How To Become A Voice-Over Artist With Your PC

muo voiceartist intro   How To Become A Voice Over Artist With Your PCIf you’ve ever wanted to lend your voice to an advert, one of those telephony menus that are used when you call your utilities provider or perhaps appear in a video game, the best way of doing this is to become a voice-over artist.

This isn’t a job that just anyone can do, but if you feel that you have the required qualities – a good voice, the ability to intone and pronounce words correctly – then you will be in with a good chance.

Thanks to the Internet, voice artistry is one of those roles that have taken on a whole new shape, with many thousands of voices now available for use in games, on websites, as voice-overs in corporate videos and much more.

You can start your voice-over career on a very low budget, too!

Tools You Will Need

Getting started as a voice actor isn’t difficult. In fact, it is fiendishly easy. If you have a script or a passage of text for you to record as your showreel or demo ready, (of course reading ability and a modicum of talent is a pre-requisite) all you need to begin is a microphone and a recording application.

If you have a quiet computer, a cheap $5 microphone is enough to get started (although a superior device in the $50 and upwards range will be needed for real polish and professional gigs). In addition to this you should have some audio recording and editing software installed on your computer.

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Windows users can take advantage of the excellent Audacity, a free, feature-packed tool that no user should be without.

Practice and Exercise

There are various ways in which you can prepare for becoming a voiceover artist. Before you start to get worried about the intricacies of compiling a showreel you should spend some time researching material for inclusion as well as exercising your voice.

One idea is to read books aloud, perhaps children’s books with bold characters that you can easily get a handle on, creating voices that match their personalities. Another is to find an instruction manual or blog post and read this out, working on your ability to sound natural and convincing about your knowledge of the subject matter.

If you’re interested in providing voices and dialogue in other accents you should record people using these dialects, working hard to perfect these colloquial speech patterns.

The secret to practice and exercise is to basically keep at it, finding material that you enjoy performing that can be used to highlight your talents.

Compiling Your Showreel

When it comes to compiling your showreel, it’s time to get techy. You should have collected the equipment as described above, and set up your studio with the microphone in front of you and the recording software running.

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Elsewhere on MakeUseOf you will find a guide to using Audacity. This is ideal for teaching you how to record your dialogue and for compiling the showreel. Make sure you have plenty of material recorded.

A good approach is to spend some time away from the finished recordings so that you can review your voice artistry and decide which lines would be most suitable in your showreel. This will be uploaded to a website later on, so it is important that you make the right choices.

You can enhance your showreel with some additional audio, perhaps topping and tailing with some free and royalty-free music. If you plan on including entire scenes in your showreel, topping and tailing with some free and royalty-free sound effects is useful. However, don’t continue the music or sound effects throughout the clip – your potential client wants to hear your voice!

You can find royalty free music and sound effects from the following links:

www.freesound.org – registration is required to download sound FX, but you can preview the audio first.

www.soungle.com – a search engine of sound effects.

www.soundjay.com – a nice collection of audio effects and music that can be previewed within the site.

Once your showreel is produced, it is time to find some websites to showcase your abilities!

Some Websites Will Promote Your Talents…

While you might already have an agent, there is no harm to getting your demo showreel online to attract attention. The worst that can happen is that you have to pass interested parties to an agent for negotiation.

If you don’t have an agent – don’t worry! These websites do all of the hard work.

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www.voice123.com – offering a comprehensive profile and a choice of free and premium ($295 per year) subscriptions, Voice123 will host your audio showreel (limited to 10 demos in the free membership), display a headshot and assign an easy to remember URL (using a subdomain such as christiancawley.voice123.com.)

www.voices.com has a similar set of features to Voice123, but while you can submit demos for free with the former, Voices charges $40 per month. However it remains a useful resource where you can view current opportunities and get an idea of how busy the market is.

www.onlinevoices.com is another online directory of voice talent that you can sign up to for free. Specialising in voices from different languages around the world, signing up is also easy and straightforward with no unnecessary information requested – simply give your details, upload your showreel and you’re done!

Excite, Intrigue and Work Hard!

Let’s get one thing clear – you’ll need to work hard to get your voice noticed and used. But don’t think that the talent listed on sites like Voice123 is there to get in your way.

New voices are like new faces – they excite and intrigue. As long as your vocals provide the missing element to a producer’s advertising campaign, computer application or corporate presentation, then with the steps shown to create a demo showreel you could find yourself entering an exciting new career!

Image Credit: Vintage Microphone Image Via Shutterstock

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50 Comments -

Randall

Great article-I have been thinking about this subject for some time now, and this article made me actually take some time to research it and find a decent recording app. I intend to practice reading from books and magazine articles, as well as some CD Liner notes from my CD collection. In college I started out as a Speech & Theater Arts Major, but changed to Business Management when I learned what most DJ’s earn! Later, while serving in the Navy, I hosted an hour long “Lunch Time Request Fest” on my ship, then moved to the on base radio station after someone heard my show. I had a blast & have always wanted to do this kind of work. Thank you for “re-sparking” my interest!

Christian Cawley

Hi Randall

Glad you enjoyed this, best of luck with it!

Ken Schuster

“Windows users can take advantage of the excellent Audacity, a free, feature-packed tool that no user should be without.” ????

Audacity has been available to Mac users for at least two years.

Christian Cawley

The point of the sentence, being, of course, that Mac users have various other free tools.

Ashley Davidson

Are you new to Voices.com or the voiceover industry? You can learn about the industry, how to make a demo and how to start a career in the field of voice-overs with this Getting Started Guide.

Introduction to the Voice Over Industry
http://www.voices.com/support/getting-started/introduction-to-voice-over-industry.html

Take the Voices.com Tour here: http://www.voices.com/talent/tour

Jeffrey Kafer

Articles like this are irresponsible. They give false hope. You are not going to get any voice over work by simply plopping a profile on voice123.com or any other pay to play site.

Google “Voice over talent” and see how many thousands of sites pop up. THAT is your competition and 75% of those people are not getting any work. Why would I hire someone with a crappy $5 mic when I can get a real professional to do the job right?

Christian Cawley

Why would I spend time writing this piece to encourage people on the road to the aspirations when some guy comes along and doesn’t even read it properly?

“If you have a quiet computer, a cheap $5 microphone is enough to get started (although a superior device in the $50 and upwards range will be needed for real polish and professional gigs)”

If you’re going to make judgmental comments, Jeffrey, *at least* take the time to read the article properly.

Jeffrey Kafer

I did. A $50 mic won’t get you anywhere, either.

Drew Hadwal

Mr. Kafer read your article correctly. You, sir, haven’t a clue about the business. Tomorrow you’ll be writing about how to make the perfect Coq au Vin recipe. I do that well, too–but not the first time.

Christian Cawley

Wow. Personal insults. That’s wholly unnecessary.

Christian Cawley

“a superior device in the $50 and upwards range”

Again, you claim to have read, but failed to understand. A two-year old mic that would sell for 250-500 that has sat on a shelf can go for between 50-150 in a clearance. That places it squarely in the price range I indicate.

Jeffrey Kafer

You’re back-pedaling. Would love to know where I can buy a $500 mic for $50 on clearance.

Christian Cawley

No, I’m contextualising.

Frankly, after the reception I’ve received from you “Jeffrey Kafer”, I’ve no intention of telling you where.

And once again, you don’t seem to have read what I wrote earlier.

Jeffrey Kafer

That’s because there is no place, Christian. A 15 year old mic that cost $500 then is still going to cost $500 today. This isn’t something that really goes on clearance because it never loses value.

And the reception you’re getting is from industry pros. We’re not afraid of the competition here. And we’re always welcoming of newcomers. But first and foremost, we believe in giving newcomers accurate and honest information.

Christian Cawley

Jeffrey Kafer, is it too much to ask for you to actually read anything I’ve written properly before answering?

“Frankly, after the reception I’ve received from you “Jeffrey Kafer”…”

“And the reception you’re getting is from industry pros. We’re not afraid of the competition here. ”

We? Are you a collective?

Frankly, I think you’re pretty rude.

“we believe in giving newcomers accurate and honest information.”

There’s nothing inaccurate in this article. There is no promise of employment, of riches or even of a single opportunity (fwiw, this would be against the MUO editorial policy).

What I’ve presented is a “starter pack” something to push people interested in this career in the right direction.

All you have done is pour water on that.

You should be goddamn ashamed of yourself.

Jeffrey Kafer

Actually, you use the word “job” which implies employment. And the only reason someone would do this is for the hope of getting paid. But really, we’re just arguing semantics at this point.

I’m sorry you feel I’m being rude. Nowhere did I use insults. Nowhere did I call you stupid. I simply disagreed with you. Clearly you don’t like people disagreeing with you or challenging you on topics you write about.

So with that, I will bid you goodbye, and best of luck in your new career.

To anyone else reading these comments, I have a form email chock full of VO resources for getting started: books, classes, online stuff, etc that I gladly send out to anyone who asks. I won’t post my email here, but google me and you’ll find me.

Christian Cawley

Again, you’re making your interpretations about the article without actually reading the words. Yes, the word “job” appears, but as I said, there is no promise implied.

That’s a very nice offer of sharing your links with anyone interested, however, and I hope anyone reading this gets in touch with Jeffrey.

Justin Pot

You should perhaps Google Jeffrey’s name, Christian. There’s a chance he knows something about this industry.

Ryan Dube

Regardless, Jeffrey is downplaying the part where Christian wrote, “…although a superior device in the $50 and upwards range will be needed for real polish and professional gigs.” That obviously means Christian has directed this article to the new person that is just getting started, or the hobbyist.

Not everyone can afford to jump into an industry making huge investments – and Christian’s article will be useful for those that are hoping to get started small and build their way up.

Mike Walton

I have Googled him and have contacted him. He has no experience in voice overs yet he insists his advice is accurate.

Mike

I had been thinking about this for quite some time myself. But I figured, why bother going through all this work? I just take one Valerian tablet every morning and then watch FOX News for a couple of hours. You know, in just three weeks I was sounding like one of their professional anchors!

Oh… and I was a better dancer, too! Try it!

DB Cooper

Take a look here:

http://www.voicebank.net/cabinet/agency.do?id=1591

Listen to these people’s reels. When you are sure you are as good as they are, then you’re ready to begin!

Christian Cawley

Good advice, and a constructive comment. Thanks DB!

Marcus

I just absolutely have to add a comment here, as someone currently working the industry full time.

This article is absurd, and promotes false hope. VO is insanely competitive, and notoriously low paying. Truth is you DO need an agent,a reasonable amount of talent, tons of practice, and connections in order to break in. Yes, “break in” is the term I used. As with acting, writing, music, or any of the arts for that matter, getting gigs and getting paid is *very* difficult, and reserved for those of whom:
a. persevere for many years, without pay, in the face of extreme competition
b. have family or close friends in the business

Sounds hard? That’s because it is. A 5 dollars mic, Audacity, and a profile on a 123voice website will garnish most likely nothing.

Christian Cawley

“you DO need an agent,a reasonable amount of talent, tons of practice, and connections in order to break in”

Nowhere in this article does it say you don’t.

This is an honest, basic “get started” article, not a “make millions in one year” piece of trash perhaps found at other sites.

I totally appreciate comments and feedback on my articles here, but to suggest that I or MUO has published something inaccurate or misleading when great lengths have been taken to avoid doing so is disingenuous.

A newcomer reading these comments could be forgiven for suspect the majority of people criticising would prefer it if no websites mentioned this industry at all, just to make life easier for yourselves finding work.

Hardly a welcome to the industry, is it?

Ryan Dube

Agreed – why a professional in any industry would suggest not using inexpensive tools to learn an industry is beyond me. I’m an engineer and programmer, and love to see folks that are new to programming get started with cheap or free programming apps. You get started, you learn, and then you start investing when you have something to offer. I don’t know, maybe there’s something about the voice-over industry that’s more elitist than most, and they just don’t want new folks getting into it.

DB Cooper

It’s worth taking a visit to Voicebank dot net to listen to agency demos. When you know you’re as good as those guys, then you can begin!

Mike Walton

After doing a Google search I see you are a writer and tech geek. Nowhere did I find any reference to voice over work experience or a professional voice over web site. On your Voice123 profile you have no demo’s of voice overs your have done. My question is…. what do you base your advice on, as far as plugging a $5 or $50 mic into your computer and reading some random passage of something you find in an article somewhere and telling people that is all you need to be a voice over talent? If you really had professional experience, you would be telling these people to talk to a reputable voice over coach to find out how hard and competitive the business really is.

Christian Cawley

Mike. “If you really had professional experience”

At no point did I claim to.

In terms of research I have spoken to friends in the theater who have done radio work and another who has appeared in videogames as part of my research for this.

What do I base my advice? The widely-appreciated concept that people reading MUO want to know how to get the best out of their computers, and this is yet another way. At no point have I suggested riches.

As I said above, a newcomer reading these comments could be forgiven for suspect the majority of people criticising would prefer it if no websites mentioned this industry at all, just to make life easier for yourselves finding work.

Hardly a welcome to the industry, is it?

Ryan Dube

Jeffrey – Half of Peter’s e-book is an effort to convince a newcomer not to get into the industry. Is this phenomenon common throughout this industry? It’s interesting…sort of like professional authors advising newcomers to question everything about their desire to become a writer – which of course, they don’t do. I’ve interviewed dozens of authors and they love nothing more than to encourage new writers to explore their interests and creative talents.

Is this something unique to professionals in the voice-over industry? It’s very odd…

scooter

I worked in radio for more than 12 years. Did thousands and thousand of commercials and voice over for TV and industrial videos.
All you need is a cheap mic and some free software? Good luck with that. A $50 mic will get you nothing close to “superior” quality range, but maybe compared to a $5 mic it will. Seriously?
Folks… I’m certainly not discouraging you from trying for a career in voiceover, take the article for what it is. I just think the info here its a very unrealistic.

Ryan Dube

Heaven forbid a professional movie-editing professional read our hundreds of articles on free or cheap movie-editing software!

I wonder why there were never any complaints from the digital editing industry about those articles? What’s so unrealistic about testing the waters with inexpensive equipment before taking the leap and investing more heavily later on?

j s gilbert

I was hungry, but after reading this I’m considerably nauseous. This is one of the poorest composed pieces of fiction I have ever read. I don’t believe that any person reading this would be fooled that its author is either an expert or even an individual who has worked in voice over. About the only thing that is correct is that people in voice over do use computers.

Sadly, far too many people will follow this advice and wind up becoming financial and other burdens on their families, friends and society.

Paul Christy

Exactly, J.S., and read D.B.’s comment, you aspiring VO folks. It’s so much harder than you could possibly imagine to make a living in this business. 75 per cent of Voice123’s professional members aren’t getting any work. And they have $1000 Sennheisers (that’s a brand of microphone.) But even if it were true that a cheap mic and free software could get one into the VO business, there is a factor nobody likes to mention: talent. You know, something you’re born with? Some are genetically lucky and are born to try out for the Olympics–others, just a few, are born with that intuitive natural talent for speaking and acting. Training and coaching is all very helpful, but only if you have that magical raw material to begin with. You can’t just go buy it.

Tolito

“Another is to find an instruction manual or blog post and read this out, working on your ability to sound natural and convincing about your knowledge of the subject matter.”

I did this with this article. I have only done one recording: one for a book for middle school-ers. I did it for free and this article offers some great tips for next time. Thanks for writing!

Ben

From the comments, I get the feeling that the VO industry is not very welcoming. Personally, I think if you are considering a career in VO, this article does provide some very good basic information. Using some free or inexpensive tools to gauge whether you have what it takes to make in a certain career is certainly much better than getting state of the art tools and then realising you lack what it takes!

Terry Daniel

Christian,

I do respect the fact that you are at least responding to most of the comments instead of running away. In my opinion, if you are going to write expert advice about an industry that you’re not involved with, you can expect to get punked every time.

I would check out books like “The Art of Voice Acting by James Alburger or “Voice for Hire” by Randy Thomas. Those books paint a more realistic picture about our industry and the steps people need to take to get into this business. This is tough business and it takes more than a $5 microphone. It takes coaching, networking, a killer website, some good agents and most importantly, a couple of rock solid demos that you should NEVER produce yourself. Work with a coach on your demos. They are your audio business cards and they have to be great to have any kind of a chance in this business.

Christian Cawley

Those are useful recommendations, thanks Terry

Tara Tyler

Hi Christian! As you can see from some of the comments, the voiceover industry is quite complex and takes a lot of persistence to be successful. It’s hard to explain how to do voiceovers without writing a huge novel and I appreciate your attempt. In fact, my dear friend Steven Lowell wrote a great, free guide to getting started available here: http://thevoiceoverguide.com/. Yes, it is not easy to be a successful vo talent, and yes, most people will not be able to cut it, but that does not mean that the industry should turn its back on those who are curious. It’s a competitive industry, but it is also a HUGE industry. There is room for new and existing talent. I am a vo talent myself and of course I get sick of people bugging me about how to become a talent, saying I have an easy job, etc. but I find a way to encourage their curiosity while explaining that it is without a doubt the hardest job I have ever had (also the most fun and rewarding). I also wanted to add http://voicebunny.com to your list of sites that can help you make money with your voice. We are not another “pay-to-play” site. You do the voiceover work, you get paid, simple as that. You do need to have nice equipment and a quiet recording space in order to pass our quality assurance checks, but anyone can sign up for free at http://voicebunny.com/pages/talents.

Christian Cawley

Thanks for the links, Tara, it’s great to have some more constructive feedback on the article.

pm

This is a sincere request. What sort of microphones would you suggest in that $50-100 range? Mono or stereo. USB is first choice.

tomH

Look at the Yeti microphone;. around $100 at Amazon; stereo and USB. Buy he pop filter too.

Chris Lloyd

Good article but no doubt it would be hard to break into the market – need a lot of hard work and promotion!

Christian Cawley

I would expect it to be hard to break into any new market – hard work always pays off in the end though

Chuck Davis

Christian,

After reading your article..and some of my fellow VO Pro’s responses I’d like to offer a few suggestions. While it is possible for anyone to enter the VO world it would be false hope to assume that, without training and preparation anyone one succeed in this business. Wanna be a VO? Read up. A Google search will give you tons to pour through. Get some training. Local theater groups will help…you need to know how to act…not just talk. Don’t join an on-line casting site until you are really ready. Any one that casts as a talent seeker through these site can tell you about the scores of really horrid auditions that they have to weed through to find the really qualified talent.

The pool of working VO’s is larger than ever. Clients are demanding more for less and the virtual road-side is littered with the cheap mics and free editing software of a million VO wannabe’s.

It’s easy to get started…but VO is a tough business.

Best regards,

Chuck Davis

Christian Cawley

Hi Chuck

Those are great suggestions, and I would hope anyone reading these comments picks up your reply rather than some of the others.

Thanks for sharing!

Celestt

Awesome~~

Eric de boer

Another great agency which is willing to take on voice overs is Inter Voice Over. Their website is: http://www.intervoiceover.com.

They are Europe’s largest voice agency so they might be worth adding to the article.