Commercial voiceover (VO) work is lucrative and usually knocked out in short sessions, which makes it an ideal genre for voice actors. So how can you book these jobs? Here are a few tips for landing commercial VO gigs on broadcast TV and radio advertising.
I know we get paid to speak, but first you have to listen. Keep your ears open, especially to national brand advertising. What types of reads are you hearing over and over again? Real person? Flat? Excited? Cool? Warm? What did the cadence feel like to you? Was it rhythmic? Measured? Uneven? What you hear on those national ads are the reads you’ll need to master. Keep listening too because popular commercial VO styles are always changing.
Those read styles you heard? Now, you need to practice them. Write down the scripts from some of those national commercials and record yourself. Don’t try to sound exactly like the VO they used, rather mimic the style and feel of the ad voice using your own.
3. Find a Coach
As voice actors, we should always be learning. While you’re practicing, find a great VO coach or sign up for a commercial VO class to polish those commercial styles of yours. A good coach will help you identify which reads are going to make you money in commercial voice-over.
4. Create a Commercial Demo
A voice actor’s commercial demo can make or break a career. This is the first demo anyone breaking into VO work should have produced. Notice I used the words “have produced.” Don’t trust this most vital tool in your promotional toolbox to anyone other than a professional VO demo producer. Your commercial demo should highlight commercial reads you’ve mastered and can easily replicate in a broadcast advertising VO recording session.
5. Find Auditions
Finding commercial audition opportunities is where you can get creative. Sure, the biggie auditions are likely going to come from an agent, so if you don’t have one, try to get one. You can find advertising VO auditions online, by seeking out production companies with voiceover rosters, connecting with advertising agencies and broadcast media outlets, and by having another VO talent recommend you.
6. Read and Analyze Copy
When you have an audition, read the specs first. What does casting say they want to hear? Secondly, do a quick mental read of the audition copy. What’s the overall feel? Third, analyze where you want to color a word or two, emphasize or de-emphasize something, or consider adding a nonverbal device like a laugh or sigh. Finally, actually record the audition exactly as specified (slate, no slate, one take, separate takes, etc.)
7. Compare Work
Memes warning us against comparison flood social media, but when you’re trying to master a VO genre, ignore the memes and do the work. When you hear an ad you auditioned for but didn’t book, listen closely to the read they chose. Then go back and listen to your audition. Were you close, way off the mark, or somewhere in-between? Learn from comparing your audition read to their chosen VO read.
There is a lot that goes into booking commercial work, but starting with these seven tips should get you well on your way to landing commercial VO bookings!
Credit: Article done by Award-winning Voice-over Talent, Kelley Buttrick