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Why Auditions are BAD for the Voice Over Industry


By Caroline Turner Cole | 11th June 2019

I assure you I'm not a bitter voice actor unable to get work.

This article is an honest attempt to peek inside our industry as an outside observer (an objective voice, if you will), see what's not working, and attempt to propose a solution. 

In recent years, the online voice-over industry has exploded in a good way. There are more VO project opportunities than ever before, and hundreds of thousands of projects are being cast, recorded, delivered and marked complete every day around the globe. Many online platforms do this by asking talent to submit auditions to clients for every project. Sounds straightforward, right? Auditions are how actors have been cast for basically forever, so why doesn't it work for voice-over in this new age? 

Well, here's why: Once upon a time, there weren't as many voice-over actors. And there weren't many voice-over gigs. Talent in London, LA or New York would audition for a commercial, a video game, or a cartoon character in a new pilot series. Auditions were a must to obtain high paying jobs, and they still are. 

If you're up for the new lead in a Pixar movie, you're going through several rounds of voice actor casting and auditions. 

However, the new world of online voice-over isn't five-figure jobs. It's not even four-figure jobs.

Sometimes, a client wants their voicemail recorded for only $50 (or less)!

 

ALSO READ: Change Perceptions by Switching Accent

 

Let's imagine I'm a dentist in Kansas. 

My practice is doing well, and I'm upgrading my phone system. I've heard other businesses with professional-sounding voicemails, and I've decided that's what I'd like. I head online and start searching around, learning how to get a professionally recorded telephone message

I find a site that looks reputable with lots of great reviews, so I post my job there, saying I'd like to hear back in a week. A week later, I log in and have 50 to 75 (or maybe even 100) auditions. I don't possibly have the time to listen to every demo, and besides, they start to blend. 

I don't know what I want anymore, and the project that once seemed like a simple way to boost my professional presence is now overwhelming and, quite frankly, not worth my time. 

Or I'm an app developer with a small marketing budget. 

I've got $150 to add a voice-over to a 5-minute explainer video by Tuesday. My team is on a deadline for launch. We're all scrambling to get everything in place while I'm stuck on Saturday night listening to 62 voice-over auditions! 

Or I'm an indie author thinking of creating an audiobook version of my recent novel. I can spend around $1,000 on the audiobook narration. Still, it can't cut into my writing time or time interacting with my fans or picking up my kids from school and taking them to soccer practice. So, when will I find the time to hear all 78 people who submitted auditions for my book? And how can I know who will be the best fit to bring the story to life? 

As you can already tell, when a client has too many auditions to choose from, it can devalue talent. 42% of actors who responded to a recent Twitter poll stated that they had to record and submit over 75 auditions to win one gig. SEVENTY-FIVE!!

 

 

Remember, we’re not talking about the lead in Disney’s Cars 5 or becoming the next national voice for Domino's Pizza. 75+ auditions to land one gig that probably pays less than $500 (maybe MUCH less, remember our dentist example above?).

 

ALSO READ: Is Being a Voice Artist an Easy Job?

 

As a busy voice actor, it starts to become difficult to factor your time correctly or to make sure your rates are high enough when you do land a job. In general, it seems as though actors feel like this is the way things are and have kept their attitudes positive despite a lot of rejection.

@Hearbradhyland (via Instagram) said he believes that:

Until you have 100+ returning customers, regular and vigorous auditioning is part of the game. Along with lots of personal marketing.

In response to the question “How many auditions do you have to record to win one gig?” via Instagram, @sparksgregory told us he’d submitted 1137 auditions on one platform, in order to win just five gigs. @andread2347 said:

I don’t know the ratio BUT I also know it’s worth it…because you never know when an audition will result in a job. I see auditions as good practice.

And @that.brian.guy says he’s:

Done 265 auditions since November of 2018 and (has) yet to win a gig. Still pluggin’ away though. Voiceover is something I want to do, so every audition makes me better.

 

@sparksgregory told us he’d submitted 1137 auditions on one platform, in order to get just 5 gigs.

@sparksgregory told us he’d submitted 1137 auditions on one platform, in order to get just 5 gigs. This was a common theme from responses we received: auditions are good practice, even if you don’t get the gig. And that’s absolutely true. It’s always great to get more experience behind the microphone. But when you’re doing hundreds of auditions without much (or any) feedback from clients, how can a voiceover actor be sure they ARE getting better?

Especially if, as @Sumara_meers mentioned:

I see many of my auditions have not even been viewed by the client.

In that case, it's very likely the client is getting more auditions than they have time to review. So, is it worth it? 

Over a thousand auditions to win just five gigs? Even if you're only spending 5 minutes on each audition, that's still nearly 20 hours spent auditioning for each gig booked. And if each gig pays around $300 and takes an additional 3 hours, that's a total of $13/hour, before taxes. 

What if there was a better way? A way you could maximize your time as a voice-over talent and clients received a reasonable amount of quality auditions so they could make an informed choice? 

Luckily there is, Voquent is working to address this issue creatively. Voquent's sample-based system allows each voice actor or narrator's voice to upload up to 30 samples of audio material and tag each according to the style, tone & characteristics

Casting directors can then search according to the style and tone needed for the role and quickly shortlist voices. 

Many voices on VOquent get voice-over jobs with no audition since the client isn't listening to a lengthy showreel in multiple styles. They hear the exact tone their project needs. 

And if voices are asked to turn in an audition, they have a much higher chance of getting the job since they're only up against a few others— meaning the talents ratio of success increases dramatically. 

Additionally, each artist has a clear idea of what the client wants by referencing the demo shortlisted. Everyone saves time.

Better for artists. Better for clients. Easier for everyone. 

 

Start Casting Voice Actors Now

 

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Caroline Turner Cole

Caroline Turner Cole

Caroline Turner Cole is a voiceover artist and writer from Dallas, TX.

About Author

Caroline Turner Cole

Caroline Turner Cole

Caroline Turner Cole is a voiceover artist and writer from Dallas, TX.






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