So, it's been about 10 years since I recorded my original commercial demo. It was created by the voice over training company I used when I was first starting out. It definitely served it's purpose, but I knew it was time to update it.
Why? Because the voice over industry is constantly evolving.
If you're like me (a bit fanatical about the voice over industry) you may spend a fair amount of time listening to commercials - - in fact I sometimes watch TV just to listen to commercials to train my ear for the type of voices that are popular, and to listen to the best in the business work their craft.
Gone are the announcer voices. The go-to voice for today's commercial market is younger sounding, and more like the guy or gal next door.
One of my goals for 2016 is to secure representation through more talent agencies. To do this, I'll need an up-to-date commercial demo. It will be my calling card to get my foot in the door with the agencies I'll be reaching out to.
I've spent the past 6 months training with my commercial Voice Over teacher and we've made the decision that I'm ready to take the next step and cut my demo (not gonna lie - I'm pretty excited.)
But what if you're not in a financial position to get trained or cut a demo in a professional studio? Are you out of luck?
Not at all.
If you have a home recording studio, you can absolutely self produce your own demo. If you don't have a home recording studio, you can create one pretty cost effectively (we spend a whole module discussing this in my online course over atvosuccess.com)
So, how the heck do you self-produce you may ask?
- Listen to TV and radio commercials and get a sense of the vocal tone and delivery that producers are looking for.
- Select about six different categories to put in your demo - food, banking, medicine, etc. - that represent the more common sectors that do a lot of advertising.
- Find some copy in the public domain that you can practice with, and hone down the time for each piece so that the total demo comes in at about one minute or a bit more.
- Get into the studio and lay down some tracks!
One caveat - you are going to need some technical skills to properly edit your vocal tracks, so make sure you have proficiency in whichever audio engineering software you're using (I use Audacity, and it's free!)
Now, in a perfect world you would get trained and work with a VO coach to produce your commercial demo, and many people in the industry would advise you to take your time and not record your demo until you're ready (I would agree to an extent.)
There is power in progress, and progress only happens when you take action.
At the end of the day, you may not have a demo that will get you in the door of the top talent agencies, but you'll learn a lot, and you'll have some commercial demo tracks for your website.
Speaking of demos and agents, want some great advice from one of the top voice over talent agents in the country? I had the good fortune to spend some time with Phil Sutfin, the founder of ACM Talent - with offices in NY and LA - talking about the VO industry from his unique perspective.
To listen to our interview click here. Great stuff!
In the meantime, keep working on making progress every single day. Work in the margins if you need to - but most importantly, do it every day.
Progress will come and I can't wait to hear about your successes!
All the best,
Mike Lenz is an entrepreneur, professional voice actor, audio book narrator, author, podcast host, husband and father. His ebook, Paid To Talk, is available on amazon.com, his podcast, Mike Lenz Voice – A Journey Into Voice Acting, can be heard on iTunes, and his online course, 5 Steps To Start (and Grow) Your Voice-Over Career, can be found at vosuccess.com. Mike is passionate about sharing stories from amazing and inspiring people from all areas of the voice-over industry, as well as sharing his insights with aspiring voice actors around the world. Mike lives in Saratoga Springs, NY with his wife and 4 children.