What Is a Talent Agent and Do I Need One?
Whether you are new to the voice over industry or are a seasoned professional, you may be wondering how to get your name out there and make yourself known to more clients. It can be confusing to navigate the waters of the industry alone, which is where a talent agent can step in to lend a helping hand.
We’ve asked a couple of talent agents to share their insights into the world of voice acting and how they can help you out with your voice acting careers. Talent agents included are Ed Batchelor of Arcieri & Associates and Dean Panaro of Dean Panaro Talent, a KMR Company.
What Do Talent Agents Do?
There is a ton of information out there on what exactly a talent agent does, but often the messages are conflicting. While some voice actors may love working with their agent, others may prefer to navigate the waters of the voice over industry solo.
In order to decide if having a talent agent is right for you, first you should know from talent agents themselves what it is they do on a daily basis.
Here’s how Dean Panaro describes his role as a talent agent:
“Number one – we provide opportunities. Our main job is providing actors with opportunities [such as] auditions and meetings. I present my clients with opportunities and it’s my job to provide them with advice and coaching. I know a lot of their internal experiences in the industry – from the nuts and bolts of how things work, as well as the mental side [of voice acting]. I’m there to provide opportunities, advice, and coaching.”
“Plus, I’m a little bit of a psychologist and sometimes like the bartender who listens to their stories. Almost all clients (voice actors) are different. They all have their own way of doing stuff. As their agent I understand what makes them tick, what they can’t stand, what they love and molding myself differently for each client. I try to be what everybody needs me to be. I’m always myself and never fake, but I do know that you can’t have a blanket way of treating everyone. Each person may need something different.”
Although an agent’s job is to ensure that talent is put in front of the right people, it’s also an agent’s job to ensure that the end client is satisfied as well.
“My job is to provide the casting producer with as many great talent that I have who fit their spec, regardless of rate. My job is to put everyone on that audition who is right for the audition,” says Dean,
Here, Ed Batchelor also expands on how an agent should be working on auditions for voice actors.
“The primary responsibility is to provide audition opportunities for the talent. But it is also equally as important to make sure the talent are executing competitive auditions, so a portion of my day is spent listening to auditions the talent send in from home and sending notes to the talent if there is time to make adjustments.”
Sure, providing you with audition opportunities is great, but it’s just one of the many goals talent agents help out with:
“Agents don’t just provide audition opportunities, we also make sure the details are attended to after a talent has booked a job. For example, we make sure the information on the contract is correct, and the talent is paid properly and on time.”
Am I Ready for a Talent Agent?
Now that you know what a talent agent does, you might be wondering how to know that you are at the point in your career where having a talent agent is right for you. How do you go about figuring that out? It involves taking a critical look at yourself as a voice actor and the skill set that you bring to the table.
What do agents say are some things that let them know talent may not be ready for representation?
“A lack of ability to break down the copy and make sense of the script,” says Ed Batchelor.
He asks himself questions while listening to a talent’s read, such as: Does the audition sound ‘read’ rather than sounding ‘alive’? And does the talent come across as authentic and real? Is there a flow to the copy, does one idea connect to the next and does that talent connect to the product?
All of these qualities should indicate that you are ready to be represented by a talent agent and further your voice over career. If there are areas you still struggle with, getting a vocal coach can help you level up your skills before you become represented by an agent. You can learn more about the art of the audition and how to prepare the perfect audition.
What Do Talent Agents Look for in Voice Actors?
Trying to land the right talent agent for your needs can seem like a daunting goal to achieve but there are certain skills you can work on and skill sets you can enhance to ensure that you will be signed by a talent agent.
Here are three important abilities talent agents look for in the voice actors they mentor:
- A Great Read
Having the ability to really understand what the client is asking of you from the script alone will set you apart from other voice actors.
“Vocal quality is not what I am listening for,” says Ed. “I want to hear choices an actor makes in their read, get a sense of their instincts and how they break down the copy. What makes their read stand out? Is the read real, believable and interesting?”
- Vocal Range
Professional voice actors really know how to change up their read and vocal qualities as needed.
“I am listening for range, what kind of tools they have at their chest. Can he be a friendly Home Depot dad and [the voice of a] Nissan [ad]? Can she do a sexy Maybelline spot but also be an all American Mom in a Tide spot,” says Dean. “Part of an agent’s job is figuring out where the talent fits in the VO world.”
- Great Storytellers
For Dean, the sign of a great voice actor is great storytelling. “Great storytellers are people with interesting phrasing,” says Dean. “They don’t use the punctuation on the page, they break [sentences] up in a unique way.”
“I’m looking for tiny differences [in voice actors] from other actors. It’s hard to quantify and say verbally what I feel when I hear something that I like.”
How Can I Find The Best Talent Agent for Me?
Now that you know what a talent agent does and how they can help you on your career path, it’s time to find the talent agent who will work the best with your goals and your needs as a voice actor.
You can ask other voice actors if they have any recommendations of talent agents for you. Word of mouth is often the best way to come across the perfect talent agent.
Just remember, a talent agent should be knowledgeable about the industry and be willing to work with your unique goals and your unique voice.
A talent agent should be one who cares about the present state of the voice acting industry, but also looks toward the future and the trends that will exist.
“My job is to figure out what comes next,” says Dean. “A lot of times, my ear is planning for the future. I feel like my job is to tell [people who are looking for voice over] what the future is going to be.”
You can search the Voices database for talent agencies here.
Are you currently working with an agent? Let us know in the comments below!