What are the top voiceover youtube channels? The channels that you turn to for the best sources of information, education and information for voiceover. Well, that’s the controversial murky water that I find myself swimming in right now. Anytime you use the words top or best to describe anything, you are bound to open pandora’s box. The level of nays can be just as loud as the yays. But as a lover of Youtube University, I find myself looking for the best channels to inspire and inform me on what’s happening in the voiceover industry.
Over the years, there have been many channels and talent who have utilized Youtube as a way of getting out their message, producing content and expanding their brand awareness. Sure, there are other outlets to do that, but Youtube is the second largest search platform in the word. So when people search for the top anything voiceover, the top voiceover Youtube channels will appear right there with their google search.
The problem comes with the disagreements. Over the years, I have heard the mumblings of personality conflicts and staunch disagreements with the methodology and teachings of certain VO Youtubers. Some have argued that anyone teaching and encouraging the use of Fiverr to “newbies” don’t have our best interest as an industry at heart. And these kinds of disagreements turn people off to certain Voiceover Youtube channels. I get it. But I also get that change is dolorous and that regardless of disagreements, the popularity and relevance of the VO Youtubers making these videos cannot be ignored.
How I Decided Which Were The Top Voiceover Youtube Channels
I had to create criteria. I decided that the age of a channel, consistency of uploads, value to its viewers, and entertainment value and how well known the channel is, would be how I decided. I also decided to list them in random order as to not seem to express biases toward or against. Still, there is some subjectivity even in the criteria that could still open itself up to criticism (and me). Still, in good faith, I decided to give it a shot with the disclaimer that these are not mostly recommendations but acknowledgments that these channels have all come across my radar.
Ask Dave Fennoy Anything
Ask Dave Fennoy Anything Streams on the DaveFennoy Voiceover Training Channel every Wednesday at 8pm Pacific time. Dave is a legend in voiceover gaming who also has his hand in countless areas of voiceover. He is an authority in VO Games and Character Coaching. You can catch him at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpR7jedutYNue9GU84uS-Cg
The Gift Of Gab
Gabrielle Nistico’s Channel post videos with frank voiceover advice with a witty and sometimes dry humor style that appeals to both new voice actors and professionals. Gabby is a voiceover actor, demo producer and career coach in Charlotte. Her channel can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-JhbChXLVwTvgSxrtWpajg
Earl Hall- Earl Hall Studio
Earl markets his brand as a coach capable of taking students from step 0 to 100. He has a number of courses online for marketing your own voiceover career. He runs a free training facebook group and teaches students to automate their voiceover success. His channel is https://www.youtube.com/c/EarlHallStudio/featured
A VO’s Journey
Anthony Pica’s brand stretches across platforms from Facebook to Youtube to Instagram. He is spreading the word of what it really takes to earn a living, learn how to voice actor and run a voiceover business from the perspective of someone who is doing it. Check out Anthony at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaSvjdnxdx69qoW9ryuxCjQ
Starting in 2012, Anna Brisbin built a voiceover channel and career from doing impressions from movies, cartoons, and assorted characters. Her channel attracts viewers drawn to see her perform these impersonations. The best part about it is that she did it all from her not-so-fancy, sometimes messy closet with very basic equipment. To date, Brizzy Voices has a whopping 2.1 Million subscribers and has videos that boast 27 Million views. Not bad. Not bad at all. Her channel is https://www.youtube.com/brizzy/featured
When you have a name like Voiceover Masterclass, it just sounds so official. Peter Baker’s gentlemanly British style and consistently give his videos a university type of feel to it. You almost feel as if you should enroll into the channel as opposed to subscribe to it. His videos a purposefully produced and feature a professional theme with the thumbnails. His voiceover youtube channel is https://www.youtube.com/c/Voiceovermasterclass/featured
VO Buzz Weekly
Chuck and Stacy are two of the most known figures in the voiceover business. Few people have as many friends and are as well-liked then the two of them. They have been producing the only Voiceover Talk Show since I have been a working actor. No other voiceover channel rivals professional network shows like theirs does. Each week, they bring you a new voiceover superstar. Catch their show at https://www.youtube.com/user/vobuzzweekly
VOBS- Voice Over Body Shop
Dan Leonard and George Whittam are two of the most respected voiceover tech guys in the business. Dan, who is an accomplished voice actor himself, and “George the Tech” have been teaming up for more than a decade to help make voiceover technology more understandable for users. They host a live one to two-hour-long show each week where they explain VO gear and bring on special voiceover guests. Find them at https://www.youtube.com/c/Ewabsshow/featured
According to his channel, Jordan is a Voiceover Talent, Voice Matcher, Demo Producer, Audio Producer, Audio Engineer, Improv Theater Actor, Music Enthusiast, Tech Geek, Professional Sideburn Grower. It’s that last part that makes you tune in. Not only does Jordan know his stuff, but he’s about making good content that helps people. Recently Jordan has started doing courses to help other voice actors with their sound, an area that so many of us get wrong. His channel is https://www.youtube.com/c/JordanReynolds/featured
Mike DelGaudio dedicates his channel to the tech of at-home, professional voice over. He review microphones, studio equipment and help new voice actors set up their studios from hardware to software so they can make the next great recording! The Booth Junkie channel has attracted 123,000 subscribers and has reviewed Reaper, portable isolation booths, kaotica eyeball and compared cheap vs expensive microphones. Booth Junkie is found at https://www.youtube.com/c/BoothJunkieVO/featured
Bill Dewees is a professional voice over artist and coach. His channnel helps new and existing voice over artists get found, get heard, and get hired. Everything from picking your first mic to how to land VO jobs and get paid. Bill has some of the most consistent content on youtube for voice actors, posting new videos twice weekly. It’s simple in production and straightforward in approach. The channel, like some others, is a gateway to Bill’s coaching sites that guide viewers to success in voiceover. His channel is https://www.youtube.com/c/BillDeWees/featured
Undoubtedly there are other channels I forgot to mention. And for some that I did mention, I may be facing cancel culture. If there are any that I should have put on the list, go to youtube and leave a comment under the video in the comments section. Please try to be respectful.
Working from home has become the new norm. Tens of millions of people had suddenly been converted from office workers to digital home-mads when the shutdowns began. We left our one on one relationships at work and shifted to virtual co-workers, no longer sharing a workspace and the casual conversations at the water cooler. The business trips stopped. The cold coffees in the break rooms ceased to exist. And the things that connected us and gave us variance in our lives came to a halt. For so many, these disconnects made us feel lonely.
I remember when the pandemic started many of my colleagues and friends in the voiceover business joked about their many years of experience working from home. Like them, I had been working from home for many years. As a full-timer in the voiceover industry, you work in a booth, or a closet, or any enclosed space that will help reduce reflective noises. And for most, they come out of those spaces after a full (or partial) day’s work to interact with their families and friends and enjoy activities.
My life and experience working from home have always been different. Before becoming a voiceover talent, I worked in the school system as a substitute and afterschool teacher. As you could imagine, I was never alone. I was always busy, with tens and sometimes hundreds of kids around me. There were parents to talk to and co-workers to congregate with and share outrageous and unbelievable stories about the kids. After school, I hung out with my co-working friends.
But in 2006, after 2 years of part-time voice acting, I made a commitment to being a full-time voiceover talent (after I was fired from substitute teaching). No more hanging with co-workers or seeing the kids. Or conferencing in person with parents to discuss why their kid’s behavior at school was markedly different than it was at home. No mas! And as a result, I became far less relevant to the people I worked with. To make up for this, I involved myself in activities.
What’s So Different About Me?
When I left my job, or rather, when my job left me, I had to find different things to involve myself in. Unlike so many of my friends and former co-workers, I don’t have a family. Over the many years, I have had many girlfriends but I don’t have any children. I don’t even have a dog. For much of those years as well, I lived alone. While I saw even my youngest brother get married and have beautiful daughters, I decided that a life of travel was the path for me.
I am also an introvert who has always forced himself to be social, and it’s worked for me. I have found friends in new countries while traveling. I’ve encountered new buddies while working out in the gym. I have new friends from attending various Spanish meet-up groups. And even found some guys who gladly and repeatedly dropped me on my head doing judo (lol). I have made friends based on the activities that we have in common which has warded off loneliness. But generally, when those activities were over, I was back to the voiceover booth and back to being alone.
So Why Do I Feel Lonely Now?
The pandemic really highlighted how fragile my associations were. It shone a spotlight on how I had medicated myself with travel and meet-ups. It was initially tough and made me feel lonely. Unlike my co-workers who had their children, spouses, and dog to huddle around the barrage of news coming in about the virus, I did not have that. I was actually working doing radio imaging (alone in the booth) to inform and encourage people to stay home. All the meanwhile spending no time producing nightclub commercials, because they were locked down. I was also suffering from health issues that started before covid.
All of the things that I had occupied my time and mind with were crumbling around me. My social interactions have been reduced to social media and a sharp increase in on-screen time. My time in the gym halted and my only exercise was a brisk walk from the studio couch to the bathroom before my bladder gave way. There was no more swimming. There was no martial arts training. Instead, there were short drone flights around the neighborhood with my DJI Mavic; at least until that fateful day when I flew it into some electrical wires (RIP Mav).
Suddenly I was doing nothing but scrolling. My health and good sense dictated that I follow the CDC guidelines. It wasn’t long before I saw posts from here in Georgia and other red states where everyone was back out and about. Heck, at that point the pandemic had just started a month prior and some clubs were back open. Everyone was having fun. They were in the bars, hanging out in Miami, going out to restaurants and I was still sheltering. The gym re-opened in June 2020. Some of my gym buddies went back to working out immediately. Some were decidedly cautious. But regardless, I allowed my membership to lapse and have still not renewed.
What Now? Do I Go Back To Normal Now That I’m Vaccinated?
No! The pandemic isn’t over. 94% doesn’t mean 100% effective and there are still breakthrough infections. The number of people getting vaccinated with both shots is waning. And the anti-vaxers are getting louder. All of this means, that as the summer progresses, I take caution in finding things to do outside with my girlfriend. We still plan to do activities but in a controlled manner. I’ll get back to medicating myself with travel. I have already started flying again, but I take extra precautions. But in all of that, I’ll still be working from home.
The Covid pandemic has taught me a few lessons. It has taught me that people need people and to strengthen the connections that I have with others. It’s taught me that working from home isn’t for everyone. Being a loner is ok. But I don’t have to feel lonely. It’s important to discover commonalities with people and to keep up with them. The pandemic taught me that we are all mentally vulnerable and the necessity to continually evaluate one’s psychological health. I am still learning the value of random calls with the thousands of unused names and numbers in my contacts list. Because when dealing with the stress of toilet paper and gas shortages, we need others to relate to who are dealing with the same crap.
Early in my career, I approached a producer about doing a demo for me. He was not a professional voiceover demo producer. But he claimed to have knowledge in the field. So he grilled me on a number of things about my capabilities. And one that seemed to stick with him was accents. Particularly, the British fake accent. His insistence on me doing this fake accent and misrepresenting myself as anything other than what I am, disturbed me so much, I passed on using him to produce for me. What I was looking for was someone who accentuated my talent as a mainstream urban male voice, but he missed the point of it all.
The Fake British Accent
My recently late brother was British born and raised. He had a strong proud British accent. He made it clear many years ago that my British impersonation sucked. He made it clear that almost all Americans sucked at British accents because they lack the understanding that there are regional accents in the UK just like there are here in the US. It made me reflect on the fact that generally speaking, you have to have an understanding of a people to really get the language and sound.
I also always watched as people annoyed the hell out of him with their fake British accent whenever he was in the US. You could see on his face how he struggled to avoid telling them to “Piss Off.” After a while, it even annoyed me.
Black Sounding Voiceover ???
Recently in voice over African American talents have been fighting to make the community understand that same point. Black sounding voiceover or black accented voiceover is not the same as being a black talent. Some people get it. Others don’t. Authenticity comes not just from a voice, but from a story and understanding of the culture. I’ve recently come across more post that say they specifically want African American Voice Actors for a role and that want to honor those parts with authenticity.
Language, Accents & Culture
I’ve observed the same happening in the Latino voice over world. As many people know, I taught myself Spanish. In my personal life (pre-pandemic), I travel to Latin America several times a year, keep friends in Latin America and meet sometimes several times a week with native Spanish speaking friends to improve my Spanish. Pronunciation has always been important to me but my Spanish, while containing some nuances from Costa Rica (where I have spent a lot of time), my Spanish is mostly generalized.
From that, I understand the urge for non native Spanish speakers who know a few words here and there to insert their very gringofied accents into auditions. But there has been more of a movement to make sure that they people who audition for the roles are the right fit. People who try out for Spanish speaking roles need to understand the culture from the inside. They need to know that there are various Mexican accents and slang. They need to know when called for a Colombian accent, there is a difference between the costal and Paisa sound. And all of these accents change as you travel Latin America.
I’ve witnessed Americans in traveling butcher Spanish accents and think nothing of it and even mock it. Because I’ve spent time learning the language and culture, it upsets me. In voiceover, it’s no less upsetting. In calls for Spanish voice over talent, I see descriptions of the type of accents which stress, native speakers only.
The Fake Jamaican Accent aka The Jamaican’t Accent
I am a Jamaican American. It’s something that I am very proud of and recently I accepted the idea of being a Jamaican voiceover talent. I decided to accept that role and make it part of my toolbox after running into talents online who thought that they could do Jamaican voice over and it turns out to be terrible. I’ve always spoken to my parents and a small group of family members in an occasional Jamaican Patois. Where I grew up in Brooklyn, everyone was from the Caribbean. And everyone who wasn’t, developed a Jamaican accent. In that environment, those people knew the culture, listened to the music, ate bammy and sounded real. But as I explored the terms Jamaican voice talent, I found some really bad imposters. Stop it. Stop this craziness.
I have to be honest in saying that it’s actually insulting to hear people do your accent and mess it up. I understand where a person might think it’s flattering but if it’s done wrong, it’s not. And it’s almost always done wrong. It can come off as a negative interpretation of what you think a population sounds like, almost as if you are mocking it. My Dad often says “That Jamaica is the most culturally influential island (per square mile) in the world”. I get it. Bob Marley. Usain Bolt. Reggae music and great vacations. But beyond one or two Jamaican phrases like “Ehhh Mon” and “Wha Gwan” one should never go any further, especially not to make money from it.
Look, if Hilaria Balwin has taught us anything, it’s that admiration should not turn into false actualization. There is plenty of space for everyone to be, proudly who they are. I proudly represent New Yorkers and Jamaican Americans everywhere I travel in the world. But when I’m off in Australia, I’m still that Brooklyn dude in the way that I speak. Latin Americans here in the US, still prefer to speak to me in English no matter how much I speak to them in Spanish. And Jamaicans like myself, don’t want to hear you butcher our accent.
Professionally, there are enough voiceover talents in the world to get the job done. If you need an African American male voice, call me. Or a Jamaican voice. Call me. Or a New York Urban male voice guy, that’s me. But if you need a British voice, call me for a recommendation. Don’t do it yourself and don’t hire someone who sounds “British”. And stop insisting that every American talents needs to learn that accent to be successful, as two dialect coaches have implied to me on Linkedin. People should do what they do best. Be themselves.
As a voiceover talent, I do a lot of voices. And I do a lot of voiceover for different genres of voiceover. But as I have expressed before, being a radio imaging voice is one of my favorites. I have nailed a bunch of commercial voiceover auditions and it is really satisfying to book them, but nothing like booking a radio station. Recently I booked KZBT. I’m super excited about this station for several reasons. For One thing, I’ll be their Hip Hop Radio Imaging Voice
Most of the stations that I do radio imaging for are R&B or Gospel stations. I love that work. At 40 plus years of age, I have a grown person’s voice and I actually listen to the music from those stations. But when I entered into voiceover, I was in my twenties and hip hop was everything to me. I did thousands of commercials over the years for hip hop nightclubs. I enjoy that work so much that I go back and listen to my old commercials. So when KZBT called me, I was super excited.
I don’t do as much current Hip Hop anymore. I do a lot of Throwback stations. I enjoy that too but there is a difference from hip hop stations. Hip Hop stations allow me to be wild. I can adlib things in a very unpredictable way on hip hop stations that I can’t on old school or throwback or gospel stations. That’s the difference. That’s what young people like.
The talent who did the voice for the station is one who I respect greatly. He inspired me to get into radio imaging and voiceover in general. But, like myself, he has a huge commanding voice. He makes you pay attention. But there is a new generation of hip hop radio station listeners and they hear things differently. They don’t want to hear a booming voice. They feel that voice may not be talking to them on their level. So many stations are switching to a younger sounding urban voice.
Luckily for me, I can also change to a younger sounding voice as well. If you’d like to book me for your station, leave me a message here on the site and I’ll get back to you.
A colleague of mine once said to me “The job of a Voiceover Talent is to wake up every day and voiceover audition.” Well, I’m terrible at my job. I do not audition often. My career as a voiceover talent has never been about auditioning. It has always been about marketing, personal relationships, and internet sales. But I do voiceover audition from time to time. And I do land some of those auditions. This was one of those times.
Sometime in May (2019), I auditioned for a voiceover for Publix. I have auditioned for Publix many times in my career. I have landed one and been put on hold for several more. As with all auditions, I recorded it in my home studio and forgot it. A few weeks later I received an email from my agent in Atlanta, Jeffrey Umberger, that I was on hold for the job. (On hold means that they are considering multiple talents that may fit what they are looking for.) I let Jeffrey know my availability and again went back to marketing and promoting.
Auditioning is very different from the style of marketing that I do. While some talent have found success in both auditions and marketing strategy, for me, who is not much of a multitasker, I prefer marketing. I feel more assured when I can speak to people and find out exactly what they are looking for as opposed to sending my voice off into the interwebs and hoping that what I said and how I said it was exactly what they want. Auditioning is a guessing game and a numbers game at the same time. It’s definitely a competitive sport also, except in this competition, my livelihood is at stake.
Also, I have always thought of what I do as a business and not just me being a freelance talent. 95% of the work I have gotten in my career was based on business and not doing some voiceover audition or relying on agents. Had I had to rely on agents, this voiceover thing may have been reduced to a hobby. I guess that’s why I never felt comfortable betting on auditioning, in spite of the fact that I am a talented capable voice actor.
My 7 Step Voiceover Audition Process
When I do audition, I have a process. I have shared this process in classes that I have taught but I will share some of it here for free. I start with a dry read. Having never seen the script before, I read it out loud. Having done voiceover for 15 years now, my dry reads are pretty darn good and usually have no errors. Also, my experience in live announcing also helps. For me, the purpose of saying it out loud for the first time is just to get it out of my head without prejudicing myself about what it should sound like. At this stage, there is no perfection.
My second read is to iron out any kinks in my dry read. It’s kind of a dry read but better. Throughout this process, I am recording these reads and I listen back to all of my reads as they get better. My goal is to reach 7 reads before I take any of them seriously. On the road to the seven reads is the 3rd and 4th which I use to help me memorize the lines.
Memorizing The Lines In The Audition
Memorization helps me feel that I am doing more than just reading lines. When you don’t know the material, it shows in the read. By my fifth read, I remember the lines and give it another try and I often have what I call an “AH HAH Moment.” This is not to be confused with a “Haha Moment.” The Ah Hah moment is when you have a realization about the script. It’s when you start to see the interpretation of the script differently.
My Ah-Hah Moment
My sixth read is where I lay down my Ah-hah moment read. It’s where I play with the words. After memorizing it and seeing it differently, I begin to own the copy and inject my personality into it. By the 7th read, I perfect the audition. This is the one I should go with. Sometimes I do more than seven reads though. Some scripts are more difficult than others. Other times I have more playing to do with the copy and have even more Ah-hah moments.
And sometimes I just project myself with different moods. Maybe a sad mood read or a read where it is really outrageous sounding. It’s not that I think they will pick that read, but they will see that I can read copy well in case they need to make changes in the script when we do the real record.
Don’t Obsess Over Your Voiceover Auditions. Edit & Send
From there I start editing. I don’t second guess myself in the editing process. Whatever I have already recorded is what I am going with. My process does not include re-recording. I only edit at this point. I use some lite compression and other tools that clean up the sound a bit but never anything that is too noticeable.
There is a lot that goes into voiceover auditions and the number of steps for me is just one of them. Figuring out how to connect with my target audience is important too. But this kind of thinking is how I landed this voiceover audition and others in the past. It probably doesn’t hurt that I have a great voice too.
Listen To The Voiceover Audition That Got Me The Job Below —–>>>
Dane: I’m Dane Reid, The Voiceover Guy. I am here with the team from voice actor websites. Guys! (Team Introduces Themselves) (Dane) And I don’t have any labs that fit five people.
Everett Oliver is a shy, introverted booth director who got his start 25 years ago in the animation world….. And if you know Everett you know that there is absolutely nothing shy nor introverted about him. Everett is a no holds barred, unfiltered, instinctive voiceover coach and booth director who fights hard for the success of his clients.
As a booth director, Everett directs clients auditions to help them book jobs. Voiceover actors often have auditions that they REALLY WANT to book. Some of these auditions are the BIG ONE that can make our careers. Whether it’s a network promo job or an animation project, we know this can mean the difference between success and failure. We sometimes spend hours recording the audition and then second-guessing ourselves on the read, the sound, the tone etc. Ultimately this can result in paralysis of analysis. In those moments, what we really need is a second ear.
That Second Ear
Everett is that Ear. Working with a voiceover audition coach like Everett accomplishes several things. It cuts down the time you spend on auditioning and allows talent to submit auditions faster. Sometimes agents submit the first good auditions as they come in and those are the ones that are most highly considered. Working with Everett also gives you insight into what the client is most likely thinking when he wrote the copy. Everett knows that world and he has an incredible instinct for predicting what books.
Taking His Show On The Road
Everett Oliver has been touring North America, taking his brass brand of coaching to various cities. And talent are better off for it. In my time speaking to Everett, he explained to me about an entire world that goes beyond what most talent could even imagine. It’s a fast-paced, backroom world where the end result is what matters. Everett knows that world, having been in Hollywood for many years and being a part of it. It’s a world where talent is replaceable and feelings can be a liability.
He’s a Tough Mutha Shut Yo Mouth
Everett’s style is all in preparation for acting in front of those people who run that world. He’s hardcore, but when you speak to him one-on-one, you realize that it’s all in love. He’s like the mother hen who looks out for you until you are ready to fly before he himself pushes you out of the nest. And believe me, Everett Oliver pushes. His personality throughout his session was both tough and hilarious.
There have been so many voiceover jobs that I crossed my fingers and threw up 7 hail Mary’s that I didn’t get. Somethings are just perfect for you and you’d love to call up someone special and say “Listen to me on this”. And those are the voiceover auditions that I would call a booth director for. Those are the jobs that I prep for with a voiceover coach months in advance for. Those are the jobs that I now keep Everett on speed dial for. Now, my booth director is Everett Oliver.
On the surface of things, I may seem like the luckiest guy in the world. I’m a digital nomad who makes a living with my God-given talent, my voice. My voice has allowed me to travel all over the world, freedom to decide how I spend my days and has set me in the company of some pretty famous and interesting people. And my work is heard literally by millions of people every day. There are so many reasons Why I Love Being A Voiceover Talent. So what could a guy with so many great fortunes have to complain about when it comes to being a Voiceover Talent? Here’s my list.
When I think about the things that I don’t like about being a voiceover talent, most of it comes down to the business aspects of the job. But there is one thing that relates directly to the job itself and that’s auditioning. Imagine that you have an advanced college degree in something and you have years of experience in the field. Now imagine that every day you go into work and before you put in 8 hours you have to interview for the job you’ve held for years each time in order to even start work. That’s what auditioning is like. It’s like a job interview every day. It’s maddening for me.
I have heard of talents who literally audition for work all day every day. This is what they do until they nail the job. For me auditioning is frustrating. Literally, you are competing against sometimes hundreds of people for one position. And certainly, I have landed many pretty spectacular jobs from auditioning but the process can sometimes feel like a time-waster. Instead, I have based my business in voiceover in marketing my voice and cultivating relationships with clients. But still, auditioning remains a part of what I do.
Who Do I Trust?
Shady managers, agents, producers, websites, and coaches all prey on talent in the voiceover industry. Some of us know who they are. Some of us don’t. The voiceover industry can be a very lucrative field even if you’ve never stood behind the mic. Many people know that and make money legitimately from it. But there is a growing population of people who lack experience and worse, morals, who are guiding others’ careers. They have everything from profit-sharing schemes of talents entire income, to quickly made demos for talent who obviously are not ready to make one. As these snake oil salesmen penetrate the mainstream of the voiceover industry, it’s tougher to tell who is who as many reputable people are befriended by them. As a voice talent, knowing who to trust to help grow your business is becoming as cloudy as Manhattan smog in the early 80’s.
The Pressure To Perform
When you think performing in voiceover, you may immediately think about copy interpretation and executing the right voice or character. But no! The real pressure for a VO professional is to be what Marc Scott calls a VOprenuer. Day in and day out marketing of your voice. For someone who entered into this profession because of their talent, this can be difficult.
There are no guarantees in life but starting any business has a unique set of risks. There is uncertainty about the future of the industry as a whole and then there is a person’s individual uncertainty about competing in that industry. There are questions and doubts about how will you retire from this industry? How will I provide insurance for myself and family? There is also the everyday questions of “where will the next job come from?” In any small business, what you kill is what you eat.
Dealing With Scissors
I probably came into voiceover at a time when rates for VO services were at an all-time low. But that money was still great money for me. But for the professionals who enjoyed even bigger checks for many years before I arrived on the scene, these checks were barely enough to pay for their 7 Series BMW’s. I was an undercutter. 14 years later I struggled to pay off my Acura in 24 months with these rates. Well, the scissors are out again and this time they keep cutting. Rates are getting lower.
Websites who promise new talent work and at the same time promise clients extremely low rates have big budgets to help them rate at the top of google searches. These websites are corporate-minded, not individually concerned and so they have invaded the industry from multiple angles in an attempt to make talent and agents mere low waged hourly-like employees. This is, of course, a fight that as the talent we must push back on both collectively and as individuals.
Billing- I Am Not A F$%king Collection Agency
Whether I’m fighting with Paypal over a chargeback scheme by a customer or calling a client several times a day to collect on an overdue invoice, the part that I dislike about my job is being a collection agency. It’s probably the most disliked part of any business. Comcast wishes they didn’t have to have a collections division either. But unlike Comcast, I deliver the work with quality, on time and with great customer service. So I deserve to be paid on time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Many people are not content trying to drive the rates to almost nothing. They want to make sure that they actually get it for nothing. Others feel as if the interest is accruing on the money they owe me in their accounts so they should delay delay delay. This is extremely inconvenient because meanwhile, this puts me in the position that Comcast is calling me (I’m kidding.) Either way, I tire from having to collect money that is a given that should be simply paid to me.
I’ve added safeguards to ensure that I’m paid. I collect money from certain categories of clients before the work is performed. I also use services that confirm that the work was sent to and received by new customers. And I’ve reduced the number of clients who I accept PayPal from (Because PayPal doesn’t support it’s service providers). At the end of the day, the best way to get paid is to get paid upfront and avoid frustration.
Truthfully, I was having a bit of fun writing and recording this vlog. Some of it was a bit exaggerated. All in all the benefits of being a voiceover talent for me are greater than those things that drive me crazy about being a Voiceover Talent. It’s a great job to have. And had to give advice to anyone who is frustrated with voiceover or who is discouraged from continuing, I’d simply advise them to have fun. Release the pressure. Learn as much as you can. Just do it. It’s worth it.
At the cross section of one of the most successful voiceover careers and the embodiment of talent, is one of the nicest people in VO, Joe Cipriano. I had a chance to meet Joe Cip (as he is affectionately referred to) a few years at VO Atlanta. He was signing copies of his book “Living on Air” which was co-written by his wife Ann. As soon as he spoke, I recognized that iconic voice. I was intimidated to speak to him. But after purchasing his book, myself and fellow VO friend Scott Chambers sat around talking to him and even sat at his table for the lunch session. He was so COOL. It made me want to know even more about “How Do I Become Like Joe Cipriano?”
Joe’s career is the admiration of most voiceover talent. It spans decades and thousands of very well known promo and radio imaging projects. You’ve heard him as the voice for promos for the Simpsons on Fox and he’s been the voice of comedies on CBS forever. But inspite of his success, Joe is incredibly humble. When I decided that I wanted a chance to interview him, I doubted that he remembered me. But I knew that Scott had kept in touch with him. So I called Scott. And Scott called Joe. And Joe gave the “ok”. This, I knew, was gonna be exciting.
Not every voice actor, podcaster or youtuber visits “The Clubhouse” where Joe cooks up nationally recognized voiceover. Joe has been the voice of the Emmy’s, Network TV and Game Shows and keeps a busy schedule. So, I was excited to get some of his time for this interview. Much of the prep time at the Clubhouse I spent shooting B Roll of Joe just simply working. His schedule is of back to back jobs. He goes from Game Show, to promos to Radio Imaging with the precision of a surgeon, never missing a beat.
Reading Voiceover With Joe Cipriano
But Joe is still one of the most talented guys in the industry. I had a chance to do a promo read with Joe which blew my mind and inspired the direction of my voiceover career for 2020. Check it out in the video at 9:28. Joe showed me how to break down promo copy. We talked about timing and the nuances of the script which indicate different inflections and points at which the VO talent should change moods, voices etc. The scripts are complete with info for everyone involved in the project from audio mixers, to the SOT and the video producers. Joe showed me all of that.
Watching Joe Work
Joe changed the way I do business. I watched Joe work for hours and what I was impressed with most was his level of organization. He was like a machine. Every job he did, he documented in his system and emailed his agent about. Joe explained to me that it was not only important in keeping track of getting paid, but also making sure you were doing the work you’re being paid for. I know from radio imaging that you are contracted each month to a certain number of pages. Joe keeps track of even the length of scripts and how much he had done that month. After watching him handle the administration part of the job, I went home and became more precise.
Joe credits his success to 4 things: Relationships, Talent, Luck and his wife Ann. Back in 1997 Joe was a radio guy in LA when he was heard on air by a television executive who was searching for the right voice for their new network Fox. He made a few phone calls and a connection of Joes made the introduction. That sparked a relationship with Fox that has lasted more than 2 decades. And similarly, a relationship that he had with a CBS executive that landed him the promo jobs at that network.
But it’s the relationship that he found long before he was nationally admired, with his wife Ann that he seems most proud of. Joe and I talked about his family as much of being a part of his success as he did his talent. Ann helped write his book Living on Air, which they released in 2013. The book explores Joe’s career as well as helps VO talent build their own careers. It takes you through the wild adventures of broadcasting life.
I walked away from the Clubhouse that day thinking about luck. When speaking to most people, they credit hard work exclusively to their success. But during my time with Joe, he was humbled by the fact that there were many key moments when he just got lucky. Obviously, Joe has more talent than most voice actors could hope for. But he very plainly expressed that if it weren’t for simply being given certain opportunities, that he might not be the Joe that we all know. For me, that was humbling.