Impersonating voices is all fun and games, but if you’re good enough, you may want to start thinking about a career in it. If you can master accents or have a unique voice, companies and agents often seek new talent in the voice acting industry.
Voice acting may be a competitive outlet, but it is a great avenue to try if you are interested. You will see that it isn’t as difficult to get into the acting. You will just need to do a little research and practice, and you can find yourself in a video game soon enough!
Understand The Risks
Voice acting is quite a competitive market but is not impossible to thrive in. You will need to understand the risks when you try voice acting and take some time before you can master it. It helps if you are a natural at impersonations and accents. This will ease your training.
Here are a few things to consider before you go into voice acting and the risks that come with it:
- You will have to put in the time every day.
- You will need to invest in it before you get any return.
- You will have to market yourself.
- Success won’t happen overnight.
- Pay will be slow in the beginning.
Put Time In Every Day
Like any job or talent, you will have to put a little into it every single day. You don’t want to go weeks without ever practicing your talent. It will get a little rusty, and you will have to practice a little more.
Even practicing about 20 minutes a day can improve your skills tremendously. To help with these skills, you can follow many voice actors on social media platforms and see what advice they may give. You will find that these can help you refine your voice.
Invest In It Before Getting Returns
You will find that because it is more of a competitive route, you will need to make a little investment before seeing any returns. You will need to practice, buy help books or classes, equipment, and other material. This is all before you start getting paid for the work that you do.
There is also the chance that you may not see any returns. Producers and voice agents are very particular. They are looking for unique voices as well as actors and actresses that can switch up their sound and take direction. You may not fit their mold, and there is the chance that you may not find work in the beginning.
Marketing yourself can be difficult for some people, but remember, you have a talent, and you want people to notice it. Brag about yourself. Sell that you are unique and that you will add such an amazing aspect to their video game.
Marketing yourself can be a little scary at first, but this is the best way to gain new connections. Connections will help you succeed and get you through doors you may not have gotten through yourself.
Here are some great ways to market yourself:
- But, first, figure out who you are selling to.
- Find your unique selling point.
- Use keywords when applying.
- Show off your personality.
- Always stay updated about the industry.
- Be aware of social media outlets.
- Build an online presence.
Success Won’t Happen Overnight
Remember that this will be a long road. You may not see success right away. You could be competing for roles for a while before even finding yourself getting small roles in the beginning before landing a larger role.
Pay Will Be Slow
Pay being slow goes hand in hand with success not happening overnight. In the beginning, you will find that you have small projects that won’t get you a lot of income. It may even come in waves until you can get on an ongoing project.
Get A Coach And Training
This option may not always be available for beginners because of budgets, but having a coach or participating in some training will get you a lot farther than doing it on your own. In addition, coaches and classes can help you see what you need to work on that you may not notice.
Although there is a lot of online information you can sift through, sometimes it is hard to figure out what best fits you. So, if you are on the fence about getting training or getting a coach, get one. It will be the most beneficial money you spend on your voice acting investment.
Watch The Professionals
With technology and the internet today, you have plenty of access to free content online to learn from. So take the advice that best fits you and let go of anything that doesn’t. You know what is best for you as a learner and what tips and tricks are best for your voice.
TikTok and YouTube is a great platform to use when voice acting. There are many voice actors and actresses that will put out advice and tell you the best equipment. Most of this advice may only cover the basics, but it is a great start.
You will find a lot of content that can point you in the right direction. Some exercises or trends you can complete on TikTok will help you get into different moods and characters. In addition, you can explore how versatile your voice can be as you keep practicing.
Learn The Video Game Genres
Although your voice is one of the most important skills to work on as a voice actor or actress, you need to research the video game genres. There are many choices out there, and it is in your best interest to figure out which one best fits you.
It is okay if you want to try different genres. For example, voice actors and actresses often work within several genres, but knowing all the areas will make you seem more credible as a professional.
Here are the video game genres to choose from:
- Action-packed video games.
- Adventure video games
- Role-playing games
- Puzzle video games
- Simulation video games
- Sports video games
You can find yourself going down a rabbit hole of more specific genres, but these are the broad areas that you can look into.
Know The Roles
Make sure you know the roles that a video game will have. There are usually similar roles in each game. Here are the roles to look out for:
- The narrator
- The protagonist
- The antagonist
- The funny sidekick or side character
- Minor characters
These will be the main types of characters that you will be auditioning for. When you audition for a part, know the backstory of the character. Having this knowledge will help you prepare a voice that is most suitable for that character. For example, you don’t want the protagonist sounding like the villain when they are supposed to be the hero.
Practice Several Tones
Practice using your voice in different ways. You will soon realize that the more you practice various voices, you will create new and exciting characters. In addition, there are many videos and content out there you can use to give you ideas on new styles.
Try these exercises to get yourself into different styles and tones:
- The Rollercoaster
- Speak to a child
- Try different energy levels
Think of your voice as if it is a rollercoaster. It can go up and down with different twists and turns. You can do so much more than you realize, and when you try to push your voice in different directions, you will find yourself creating new personas that can be used for auditions.
Try testing your vocal range and seeing how far you can reach. Play with inflection and see what you can do. Mimicking unique voices on television can be useful when trying out this exercise.
Speak To A Child
Find scripts online and read them as if you were speaking to a young child. Record yourself and see how your voice has changed. You may realize that your delivery of a commercial is better or helps you explore the nurturing side of your voice. Many beginners have trouble with this aspect of the profession.
Try Different Energy Levels
Experiment with different energy levels when reading a script. Record yourself reading a script in a calm, low voice and then once with as much energy as possible. For example, imagine you are a salesperson on a car sales commercial. Listen to how your voice changes and what you can use. You may be surprised at what you hear.
Embrace Your Voice
Many people often despise their voice when they hear it played back to them. Don’t be ashamed of your voice. Instead, embrace how it sounds and how unique it is. Play with your voice. See what you can do. You will find that your natural voice can get you far in this industry.
Get Tech Savvy
You will need to get tech-savvy with the voice-acting technology out there. There are many things you will have to invest in, but you will have to learn how to navigate around these pieces of equipment:
- Recording program or software
You don’t need to have the most expensive equipment, but you will need to be familiar with it. You will also need to find yourself a place to do these recordings, especially if you are serious about voice acting. You won’t want outside sounds affecting the quality of your work.
The Best Microphones
You will find that expensive doesn’t always mean that it is the best for voice acting. Each microphone has its unique qualities that may be great for one voice but not for the other. You may realize that you will want to test out a microphone before you commit to one.
People suggest that you refrain from getting a held hand mic. This can cause unwanted sounds and movement. One on its stand can provide stability and focus on your voice rather than any rubbing sounds against its surface.
Here are some of the most popular microphones that many voice actors and actresses like to use:
- Rode NT1A
- Audio-Technica AT2020
- VO: 1-A Harlan Hogan Signature Series
- Neumann TLM 103
- Neumann TLM 102
- Sennheiser MKH 416
The Best Headphones
Headphones are necessary as a voice actor or actress because it eliminates any distractions as well as help you hear yourself. You will probably be spending at least a hundred or even more on this piece of equipment, but it is well worth it.
Here are a few headphones that many professionals suggest to try out:
- AKG K 701
- Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro
- Shure SRH 1540
- Audio-Technica ATH-R70x
- Focal Spirit Professional
- Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro
- Extreme Isolation EX-29
- Sony MDR7506
- Sennheiser HD280PRO
Most Popular Programs Or Software
Beginners will often use any free programs they can, like the “memos” application on their phone or something similar, but it is great for you to invest in a software program. You can better eliminate outside noises and find a better quality sound.
Here are some popular programs that are often used by professionals:
- Sony Sound Forge
- Pro Tools
- Adobe Audition
- Audacity (Which is free)
- Cool Edit Pro 2
- Twisted Wave
- Garageband & Sound Recorder (iOS users)
- Steinberg’s Cubase
Practice, Practice, Practice
You should put 20 minutes into your passion each day, but if you are looking for voice acting as your new job, you will need to put in some practice. You don’t have to do the same thing over and over again, though.
Voice acting is such a versatile job that you can find yourself practicing in many different ways. So you won’t get bored doing the same old thing over and over again. Here are the variety of exercises you can do to practice for voice acting:
- Read out loud.
- Use different for different characters within a book.
- Volunteer to read to children.
- Take an improv class.
- Mimic commercials and their narrators.
- Try out music theater.
- Practice a voice audition script.
- Experiment with your voice.
- Get into acting.
- Partake in voice acting challenges on social media.
Make A Great Demo
Now that you know more about video games and voice acting, you can go ahead with your demo. It is always great to have a great demo on hand for any opportunity that may randomly present itself.
Here are some tips to making a quality demo for you to hand to companies:
- First, make a demo for each style or character you have.
- Work on the hook, not the intro.
- Use your voice.
- Ask previous clients to use samples from previous roles.
- Choose the right script when working with previous projects.
Try to make a natural demo before you create styles and characters. You should have one demo that captures the real you. Have any demos for any character you want to play, whether it is the tough best friend or a younger role.
Last but not least, continue to update demos. You will become better skilled the more you practice, so if your demos are quite old, you may want to make some new ones. Listen over old demos and see where you want to make new and improved ones.
Create A Home Studio
You don’t have to throw a lot of money into creating a home studio. If you don’t have the budget for an expensive setup, you can simply find a room or office where you can hang up some blankets.
You just need a workspace that blocks most of the outside noises. You may not realize it, but even the smallest outside noises can disrupt the quality of your recording. So to make the greatest recording, you just need to add a little soundproof, and you will be good to go.
Here are a few tips to soundproof your work area:
- Cover everything.
- Use rolled-up towels under the doors.
- Keep your computer in another room.
- Set up a monitor in your studio.
- Use a wireless mouse and keyboard, so you don’t have to have your computer in the area.
- Cover carpets or remove carpets or rugs.
Red Flags To Look Out For
There are many scam artists out there that are trying to prey on people who are desperate for recognition of their talents. Naturally, you don’t want to be one of those people. However, you can avoid these con artists by looking for these red flags:
- Overly restrictive NDAs
- Non-compete clause
- Payments tied to work used
- Restrictions to similar projects
- Requesting you to pay
- Required to post the project on social media
- Any penalties
- Flat rates with no workload cap
Overly Restrictive NDAs
Be leary when it comes to overly restrictive NDAs. When they have many rules in place that could terminate your contract at any time, it may mean that they are setting you up for failure. But if there are many clauses the contract can clause within the contract that can terminate it and keep your work, you may want to reconsider.
You will find that larger projects might be more restrictive due to the scrutiny and trying to protect any storyline leaks. You may have seen this with larger movie franchises like Marvel or DC. However, when it is a smaller company, there is no need for extremely restrictive NDAs.
A non-compete clause means that you will be restricted from taking on any other projects. This is extremely problematic as a voice actor because you aren’t a consistent employee. Signing such a contract will limit your work. This can be detrimental to your connections.
They can label any company as a competitor, which can mean you can’t work at all. If they try to get you to sign a non-compete clause, there should be some compensation in place. They should have also worked through the details with your agent.
Payments Tied To Work Used
Check the contract to see if they will pay you for the work or for using the work. If they are only going to pay you for using the work, you won’t be paid until they decide. This is problematic because you won’t be getting paid for the work you already put in.
You will realize that yes, you got some experience in, but you may or may not get paid again. You can decide to take on this type of work, but just remember they most likely will not use it, and then you won’t be able to use it as a completed project for references.
Restrictions To Similar Projects
Any restrictions to do other work or projects should immediately be a yellow flag, if not a red flag. This limits your ability to do other work and earn more money. You may not be able to take on projects that they define as similar.
When a company uses the word “similar,” they can argue any company or project similar to their own. They can even argue that the voice you used is too similar for their character and shouldn’t be used for a new character. So be careful with these types of contracts.
Requesting You To Pay
Anytime a producer tells you to pay for equipment or anything else, see this as a red flag. You shouldn’t have to pay extra for the work you’re doing for them. Most voice agents and companies will send you the equipment or be fine with some basic equipment.
If you find yourself needing to invest a lot of money into the project, then it may be something that will not see any returns. Remember, payment isn’t always guaranteed. You will find that some well-known producers can also be cheap and not pay for work.
Required To Post Project On Social Media
Often, companies will take advantage of excited about their first gig as a voice actor or actress. They may ask that you post about the project on social media, but this could be more for free publicity than using you for talent.
Be careful when the employer pushes a social media presence. You should only post at your discretion, and you shouldn’t be forced into doing it if you don’t want to. The company should have its marketing that will push out any ads or social media posts.
This requirement isn’t necessarily a red flag, but you should consider if they are trying to pressure you too much. For example, if they request you to post about the project before signing a contract or paying you any income, you may want to reconsider signing with them. This could be a way to receive free publicity.
If there are any penalties on your contract, this isn’t necessarily a red flag, but you will need to note them. Some penalties may be quite restrictive, and you will find it impossible to avoid these penalties. So, naturally, you don’t want this happening.
Read over any contract carefully. The wording is important. If your contract says that you will be charged for any mistakes that you make, they may be trying to get out of paying you for your work. Of course, there will be mistakes, and sometimes you will have to make revisions, but you shouldn’t be penalized for it. Errors are a part of the voice recording process.
Flat Rates With No Workload Cap
Flat rates with no workload cap are a way for employers to get away with paying less for more work. This is the same concept as those who are working salary with no hour limits and no overtime. Be careful of these types of contracts.
The best thing is to question these contracts and what you are willing to do extra for a company. If the price does not meet the amount of work, give them a counteroffer or pass up the project. Even if you are inexperienced, you deserve to get paid for the extra work you provide.
Don’t ever sell yourself short in this industry, or you will find yourself being underpaid. You will find yourself doing a lot of work for very little money. You don’t want this, and it could make your passion for voice acting dwindle. Know your worth and fight for it.
Any time an employer wants to hire you but doesn’t offer up a contract, this is a big red flag. A contract is always to be presented. If there is no contract, likely, the employer will not pay you at the end of the project, and you have done the work for nothing.
People who do this are scam artists and are trying to get products for free. Your voice is a product and should not be given out for free. Always ensure there is a contract. Suppose they don’t have one, present one to them. If they aren’t willing to sign or agree to a contract, it is time to move on to the next opportunity.
Voice acting is a fun opportunity, especially when it comes to video games. With a little motivation and training, you could be hearing your voice on the next big game or find yourself with many clients. You will never know until you step out and give it a try.