- Right off the bat your demo should show the world what you’ve got.
- It’s your calling card and is the most important asset you’ve got in your toolbox.
- Your signature sound should be clear as a bell and ring true.
When you’re starting out, it may be hard to identify that, but if you’ve done your homework like we've talked about in the previous blog posts, you’ll have spent months in acting classes and VO training sessions chiseling away the marble to reveal a beautiful you.
TIPS and GUIDELINES
Here are some guidelines if you’re starting out, and some tips I’ve found helpful if you’ve been at this awhile:
1) Have a demo for each genre you like to work in (even if it represents a small part of your business, like Live Announcing). 60-90 seconds max (unless it’s Audiobooks, then it can be three to five minutes).
2) Have a compilation demo showing your wide range of work, because there’ll be times when you want to send one demo and not multiples, or you may be sharing it with an audience that might have a variety of interests.
3) Wow ‘em in the first three seconds — your career depends on it.
4) Keep on wow’ing them with each subsequent clip. Show more range in the middle; end with your signature sound to bring them back home.
5) Have snippets of specific projects at the ready to send samples in that style.
6) Create demos that are labeled according to vocal styles — sometimes people search for a voice based on the kind of sound they’re after, (like Dramatic, Motherly & Caring, Friendly & Informative) not necessarily the genre of VO (like Commercial, Corporate Narration, IVR, etc.).
7) Make sure that the work that’s on your demo is reflective of your talent and not the skills of the engineer. After all, if you get hired, you’re the one who has to ‘bring it’ in the session!
When it comes to finding someone to help you produce the demo, Steven Lowell wrote a blog post back in 2011 for The VoiceoverGuide that’s still relevant today:
Please know that no one ever walked into a studio, and created a golden demo in one try. Most who are willing to produce a demo, offer some sort of class schedule leading up to the final production of a demo. You may see voice over coaches offering this as a service, for example. Yet, always remember these important tips below:
- Avoid those more concerned with you paying than explaining what they will offer you.
- Ask to see a website, and copies of work they have produced in the past.
- Make sure they can produce a demo for the type of work you want to achieve.
- Ask to see if they have a curriculum, class schedule, or course plan.
- Ask for an explanation detailing exactly how things will proceed.
- Ask who they have made demos for in the past, and if these demos turned into work.
- Ask for a consultation at no, or low cost, to find out ‘where you stand’.
- Get a second opinion on that consultation from someone who gets voice work.
David Goldberg, wrote an article for VoiceOverExtra back in 2012, and while some of the directives are antiquated — “Your demo should be on CD. Not cassette, not reel-to-reel, nor any other unpopular format. This includes vinyl records and 8-tracks….” — there’s still a lot of wisdom in his Demo Q&A post.
At the end of the day, many of the decisions on what to have on your demo and in which order are very subjective. And different people listen with different ears — an agent will listen for one thing, but a casting director may listen for something entirely different. The producer of the demo may have his/her own style, which isn’t to someone else’s liking.
Above all, you should feel proud of your work, so you can go forth with your microphone and head held high as you let the world know what you have to offer, today, now, #VOnow.