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Why Auditions are BAD for the Voice Over Industry

June 11, 2019

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Why Auditions are BAD for the Voice Over Industry

This sounds like a grand claim, a sweeping judgement, from an angry VO actor who’s bitter about not getting cast.

I assure you, it’s not.

It’s 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.

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 simple and straightforward, right? Auditions are how actors have been cast for basically forever, so why doesn’t it work for voiceover in this new age?

Well, here’s why:

Once upon a time, there weren’t as many voice-over actors. There weren’t as many voice-over gigs. Actors in LA or New York would go in for an audition for a commercial, a video game, or a cartoon character in a new pilot series. Auditions were required for high paying jobs, and they still are. If you’re up for the new lead in a Pixar film, you’re definitely going through several rounds of auditions. However, the new world of online voice-over isn’t five figure jobs… It’s not even four figure jobs…Sometimes, a client just wants their voicemail recorded for $50.

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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 voicemail. 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 to listen to for my project. They start to blend together after I listen to 10. 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 voiceover 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 voiceover auditions for this video.

Or I’m an indie author thinking of creating an audiobook version of my recent book. I can spend around $1,000 on the narration but 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 – I’m a successful author and a busy parent. When will I find the time to hear all 78 people who submitted auditions for my book? And how can I really know who will be the best fit to bring the story to life?

When a client has too many auditions to choose from, it can devalue every individuals time and 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?).

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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 can realistically listen to.

So…is it worth it?

Over a thousand auditions in order 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 grand total of $13/hour. Before taxes.

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

Luckily, Voquent is working to creatively address this issue. Voquent’s sample card system allows each voice-over artist to upload up to 30 samples of their work and tag them according to style and tone.

Clients then search according to the style and tone they’re looking for and easily shortlist a few voices they’re interested in. Often voices get the job even without auditioning, since the client isn’t listening to a fast-paced demo, they’re hearing the exact tone their project needs.

If voices are still asked to audition, they have a much higher chance of getting the job since they’re only reading against a few other people – meaning the artists’ ratio of success increases dramatically. Plus, each artist has a clear idea of what the client wants by referencing the sample cards that helped them get shortlisted. AND, the client doesn’t have to listen to a bunch of irrelevant auditions either.

It’s an efficient method that honors the voice-over artists’ talent and everybody’s time.

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


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Caroline ColeAbout the author

Caroline Turner Cole is a voiceover artist and writer from Dallas, TX.
Instagram: @carolinecolestories
Twitter: @ccolestories 
Website:  www.carolinecolestories.com