Conversations carried on from last week about demos have provided more food for thought regarding what can or cannot be used on them.
One way to make sure that your copy is original is to write it yourself!
Learn more about how you can do that now.

Is It Still OK To…?

Yesterday I received a message from someone asking for clarification on the kind of material you could include on your voice over demo, namely asking if print ad copy was OK to use as a former instructor had once suggested.
My answer to her, and remember I’m not a lawyer so this is based upon my own opinion, was as follows and I hope it is of some use to you, too:

Can I use print ad copy in my demo?
Print ads are still copyrighted material, so I would say not to do that from now on. The ad itself would be copyrighted material and the use of a brand name or slogan could violate trademarks. If you can, write your own spots. These can be inspired by ads you hear or see, but take the core or the spirit of those ads and translate them into something new.

For instance, I could be listening to a commercial for a fast food restaurant and be inspired to write a spot for a gourmet catering business and how their food is organic, why it’s better than fast food, etc.

Does it still have to do with food?
The answer is yes, but it has absolutely nothing else to do with the ad I was inspired by.
Create a fictitious name for the company if you like (double check on the Internet via keyword searching that the name is not being used or registered by anyone) and run with it.

Other Options

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of royalty-free voice over and advertising script collections that feature a variety of industries, applications and also includes vocal / musical direction. The scripts are useful for practicing with, as material for your demos and are also customizable for your own use and personal style.

If you are a Premium or Preferred member of Voices.com, these scripts are available to you for free in the Help section: Helpful Documents, User Guides and Resources for Voice Over
Of course, if you prefer, you could always hire someone else to write custom copy for your demo. The rule of thumb is to keep the voice over demo to 1 minute in duration, and within that minute, you’ll be able to easily showcase between 5 to 7 different spots, give or take, perhaps more.

Have You Experimented With Writing Copy For Your Own Demos?

Leave a comment and share your experiences!
Best wishes,

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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. Before I had a body of work to use, I drew on my background as a radio sales copywriter. I even took a couple of spots I’d written back in the day, tweaked them a bit, and it helped make a nice first demo.

  2. I’m a believer now. I’m working on a new commercial demo, soon to be completed. My coach-producer and I are collaborating on all originally scripted materials, plus using some portions of actual produced spots I have recently booked that I have obtained copies of and have permission to use.
    FYI-It’s really funny, and a strange standard. While prepping for my new demo, I went to Voicebank and listened to the female celebrity v/o artists…two of them who are extremely well-known, and work fairly consistently, who are represented by the SAME agency. I was floored when I heard each have one snippet of the exact same copy in their demos! Not particularly a “sound” idea, imho. But…because they’re celebs, maybe that’s no big deal???

  3. I think the idea of writing your own copy for at least some if not all of your demo spots is a terrific idea. But that’s coming from an ol’ copywriter and production guy.

  4. I find that writing your own spots is a great way to test your ability to find the core of essence of an ad.
    Let’s face it, if you can’t write catchy dialogue, you clearly don’t know what’s catchy about the ads you see or hear, right?
    I find I have trouble picking the right words sometimes, but all in all, it’s still a learning experience, and as an actor, I find it always helps to apply your discipline whenever you can. Writing your own spots basically translates into: “Do I have to rely on other people to do the work for me? Am I that helpless?”
    My answer: “Not at all.”

  5. While writing is a key element that everyone needs to have in their skill set, I am not completely sold on the idea that talent must write all their own material from scratch for demos. Perhaps as the industry changes and actors are required to be editors and producers and sound designer, they will be required to be good writers as well.
    Many voiceover people already multi-task and are able to offer their clients a full range of services. But I would very much like the opinion of copyright lawyers to help us understand what constitutes fair use. Particularly with print ads that have been altered slightly – or have had the brand name changed or eliminated on the demo.

  6. I’m also a writer, so I’m writing my own material for my demo. I am able to customize it for my abilities and strengths, and avoid my weaknesses. A professional VO teacher once told me to only use scripts from the net, but I have also heard demos from multiple artists using the same scripts, and it sure does sound REALLY tacky like that. However, if you are NOT a good writer or do not know one, you should seriously consider using scripts. Some of the demos I’ve listened to sound equally tacky b/c they were obviously written badly. I also suggest, if you write your own, make the first words catch the listener’s attention. Then keep it light & pleasant to listen to, unless you are purposely going for a heavy or harsh sound. Human nature has us “tune out” of any speech-listening activity after about 30 seconds, so be sure to put something at around 31 seconds or so to keep the listener’s attention. Vary the tone and feel of the samples (if using multiple ones) back and forth (serious/comic, tough/gentle, etc), also to help keep attention. Good luck!


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