Do you have to live in New York or Los Angeles to be a voice over professional?
I received a question from a Chicago-area high school student who had heard that in order become a voice actor, you needed to live in NYC, LA or Houston.
A reply was sent which I believe will be of great comfort! Since this is a wide reaching topic, I’ve elaborated on my answer here on VOX Daily.
When you’re done reading, comment with where you are living as a voice actor!
Chicago’s No Slouch!
You can live anywhere in the world (so long as there is a good Internet connection) and be a successful voice over artist.
Just as any industry has its hubs of activity, (the main centers for voice over being NYC and LA), that doesn’t mean that you have to live there in order to be a voice actor. I know of many people who live outside of large centers and they make their living working as voice talent.
For the record Chicago is 1 of the top 3 markets in the US. NYC, LA, and Chicago are the most lucrative markets for commercial voice over in the US but you don’t have to live there to get jobs that air in those markets.
Technology has changed the playing field, and because work comes from all over the world, you’re not limited to a geographic region or areas such as NYC or LA.
When Did This First Take Shape?
According to Beau Weaver, the killer technology in the 80s was Federal Express. How else could you get your demo in front of someone within 24 hours who lived out of state? When ISDN was becoming more widely used in the 90s, Beau and several of his peers wanted to use the new technology and work from home studios.
They asked Don LaFontaine to use his influence and help make the transition from having to be physically present in a recording studio to auditioning and working most of the time from home. If Don told the industry that he wanted to have an ISDN hookup in his home to work, then everyone else would be able to follow suit… and look where we are today!
As we’ve witnessed, sessions via ISDN has saved clients and talents time, money, mileage, and has dramatically changed the lifestyles of the working voice over professional.
Naturally, when it became the norm for everyone to have personal computers with high speed Internet access, in combination with the drop in prices for equipment, the home studio boom was triggered and the market expanded. There has also been a shift in how business is done with regard to the people hiring and casting talent.
More and more companies choose to post their own voice over jobs instead of exclusively working through agencies or relying on a advertising firm to find their voice.
A large (and growing) number of voice over talent agencies in NYC and LA (among other places) now depend on the online voice over marketplace as an iron in their fire to bring them leads that they do not have access to otherwise.
Some agents also now represent talent from outside of their geographic locations which is a definite shift from working solely with those in town.
Technology, combined with changes in how business is conducted, has done much to benefit voice over artists, wouldn’t you agree?
Where Are You Working From?
If technology has opened up your world of opportunity as a professional voice actor, I want to hear about it!
Comment with the city and country you are based out of so that we can prove once and for all that this truly is a global economy.
P.S. Note of interest: Talent can come from anywhere! The late, great Don LaFontaine was born in Duluth, Minnesota.