Stocking your Toolbox
In order to build a career as a voice actor, one must have the right tools. In the digital age, if you are not savvy about certain websites and services, then you are at a disadvantage. When I first began in this business about 10 years ago, the internet had just come into it's own in the VO world. Now, in 2014, the majority of this business is done on the internet - from submitting demos to auditioning to recording in session with producers in remote locations.
Here is a brief list of some of the important websites and resources you must have if you are serious about making it in this industry today.
[NOTE: this list is by no means exhaustive. It's just a starting place. Additionally, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am not affiliated with, nor do I benefit in any way from any of the businesses listed below for mentioning them in this blog.]
Like a phone book for VO, the VORG is an online directory of agents, casting directors, demo producers, training and more. From the main page you can choose L.A. or New York for the most up-to-date listings of VO resources in these major markets. This is a must have site for demo submission, current union rates, available classes and more. And best of all, it's free.
Dave & Dave inc. publishers of the VORG. Their business site with listings of their services including demo recording, audition submission, ISDN studios and more.
THE resource for online demos and agency house reels. This site is an industry standard for agencies and casting in VO. It is an open site to view, but only Talent Agencies can pull copy and submit auditions for talent.
Edge Studio on the east coast is a casting and production house that evolved into a major player in VO education on both coasts and throughout the country. In addition to classes and production services, Edge puts out a free weekly newsletter full of tips, insight and expertise from trainers and VO performers. But by far, my favorite service of Edge Studio is the free copy library. If you create a free online profile you can get access to this online practice script library featuring VO of all kinds. When I'm coaching a student in private session, I will often refer them to Edge so they can do their homework on real scripts for broadcast.
Being a VO teacher and coach myself, I am very picky about recommending other teachers for VO training. Frankly, there is a dearth of out-dated, mechanics-based, education factories out there that are set up to keep students training indefinitely rather than truly give them the skills to make it in the world of professional VO. More on this in a later post. Suffice to say, the teachers I list here, I also support as not only legitimate, but helpful to the VO student.
Pat Fraley my mentor and is my teacher of choice. I go to Pat for his masters classes and I recommend no one higher. My trust for Pat runs deep. Check out his free lessons site to learn why…
James Alburger wrote the book on acting for VO (literally!) and his website is a treasure trove of resources. He is also the creator of the weekend intensive VOICE conference that happens in Southern California once every two years.
The Voicecaster is one of Los Angeles’ oldest and most prestigious casting houses. Kelly and Travis Moscinski run classes for every skill level in VO in both commercial and animation technique. As a casting house, The Voicecaster also provides exposure to some of their more proficient students by way of auditions for real jobs.
Hope Levy runs the Voice Actors Network as a hub for showcase opportunities with casting directors from all over the world of voice over. Her rates are fairly reasonable and you will get to work with directors and agents on showcase material to further your career. A word of warning, most of these events are for students with some experience and/or working pro-level talent. Make sure you are competent in your skills before you get in the room with any professional voice director or casting person.
Online Booking Resources
The glorious and scary thing about VO in our current climate is that the free market is changing the way VO gigs are booked and recorded. Long gone are the days of needing to live in a major market with a well-connected agent in order to work. Many VO talents get a start working on projects from home via submitting through sites like these. They are open internet marketplaces for talent and production to meet. Note: in most cases, you may open a profile for free, but gigs are booked through the paid service these sites offer.
ACX.com ( ACX is a site run by Amazon to connect publishers to voice actors/narrators for audio books. In order to book work with this site, a voice actor must have a reliable studio-quality recording set up for long-term records. Having said that, amateurs are welcome to submit on projects.
This topic should get it's own post. But until that happens here are my two cents:
Why settle for just one agent representing you? Why not have an army of regional agents sending you copy from across the country. As long as you are not violating your contracts by having more than one agent in the same major market (L.A., New York, Seattle, etc.) you are fee to be represented by anyone who believes in you and puts you on their roster. Here are a few agencies from across the country that I know of. Even more can be found here.
There are dozens of agencies in major and minor markets across the nation. Submit to these agencies when you have a demo and recording at home capability. This can be a great way to start getting auditions. As you submit, however, be aware of any agency or production house that requires you to be exclusive with them for all internet representation. Do yourself a favor and avoid any contract that requires you to use the agency for anywhere other than their specific home market. For example, if you are an L.A. talent, and you sign with an agent in Virgina, and they want you to be "internet exclusive" with them, it will prevent you from getting work through an agency in New Orleans, or New York, or Chicago or ANYWHERE else in the country that requires you to submit your auditions via internet. Don't be so eager for representation that you cut off your career growth for the sake of one agent. Bad business, if you ask me.
With a few of these tools in your tool belt, you will be well-equipped to build your brand and your career. It's a brave new world out there, and the VO business has changed forever from what was done by the people we studied and admired. Take charge of your career and make sure you have the tools you need for the way the current business runs.
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This is the Mick Wingert Website. The blog is by Mick unless otherwise specified. Mick's Bio can be found here.