Musings at the Mic
– BY SCOTT THOMAS
So…you’ve been told you have a great voice. Yep…as far back as you can remember, people have dropped that line on you – at the checkout line…at restaurants…on the phone – you hear it all the time: “Wow! Has anyone ever told you what a great voice you have? You should totally have a career in voice over!” Maybe that’s how the idea blossomed about starting a career in voice over.
Being told you have a great voice is nice, but beware: making a career with your voice is not easy. It’s kinda like someone suggesting you should become a long-distance runner simply because you have feet.
Seriously, having a naturally-gifted voice is a good start – but if you peek into the voice over rabbit hole, you’ll quickly realize there’s a lot more to it than simply having a good voice.
For one thing, how is your storytelling?
But wait. I’m getting way ahead of myself.
First – Ask yourself two very simple, and very important questions:
How? & Where?
First, how would I make money doing voice overs?
Be specific, because you may be surprised by how many genres of voiceover there are. Would it be voicing commercials? How about animation or cartoon voices? Do you have the stamina and versatility for audiobook narration? Maybe it’s the specific challenge of narrating eLearning modules, or the ever-growing world of corporate narration. These are only a few of the many avenues of VO you might pursue, and if you examine each one, you’ll notice they all require a different set of skills. More importantly to note, each one has a completely different world of buyers (the folks paying you to speak).
The second question: Where would I record my voice overs?
These days, a home studio is a must. It could be as simple as a corner in a room, or a closet full of clothes…or, you could spend thousands on a professional vocal booth. Point is – all you really need is a quiet space with deadened walls. That’s it. Comfort and upgrades can come later – maybe after you confirm you have the chops for this. If cost is a concern, just know that these days, you can spend under $300 to create professional sounding reads. Let’s assume you already have a computer, so you can record, edit and convert your reads on software known as a DAW (digital audio workstation) – many of which are free. A decent microphone with the USB interface is where you’ll put your money. As you progress through this journey, upgrades will come – to your recording space, your equipment…and your talent.
Do I have what it takes for a career in voice over?
As they say, there’s only one way to find out. I’m just giving you a little food for thought so you can get past the paralysis by analysis. If you’ve been standing at the edge of the voice over pool, debating whether or not you should test the waters, remember the two questions. If your answers give you confidence – then go ahead, take the plunge…and decide for yourself if the water is fine.