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Radio Demo or Voiceover Demo?

Over the years, I have noticed that the worst voiceover demo rule breaking seems to come from radio. If you are a current or former radio DJ, you need to understand the difference between a demo that will get you radio work, and a demo that will get you voiceover work.

Likewise, voiceover beginners with little to no formal training, who self produce their first demo, make a lot of same mistakes as radio performers.  This is likely because they tried to mimic what they hear on the radio in their local market. They did not realizing that there are common errors radio talent make that don't fly in the voiceover world..

I always a special classification in my heart and in my coaching for “radio people”. I want to help you see where your radio background has potentially hurt you, but also, where it can help you. If you are currently in radio, or you’re a recent radio cast off; this article will address problems your demo may have. I'll also help guide you with corrective measures so that voiceover clientele will take you far more seriously.

Problem: The Radio delivery

Most radio demos are laden with what is called a ‘radio’ sound. Meaning, the demo is presented more like a DJ doing a live read or endorsement. This is a common problem , and while it displays your gift for announcing, it does not convey a universally personal message to the audience.

The sound you offer may be too familiar, as though you are assuming that the audience already knows you. This works well if you are a radio jock with a steady listener base, but voiceover talent must prove that their familiarity lies not in a previous encounter, but rather in the ability to assume a role or character within the script and act-out a part.

Solution: Acting your way to be better read

Just like in radio, your voiceover audience fits into a certain demographic. However unlike radio, the demographic changes with every single voiceover you are asked to audition or perform. You have an obligation to look at each piece of copy individually in order to target the right people.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who am I talking to? Define the audience as best as you can – really get detailed.

  2. What’s in it for them? What benefit should the buyer be made aware of.

  3. Who am I? Define who you are in relation to the audience. Again be very specific.

The more you explore these three questions the better you will be at meeting the needs of your voiceover client. You won’t just be the guy/gal on the radio – you’ll be the listeners friend, boss, co-worker, relative, teacher, etc.

Problem: Local copy

The quality of the writing that goes into local commercials can be pretty poor. These spots are very patterned and predictable. They rarely, if ever, give an actor the opportunity to assume a role within the script, and play a vested part. Instead they usually force radio talent to play a removed, nameless role. The disembodied announcer is often as defined as your character gets.  Sadly, radio rarely teaches its employees to look past the word ‘announcer’. Radio copywriters are rarely concerned with character development – that duty rests in the hands of the performer, and it’s no easy task. 

Solution: Use regional & National copy

When building a demo, (like cooking a meal,) you have the responsibility of serving up quality ingredients to make your demo extra tasty. Great copy is like home-made chicken stock – it becomes the foundation of the meal. So, you want to use the best copy.

Local spots – even if it is work you have done or been paid for - may not allow you to show your voice in the best light. Instead select national and regional ads from the radio, TV, and magazines that are best suited for your sound and style of delivery. Quality copy can improve your voiceover demo by greater than 40%!

Problem: Production style

There are always tell tale signs of a voiceover demo that is comprised of radio station produced material, and those signs are often in the style of production. Upon inspection ,professionals can hear that the same, over processed compression, affecting every read. Client’s can hear the unnatural and heavy gate of the station’s compression, and what’s more, they are usually vividly aware that all the demos’ parts and pieces have been produced at the same location, on the same equipment, by the same hands.

Solution: Hire a professional demo producer

Hire a pro who specializes in the creation of voiceover demos. Or hire a voiceover coach to consult you in the process of creating your demo. Strive to learn the rules and standards for voiceover demo production. A voiceover demo should offer subtle nuances in sound.  The production elements should never distract from your voice either, which is why over the top car dealer, night club and concert commercials are usually avoided on a voiceover demo. They distract too much for your voice and offer little to no ability to showcase acting skills. Your demo should not offer wildly different vocal changes, but rather, it should let us hear the rich and full use of your voice in different applications.

Gabrielle Nistico, Gabby Nistico, The Voiceover Vixen, The Business First VO Coach, #VoiceoverVixen #VoiceOnFire #BusinessFirstVOCoach Voiceover, Success, Entrepreneur, Marketing Strategies, Income, Home Studio, Recording, Microphone, Professional, Coaching, Voiceover Coaching, VO Coaching, Voiceover Coaches, Working Actors, Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, North Carolina, VO Demo, Voiceover Demo, Demo Producer, Radio, Radio DJ, Studio, On Air, Talent

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