Frequently Asked Questions
Am I Too Old To Become a Voice Actor?
Of course not! VO students come in all shapes, sizes, and ages! How old is too old anyway? Age is just a number. Retirees and empty-nesters, frequently pursue voiceovers because their income/retirement status affords them a way to do so. Will there be challenges? Of course. Your level of business acumen and how tech-savvy you are will play big roles. Likewise, your vocal age (how old you sound) will need to be determined. Finding your niche and having realistic expectations (just like any other voiceover student) is essential. Morgan Freeman booked his first major acting job at age 50. Maybe you'll book your first major voiceover job at age 65!
Are There Voiceover Scams to Look Out For?
Yup. Most voiceover scams happen in college classrooms under the guise of "adult education" courses. The scam is to paint an incredible picture of the industry. You are told how much money can be made in voiceover acting. All the while they boost your confidence by convincing you of your amazing talent and potential. Shortly after, they pitch you a $3,500 - $6,000 ‘package’ for training, and a demo or two. Training lasts a few days or weeks. A demo might be made from your very first time in front of a microphone! Then, you head out into the world and start trying to get work; and you realize you don't know what the heck you are doing. Eventually, you wonder; "What the F&%# did I pay for?" If you complain, they try to sell you more training. The training 'taught' by these voiceover companies, schools, 'institutions', etc. is bunk. They dash with both your dreams and your cash.
Are You Trying to Discourage Me From This Industry?
It's complicated. The answer to this question is both yes and no. No, I'm not trying to bar you entry; paint a pessimistic picture or give you a disgruntled impression. I love this industry and if anything I'm fiercely protective of the standards and practices that will allow the voiceover industry to continue to flourish. Like most coaches (who are not in need of more coaching business), I AM trying to discourage you if you have: an unrealistic goal, expectation, or viewpoint about this industry. Or if you if you are trying to enter this profession ill prepared and without the proper tools, guidance and training.
Can You Assess My Voice and Tell Me If Voiceover Is Right For Me?
This industry is subjective - the same as all acting arts. No one can tell you with absolute certainty if you will make a good voiceover actor, if you will succeed in this business, or when and if you'll book your first job. What I can do in an on-mic assessment is help you to identify your raw skills as well as your weaknesses. Very little bars someone from trying to become a voiceover actor (speech impediments and heavy, heavy accents aside). It takes passion, commitment, dedication, and training. If you are willing and able and this is your dream, then there's no reason not to pursue voiceover. Vocal assessments can only be performed over the phone if you already have a demo or other vocal recordings that can be listened to prior. Your 'regular' speaking voice over the phone is not an indication of how you'll perform on mic. And I warn you to be wary of anyone who wants to do a vocal assessment over the phone.
Do I Need To Build A Home VO Recording Studio & What Will It Cost?
Yes. At some point, you will need your own professional home studio. This is not something you need to do right this moment if you are brand new. You will need a home studio in order to be a working voice actor - we all have them. It will need to be a quality facility with a great computer, a professional microphone (not USB or headset), headphones & studio monitors, an audio interface, acoustic material, and a spare closet or other enclosed, acoustically treated space for recording. The cost will be on average between $1500 - $5000 for a professional quality setup depending on what you already own. Harlan Hogan and Jeffery Fisher have a great book - Voice Actors Guide to Recording at Home and On The Road- it will teach you everything you need to know about this critical process.
Do You Work With Kids?
Not typically. I don't even recommend voiceovers for kids for a variety of reasons. Children's voices change often and the expense of keeping up with these changes is hefty as you have to make new demos for child voice-actors once or twice per year. Also restricted work hours, a limited number of roles, and the number of adult voiceover actors who can play kids parts - all make the proposition of launching a voiceover career for a kid difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. Kids should begin to train early if they have a true passion and love for voiceovers. However, they won't likely see a return on those investments until they are an adult actor. I will only work with kids who are mature for their age and over the age of 15. Their voices must already be mature, making it possible for them to pursue young adult roles. My recommendation for younger children is Lisa Biggs an accomplished voiceover actress in Charlotte, NC.
How Do I Choose A Voiceover Coach?
There are many wonderful and talented voiceover coaches who can train you and aid in your voiceover journey. You will likely work with more than one coach over time and throughout your career. Selecting who to work with, why and when can be daunting. If you are brand-new to the industry then I suggest the following: Select a coach who offers you a well-rounded view of the three main aspects of voiceover, performance, business and technology. Do your research and make certain the coach you are considering is a reputable, respected, active member of the voiceover community. And lastly consider your coaches speciality within voiceover. All coaches have a focus or area in which they excel. Does the coaches' experience align with your dreams? Seek the advice, mentoring and experience of a voiceover coach that has a career that looks like the career you want!
How Do I Find Proper Voiceover Training?
First decide on the training you wish to receive (the genre), then find the coach or coaches that are reputable and excel in those areas. Voiceover Universe has a section dedicated to coaches. Conventions like VO Atlanta will attract and showcase the best coaches. Speak with the coach you are considering, read their websites; get a feel for their teaching style and methods with a one-time session first. Then align yourself with a coach or coaches that challenge you and help you to think differently about the choices you make behind the mic. Your education needs to be complete and your training should include performance, studio technology, and marketing/branding plus a clear plan for what to do after your coaching with a particular person is done. In the end, you'll probably train with a number of people.
How Do I Get A Voiceover Agent?
Most beginners are not ready for an agent, yet. It takes learning the industry, extensive training, and a thriving successful voiceover business of your own before most voiceover agents will be interested in working with you. They earn 10% of what you earn. If you are earning nothing then they get 0% of nothing. Voiceover agents do not discover you and they are not a fast path to work. An agent can only do so much. You must be prepared and have the tools needed to do the job (training, demos, website, studio, etc) because your competitors already have all those tools. If you are brand new to voiceovers, focus your efforts on training, NOT an agent.
How Do I Get A Voiceover Demo?
After completing sufficient training with VO coaches, (notice the plural), your first demo should be recorded by a reputable demo producer within your specific demo genre. Not all demos are created equal and not all demos are for the same purpose. You should never rush the demo process or make one too soon. Most pros wait at least two years before making their first demo. Learn more about voiceover demos here.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Voice Actor?
Years. I know this may not be the answer you want to hear. But it's the truth. It takes years and years of hard work, studying, taking classes, practicing, taking more classes, and did I mention... taking classes. Most voiceover students take classes once or twice per month. But you should also budget lots of practice time and self-study.
It takes anywhere from 2 - 10 years to become a working professional voiceover talent who is consistently booking work and maintaining repeat clients. The time you invest is critical to your success, and will also be to blame for your failure if you try to move too fast.
I see far too many people building voiceover studios, creating voiceover 'demos' and preparing to market a business they haven't yet begun, all without ever having taken a single voiceover class!
Be ok with being a student. It's not a sign of weakness, but rather a mark of intelligence. Let humility be your ally. If you are reading an FAQ about voiceovers you are not ready to dive head (and wallet) first into this.
How Much Does Voiceover Coaching Cost?
Coaching costs vary. Typically a reputable, quality coach will charge anywhere from $125-$200 per hr. Sometimes more, sometimes slightly less. Location plays a role in cost - coaches in larger markets like LA or NY will typically charge the most. To view, my coaching prices and options click here.
How Much Money Does A Voice Actor Make?
Earnings in voiceovers depend on a lot of factors. Professional voiceover talent typically earns an average ($40,000) to above average ($100,000) living annually. Many voiceover actors earn $250,000 annually or more. And some earn much, much more than that. Experience and skill count for a lot. Like most professions, there are different levels and tiers of success.
How Much Voiceover Work Is There In My Town?
That depends on where you live. Geography plays little bearing on your ability to make money in voiceovers. Our job is virtual. Big cities like NY or Chicago will have far more voiceover opportunities per capita than you'll find in Reno, Nevada or Salem, Massachusetts. Voiceover actors are equipped with home studios that (if properly outfitted), allow a voiceover actor to work from anywhere in the world for clients all over the globe. I get asked this question a lot in my home-base (Charlotte NC). I have more over-seas voiceover clients than the ones I have locally. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of clients I do voiceover work for in Charlotte. Yet, like most successful voice actors I have hundreds of clients across the country. Booking jobs in 'my backyard' isn't a priority of mine.
I Hear A Lot Of Talk About Voiceover Target Marketing, Niche, & Signature. But What Does It All Mean?
It means you have to tailor your marketing efforts to the primary buyer you are trying to reach. You need to ID a demographic and sell to them FIRST. It also means you have to have a specific sound that is appealing to that prime demo. My classes teach you how to implement and apply these winning business strategies and enable your voiceover business to grow vigorously.
Im A Singer, Musician, Actor or Radio DJ, etc. How Do I Get Work & Does My Prior Experience Help?
Prior experience in any performance setting will make you a stronger voiceover actor and may help you to reach your goals faster than someone who has never done any performing before. In my experience, actors and singers bring the most pre-existing talent to the voiceover mic and radio folks bring the least. (That pains me to say because I was in radio for many years, but it's the truth.) Typically, I tell folks with prior or parallel experience that they are looking at a 1-3 year journey to becoming a working paid voice actor. This is in comparison to the usual 3-5 years for those who have no prior performing experience. You may be able to fast track but you'll still have to put in a lot of hard work.
Im Constantly Told I have a Great Voice. So How Do I Get Started in Voiceovers?
Having a great speaking voice DOESN'T make you a voice actor. Getting frequent compliments about your voice doesn't mean you will succeed at this. You have to learn how to be an actor in order to use your voice to the best of your ability and there are many components to that process. Having a "radio voice" is a terrible fate and something that our industry doesn't want! Broadcasters (Disc Jockeys and News Anchors) are NOT voiceover actors and our professions share little in common. If you want to be 'on the radio' then you need to pursue a career in broadcasting or communications, not voiceovers. And if you sound like (or impersonate) a celebrity you might book work occasionally, (almost never if that celebrity is still alive and working). Voiceover clients pay for the real thing, not imitations. Only a rare few voiceover actors make a living doing celebrity impressions. So, the answer is, you start at the same place as everyone else; by educating yourself on this industry. Voiceovers are a profession like any other. You train/gain an education, apprentice and hone your craft and if you survive the trials of the industry, you might book work...eventually.
Is Gabrielle Nistico (Gabby) A Working Voice Actor?
Yes! Gabby has been working in this industry for over 20 years and has been a full-time voiceover actor since 2003. She spends 70% of her time behind the microphone performing for her commercials, radio imaging, TV promos, and video games. She's voiced for thousands of clients in almost every genre of voiceover. You can hear her demos and learn more about her recent voiceover jobs here. When Gabby got started in her voiceover journey, resources like those offered in her training and on this website did not exist. It's her goal to provide beginners with the types of services she wished for 20 years ago.
Is Remote, Off-site or Computer Based Training a Good Idea?
That depends on one very important factor; do you have a home-studio in which to record? It's difficult to learn something remotely for the first time. Imagine trying to learn how to play an instrument - like the piano - if you don't have a piano on which to play. The task would be largely impossible. You'd learn how to play 'in theory'. Trying to begin a voiceover career with remote training but without a studio is much the same. You'll learn the theory behind voiceover but you won't have practical on-mic experience that teaches you how to use the mic and work in a studio environment. There simply is no substitute for being on-mic for much of your training. This doesn't mean you should rush out and purchase voiceover equipment either.
There Are No Coaches In My Area. What Should I Do?
It's not uncommon to live in an area where you do not have access to a well-known or reputable voiceover coach. In these cases, it is wise to save your money until you can afford to travel to the coach of your choosing. There are also a number of remote options to begin training, including webinars, group classes and online events being offered by a plethora of voiceover companies. Chose wisely and you'll be able to start learning remotely in addition to using self-study guides and books.
What Are Some of the Ways You Help Experienced Voice Actors?
Perceptions. Performers put their art ‘out there’ every day to be judged and criticized. Good business owners and good performers know that perceptions matter and voiceover actors are both business owner and performer. My classes help you to better control the perceptions surrounding your voice. My classes will help you to create a brand that is indicative of how you want your voice to be perceived. McDonald’s tell us ‘we’re lovin’ it!’ what does your brand message tell your customers? If you don’t know, I’ll help you figure it out.
What Can I Expect From My First Voiceover Class With Gabby?
All of my classes start with a thorough and honest assessment of your existing material (if you have any). I take over 20 years of voiceover casting knowledge and look at your demo, website, auditions etc, the way a client or agent would. Then I tell you exactly what I/they think – and show you the precise way in which to fix any negative marks. How? I was the Operation Director for a VO casting company, Voicehunter.com for 10 years. It was my job to pick, choose, screen and weed talent on a daily basis and to give our casting clients only the 5 best voice options for their project. I know exactly what it takes to be one of those 5! If you are brand new to voiceovers then our assessment will begin with a thorough investigation of your needs / wants and a conversation about your current occupation and career experience. On-mic time will determine your raw, natural vocal skills along with any skills/attributes you possess. It will also serve to I.D. areas in which you need help and map a plan for improvement.
What Is The Difference Between Your 15 Minute Consultation and Your 60 Minute Assessment?
15-minute consultations are free and take place over the phone. They are a candid conversation in which we talk about your goals, I answer your questions and I help you to determine if my services are right for you. I'll make recommendations outside of my company If I think they'll be helpful to you. I don't have an agenda on these calls and they are not a sales pitch. Due to demand and my already packed schedule, they take place over the phone only. 60-minute assessments are a class, held on-mic in my studio. You are given various pieces of copy to read 'cold' in a private setting. I'll then give you direction as well as tips, guidance, and instruction. I'll assess your strengths and weaknesses as a performer. We'll then discuss those findings and create a training action plan that is specific to your needs. If you've never been on-mic and don't know if voiceover is right for you but are highly intrigued, this is a great place to start. Your first time on-mic in the voiceover booth with either have you hooked or ready to run away. The cost of this class is $150. You can book it here.
What is Zoom and How Does It Work?
Zoom is an online, web-based, browser-based, video-chat system. It is similar to Go To Meeting or Skype. If you decide to take a remote class with me, we would meet via Zoom. You can learn more about Zoom, how it works and test it out on your computer by going to www.Zoom.us. You don't need to purchase anything as we'll be using a Zoom Room that I pay for. Need more help? Here are some handy links.