Six Tips to Landing a Voiceover Agent
It seems like behind “What is the best microphone to use for VO?” the most often asked question from new and aspiring voice artists is “How do I get an agent?”
Recent advances in technology have made things a lot easier for voice artists, but the digital nature of the business has also made it more challenging. While there is a ton of work out there, the competition for that work has quadrupled, making it harder for everyone to land the gigs. Having an agent can help.
Do you need to have an agent to get voiceover work? Absolutely not, but they can be a very useful tool in your toolbox that can open doors for you that you may not have even been aware of. They can get you jobs that are not posted in places like Fiverr or Upwork, or even the Pay-to-plays.
There’s also a “status thing” about having representation. It shows that someone believes in your skills enough to want to represent you to the big name companies. And that can convey a certain level of professionalism and commitment on your part that is implied, rather than just being said.
Also there are some production companies and advertising agencies that simply won't do work with anyone that doesn't have representation. If you want to get into the major leagues of commercial work, An agent might be the only way to get there.
With that in mind, here are six points to remember when courting your first (or second, or fourteenth) voiceover agent:
BE GOOD - This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Have the skills you need to deliver the copy the way it needs to be read and have a demo that shows off those skills in the best possible way.
Your demo is your calling card; Your headshot for voiceover. It needs to be the absolute best it can be to show off your skills. Even if you have the skills, if they are displayed poorly, your email will be deleted with barely a blink of their eyes. Having a professionally produced demo is crucial.
Even with a solid demo, you’re only going to get a brief listen by an agent. You have an incredibly short amount of time to impress someone before they move on to the next voice. Talent Agent Jeffrey Umberger suggested that the first 7 seconds should be the absolute strongest material you have. Seven seconds; That’s all you get. If the demo is REALLY good, perhaps 10 seconds, but don’t hold your breath.
And if your demo is particularly bad... it will get saved in a special file that agents share with each other to laugh about. I originally thought this was just an urban legend, but it’s been confirmed to me by multiple agents. You want to be remembered, but definitely not THAT way!
BE CONSTANTLY IMPROVING - So you’ve had some acting experience, gotten some voice coaching and have a professionally produced demo. So what? So do 500,000 other people that call themselves voice artists. Just because you’ve gotten some training doesn’t mean you know everything there is. Always be working to improve your skills. This shows the potential agent that you’re serious about this as a career.
BE YOU - Don’t think for one second that just because you can do a great impression of someone makes you qualified to be a voice artist. Dr. Seuss once said, “There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” (and that line is truly truer than true.) An agent wants to hear how YOU are going to interpret the copy. Not someone else. Just be yourself and perfect THAT.
BE PERSISTENT - The only way to get an agent to sign you is for that agent to know you exist. Don't just send an email to an agent and leave it at that. You have to follow up. Touch base with the agent every 3 to 6 months to make sure you are still a blip on their radar. This is called “being top of mind.” Even if they’ve said no in the past, their opinion may change in a few months time. Show them new work you’ve done since the last time you contacted them.
Just keep in mind that there is a fine, barely visible line between being persistent and being annoying. Know where that line is and never cross it.
BE FLEXIBLE - While attending VO Atlanta a few years ago, I had the opportunity to read for a top talent agent. The script was a hard-sell car commercial. I delivered the script exactly how a car spot should sound. In my mind it was a solid delivery. Immediately, the agent said “Don’t try to sell it to me. Instead talk to me as if you were trying to convince a close friend they needed to go to the hospital.” In my mind, I was thinking, “lady, It's a freakin' car commercial!” But that wasn't the point. The point was to see how well I can adjust my delivery when thrown a curve. Your ability to take direction and how well you can adapt your style to that direction are important features to a potential agent.
BE FEARLESS - If you’ve worked in VO for a little while, you know that rejection is par for the course. More people are going to say no to you than say yes. It’s just the nature of the business. After a while, this can weigh on you. You start feeling that you aren’t good enough. Or that no matter what, you think they’re going to say no, so you stop trying at all. Giving up should never be an option. If you want to be a voice talent with representation, you need to thumb your nose at all the things that would normally paralyze you. It’s ok to be nervous, but don’t let it push you into inactivity. Acknowledge your fears and do it anyway.
Remember, that an agent doesn't get paid if you don’t get paid, so you have to convince them that by signing you, you are going to help make both of you money. Focus on the things you you bring to the table that will make an agent want you. Sell yourself. Convince them that they would be foolish not to sign you.
About Rob Marley -
A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, coach, producer and writer, now living in the Hill Country of Austin Texas.