Voiceover Is Thievery
Now if that isn’t a solid clickbait title, I don’t know what is! Rest assured, I still have nothing but love and admiration for voiceover and the members of the VO community. There’s been no tragic happenstance that has turned me against the industry. As with many a compelling blog entry, I think I’ve simply stumbled upon another good metaphor that I’d like to explore. With that disclaimer out of the way, allow me to explain. Knowing I sound like a broken record at this point, I’ll mention again that I adore good stories. Because I love good stories, I—unsurprisingly—try to spend as much of my free time as possible engaging with them. As of late, that has manifested itself in the form of Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastard Sequence, the first of which is titled The Lies of Locke Lamora. The novel tells the tale of Locke Lamora, an orphaned boy who is taken under the wing of a master crook and groomed to become a thief a cut above the rest of Camorr’s (a Venetian-esque city) seedy underbelly of crime. Along with a handful of other orphaned criminals-in-the-making, rounding out the titular Gentlemen Bastards, Locke spends his life pulling scheme after brilliant scheme to relieve the city’s nobility of their burdensome wealth. Locke’s latest and most audacious plot, however, goes sideways when a new player makes a grab for control of Camorr’s criminal empire. For anyone who appreciates a good heist story a la The Italian Job, beautifully crafted writing, and an immaculately fleshed out fantasy world with just a hint of magic brushed on, I can’t recommend The Lies of Locke Lamora highly enough. Its sequels are superb as well. “Tyler, you’re rambling again… Get on with it!” Okay, okay, hear me out. As I was reading, I made a connection—the kind that only the convoluted recesses of my mind would strive to make—between Locke’s schemes and my own endeavors as a voice actor. The wits, finesse, and competition inherent in being a master thief are also necessary in being successful in VO. Let me summarize.
Swipe Every (Quality) Opportunity “Voice actors” today are a dime a dozen. The ease with which one can be technologically savvy at home coupled with the drastic increase of folks both working from home and leaving the workforce altogether due to a global pandemic have allowed just about anyone with a closet and a USB mic to jump into voiceover. While there certainly isn’t a lack of VO work to be had—in fact, there’s more around the world than ever before—there is also a larger pool of talent to compete with. We can save the discussions about availability of quality jobs and the deterioration of the VO market due to people charging suboptimal rates and using bargain basement websites for another day, but the point remains that VO is ultimately a numbers game. The more your market yourself and audition, the more likely you’ll get a job. Certainly, it’s important to do your research and make sure you’re getting a good return on investment. Don’t waste your time auditioning for gigs that won’t add value to your life. But you won’t have the opportunity to make any investment unless you swipe every (quality) opportunity to put yourself in front of the decision-makers and get hired.
Steal the Show One of the most important skillsets to have as a voice actor is—pause for dramatic effect—acting. I know, unbelievable, right? Just like any other kind of actor (or con artist), you need to show that you’ve got acting chops ready to take on any number of challenges. And you need to do so from the moment you step in front of that mic to audition. For an actor, auditioning is the job; getting hired is just an extraordinarily satisfying bonus. Between competition with other competent voice actors and the preconceived voice the prospective client likely has in mind, you’ve got a high bar to reach. Every time. Generally speaking, you don’t get a mulligan. Bring it from the get-go and steal the show.
Take Their Breath Away As any voice actor worth their Sennheiser will tell you, voiceover is about a whole lot more than just being an actor. Nowadays, you often need to be decently well-versed in basic audio engineering, too. Not to mention learning to be an entrepreneur and picking up some know-how in running a business and marketing. Sometimes it won’t be enough just to nail the audition—many other actors will, too. You’ve got to set yourself apart even further with incredible customer service, fast and easy communication, and a holistic experience that will leave clients yearning for more. Do what you must to take their breath away. Under-promise what you can do and then over-deliver each and every time.
And there you have it. We voice actors may appear sweet and innocent, calmly crawling into our little booths to talk to ourselves for hours on end, but now you know in reality, we’re swiping, stealing, and taking all day, every day. We’re on par with the best of thieves, but we won’t leave you with a picked pocket and a sour stomach. We’ll leave that part to the Gentlemen Bastards.
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories. __________________________________________________________________________________ Are you in need of a quality voiceover for your next project? I'd love to help tell your story! Request a quote or check out my Demos. I look forward to working with you! Tyler Robbert Voiceover Artist | Storyteller firstname.lastname@example.org www.tylerrobbertvo.com Like what you read here? Looking for more ways to sate that hunger for VO-related content? Try checking out some of these other awesome blogs from within the VO community!