Taking Your Career to the Next Level

Why is hiring a voice talent online so appealing? Businesses need simple cost-effective solutions for locating, auditioning, and hiring voice talent. Online they can find fast, dependable freelancers who can be relied upon when a urgent project comes up that requires a voice-over yesterday - and delivery a quality audio recording that is defined by the talent's signature voice.

Identifying Your Signature Voice

Taking your voice acting career to the next level starts with knowing without a doubt what your signature voice is.

A signature voice is, at the very heart of it all, your money voice. It’s the sound and kind of readings that people consistently ask and/or hire you to perform. Although some voice actors pride themselves in being able to be everything to everybody performance-wise, many choose to brand their voice and serve a particular market or niche within voice-over. In other words, your signature voice is the one you are most frequently hired to perform and make money with, not necessarily the one you think is the most fun to do.

The following sections help you figure out what your signature voice is and feel comfortable using your signature voice.

Signature Voices of Famous Actors

Can you hear them now? You’ve turned on the TV or radio and probably heard many memorable famous stars who also serve as voice actors for commercial advertisements. Some of the more memorable ones include the following:

  • Morgan Freeman: Morgan Freeman’s voice has become one of the most identifiable voices heard in film and commercial voice-over. His run as the voice of VISA and narrator of many documentaries and films, such as March of the Penguins, have positioned him as a trustworthy and authoritative storyteller.
  • James Earl Jones: From the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars to Mufasa in The Lion King and narrator of documentaries such as Planet Earth, James Earl Jones’s voice is a deep, rich, grandfatherly voice whose unmistakable timber and delivery resonates with multiple generations.
  • Kelsey Grammer: Best-known for playing Dr. Frasier Crane on the television shows Cheers and Frasier, Kelsey Grammer's baritone voice has been the voice chosen to help advertise some of the most commonly purchased products in the United States. Honey Nut Cheerios, Helzberg Diamonds, and more have all featured Grammer’s voice in their commercials.
  • Carolyn Hopkins: Although not a typical celebrity, Carolyn Hopkins’s voice is heard all over the world by millions of people each day in airports, at train stations, and on subway systems. Hers is the most recognizable voice perhaps in the transportation industry.
  • Dame Judi Dench: The voice of Dame Judi Dench has been defined by The Guardian and BBC News as embodying elements of what many consider to be the perfect female voice. Her voice is alluring, soft, and velvety using her richly textured instrument to the best of her ability in earlier comedic roles on television, via film as M in James Bond, and in narration on the Epcot Spaceship Earth ride at Disney World.
  • Don LaFontaine: If you’ve ever been to the movies, you can relate to one of the most famous examples of a signature voice, which was Don LaFontaine’s movie trailer voice. Whenever you heard the opening words “In a world . . . ”, you were hearing his signature voice at work.

Finding Your Signature Voice

Your signature voice is unique to you because everyone has a unique voice print. When getting to know your signature voice, you can gain understanding of how your voice works best in a commercial setting, such as paid work that you may do recording a voice-over for radio or television, and also become familiar with the sound or characteristics of your voice that resonate with those individuals doing a casting.

Zeroing in on a niche and distinctive read that makes you money is great, but it may take time to discover what other people feel your strong suits are and also what you continuously get hired to do.

Ask those people closest to you about what they think about your vocal characteristics and abilities to see if they can help you figure out your signature voice. Try reading different kinds of scripts to see if your vocal qualities lend themselves more to specific markets, character types, or applications of voice-over. For example, if you have a hard-hitting voice full of gravel, your voice may be more suited to the world of sports or radio imaging, whereas if you have a soothing, pleasant voice, your instrument may be better applied in telephony or narration. If you have a voice that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere corporate and sounds rather unique or quirky, consider where you may go if you tried to voice characters as an animation voice-over artist.

 

Sometimes your signature voice and voice-over work runs parallel to your personality, disposition, and interests. For people who fit this mold, identifying and honing your signature voice may be easier for you, because it may come naturally.

Many voice actors find their signature voice through mimicry. Imitating the voice of someone you know — characters on television or a celebrity — can lead to work in voice matching, a relatively lucrative field. Some actors make a living sounding like other people and record for them in their absence. One such example is how Pat Fraley was the voice match for Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story II. If Tim Allen couldn’t rerecord something or come into the studio for whatever reason, Pat stepped in and supplied the voice for the character.

Seeing Yourself in Your Signature Voice

Although your signature voice can be a true reflection of your personality, according to many voice actors, their signature voices aren’t always that way. In fact, sometimes the voice that you’re hired for most contrasts with your natural self or what you consider to be your signature voice.

Sometimes your signature voice directly correlates with your own personality. You may be able to see yourself in your signature voice if you’re particularly interested in something. The exuberance and confidence you pour into that read shines through with more brilliance because it’s something you’re already passionate about.

On the flipside, some signature voices rely more on the quality of your voice than on your general interest in the topic you’re voicing. You may have a sunshiny personality but find that most of the time you’re hired to record medical narrations or more subdued copy.

With any voice-over, be sure that the creation and delivery doesn’t injure you or cause physical discomfort. If something doesn’t feel right when you’re performing, stop what you’re doing and figure out why the pain is there and if you can create that sound without hurting yourself. There’s nothing worse than having to record for long periods of time with a voice or delivery that hurts! Imagine if you were to book a job with a voice that hurt you to produce. Staying in good voice and maintaining a consistent performance would be difficult. You could also strain your vocal folds or injure yourself. Don’t ever do an episodic role, such as being a character in a cartoon, video game, or long-form narration project, with a voice that hurts you to produce.