You are dying to become a voice over artist, so you can impress your date with your ‘cool’ voice. Right? Come on! Don’t be Shy.
You are trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with YOU, and why you haven’t become a voice over artist already.
You are willing to spend time and money to break into voice overs, but have no damn clue about how to get started.
You’ve spent a lot of time pleading before the God of information called ‘The Internet’, But he’s not showing any mercy to you. He hasn’t told you anything useful so far.
Does that sound like your story?
You know what? You are lucky, because I am gonna tell you EXACTLY what to do? And since I am the expert here, you need to do things my way (Yes! I am in a mood of bragging today)
I prefer using the term ‘Voice Actor’ and not Voice over artist. So you’ll find me using the terms ‘voice actor’ and ‘voice acting’ again and again.
And, oh yes, I forgot to tell you that I’m an expert in mind reading.
Don’t believe me?
OK! Here are some of the questions you have in mind.
-> Who actually is a voice actor?
-> Is voice acting easy?
-> What the fuck it takes to be a voice actor?
-> Where to get training for this? (Ahhh…Can somebody tell me how to say those tongue twisters properly?)
-> I feel I have what it takes, but don’t know what to do?
-> How to market myself? (There seems to be no market for freshers)
And yeah! Some more…
See, I told you. I can read minds.
Now before we move any further, let me blow my own trumpet, may I?
My name is Avdhessh Arya. I am a Personal Development Coach, Radio Jockey & Voice Actor.
I started my career as a radio jockey with All India Radio FM Gold Channel (106.4 MHz) in 2003, and have been hosting live radio shows since then.
I also record my voice for TV and radio commercials, documentaries, corporate films, video presentations and many other voice over projects.
Some of the clients I have worked for, and still working are – National Geographic Channel, Fox History Channel, Nat Geo Wild, NDTV Good Times, Doordarshan, McDonald’s, State Bank of India, Oriental Insurance Company, Nestle, Airtel, Idea and many others.
I have been featured in the article ‘A fortune from fun’ published in ‘Money Today’ magazine (India Today Group) in 2009.
Interested in listening to my voice?
Give your ears a treat. Go here.
And now, back to the questions you have in mind about becoming a voice actor.
Who Is a Voice Actor?
A voice actor or a voice over artist is a person (male or female) who gives his/her voice for radio and TV commercials, documentaries, movies, audio cds etc. (The simplest example of voice acting could be the announcement in Delhi Metro – “Agla station Chandani Chowk hai, Darwaze dayi aur khulenge, kripya sawdhani se utre…Next station is Chandni Chowk, doors will open on the right, please mind the gap”)
Voice Acting is Easy and Lucrative
You might be under the impression that voice acting is pretty easy and lucrative. You don’t really have to do anything. Just stand in front of a microphone, speak some lines, and it’s done. Get tons of cash and go home. Right?
There’s a lot of competition in voice acting. You’ll have to work your tail off to make your presence felt.
It requires a lot of dedication and hard work. It may take years before you get to earn a good amount. (Are you up for that?)
What Does it Take to Be a Voice Actor?
Well, there is no hard and fast rule for becoming a voice actor. Yes, you must have a good voice to begin with, but just like having 5 fingers doesn’t make you a wonderful pianist, having a good voice alone can’t make you a voice actor. You need to learn know what to do with your voice.
Here are some basics requirements.
1. A good voice
2. Good command over the language you want to make your career in. i.e. Hindi, English or Urdu.
3. Strong will power (To survive long recording sessions)
4. Willingness to learn something new everyday (In terms of language and voice)
5. Skills to grow your network.
(In case you’re an aspiring voice-over artist, please do NOT contact me for individual training or private consultations. I’m afraid I won’t be able to help you)
Where to Get Training for Voice Acting?
I didn’t go for any formal training. I practiced on my own for about 3 years. I went 4 days a week to the local library in my area to learn difficult Hindi words for about 1 year. It took me a little longer to break into voice acting because I had no one to guide me. Keeping that in mind, you may consider getting a basic training in voice acting.
There are both genuine and not-so-genuine trainers and institutes in the field of voice training. Research thoroughly before you make any decision.
If money alone could make anybody a voice actor, then everybody could become one. But believe me, it doesn’t work that way (I knew a guy who had been trying to become a radio jockey, and had spent much of his money for getting training with no results at all.)
I am not suggesting that there are no genuine people in voice over industry, but proper research and home work before you invest your money is strongly advised.
I used to work for HIT 95 FM as a copy writer and voice actor back in 2007. I was asked to conduct voice auditions for selecting a few freelance voice actors for our channel.
One day, a guy came for audition who had done some sort of course in radio jockeying and voice acting from a reputed institute in Delhi. I was expecting him to be quite good since he was a trained one, but to my surprise, he knew almost nothing about voice acting.
Some people live in the illusion all their lives that one day they will become a famous voice over actor, and they keep on investing (wasting) money and precious time on their training.
Wake up dude! Don’t waste your time chasing some false dreams. Get real.
I’ve no intention to demotivate you, but you must know if you really have the talent to make it. Otherwise you are bound to find someone who’ll tell you “Oh! Who says you can’t become a voice actor? Just give me the money and I’ll make you one in days!”
What Is the Right Strategy to Become A Voice Actor?
Analyze yourself. Find out where you stand. Test your voice.
How do you do that?
Take a small piece of text from a newspaper, magazine or text book.
Read it aloud and record your voice in mobile phone or any other voice recording device. Listen to it as if it’s someone else ‘s voice.
Be brutally honest and answer these questions.
Does it sound lively (Like the professional radio jockeys and voice actors?)
-> Is it appealing? (Didn’t I tell you to be brutally honest?)
-> Did you notice some sort of fumbling or faltering?
-> How long you can bear this type of voice?
-> Can you see any space for improvement?
Analyze it objectively, and you’ll get the idea. If you find it difficult to analyze your voice, then you might consider getting it done by a professional voice actor. Because a professional can give you an honest feedback.
I feel I Have What It Takes, Now What?
Start polishing your voice.
Take a book, magazine or newspaper.
Stand in a corner of a room, stretch your jaw muscles, open your mouth wide open, the way you do it while yawning, go easy.
Now start reading ALOUD.
Reading aloud helps you open up and make your vocal chords strong enough to sustain long recording session.
Why in a corner?
Because the corner reflects back your voice which helps you keep track of the speed, diction and overall performance. In other words, you get instant feedback.
Do this exercise daily for 10-20 minutes and pretty soon you should be able to notice some improvement in your voice.
Pay Attention To Radio And TV
The best way to learn voice acting is to pay attention to Radio and Television. It’ll help you get an idea about-
-> How does a professional voice actor sound?
-> How does he modulate his voice?
-> How does he put emotions in his voice?
-> Where, and why he take pauses and what is the impact of those pauses?
Keep on practicing and soon you’ll start getting it right. To be a successful voice actor, you need to work really hard.
You MUST know…
How to emote your words?
How to read the script in given amount of time?
How to modulate your voice to suit the mood of the script? (You want the money, right? Or don’t you?)
How to make your voice sound rich and cultured?
Prepare Your Voice Samples
After practicing for some time, it’s time to hit the road.
Record your voice samples.
For this, you need to prepare scripts for different genres like-
• Corporate films
• Jingles (If you sing)
Search the internet. There are many free scripts available online.
If you can’t find the right ones, make your own. Take help from text books, magazines, newspapers, radio and television.
KISS – Keep it short and simple.
Keeping your voice samples short and crisp will improve your chances of getting heard. (No one can stand a long and boring voice sample)
Most of your voice samples should be within the range of 15-40 seconds. (A guy had sent me a voice recording of 30 minutes; I didn’t listen to it because I didn’t want to torture myself)
Once you have the scripts ready, practice them well. Try modulating your voice in different styles. Read aloud, read normally, read with sincerity, read with enthusiasm or in any other way you can think of.
A word of caution:-Record you voice samples at your home PC, only if you want to end your career even before it starts.
You are aspiring to become a professional voice actor my dear friend, and your voice samples MUST sound professional. No compromise on this!
(Oh my god, this article is too long. Hang on baby, there’s lot more juice coming your way)
Search for some good professional sound studios in your city. Call them up and ask if they produce demo CDs. Do not hesitate to ask for some of the voice samples they have produced.
Also, inquire about the studio charges. Usually sound studios charge by hour.
The amount could vary from 600-1500 rupees per hour. Research thoroughly, book a studio and record your voice samples.
On an average, it should take you 2-3 hours to get your demo CD.
(It includes the time required for editing and mixing)
Always have your voice samples in MP3 format. Wave format takes longer to upload and download, and it kills your chances of getting heard.
You have your voice samples ready. Now, it’s time to market yourself.
Get a list of sound studios, radio & TV channels and production houses. You can find them on the internet – http://www.justdial.com is a good website to start with.
Call them up one by one, introduce yourself and ask if you can send them your voice samples. Make a list of all who said yes and send your voice samples immediately.
Market Yourself Online
It always pays to have a web presence. There are many websites that allow you to create an account for free. You can upload your voice samples, build a profile and let people know you exist in the voice over market.
For example http://www.voices.com is a great website to showcase your talent online.
You can visit my voice acting profile to get an idea about how your profile should look and what should be the quality of voice samples.
A Word of Caution
Post your email address and phone number on genuine and reliable websites only. Don’t post it on any suspicious looking website. You might get some absurd/obscene emails or phone calls/messages.
This is true for both girls and boys. (I had gotten a couple messages from a gentleman who wanted to show me heaven on earth…!@#$%^&*()_+)
The best way to handle such things is to ignore them completely.
Don’t get scared or discouraged, it’s part of the game. Just be careful.
It’s important to follow up.
Wait for 10-15 days and call the studios you had sent your voice samples to.
Ask politely if they have some voice over work for you. Remember not to bother them every alternate day. It’ll only piss them off.
Initially you will be able to get smaller assignments. The budget might be low or medium, and sometimes you might even have to work for free.
Don’t crib, this is your learning phase, it takes time to build rapport with people and get work. Make as many useful contacts as you can. The amount of voice over work you get every month also depends upon how good you are at growing your professional network.
Beware of Vultures
Like any other industry there are also frauds in voice over industry. They guarantee you big and lucrative projects only to suck money out of you.
Not only that, they can exploit you sexually as well. (Don’t count me in the list, I am a nice guy )
Only you can decide for yourself what is right for you, be careful which route you take.
And lastly, be persistent!
So, there you are. I have shared with you the basics of getting started in voice overs.
Wishing you success and money. Happy Voicing!
(P.S.-I do NOT offer individual training or private consultations for aspiring voice-over artists)