Gobs on Sticks

Thoughts mostly (but not always) about the voice-over business, from London Voiceover Artist, Mike Cooper

  • About the author

    My name is Mike Cooper. I'm a full time Voiceover Artist living and working in London, and this is my blog. Find out more about me on my main website (there's a link further down this column), or if you'd like to hear some of my work, check out the files below.

Finding a Voice

Posted by MikeCooper on August 7, 2009

The following is a short piece I wrote for the current issue of the IVCA’s “Update” magazine, on the subject of how to find a Voiceover Artist for your production. I hope you enjoy it! To read the article in its original form click here.

What do you normally do when your client comes to you and asks you to find them a Voiceover Artist? Do you point them to an agency and let them deal with it? Perhaps you suggest hiring the voice you hired last time, to save the trouble? Or maybe you panic about the best way forward, perhaps even by trying to convince them that they don’t need one for their project, and that it’s strong enough to “speak for itself”?

If any of the above seems familiar then you’re not alone, but it doesn’t have to be quite like that. In the same way that technology has revolutionised the business of making video in the last decade, that same technology has seen a quiet revolution in the world of the Voiceover Artist. The equipment to produce professional audio doesn’t cost what it once did, and this has meant that more “voices” than ever are working from home studios and marketing themselves either outside – or in addition to – traditional artiste/agency relationships. I know because I’m one of them. Voiceover Artists all over the world now use the internet to find, or attract, work – whether through their own websites, or via one of the “online casting directories” like Voice123 or Voices.com, which have seen explosive growth over the last few years.

If your client is on a budget, then cutting out both the agency fees, and the time and cost of taking your talent into a production facility with an engineer, could make an attractive difference to the balance sheet. Not only that, but the quality of the finished audio might well surprise you…

Of course you need to do your homework. The lower the bar of entry, the more any profession becomes attractive to those who don’t necessarily possess the skills to do it justice. But the beauty of the internet is that you and your client can check out what you’re likely to get back before you engage a talent. You can even ask for a sample to be provided by way of an audition. Most voices will be happy to record a portion of your script and deliver it in a format of your choice. Get them to do that, and you’ll know exactly the quality of what you’re likely to get back for the end product – including the artiste’s delivery, technical quality and editing skills.

What should you expect to pay? Well, the price range varies hugely. On some casting sites you might be lucky and pay well under the £200 or so that’s still perceived to be the ballpark hourly rate you’d pay for taking your talent into a studio. But make sure you do that homework: if you don’t, then that £45 voiceover track that seemed like such a bargain at the time might not turn out to be all it promised. It’s still true that in voiceovers – as in life – you generally get what you pay for. And if you’re paying £200 to your voice, but not paying the traditional associated costs on top, the chances are that’s still quite a saving.

Check that your agreed rate includes things such as prep time, session fees, studio costs, editing and supply. Check the talent’s policy on “recuts” in case there’s anything you or your client aren’t happy with. Don’t be afraid to ask for a written quote. Ask if the talent has a Service Agreement you can check out. And make sure you have agreed any usage fees, if appropriate.

It’s true that not every project needs a voiceover (sometimes, as Ronan Keating pointed out, you say it best when you say nothing at all). But next time one does, take heart: With a bit of care, and with the help of the internet, Google and casting directories as your new best friends, Voiceover Artists from all corners of the world are now well within your reach.

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