Do you need voice over demos?

Voice over demos have changed. In order to be successful in voice acting today, it’s vital for you to learn about these changes. Certainly the term ‘voice over demos’ lives on, but it’s adapted to accommodate the next generation of audio consumers.

Are voice over demos no longer important?

Information on voice over demos are readily available and it can be relatively easy to learn what they are, and where to get one produced. But the truth is, it’s both a yes and no. Attention spans are too short to sit through single voice over demos showcasing your entire range in one file. But if it showcases small, individual samples of your voice and vocal range? That’s 100% still important. 

Voice over demos have evolved into short voice over samples, contained in specific playlists and are necessary for both new and experienced voice actors to have. Click To Tweet

Why? Well, think about this: 

Do you ever buy a pair of shoes without trying them on? 

Do you ever buy a car without test driving it? 

Do you ever buy a tech gadget without first watching the review? 

Maybe you do and maybe it works, but most of the time, we need a ‘sample’ of something. We want to get a feel for it, to see how it works, or to reassure ourselves that it’s a worthwhile investment. And since voice overs are investments to clients, the odds of a client hiring you without first hearing a sample of your voice are slim to none.

In fact, when clients post projects for voice acting jobs online, it’s compulsory to choose between, ‘send me related samples,’ or ‘custom audition.’ Clients need to know what you sound like, and if your voice would suit their script or project. 

Since the Covid-19 pandemic has caused financial losses from all sides, if you’ve invested in training, a home studio, equipment, software, and precious time, no one can afford the financial liability of “I’ll see if I need one.”

What is a voice over sample?

Voice over samples have transitioned from traditional, long, all-in-one voice over demos to short, individual, high-quality recordings in a variety of categories. These samples showcase your voice, vocal range and versatility. Their primary purpose is to provide clients with a clear audio portrait of what your voice sounds like and whether it would fit their project. These samples represent a growing trend in the use of short-form audio vs traditional demos. Think of a sample as a 30 second Youtube clip that grabs your attention. They are your audio representatives. They ‘speak’ to clients and say, ‘This is a sample of what I can do and what I sound like.’

What a voice over sample isn’t

Voice over samples are not long recordings of you reading sample scripts that you found online. They’re not something you ‘have’ to do just because you need to fill space on your online voice acting profile. 

“I've seen people not get booked on stuff because their audio quality was bad, but they're great voice actors … don't try to be something that you're not."  - Gavin Bentley

They’re not something you do when you’re tired or uninterested because clients can pick up on what you were feeling when listening to your recordings. They’re especially no longer something that has to be professionally produced, or required to send to agents as you can now market yourself without a middleman. Voice over samples are not rushed, disorganized, unrehearsed, long, or crammed into one audio recording.

It seems logical for clients to only require custom auditions, but that’s not always the case. With employees working remotely to accommodate for Covid-19 restrictions while juggling different projects in different timezones, final scripts aren’t always ready when casting directors and producers need to lock in a voice. And even when a final script is ready, it sometimes requires an NDA, which can lengthen the time frame for a casting. 

At Voice123, this is usually when clients post projects that request related voice over samples, and when they use the search feature to go through voice actor profiles. In fact, since January 2021, Voice123 clients have performed an average of over 650,000 searches! And almost 60% of projects posted on Voice123 since January 2021 have requested related samples instead of custom auditions.

The bottom line is this: If you don’t have any voice over samples, you won’t be able to submit an audition for a project, and you also won’t have anything for clients to listen to when they visit your online voice acting profile.

What are the different types of voice acting samples?

Voice overs are commonly needed for audiobooks, movie trailers, phone messages, podcasts, animations, text-to-speech, and more. Some of the most popular categories are promos, commercials, e-learning, video games, and narratives.

Most voice actors are able to do voice over work in most of these categories. While it’s good to be versatile, be honest with yourself and your voice. Instead of trying to make voice over samples in every category, take time to perfect what you’re really good at and market those accordingly.

How to start a voice over business

Before choosing a category, take time to find the personality and style of your voice. Are you warm and conversational, or friendly and upbeat? This will help you to decide whether you should record professional corporate voice overs, or persuasive promos. Once you know your voice, you can listen to voice overs in those related categories along with samples from pros to see how they nail their performances. Then practice reading sample scripts and compare your recordings with what’s already online. Use your life experiences and imagination to make them sound believable and always be sure to add ‘you’ to every script in order to bring it to life.

How long should a voice over sample be?

“If you upload a :60 second sample and there’s a great snippet :40 seconds in, nobody will ever hear it.”

How long do you listen to a song or a person’s voice before you decide that you like it, or if it’s just not for you? Usually, it’s only a matter of seconds. Click To Tweet

The same applies here – it’s best practice to record 00:20 – 00:30 second voice over samples in each genre or category of your vocal range. The average client today can easily access these samples on online platforms, and they only want a taste. Focus on using the first five seconds of each sample to grab your listeners’ attention and hold it!

A word of caution though; short samples aren’t equal to rushed samples. Voice over samples that are rushed, will sound rush—even if the rush isn’t instantly audible. Imagine how you feel when you’re talking to someone and they keep checking their watch or phone because they’re in a hurry to leave. You never want clients to listen to voice over samples that give the impression that you were rushing or in a hurry to move onto the next recording.

Hire a professional

In principle, hiring a professional makes sense – but it can be very expensive.

If you decide to go down this road, take time to do extensive research, read reviews, and ask questions. From quick Google searches, you’ll find the likes of well-known programs such as Edge Studio’s Training Program that’s garnered a trust-worthy reputation from the voice over community. It’s even better if you know someone in the voice acting industry who can give you a reliable referral because like every industry, there are a lot of scammers out there.

“A way to find that kind of person could be by going to a conference, like VO Atlanta or One Voice Conference or Gravy For The Brain. They have a ton of people and resources.” - Yolanda Spearman

Check out our What's Happening page to see what events are coming up in the weeks ahead!

Other announcements (promos, giveaways, contests & more) are posted there too.


Do it yourself

 As the pandemic continues, funds are limited and you have to choose your investments wisely. With the advancements in software and editing tools, online resources, and modern methods to add online playlists and samples, there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself. 

Instead of spending time and money in a producer’s studio, you can use the time and funds to invest in your own home studio. If you take time to learn how to record, edit and create your own pristine quality audio recordings, then you’ll have more control when creating your voice over samples and auditions

It’s advantageous if the samples you record in your studio are the ones that potential clients hear. This gives them a clear idea of not just your vocal range and suitability, but also the quality of your recordings that they can expect to receive. 

But keep in mind that ‘doing it yourself’ is not simply a matter of finding sample scripts, recording on your computer, doing a quick edit, and presto– oh, it’s done! Making quality voice over samples will take time, research, practice, and patience.

6 steps to crafting successful voice over samples

1. Decide on the type of samples that you want to record to showcase your voice. These should be the categories that you specialize in. 

2. Find suitable voice over sample scripts and practice until you’re comfortable. 

3. Invest in a suitable home studio set-up with a microphone that complements your voice

4. Record at a time when your voice is at its best, and ensure there’s no background noise.

5. Learn how to edit using professional software DAWs such as Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and Reaper

6. Ask someone with a keen ear for honest feedback and ensure that they listen with headphones.

“Even though Garageband and Audacity are free and get the job done, I believe all professional voice actors should invest in their craft as they grow." - Jairo Pineda

Where can I find voice over sample scripts?

We’ve compiled a list of voice over sample script libraries on our voice over resources page. Another way to create more voice over samples is simply by auditioning. If you have a Voice123 profile, auditions can become voice over samples if clients enable this setting in their projects.

In a project, you might see this setting: ‘Allow voice actors to add this audition to their public portfolio.’

Allow voice actors to audition - Do you need voice over demos?

This means that the client is allowing a voice actor to use the audition as a sample on your profile. 

Check out our Help Center guide to learn more here: Can I add my voice over auditions as part of my samples? 

“Study the script. Practice it. The better you know it, the more believable you sound and the less edits you'll need. Know your scripts!” - Jordan Jones