WARNING: “I’ve shared everything I could about how to become a voice-over artist in this article.
I DO NOT offer training or advice for aspiring voice over artists. So, DON’T call me or email me in this regard.
I’ve done my bit. Now it’s your turn to do some work yourself.”
As an aspiring voice-over artist, you had been hearing encouraging words for quite some time now. Some typical examples:
“Oh my! You’ve got such a sexy voice.”
“Damn! Your voice is so cool man.”
“Hmm…You sound so impressive.”
“I think you should try making a career in voice-overs.”
And then, you thought of doing something about it – you decided to make a career in voice-overs. But you have no clue how to become a voice-over artist.
That’s why I am here. I’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you become a professional voice-over artist.
But before I begin, I need to ask you a question – Do you think anyone with ten fingers can become a chess player? Or anyone who can hold a bat can become a cricketer?
The same thing is true about making a career in voice-overs. Having a voice is not enough.
You have a ‘Sexy’ voice. Can you make a career in voice-overs?
Having a “cool” or “sexy” voice is no guarantee to become a successful voice-over artist.
Yeah, I know it sounds rude but you must know the truth. It can save you a lot of time and money.
I see so many young students invest (read ‘waste’) their time and money to become a voice-over artist just because somebody said they had a sexy voice.
Voice overs is not a hobby. It’s a business – a full-time business that requires a lot of skills and hard work.
So, if you were looking for some ‘easy money’ by speaking a few lines in front of a microphone – don’t waste your time. It’s not worth it.
Still here? Great!
I prefer the term ‘Voice Actor’ and not Voice over artist (they are no the same though). So be ready to read ‘Voice Actor’ and ‘Voice Acting’ a million times throughout this article.
Let’s get started.
Who Am I?
My name is Avdhesh Tondak. I am a Radio Jockey & Voice Actor.
I started my career as a radio jockey with All India Radio FM Gold Channel (106.4 MHz) in 2003, and have hosted more than 600 live radio shows so far.
Listen to my voice samples.
Who is a Voice Actor?
A voice actor or voice over artist is a person who gives his voice for radio and TV commercials, documentaries, movies, audio CDs etc.
The simplest example would be the announcement in Delhi Metro – “Next station is Chandni Chowk, doors will open on the right, please mind the gap”
Is Voice Acting easy?
Many aspiring voice artists assume that voice acting is easy. Just stand in front of a microphone, speak a few lines, and it’s done. Right?
Voice acting is a highly competitive field. You need to work your butt off to make your presence felt. It demands dedication and hard work and can take years to get established as a voice actor.
What does it take to become a Voice Actor?
If you wish to make a career in voice-overs, you need to have a reasonably good voice to being with. But having a good voice alone can’t make you a voice actor. You need to train your voice.
Here are some other basic requirements.
- Good command over the language you want to make your career in. i.e. Hindi and English.
- Strong will power (To survive long recording sessions)
- Willingness to learn something new every day (In terms of language and voice)
- Skills to grow your network.
Where to get training for Voice Acting?
Just Google it.
I’ve heard there are some genuine institutes where you can get training for voice-overs. Research properly before you pay the fee.
And remember this – money alone cannot make you a voice actor. If it could, things would have been easier.
A real-life example
I was working for Hit 95 FM in 2007.
One day, a guy came for audition who had done some sort of course in radio jockeying and voice acting from a reputed institute in Delhi. I was expecting him to be quite good since he was a trained one. But to my surprise he didn’t have a clue about how to stand in front of a microphone.
You know, some people live in the illusion all their lives that one day they will become a famous voice-over actor.
They keep on wasting their time and money on their training.
You need to get real. Voice Acting is not for everyone. Either you have it or you don’t. If you don’t have it, stop wasting your time and money. Try a different career.
I’ve no intention to demotivate you, but you must know where you stand. Or you’ll fall for false promises. There are people who’ll say, “Who says you can’t become a voice actor? Just give me the money and I’ll make you one in days.”
What is the ‘Right’ strategy to make a career in voice-overs?
Analyze yourself. Find out where you stand. Test your voice.
How do you do that?
Take a small piece of text from a newspaper, magazine or textbook.
Read it aloud and record your voice on mobile phone or any other voice-recording device. Listen to it as if it’s someone else ‘s voice.
Be brutally honest and answer these questions.
- Does it sound lively? (Like the professional radio jockeys and voice actors?)
- Is it appealing?
- Did you notice fumbling or faltering?
- How long can you listen to this voice?
- Can you see any space for improvement?
Analyze your voice objectively, and you’ll get the idea.
I feel I have what it takes, now what?
Start polishing your voice.
Take a book, magazine or newspaper.
Stand in a corner of a room. Stretch your jaw muscles. Open your mouth wide open – the way you yawn.
Now start reading aloud.
Reading aloud helps you open up and make your vocal chords strong enough to sustain long recording session.
Why in a corner?
Because the corner reflects your voice back to you. It helps you keep track of the speed, diction and overall performance. You get instant feedback.
Do this exercise daily for 10-20 minutes and pretty soon you should be able to notice some improvement in your voice.
Pay Attention To Radio And TV
The best way to learn voice acting is to pay attention to Radio and Television. It’ll help you get an idea about –
- How does a professional voice actor sound
- How does he modulate his voice
- Where, and why he takes pauses and what’s the impact of those pauses?
Keep on practicing and soon you’ll start getting it right.
You MUST know…
- How to emote your words
- How to read the script in given amount of time
- How to modulate your voice to suit the mood of the script
Prepare your voice samples
After practicing for some time, it’s time to hit the road.
For this, you need to prepare scripts for different genres like-
- Corporate films
- Jingles (If you sing)
Search the Internet. There are many free scripts available online.
If you can’t find the right ones, make your own. Take help from textbooks, magazines, newspapers, radio, and television.
Keep’em short and sweet
Keeping your voice samples short and crisp will improve your chances of getting heard. (No one can stand a long and boring voice sample)
Most of your voice samples should be within the range of 15-40 seconds. (A guy had sent me a voice recording of 30 minutes; I didn’t listen to it because I didn’t want to torture myself)
Once you have the scripts ready, practice them well. Try modulating your voice in different styles. Read aloud, read normally, read with sincerity, and read with enthusiasm or in any other way you can think of.
Don’t record your voice samples at home
You’re trying to make a career in voice-overs. Make sure you record your voice samples the best you can.
Record you voice samples at your home PC only if you want to end your voice over career even before it begins.
You’re aspiring to become a professional voice actor, and your voice samples MUST sound professional. No compromise on this.
Search for some good professional sound studios in your city. Call them up and ask if they produce demo CDs. Don’t hesitate to ask for some of the voice samples they have produced.
Also, inquire about the studio charges. Usually, sound studios charge by the hour.
The amount could vary from 800-2000 rupees per hour. Research thoroughly. Book a studio. And record your voice samples.
On an average, it should take you 2-3 hours to get your demo CD.
(It includes the time required for editing and mixing)
Always have your voice samples in Mp3 format. Wave format takes longer to upload and download, and it kills your chances of getting heard.
You have your voice samples ready. Now, it’s time to market yourself.
Get a list of sound studios, radio & TV channels, and production houses. You can find them on the Internet – Justdial.com is a good website to start.
Call them up one by one, introduce yourself and ask if you can send them your voice samples. Make a list of all who said yes and send your voice samples immediately.
Be visible on the internet
It always pays to have a web presence.
There are many websites that allow you to create an account for free. You can upload your voice samples, build a profile and let people know you exist in the voice over market. For example, voices.com is a great website to showcase your talent online.
A Word of Caution
Post your email address and phone number on genuine and reliable websites only. Don’t post it on any suspicious looking website. You might get some absurd/obscene emails or phone calls/messages.
This is true for both girls and boys. (I had gotten a couple of messages from a gentleman who wanted to show me heaven on earth…[email protected]#$%^&*()_+)
The best way to handle such things is to ignore them completely.
Don’t get scared or discouraged, it’s part of the game. Just be careful.
It’s important to follow up.
Wait for 10-15 days and call the studios you had sent your voice samples to.
Ask politely if they have some voice over work for you. Remember not to bother them every alternate day. It’ll only piss them off.
Initially, you shall get downmarket kind of assignments. The budget might be low or medium, and sometimes you might even have to work for free.
Don’t crib, this is your learning phase, it takes time to build rapport with people and get work. Make as many useful contacts as you can. The amount of voice over work you get every month also depends upon how good you are at growing your professional network.
Beware of Vultures
Like any other industry there are also frauds in the voice-over industry. They can guarantee you big and lucrative projects only to suck money out of you.
Not only that, they can exploit you sexually as well.
Only you can decide for yourself what is right for you, be careful which route you take.
And lastly, be persistent.
So, there you are. I have shared with you the basics of getting started in voice-overs.
Analyze if you have what it takes to be a voice-over artist.
Decide if a career in voice overs is right for you.
Train your voice and start marketing yourself.