Radio to VO: Your VO Demo has 07 seconds, maybe 10!
You’re probably considering producing your first VO demo all by yourself. After all, your vast experience voicing and producing creative commercials with multiple voices, sfx, music and date-specific updates has fine tuned your production skills. Yoa're a Pro! Plus the vast archive of your best commercial work is so large it would be difficult to pick just a few to slap together on a demo!
Easy, Right? No! No! No! Don’t produce your own demo!!
“Why?’ You ask. Well, I did just that, and the result was a painful and harsh lesson in Voiceover reality. Not only did it cost me an opportunity to work with a voiceover agent I was eager to impress, but the demo I so proudly created did not get the rave reviews I’d expected! The critiques were very similar as most read like this… “It screams radio ‘announcer guy’ from the get go! It’s too sales-y, announcer-ry and polished. You’re reading Tim, and you’re reading fast!” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
What? My demo is not…Awesome? Oh Sh**!
At that point I may have thrown up a little! Okay, Okay…I threw up a lot!
I already had my studio equipment ordered, acoustic modifications to the third bedroom were underway and now the weeks, without pay, were starting to mount. Countless hours had been wasted picking the best of the best from my commercial archives and writing and recording a few new spots!
But I asked for it!
Throughout my career I was fortunate enough to have met and maintained contact with a handful of voice actors whom I respected and admired. So when my DIY VO demo was finished I knew these pro’s would provide an honest no-nonsense and unbiased critique of my skill and talent level. And they did! (see above)
Was it brutal to hear? Yes!
Amount of time to suck it up and get over it? None!
Best favor they could have done for me? Absolutely!
To quote my favorite Producer,Chuck Duran of ‘Demos That Rock’ Los Angeles, CA.
“A BAD VOICEOVER DEMO IS WORSE THAN NO DEMO AT ALL.”
That lesson was learned the hard way too. Before receiving and processing the demo critiques, I went ahead and submitted it to a well respected local voiceover agent for review, complete with a submission referral from one their ‘signed’ voice actors and a generous recommendation!
“Hell Yeah, I’m in!”
Turns out that referral could not cover up the glaring issues with my demo. I later learned from that agent that after the first ten seconds of listening, that was enough. To paraphrase, I was just another
“O.R.G.” (old radio guy with a deep announcer-ry voice!)
So now I’m dry-heaving! That review is considered the “label of death” in the VO world and it’s nearly impossible to get a second chance to prove otherwise once you own that label. Well…at least I only sent it to one agent!
The first 10 seconds of your demo is vitally important, so avoid the urge to Do It Yourself. Do the research to find a voiceover demo producer that’s right for you. Choose one who has experience in the genre you want to pursue. Ask industry/social media friends who they recommend, post your search in forums or groups to get suggestions, and then ask tough questions of the producers who have made your short list! You’re going to spend a good chunk of money for your demo, so make sure you...
Hire an honest producer! How?
There is an easy way to identify an honest demo producer and it’s almost ludicrous in its simplicity but highly effective! I will share that info next time.