You liked the sound of the voice-over demo, so you hired the talent. But something happened on the way to the final video, and now your client is upset over the less-than-ideal voice-over recording that was supposed to be the perfect fit for their project.
You found out the hard way that a good-sounding demo is not the only factor you should consider when selecting voice-over talent for your project.
In the Voice-Over Market Today, It’s Buyer Beware
Because there is an influx of new voice-over talent flooding the market with minimal experience and skill, it is imperative that you as producer or business person who hires voice-over talent can tell the difference between a seasoned professional VO and someone who is going to ultimately be disappointing to work with.
Ideally, you want a voice talent who has been through the trenches for many years and has built up the skills, experience and professionalism needed to get your voice-over job done right the first time.
It’s important to dig deeper than just their voice-over demos.
The following 10 areas can help you separate the legit voice-over talents from those who are probably not ready for prime time. Pay particular attention to the top three on the list:
1. Professional Voice-Over Experience
Experience reigns supreme when it comes to honing talent, skills and professionalism. A more experienced voice-over actor will most likely be able to deliver a high-quality final product, especially when compared to a voice-over talent with limited experience. While some voice-over jobs may require more finesse than others, some solid acting experience is also always a plus. A voice talent’s level of experience should be evident in their completed work showcased on their website and on their voice-over bio or resume.
If a voice-over talent has been in the business for 12+ years, this is a definite sign that they know what they are doing. You cannot fake long-term success. You have to be very good at what you do and be able to provide quality voice-over service to hundreds of clients to be successful over such a long time-frame.
The question to ask: “How much experience does this voice-over talent have and how many years have they been doing professional voice-over work?”
2. Timely, Reliable and Consistent Service
In addition to checking on what their experience level is like, you will also want to determine how good the voice-over talent is at being reliable, consistent and keeping their word when it comes to deadlines.
A prime way to check this out before hiring is to look for client testimonials and reviews on their website. See if the reviewers’ comments mention these kinds of factors as being strengths for the voice talent.
If you end up hiring a voice-over talent for repeat work, you will get a sense of their ability in these areas over time. In my experience, many of my jobs require some kind of turn-around time, commonly 24 to 48 hours. I personally work very hard at making sure I always hit those deadlines because I know how important it is to my clients. And, I know that NOT hitting a deadline is a sure-fire way to lose a client’s trust and future business!
The question to ask: “Are there any reviews of this talent and do they point to strengths in the areas of reliability and timeliness?”
3. Range and Versatility
Make sure the VO talent’s vocal range suits what you’re looking for and, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, go for someone with a wide range of vocal ability in their voice-over demos and clips. High-quality VO pros will have sample recordings that showcase their full range and versatility on a wide scope of different jobs.
This is not only demonstrated in various demo offerings (commercial, narration, promo, etc.) but could also be evident on their website or YouTube or Vimeo playlists, where completed client projects are featured for prospective buyers.
The question to ask: “Does this voice-over talent demonstrate a suitable amount of range and versatility in their demos and samples?”
This question is especially important if you are looking to hire voice-over talent for an ongoing work project that will require them to record on many occasions over the course of a month, a year or even longer. Generally, it is much easier for a full-time voice-over talent to be on top of this area, because they are committed full-time to servicing their clients.
Part-time voice-over talents are more likely to NOT be able to consistently hit deadlines (or be available on very short-term notice) because they are doing something else for a big chunk of their day and are not in their home studio on a full-time basis.
Find a full-time voice-over actor and you’ll find someone whose total energy and focus is on meeting the needs of their voice-over clients.
The question to ask: “Is this talent working as a full-time voice-over talent or part-time, and what can I reasonably expect for availability?”
5. Rates and Pricing
Money is not always the bottom line, but rates can work as a clue to decide if the voice-over actor is the right one for you. One red flag would be rates that are unbelievably low, which could be the mark of a novice. Other talent rates may be too high for your budget, although you can always attempt to negotiate.
Competitive rates are usually the mark of a pro, as is someone who sounds knowledgeable when quoting rates.
They will have the experience to understand the market rate on any given project, taking into account the important factors like broadcast vs. non-broadcast, usage period, buyout options and other factors that can come into play. This knowledge indicates they have a good idea of the work involved on a specific project and are striving to set a rate that’s fair for their time and talent and affordable for you.
But, don’t expect voice over talent to publish their rates on their website unless they only do union work. Many non-union jobs have multiple factors involved and need to be priced on an individual basis. It is impossible to realistically quote a job without having the key details first, and therefore, usually not practical to publish voice-over rates on voice talent websites.
Always keep in mind that in voice-over, like most other businesses, you usually get what you pay for. Beware of prices that sound too good to be true.
The question to ask: “When you ask for a quote, does the voice talent provide pricing that seems reasonable for the job, and knowledge on how they arrived at their quote (i.e. usage, broadcast market, word count, etc.?”