, if you’re really ambitious and you have a good work ethic, and are really good at your job, it might not really matter.

Wow, good thing I didn’t hear that when I was young and naive and starting out my acting career! Actually, it probably wouldn’t have deterred me back then because I would have thought “But I’m different! That advice doesn’t apply to me!”

Even though Voice Over Acting isn’t quite the same as trying to make it on Broadway or in television or the movies, it IS the same on the level at which Jason Bateman is pointing. And I think that is an extremely challenging idea for most people to come to grips with.

Ideal Scenario = No Voice Over Audition Required

My philosophy on working a successful career in professional voice over is to amass and continue to build my roster of satisfied and ongoing, loyal clients. These are clients who have regular VO work for me which they send to me directly. That means no audition required. This kind of situation usually only comes with time and a lot of hard work and persistence. It also helps to be able to consistently and reliably deliver a high quality product. Building a loyal voice over client base is the ideal and it is 100% worth the effort involved.

Ten years ago, 95% of my voice over work came through this channel. I rarely auditioned for anything (hard to believe I know) yet I was earning a very comfortable full-time income. People would just contact me and hire me to record their script. Alas, those days seem to be long gone now, thanks to the rise of P2P sites and thousands of new voice talent competing for jobs. But I always work to cultivate those kinds of relationships as much as possible.

I still audition A LOT because voice over auditions are 1) a good way to potentially book a little more work each week and 2) a great way to meet new clients who will need my voice over services in the future and hopefully turn into the loyal, long-term clients who hire me without needing me to audition ever again!

Nowadays, with so many casting sites, agencies, and independent casting directors, it’s pretty hard to avoid the audition process, even for seasoned pros. But for me, auditions are a supplement to a lot of other work that comes by way of longer term clients.

Given the fact that auditions are necessary, how does a voice over professional stay in a good place psychologically, with this day-to-day process of constant auditioning, and (let’s face it) seemingly constant rejection?

In Part 2 of this article, I share my 5 Keys to Positive Voice Over Audition Outcomes. Read it now at Voice Over Psychology – Part 2.

 has been in the voice over acting profession for over 20 years, having collaborated on thousands of projects and partnered with hundreds of production companies, marketing and advertising firms, commercial voice-over recording studios and corporate/business clients around the United States and throughout the world. Check out her Voice Over Demos and request a Custom Voice Over Audition for your upcoming project.

11 comments on “Voice Over Audition Psychology – Part 1

  1. Gary Terzza on

    Thanks for this Debbie. You are right, the shift towards doing more auditions has thrown even established voice actors off course. Many good voices have fallen by the wayside, often because they don’t believe they should submit a custom read of the client’s words.

    The way we approach auditions is critical and I am very much looking forward to part two.

  2. Debbie Grattan on

    Gary – thanks for your comment. I’m interested to hear more on your idea that voice talent don’t or won’t submit a custom audition. Are you saying this in response to just the P2P auditions, or for other auditions as well? I hope I can offer some insightful ideas in Part Deux to help cope with the audition mill.

  3. Gary Terzza on

    Over the last few years I’ve heard some seasoned VOAs complain that their pedigree and showreels should be enough for the client to make a decision, without having to audition. It’s probably a minority view, but interesting that this view is expressed.

    My view is that they are equating the p2p sites with traditional voice over agencies, whereas we know they are a different beast altogether.
    Dare I say, it smacks of a little arrogance?

  4. Gary Terzza on

    Agreed Debbie – we do seem to have to spoon feed some clients these days.
    In part this is because they themselves are often new to the business. In the old days, clients usually came from a media/broadcasting background so were used to us creative types!

    Fast forward to now and voice-seekers hail from all sorts of industries, so are less sensitive to our art.

    I bet part 2 of your post is going to be very stimulating. I’m looking forward to a good read Debbie!

  5. Debbie Grattan on

    Thanks for the reply Gary. I can see, with the plethora of auditions coming from P2Ps that the temptation is there to submit a generic demo, instead of recording a customized one. I must say, having tried that on occasion, it usually brings me zilch. Sometimes, if they have no script to audition, I may get a response from sending in one of my demos. But I find most “clients” have little to NO imagination, if they can’t hear you saying their words. However, I understand the time involved in recording a custom audition for each listing as well, and one must make hard choices of how to spend limited time.

  6. Debbie Grattan on

    Thanks Gary. I may take some of your ideas and mix them in with what I’ve already prepped for Part 2. I will try not to disappoint!

  7. Debbie Irwin on

    Well said, Debbie!
    And a good reminder even to us veterans that not booking isn’t a sign of no talent. 😉

    But I yearn to be a ‘booking machine’, which is what I heard one agent say about one of his ‘clients’ (a vo artist).

    Auditioning is 90% of the work nowadays… and some auditions are even being bought as the final read!

  8. Larry Wayne on

    Interesting discussion. Thanks to Debbie and Gary for the convo. Having done this vo thing for over 3 decades, I am also blessed, as you are, Debbie, to have many returning clients who just send me a script…no audition necessary. But most of those clients came because of a P2P audition I did for them! That said, I NEVER send a generic demo for an audition unless it is specifically asked for. The client wants to hear his words using your voice. Generic demos dont cut it. Looking forward to Part 2!

  9. Gary Terzza on

    That’s good advice Larry. Submitting a generic demo smacks of laziness, although I have to admit to doing this myself in the past.

    I’m going to think twice before I do in the future!

  10. Debbie Grattan on

    Thanks for the comment Debbie. I do see your name up there on Voices.com as one of the top bookers, so you are obviously doing something right! But of course, we can’t always be everything, to everyone, even if we’re a “booking machine.” I wonder how that agent justified that, and would be interested to know the ratio of auditions to bookings. Knowing our strengths is usually a good place to start. Keep plugging!

  11. Debbie Grattan on

    Hi Larry – thanks for chiming in from the seasoned perspective – and wise – to help all to understand that a custom demo is usually the one that wins a P2P job. But since you’ve been in the biz for 30 years, you started well before P2P existed, so I’m sure some of your clients came from other resources besides those mass auditions.

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