My Strategy for My New Commercial VO Demo

My latest news is that I am currently in the midst of a fair amount of angst over the production of my newest voice-over demo, the first one I have hired an outside producer to engineer in over a decade.  There is a great deal of controversy on my favorite voice-over forum, www.vo-bb.com, over how quickly the first draft of my new demo is edited.  I have 14 clips in 60 seconds, which is a lot!  Most contemporary demos have from 8-12 clips in that time frame.


The central issue in the debate, as I see it, is “how will this demo be listened to?”  My fellow voice actors feel the individual clips are far too short to get a sense of a complete performance or even a complete thought.  However, my take is that actors are listening primarily to hear the enjoyment of the performance – which is a different goal than that of the casting directors, talent agents, and producers my demo is aimed at (the people who can actually hire me).  They are looking to find the right voice for a project, and to do it quickly.


My belief, reinforced by my demo producer as well as what I recall being advised by Marice Tobias many years ago, is that the folks who are listening with an eye towards casting listen to so many demos – week in and week out – that they “get” what it is I am trying to demonstrate in each clip very quickly.  Once the “get it,” they want to move on.  If the clips go on for too long, they may begin to advance the demo to skip ahead.  Editing a demo with many short clips may encourage this type of listener to actually take in the entire demo without fast-forwarding.  If this strategy of quick, short clips succeeds, it will be more effective at representing what I can do than a demo with fewer, longer clips.  I think my fellow actors who are advising me to lengthen my clips are finding it hard to stand in the shoes of people who listen to demos by the hundreds.  It is tough to ignore the advice of the fellow talent on this forum whom I respect so much.  But they can’t hire me.


There are a few lessons one can take from this experience.  First, make your voice-over demo to please the people who can actually hire you.  And keep in mind that what THEY like may not be exactly what YOU like to hear!  I actually agree with my fellow actors in that, personally, I also prefer listening to a demo with fewer, longer clips – but sadly, I cannot cast myself.  Second, there is no one strategy for making a demo that will make everyone happy.  Evaluating a voice-over demo is a very subjective process.  I’m sure I’ll also find casting directors, talent agents and producers who will prefer longer clips vs quick edits. I cannot make everyone happy, nor should I try.


Which brings up another point – is it better to make a demo that the majority of people like a lot, or is it better to make a demo that a minority of people really LOVE?  I am reminded of the challenge of automotive stylists.  They can pursue a styling strategy similar to Toyota’s, which is to make a design that the masses will like (or at least, not hate), versus the strategy of the stylists who designed, say, the Kia Soul cube car”.  It looks like a funky clown car to my generation, but the younger generation loves it!


I’ve got to find my personal niches in the marketplace, represent the types of reads I can do as a talent really, really well on my demo, and then “market the hell out of it.” I’d rather be loved by a few than liked by many.  The voice-over business is too competitive, and being “liked” isn’t good enough.

AUTHOR: tomtest-wpadmin     CATEGORIES: Blog
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© Tom Test