Wonder why clients are particularly fond of and often require custom MP3 demos for auditions?

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”, could now be translated to the phrase “Don’t judge a voice talent by their stock demo”. In recent years, the voice industry has experienced exponential growth and enjoyed interest from new markets, particularly aspiring talent who want to get started in the business of voice acting. The doors have swung wide open. Now, anyone with a computer, microphone, and access to the Internet can claim that they perform voice-overs, whether as a hobby or as their career.

How did you differentiate yourself as a professional voice actor in the past?
Until a short time ago, all you needed was your voice-over demo, a polished and expertly produced sample of what you can do with your voice. Usually, these demos were (and are currently) compilations of various spots including commercials, imaging, narration, promos, telephone work, and character voice acting. These demos were (and in many cases still are) the most popular tool used to promote your voice and get you hired without having to audition for a client.

Nowadays, if someone has the money and knows of a good recording studio, they can easily walk right in and record a demo, too. These demos are fully produced and edited by professional recording engineers, and perhaps, the talent is also coached by an in-house trainer or by the engineers themselves. That being said, how to you differentiate yourself as a professional applying for voice over work today?
The answer is manifested in the form of a custom MP3 demo. The custom MP3 demo plays one of the greatest roles in validating or exposing the quality of a home recording studio.

Custom MP3 demos reveal the setup of a room, acoustics, and room temperature as well as the quality of the microphone, recording software and editing skills of the demo producer. A custom MP3 demo, when performed by a professional, demonstrates the confidence that experience brings. A seasoned voice actors’ or voice performers’ talent and interpretation will shine through the recording, supporting their claim of being a career professional, both as a performer and a producer.

When the technical and artistic elements align properly, a great custom demo emerges, leaving no doubt as to the professionalism of the candidate applying for the job and leaving no surprises for the client when the real job begins and the audio is received. Custom MP3 demos are also an indication of your interest level in a given job posting. In my experience, receiving custom demos reinforced the professionalism and genuine enthusiasm of the service providers who applied for our telephone job posting.

Lastly, recording a custom MP3 demo illustrates that you can efficiently record and produce on your own schedule. If you are recording at home with a professional-grade recording studio, it should be quite easy to pop open a new session and record a brief piece of copy. This is another indication to a client that you will be able to get their job done in a timely if not expedited manner.
Now, the floor is yours…
Has recording custom demos helped you get work?

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Stephanie,
    Yes. In fact, if a custom demo is requested and I don’t have time to do one, I don’t reply at all.
    I’d rather lose one job by not auditioning than lose a lot of work by giving a client the wrong impression about my ability to follow directions.
    Indeed, all but one of the jobs I have booked through Voices.com have been in response to custom demos. The one exception was someone who found me by searching through the talent roster directly.
    Be well,


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