Wow, this is a tough one. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my years as a professional working voiceover artist is that it’s not about the voice. “You’re crazy… what do you mean?” you ask.
Let’s use DJ’s (radio hosts) as an example. I don’t mean to pick on them – many of them are my friends – but usually, DJ’s who try to break into voiceovers don’t have much luck. But why? I mean they have a great voice, right? That’s why they’re on the radio, isn’t it? Yes, exactly. They have a good voice, and they know how to talk and have fun. But voiceovers are a lot more than just talking with an interesting sound. As a voiceover artist, our job is to take a script – something totally lifeless, dead on the page – and really bring it to life. The words don’t have meaning by themselves, and while many DJ’s could pick up that script and “BOOM” it into your ears, that might not be what’s needed.
Voiceovers usually aren’t about announcing, they’re about conversing. The writers who crafted the copy have a certain meaning and depth in mind. A voiceover artist should first be able to interpret what those writers likely meant, and translate that into audible sounds with emotion. Subsequently, the voiceover artist also needs to be able to take direction which he or she may not agree with. Ultimately, the director in the session is the one who has the grand vision of the spot as a whole. We may only have the words on the page, but the director knows everything about the spot… the colors of the shirts that the actors are wearing, whether it’s sunny or pouring rain, and perhaps most importantly, exactly who the spot is intended for – are the listeners 8-year-old boys or elderly women in an assisted living care center?
All of this to say: voiceovers is about so much more than just how cool, interesting, textured or memorable your voice is, and often, having an unusually cool voice can negatively affect your ability to book work. What’s most important is learning the ropes, learning how to interpret copy, learning the terminology you’ll hear in a recording session, and learning how to take direction, all while having fun!
Posted in: I'm New To Voiceover