If you’ve been told that you have a great voice, and you are considering starting a career as a voice actor, you’re in the right place. At actorscareerguide.com we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you need to know about how to get into voice acting.
In this age of technology, there is an increasing demand for voice acting. It has become easier to break into the industry because you no longer have to live near a big urban center or travel to a major recording studio to work. Many voice actors set up their own studios right in the comfort of their own homes. Though it may not be as simple as reading into your phone, there are steps you can take to start and grow a thriving career as a voice actor.
What is a Voice Actor?
A voice actor is someone who doesn’t appear on screen, but whose voice is heard. There are many possible roles for a voice actor. Voice actors are needed for:
Animation characters including Anime
- Commercial voice overs
- Video games
- Internet voice overs
- Postproduction dubbing
- IVR/Telephone voices
It is possible to have a career that includes several of these niches. You could be doing a radio spot on one day and an audiobook the next. Then, a firm might even hire you for a quick gig as the voice of its answering service. Most voice artists settle into one or two niches over time, but there is high demand in all of these areas. Take your pick!
The main thing you need to become a voice actor, of course, is a good voice. And since your voice is your career, you also need to be dedicated to protecting and caring for your voice.
Generally, voice actors are freelancers, that is, they find their own work at least at the beginning of their careers. So it is also necessary to have good people skills and some business skills as well. As a voice actor, you will be submitting and going to auditions to find your work. If you are serious about making this a career, you will probably want to sign with an agent who can help find you jobs.
JOB ROLE & DUTIES
YOU ARE AN ACTOR FIRST
A voice actor is an actor and needs to understand the character and how to play a role. Even if the job is reading a simple radio announcement, your voice will come across more powerful if you put your acting skills into your reading. Like all actors, you should continually hone your craft. There are coaches who specialize in helping voice actors, and you can find workshops aimed at perfecting the skills of voice acting.
Although a good voice actor will make the material sound natural, voice acting is different from normal conversation. In learning how to be a voice actor, you will simultaneously be learning how to find the balance between enunciation and too much exaggeration.
Practice, practice, and practice. Record yourself reading a variety of material. Learn to articulate clearly and to read with confidence. Your voice is the only vehicle you have in voice acting to portray emotion and character, so you need to be adequately expressive without over-acting.
Practice with different types of microphones and with different recording equipment, so you know what makes you sound your best. Work with other voice actors and/or coaches to keep improving.
YOU ARE A NETWORKER SECOND
Much of your job as a voice actor will involve networking and developing relationships in the acting community. Here’s where your people skills come in. You will want to develop relationships with key decision makers and casting directors. If your workshop with casting directors take their feedback seriously. They know what the industry is looking for and actors who take notes graciously are the one’s directors and producers want to work with again and again.
As with any freelance job, you need to market yourself successfully. Your website and social media pages are all advertisements of you and your craft. Actors who behave professionally and have a professional online presence are more likely to be hired and re-hired.
Keep track of all the voice gigs you do and make sure your resume accurately shows your experience. You might want to do some small, independent projects as you get started. They don’t pay as well, maybe even not at all, but they serve to build your resume.
Find online and local communities of performers. Search for and subscribe to blogs and podcasts geared towards actors and how to get into voice acting. Read and learn what you can from these communities and be an active participant. Comment and ask questions in these communities. Opportunities often come from effective networking. And because of our interconnected world, job opportunities may come from lands far away.
YOU ARE A SOUND ENGINEER THIRD
The next biggest chunk of your business will be auditioning. If you have an agent, he or she will send you out to auditions or ask you to record auditions to submit. You don’t need a full-on recording studio to do these recordings, but you do need a good microphone and a space that deadens the ambient sound.
Tip: Try using a closet space or hanging area rugs on the walls.
You will need to create demo recordings and audition recordings. In some cases, you will perform your voice gigs in your own home studio. That being said, you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment. You will need a good microphone, a headset and a space with good acoustics. Try out what you already have and determine what you could improve and build up your equipment a little at a time as the jobs come in.
HOW TO GET INTO VOICE ACTING
Starting a voice acting career is like starting any other acting career. It helps to get in touch with why you want to do this work and who your role models are in the business. There may be days when you feel discouraged and rejected along the way, and it helps to remember what started you down this path to begin with.
The best advice for any freelance business is to keep going. You know what you need to do: hone your craft, network and market yourself, and go on auditions. If you keep doing these things and don’t quit, you will find success.
Learn how to take care of your voice, now at the beginning of your career. Don’t wait for problems to crop up before you commit to good practices. Consult with a voice coach to find the best ways to care for your precious instrument.
Think about your particular voice and what it is best suited for as you explore the various gigs available in the voice industry. Would your voice be better as a cartoon character or as a soothing voice on a meditation recording? Don’t try to do everything. There are plenty of jobs available in each specific niche. Focus on one or two specialties.
Consider doing small jobs for friends or your local community to get started. The morepractice you get, the better.
When you go out on your first auditions, be professional. Remember that the people you are meeting are seeing maybe 50 actors today. They don’t want to chat. Prepare your audition and start strong. The first few seconds may be the most important in any audition.
Research the voice acting industry and how to get into voice acting. Learn the language and culture of the community. What are the stories people tell about their success? You can learn from others’ failures and successes.
Don’t let the technology issues intimidate you. Experiment with your equipment to see what needs tweaking to give you a better sound. Almost everybody has basic recording equipment at their fingertips these days. Jump in and record some demos of you reading the various material. Then do an honest assessment of the sound quality and see what you need to adjust for better sound.
Now that you have an idea of how to get into voice acting, you should also know that voice acting is an exciting and expanding industry. There are plenty of opportunities for a rewarding career that is flexible and allows for lots of independence.
LIke any rewarding career, voice acting requires drive and persistence, but if you like the idea of varied projects, of meeting players in the acting community and of using your voice to make a mark in the world, it might just be for you.
As you think about how to get into voice acting, remember these key points.
- Your voice is your main asset in this career, so care for it.
- Keep practicing and improving your skills.
- Much of the job revolves around networking, so do your best at forming and nurturing relationships. They will serve you well.
- Don’t give up. If you keep putting yourself out there and honing your craft, you will succeed. The market is growing, and many voices are needed.
Come on back to actorscareerguide.com for all of our tips and information as you learn how to get into voice acting.
Featured Image: CC0 Public Domain Pixabay via Pxhere