10 Things VO Agents Have to Say To You

27 Jun

One of the panels I attended at VOICE2012 in Anaheim, California was called, “How to Book a Top Agent.” Since I don’t have an agent and currently focus on getting non-union jobs, I thought it would be a good introduction to the topic. Thus far, I had heard many pros and cons about having an agent. I sat front and center, taking copious notes. These are my top 10 take-aways.

  1.  “Celebrities are doing animation for scale.” If you’re going to submit your demo to an agent to request submission, send an MP3 via email and make sure it’s a commercial demo, no wacky voices, etc. Animation work is much harder to get.
  2. “And I know you how…?” It’s good practice to let an agent know if you have an acquaintance in common (preferably one of their favorite clients or a celebrity who recommended you contact that agent). It makes the agent more likely to listen to your demo.
  3. “If you’re not booking non-union work, it’s a problem.” Before approaching an agent for representation, you should already have a lot of non-union VO work under your belt as evidence that you are bankable. Of course, any agent would love a new client who is also booking union work that can transfer over to the agent’s account.
  4. “I don’t care about your TV work.” Your voiceover resume should only include your voiceover work or work very closely related. The skills required for on-camera work are too far removed from the skills required for successful VO acting to matter to an agent. If you have both, your VO resume should differ from your stage/TV acting resume.
  5. “An improv class on your resume is more valuable/impressive than a VO class.” Agents feel that having improv training shows the talent understands timing and thinking on their feet. This is especially helpful for the auditions they send talent to, because…
  6. “You need to be able to do a cold read very well.” Unlike home auditions that allow VO actors multiple takes and time to practice, talent sent by agents to auditions get the copy “handed to them as they walk into the studio,” and generally get one take to get it right.  
  7. “Work with the best coaches.” Agents want talent who are already trained and ready to successfully book jobs. They want you to invest in working with the best two or three coaches in town, not waste your time with multiple, cheap, mediocre coaches (of which there are many).
  8. “The best demos tell a story.” Commercial demo copy should not focus on price points or sales pitches as much as good story telling by the talent. Most commercial demos should be no longer than 60-90 seconds (longer if you’re focusing on audio books). The best stuff should always be up front– don’t assume anyone will listen all the way through.
  9. “We’re always looking for fresh talent.” If an agent turns you down and gives you a reason not related to your lack of talent (e.g., “I already have two VO actresses who sound just like you,”) it is okay to follow up again in 6-8 months. If you don’t hear back from an agent, then they are just not interested.
  10. “The ‘realistic voice’ currently popular with VO casting directors is fake.” So is every VO voice booked. Successful talent are able to recreate the voice of the moment, be it sales-heavy or fake-reality.

BONUS #1

Audience Question: Who is your favorite VO talent right now?

Agent #1 Answer: The actor who books the most work. My kid needs braces.

Agent #2 Answer: The actor I make the most money off of.

Agent #3 Answer: The actor I make the most money off of.

Agent #4 Answer: Morgan Freeman

 

BONUS COMMENT #2

Audience Question: Do you think there is any benefit to having a female agent if you are a female talent?

Panel Facilitator (female, not an agent) Answer: “I would not work with a female agent because ‘the claws really come out.’” [WTF??]

Agent #1 (male) Answer: No, no difference.

Agent #2 (male) Answer: No, no difference.

Agent #3 (male) Answer: No, no difference.

Agent #4 (male) Answer: No, no difference.

 

So, what do you think? Agree with any of these musings? Think agents are greedy, nasty beings or professional guides who will help you expand your career? Comment below! 🙂

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