The Sound of Industry Changing
By Paul Nelson | March 2008
So you want to get into the voice-over business. For sure, the Internet has opened up a whole new world and work is more plentiful, but a golden voice alone won’t cut it. “As important as a person’s voice is, so too is their personality and ability to be perseverant,” said David Bourgeois, president and creative director of Schenectady based Voice Coaches, which provides voice acting training. “There is room for a much broader range of voices today, ans there has never been more opportunity in the field.”
A large chunk of the business today has shifted from the commercial end to the Internet and narrative voice-work, including audio books, training and educational material, and documentaries, Bourgeois said. By most estimates, audio books are expected to increase fivefold within the next two years. Video gaming and podcasting also are red-hot, said David Ciccarelli, chief executive of Voices.com, a Canadian company that connects businesses with voice actors and voice-over talent.
“All of this is creating new demand for new content because there is a new base of listeners and opportunity for advertisers,” he said, noting that the Internet and podcasting means a large audience and opportunities for more advertising dollars. “The industry is growing in leaps and bounds in terms of dollars that are being invested.” Bourgeois said the key to making it in today’s digital age is for voice-over artists to find their niche and then market themselves hard. “It is an entrepreneurial field,” he said.
Many in this field are investing in expensive high-tech gadgets that allow them to work from the comfort of their home studios, which makes personal marketing and understanding technology crucial. Ciccarelli said the traditional model, in which a company often hired an advertising and talent agency, which then held a casting call, has fallen by the wayside. He said a person now needs to be able to strike a winning balance between their business, artistic and technical skills. “It’s working on your weakness and that’s how you’re going to raise your game,” Ciccarelli said.
Growing opportunities led last year to the founding of Talent Guild International, which offers a kind of one-stop shopping for businesses searching for voice artists and actors in the Capital Region. Founder and president Elizabeth Colwell of Saratoga Springs said the group of about 20 actors and voice-over talent meets once a month to discuss their industry and to network. It also holds workshops and seminars. She agreed with others that the Internet has opened more doors and made the industry more competitive.
Scotia resident Heather Frenz has been doing voice-over readings for online textbooks for 15 years. Though she has a small home studio, she prefers to get out of her residence and interact with people in her field. “I like working in the studio (outside) because it brings together all those creative, collective minds because you end up with a better program,” Frenz said, adding it’s also good for making business contacts.
Voice Coaches’ Bourgeois said gender is not much of an issue these days, as it may have been before. “It used to be that you had to have been born with a voice for the radio, but today you have to have a voice for the specific job we’re casting,” he said. “People relate best to people they feel are similar to themselves.”
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