Understanding the Business

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    The Voices Experience with Founder & CEO David Ciccarelli

    The voice over business is abounding with job titles: including casting directors, agents, and of course, voice talent. In the second episode of The Voices Experience, David provides a handy overview of all the key players in voice over. Peeling back the curtain to reveal the wide range of industries where voice over is sought after, David outlines the function of an online marketplace like Voices.com, shedding light on the types of clients and talent that the platform seamlessly connects with one another. 

    About The Voices Experience: The Voices Experience is presented by Voices.com. Produced and engineered by Randy Rektor. 

    Hey guys, it’s David here. And thanks for joining me on The Voices Experience. My role is to be your guide, giving you the behind the scenes look at how things work at voices.com and in the voiceover industry. In today’s episode, I’m going to break down who are the key players within the industry. Now as a voice actor, in order to be successful, you need to understand the importance of voice acting and how the industry functions as a whole. This includes learning who are the clients and understanding the types of jobs that exist, then how all the different key players within the industry work together to get those projects done. First, let’s understand who is a client.

    Simply put, the client is the person that hires the voice talent. They could be somebody at an ad agency or somebody at a large corporation, like a Fortune 500 company. Often, they work within the creative services department at the ad agency, or perhaps the marketing department in a large business. They could also be someone at a book publisher or filmmaker or a game studio producer. There’s lots of people that fall under the umbrella of being the client. Clients are going to have a script that needs to be read and that’s why they’re coming to you as a voice talent. And our most recent industry report show that clients believe that voiceovers are a critical part of the project. Most importantly, more than 70% of clients agree that using voiceover helps them capture the targeted audiences attention for longer than not using voice at all. Clients fundamentally understand a great voice makes a difference in their project.

    The industry’s always evolving with a variety of interesting voice acting jobs. The categories of jobs include the traditional voiceovers for radio and TV commercials, and then voice acting roles like in animated films or audio book recording, podcasts, and perhaps some dubbing projects as well. Then there’s new types of work like internet videos, smart speakers, digital assistance. Any of those technologies usher in new opportunities for voice talent. To establish yourself as a voice actor, you must understand the voiceover styles that these projects include and then as well, practicing your voice acting skills to make yourself more diverse enough to tackle those projects.

    Now, I mentioned off the top that the industry is made up of a number of key players, and it’s really the client that kicks the whole project in motion. But the clients don’t do this alone. Often, they have some help. One of the first types of people that they often go to is the role of a casting director. Now, before a client kicks off a project, they have to make an important decision. Is this job going to be a union job or a non-union job? So the difference between the two is often decided at the client because they have certain requirements or maybe certain preferences of how they like to do business. Non-union work is all that freelance work that happens on voices.com predominantly as well as any other site that doesn’t need to go through the traditional union processes.

    Unions that exist in the voiceover industry include the Screen Actors Guild, often said SAG-AFTRA, which is an acronym for the American Federation in Radio and Television Artists. And SAG and AFTRA actually recently merged together, well, probably more than about a decade ago now. And then there’s ACTRA in Canada and there’s other performing arts unions like Equity in the United Kingdom. Only actors under these unions are allowed to audition for jobs that fall under the union category of work. In contrast, non-union or freelance voiceover jobs, they’re open to all voice actors. So where are you going to find these voiceover jobs? Through agencies, casting calls, newspaper ads maybe, online marketplaces. Sure, these are all different places where a client could post their job. Just make sure you’re looking out if it’s a union or a non-union job, and really only go after those non-union ones unless you’re part of the union.

    Now, the client doesn’t go at this alone. Often, they’ve got help. One of the people that they go to get help from is the role of the casting director. The casting director is the person who has those golden ears that facilitates the project. But really at the beginning, they’re there to help design the specifications of what that client is really looking for. One of the hard things about voiceovers that a client hears the voice in their head, but they don’t know quite how to articulate it. The casting director can really draw some of those artistic direction terms out of their mind and formulate a character as well as identify the audience that the voice talent is ultimately going to be speaking to. So the casting director is going to help shape the project itself and then go through their contacts of who they might think would be a good fit.

    So the casting director has a great memory. They know who are the talent at what agencies, who are the talent that they have within their own Rolodex, if you will. And they can match it up right away. Now, casting directors are mostly based in New York and Los Angeles and for a large part, a construct of how the industry had operated for, let’s call it the first 50, 60, 70 years. Really since the advent of the internet though, a lot has changed. We’re going to talk about that in the upcoming episodes. But for now, I just wanted to mention the importance of the role of the casting director because they are very influential in down selecting and choosing who are the talent that they’re going to put forward for an audition or a callback, which is when you come back to do a second audition. The casting directors are great people to know.

    Now, I just mentioned the agents. An agent is a person who works at a talent agency. Talent agencies are located around the world, but again are concentrated in big geographic centers like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, pretty much every city that has, let’s say, over a few million people. There’s a whole arts and entertainment and media production hub that can be there. And so agents often have a roster of talent that they represent that they can put forward for new job opportunities, often given to them by a casting director. Talent that I’ve spoken with, most of them want to have agents, or perhaps they already do. The benefits of working with an agent is that they give you new job opportunities, of course, auditions being sent to your inbox, but they also help you develop in your career by providing you advice. And when it comes time to getting a contract, they’re going to work through a lot of those details and they’re always going to be working in your best interest as well.

    In upcoming episodes, we can talk about the best way to get an agent, but for today, it’s just important to know who they are and how they can be helpful. Now, some talent agents have a recording studio in house and other ones need to partner up with an outside studio. That’s another key player you might want to be familiar with. The recording studios and the engineers that work there. You see sometimes, clients send work directly to a studio and skip right over the casting director or talent agency. In which case, people at recording studios are probably a great group of folks for you to get to know a little bit better. Nowadays, it’s almost imperative that a voice talent has their own home-based recording studio, where they’re using something like Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, or even Audacity, I think a free version of the recording software.

    Their set up probably includes not only just the recording software, but an audio interface and a microphone. And most importantly, a soundproof space. But those home studios that so many of you are setting up, they’re really just smaller versions of a much grander studio that maybe you’d visit again in some of these big centers like New York, Chicago, and LA. Recording studios are most often used by musicians or when it comes to voiceover, you’re recording multiple voices at the same time. You need to all be there in person and interacting with one another. Suffice to say, home studios are definitely the wave of the future. All that said though, big recording studios in cities across the world, they’re great people to get to know.

    Lastly though are the marketplaces. Marketplaces connect buyers and sellers together and they’ve been around for thousands of years. Just think of a farmer’s market or perhaps an auction. Really any time where you get buyer and seller together, that’s a marketplace. Now, there are online versions of marketplaces, like voices.com, that facilitate the transactions enabling the client and the talent to do business with one another. Talent have been joining these marketplaces because they want visibility and access to new opportunities, and they want a simple way to get paid for the work that they complete. Clients also like them because it’s easy for them to find the right voice for their project as quickly and as easily as possible at a reasonable price. Now at voices.com, we operate an inclusive online marketplace that connects clients and the talent.

    Now, the talent that are on Voices, their aspirational talent, those who are just beginning and starting out their career, professional talent, many of whom have been in the industry for a number of years already and have won dozens, if not hundreds of jobs. Celebrities are on Voices and celebrities are listed by their talent agencies. Talent agencies are also on voices.com. And the thread that weaves through all these talent are what we call the triple threat. It’s the artistic skills, the technical skills and the marketing skills. Those are the three skills that you really need to be a successful talent, especially one on an online marketplace. Now, the clients I mentioned off the top, but the type of clients that would use an online marketplace would again be these advertising agencies, small to medium sized businesses and even large enterprises.

    The people who are at those organizations, they’re often creative directors or video producers. And yes, there’s even casting directors that have signed up to voices.com. So as you can see, there’s a lot of people that you got to get to know within the voiceover business. Now, if you’re new to the business, that’s probably going to seem pretty intimidating and those of you have been around for a while, it’s important to keep up those relationships. Now, you might have noticed, we’ve talked about everybody but the voice actor. So in the next episode, we’re going to talk all about you, you as a voice actor or a voice talent, often those terms are used interchangeably. And in that episode, I’m going to break down the five most common voiceover roles that we see posted at voices.com and then how you can make sure that you have demos for each of those roles.

    All right. Well until then, if you have questions, you can send me a comment or a question to david@voices.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play to catch the latest episode. Until then, be sure to use your voice to inform, entertain and inspire the world.

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    David graduated with honours from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology. David’s background in audio production continues to inform Voices.com’s innovation in the areas of mobile recording and digital media products that contribute to Canada’s economic and cultural future. As Chief Executive Officer, David is responsible for setting the vision, executing the growth strategy and managing the company on a day-to-day basis. He often writes about these experiences in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes.

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