Company Touts Voice-Over Work
Company touts voice-over work
By Bonnie Langston | February 2009
“Getting Paid to Talk: Making Money with Your Voice,” a recent introductory continuing–education class at Rhinebeck High School, ended the evening with a chance for attendees to step up to the mic.
“I want you to smile. I want you to slow down. I want you to have warmth, but you’re arrogant,” instructed presenter Leslie J. Maiello to a reader doing a bit about a fictitious business called SmartCar.com.
Others were told to read reflectively about a restaurant and energetically about the fake theme park “Wild World.” Afterward, some participants requested an evaluation from the company where Maiello is a professional trainer and producer at Voice Coaches, based in Schenectady.
One man early in the 2 ½ hour class wanted to know, in terms of meeting a client’s budget, “How much (money) sticks to the fingers of the (voice) actors?”
Maiello said at the lower-paid end of the voice-over profession, about one hour of commercial work can bring in from $75 to $500.
The man who asked the question left later. Those who stayed included a high school teacher, an organist, a man with acting experience, another with a remote-access business, and a high school senior.
Sometimes entry-level people work for free, gradually attaining a respectable wage. Maiello said. It is rare, however, for people to reach the heights of a professional she referred to as “Middle-of-the-Road Bill,” whose first job garnered him $50 from the state’s department of correction. His stick-to-it-style, however eventually landed him a job with Kraft Foods.
“One spot paid him $30,000,” Maiello said. “Do you believe that?”
She told the class, nevertheless, that voice-over work is not a break-in, get-rich quick field, although it can be fun and satisfying. Interested folks who have loads of perseverance coupled with ability and financial wherewithal for study might want to check into it, she said.
David Bourgeois, president and creative director of Voice Coaches, who will lead an introductory class from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday at BOCES in Port Ewen, said a good voice and a demo CD are only starters for people who want to join the field. He, like Maiello, stressed the importance of education in the development of professional acuity required to snag and maintain a job.
Apparently, more and more people are heading his advice.
“Because of this weirdness we’re going through in the economy right now, people are really looking for opportunities to take control of their own income,” he said. “(For) our professional training, the investment is greater than $3,000. I will tell you we have never been busier.”
Bourgeois said opportunities for jobs in voice-over – or voice acting, a term he prefers – might be surprising. Less than 10 percent of the work is commercials, he said. The remainder is “narrative” work, which may include audio books, educational or training material; documentary, historical or biographical work and opportunities for audio, video and computer games as well as Web sites.
“Audio books are expected to double in the next five years,” Maiello said. “That’s a lot of work.”
But animation is the no. 1 growth area in voice-acting, she said noting that the video-game console PlayStation incorporates about 300,000 voices spread over the console’s many games.
“I can’t even fathom that,” she said.
One-half of voice-acting work today is for the Internet, Maiello said, including pod-casts.
“That is amazing,” she said. “People are getting paid to do that.”
Another element that likely surprises many people is the new direction of the voice-over field.
“The type of voice we hire has changed,” Bourgeois said. “We’re really looking for believability today, somebody who can convey the message sincerely. We’re not always looking for that (deep-voiced) announcer guy.”
In fact, half the people doing voice-overs are not guys at all Maiello, who is just one example.
Man or woman, one thing is for sure.
“Everybody is expected to know their job when they get into that control room,” she said. “If you don’t know your job, you’re not going to be working long.”
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