Ready to create the perfect commercial demo? Coach and voice actor Becky Shrimpton guides listeners through the key points to branding and constructing a commercial demo ideal for the international market. From branding, to run-time, to what types of pieces you should consider, Becky will guide you in creating this key marketing tool.
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Holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, and training at the British American Drama Academy and with tutelage from international coaches, Becky brings a global perspective to her client’s training. As an accomplished working actor and director, with roles on several hit animations including Fireman Sam and Doki, and with hundreds of commercial and narration voice overs for international brands under her belt, Becky works constantly on the global voice over market, bringing a current perspective to the voice over industry. Her clients across Canada and the US have booked numerous international commercial campaigns, and have signed with some of the top agents in North America.
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Now for our special guest.
Becky: Hi, I’m Becky Shrimpton. I’m a coach and professional voice over actor in Toronto.
Through my coaching practice, Caridea Studios, I help voice actors put together commercial and narration demo reels for the international market. As the calling card for the voice over world, demos are essential. Your demo will be used by agents and yourself, to not only gain access to auditions, but you’ll also be booked directly from your voice demo.
Creating a great-sounding demo is easy, if you have a fantastic engineer. But having the skills and techniques to be able to reproduce the voices on your demo is much harder. Before you commit yourself to a demo recording session and the costs associated with it, make sure that you’ve invested in a reasonable amount of training, either through workshops or private coaching. There’s nothing more disappointing to a potential employer, or harmful to your reputation than when you get called in for an audition or a booking based on your demo and you’re unable to reproduce the voices or styles you’ve recorded.
For those just starting out in the voice over industry, a commercial demo is a great investment. Most agencies in North America would prefer to hear a commercial demo before an animation demo, as commercial work makes up the bulk of the voice over industry.
Your commercial demo provides strong ROI and carefully chosen character pieces can help you show your character range before you invest in an animation demo.
When considering what to put on your commercial demo, the first thing you want to do is establish what brands you want to use. Think of it this way: if you were the voice of a brand, which brand would you represent? Do you have an upbeat, friendly, companionable voice? Consider brands like Walmart, McDonalds or Colgate. More depression rich and sultry? Well, think about brands like Tiffany’s, Nordstrom, and Godiva Chocolates. Try to keep your brands more global than local. It will increase the international appeal of your demo.
Once you’ve come up with some brands that you best represent, you’re going to start looking for 10 to 20 approximately 15-second long spots. Your finished product should be about a minute and a half to two minutes. So you’ll eventually whittle these away to a solid five to seven pieces that best represent you.
To get even more specific, and depending on the nature of your voice, you’re looking for a final one to two announcer style pieces. A character piece, a PSA, one to two conversational or relatable pieces, and if you have someone to do it with, a duologue conversational piece. If you do have another person reading on your demo, make sure that they’re great, and that their voice is a significant contrast to yours. If you’re a female, try and get a male, that kind of thing.
All of your pieces should be complete stories and at least one of them should demonstrate that you can read a website or a phone number clearly. Think about variety. What are all the shades of your voice?
Remember that a commercial demo is more subtle than an animation demo. Any outlandish voices you perform should be more on the realistic than the cartoony side. A demo composed with this format will allow listeners to hear your range, your skill at sustaining a whole commercial, ability to promote a product, and of course your personality.
Keep in mind that as you book more work, you’ll be able to put those pieces onto your demo to help show your range. But make sure you have permission to do so beforehand.
Finally, remember that your demo is an investment. You want it to sound as polished as possible, making you sound professional. Expect to pay between $700 and $2,000 US or more for a completed demo. And that often doesn’t include coaching.
Speaking of which, you might want to consider having a coach in your demo session. Engineers aren’t coaches, and although they may have great ears and great opinions, they often won’t know how to direct you to your best performance.
If you’re looking for someone to help you put together your demo, get some pre-demo or in-coaching sessions or someone to hone your skills, I can help. Visit me at carideastudios.com. That’s C-A-R-I-D-E-A studios dot com. Or Tweet to me at Caridio_studios.
I’m Becky Shrimpton and I wish you demonstrable success.
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