Sugar Mediaz Voice Industry blog finds out what does it take to make a killer Voice Demo Reel!The one tool that sets a voice actor apart from another is the Voice and to get that out there in the market, the most important tool becomes the voice reel.
Ms. Hira from Sugar Mediaz writes on the most important tool for a Voice Artiste, the Demo Voice Reel. She also spoke to a few Voice Artistes to get their perspective.
Recording and branding your Demo Voice Reel
The voice over industry is a buzzing business with a huge market for audio books, radio/TV advertisement, trailers, documentary, gaming, etc. all needing a voice. It is therefore not surprising that the one thing common in any other job and in any other industry would be competition. Hence, the one tool that sets a voice actor apart from another is the voice and to get that out there in the market the most important tool becomes the voice reel. Remember that this is your one big ticket to getting work.
A demo reel is an audition reel and a business card all in one and the one chance to getting that project. To start with it might be enough to record 3 or 4 clips of not more than 60-90 seconds (not more than 1 MB) in different styles to showcase your skills. Keeping it short becomes easy to listen to and download. However, while a 60 seconds may work for radio/ TV an audio book or narration may need around five minutes to voice different characters of the book.
Add an intro monologue stating who you are and the subject of the demo in few seconds with each clip. Ensure that there are no abrupt cuts and transitions or drastic volume changes in the clips having a good sound quality. Avoid unrelated background music and sounds that may disturbs the flow of your demo. It is important that your demo reel captures the attention instantly after all this showcases your capability to deliver.
Branding yourself differently and uniquely is an important aspect of any resume for any kind of job. So also for voicing. If you are mailing demo reels remember to write a brief covering introduction about yourself, work done while attaching demos. Be careful not to go over the top and stick to bare minimal facts as no one has time these days to read through long monologues. Become creative and create a letterhead of your own. Use stickers containing your details on the CD/DVD which helps grabbing the attention. May be develop your own logo and get noticed before people even hear your voice. Ensure that the CD/DVD contains well defined clips and correctly named to get that edge.
So what’s next after creating a Demo Reel?
The work of the voice actor does not end there.
The voice reel needs to reach the right places.
Build a Page or Website – Before reaching out for work it would be a good idea either create a page or a small website giving your contact information and voice over demos available to listen with key being easy to play instantly. Every job requires a one point connect where people offering work can contact you. This is where a page or website comes in handy. If possible spend a small one time amount to create your website. Keep it simple, to the point and easy to load so people can access your website using any technology such as the mobile, laptop, etc. Add titles, description, meta tag, keywords, etc. in your website to throw up your work when someone searches for those keywords. Include separate pages of resume, voice samples and achievements and avoid unnecessary information. Include links to your social media accounts which may be of value to your job requirement. Be active on social media with groups in the voicing profession.
Marketing is as important as a voice demo reel. Create a list of all the local studios, radio stations and producers and make a plan of action for sending your demo reel. Studios, radio stations, advertising agencies and advertisers are always looking for voice actors with a bit of something different and unique, but that does not mean that they are not looking for the experienced voice actors. While there is definitely a requirement in the voicing industry/market for new, fresh or unusual different options to offer their clients there is still work in the tried and tested voice styles. You need to find out who’s looking for what and target the market according to your own capabilities and style.
E-mail is another tool, so create a professional email address which is different from the one you use for friends and family. This shows a sincerity about what you do. Using this professional email address when emailing for work will strengthen your approach to your profession.
Join websites: Not only can you reach out to clients through auditioning, but having a profile at marketplace websites, like the ones listed here, is like setting up a booth at your local market. Hundreds of clients search for voice actors each day.
* read : Blog on “Marketing Tips for Voice Artistes” for more
What is a good demo reel and how important is a demo reel?
Anil Mani – Your demo is your main marketing tool, so make sure it is good. Remember once you send it out, you cannot retract it, and first impressions being what they are, you will be judged by this demo. Your demo should showcase your repertoire and range of genres. Only put genres you are comfortable with, you can add on the other genres that you are not so comfortable with later when you get better at them.
Benaifer Mirza – An artist’s demo reel is like his/her resumé. It is the first impression that he/she sets in front of a prospective client, as it speaks about the kind of work one can deliver. So, getting your demo recorded at a professional studio, with a skilled sound engineer, is extremely important. A demo, which has a variety of tones, genres, and languages…all recorded in a good quality output…is very impressive.
Aditi Thirani- According to me a good demo reel is one that highlights the strength of the voice artist. The best work should be right in the beginning since most clients only listen to the first few seconds. It is important to catch their attention right at the start. A demo reel is the first thing that any potential client will ask for. So it is a crucial aspect of being a Voice Artist. Clients need to hear how you sound on the mic and a demo reel accomplishes that.
How important is recording and branding your demo reel?
Anil Mani – As far as possible, get your demo recorded at a decent studio with an experienced sound engineer. You can get a fairly decent studio in the suburbs like Andheri West for under Rs.1,000. If you are adding background music to your demo, then be sure to have samples without music too. Some producers insist on Voice samples without background music. Keep each sample short and sweet, For instance, If you are putting a documentary or corporate AV etc, all you need to put on the demo is a para or two.. This will be enough for the production team to decide how good you are. Try to keep the entire demo under three mins or a maximum of five mins. remember, they have limited time and attention span. Carry a set of your voice samples on your phone too so you can send them to clients while you are outside your home whenever required..
Benaifer Mirza – I would like to say that your sound engineer plays a very important role during a recording, and, especially so when you’re just starting out, as you’re relatively lesser experienced then. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that there are operators, who very manually and robotically perform their work, and then there are sound engineers, who don’t only record your voice, but also help you better the output, in terms of knowledge of intonations, pauses, etc.. I have been very fortunate to meet extremely talented sound engineers, such as Dharmendra Thengal (Dharamji), Parth Kotak from SoundAdda, and Kamal Khatri from VR Films, to name a few, who have guided, corrected, and even criticized me only to better me, through my journey until now.
Aditi Thirani – When recording a demo reel, try to include various kinds of recordings that your voice has a potential of delivering. Most of the times the entire demo reel is not heard. First 20-30 seconds will decide the fate of the artist. Include your best work. Demos are as important as the final project you record. Brand your demo as per your voice texture. Most clients will ask you to mail or whatsapp your samples. CDs are not heard so much anymore so being tech savvy is essential.
Last but not the least is the one thing that most voice actors forget. That is to freshen your demo reel. The industry is changing leaps and bounds and the requirements too. That however should not mean that you ignore what you do best and re-record tracks unnecessarily. Re-record those segments on your demo that are based on market requirement and continue to add tracks in new styles regularly so that your demo sounds current and up to date.
About the writer – Hira M.
Her motto is “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me’. She has worked extensively in Corporate Communications with a leading private bank and writes on life in general and entertainment in particular. Her blog post is: crossleggedwithhiramehta.