The State of the Voiceover Industry, 2019 Edition…
I’ve been writing this blog for over ten years now. For fun, here’s my first entry. Some weeks it’s harder than others to come up with an engaging topic. Just as I was pondering what to write this week, I got a message from a fellow voice talent who asked me this…
What has the journey been like? Do you feel that the industry has changed for the better or has become worse since you started VO?
And to you, Christian O’Boyle of Seattle I say THANK YOU!
Excellent questions, Christian. To examine my journey and the state of the voiceover industry, let’s take a walk down Memory Lane, shall we…?
I did my first voiceover in 1996. Here it is on SoundCloud. There were only a handful of voice talent in the US at that time (would it be safe to say a few hundred?). My demo was on a cassette tape. There was no social media or casting sites. You could only book work through agents, analog marketing, or word-of-mouth. There were very few voiceover coaches, much less online training.
From 1996 to 2005 I averaged about 15 gigs a year. By then my demos were on CD. I had a janky little website. If you want a good laugh you can check it out here. Pay-to-Play sites were in their infancy and MySpace was all the rage. Voice talents started discovering each other online and a community was slowly building.
From 2005 to 2011 (the period when I went full-time but hadn’t turned the corner yet) I averaged about 100 gigs a year. I was on Voice 123, built a home studio, started writing this blog, and struggled to maintain regular clients. Voiceover Universe and VOICE 2007 brought voice talents together. Facebook started percolating and new kids on the block like Twitter and LinkedIn showed up.
From 2012 to 2018 I averaged about 350 gigs a year (including coaching gigs), acquired a lengthy list of regular clients, started coaching & demo producing, attended conferences regularly, and now there are tens of thousands of untrained or poorly trained aspiring voice talents out there flooding the industry along with low-balling voice seekers, shady demo producers, and unethical Pay-to-Play sites. There are also a lot of great talent, producers, agents, and coaches out there who continually strive to uplift the voice industry.
With all that in mind, what is The State of the Voiceover Industry in 2019? I’m not sure if it’s better or worse than when I started my journey, but it certainly is different.
It’s better because there is more work than ever, more opportunities to be successful than ever, and there is an amazing community of selfless, caring voice talents and voice seekers who do what they can to help everyone succeed.
It’s worse because there are too many people trying to do voiceovers on the cheap, social media groups have become flaming cesspools, and rates have dropped like a stone.
TIP OF THE WEEK
If you are new to the voiceover industry; be grateful that the Internet, social media, casting sites, and the relatively low cost of building home studios, producing demos, marketing, and quality coaching gives you a better chance than ever to be a successful voiceover business. BUT, don’t be just another dreamy-eyed knucklehead trying to do it on the cheap. Invest in your voiceover business wisely just like anyone else would invest in any other kind of startup.
If you’re a veteran who remembers reel-to-reel demos, don’t lament the current industry and wish for the “good old days” because it’s never, ever going to be the way it was. Keep up with industry trends, brush up your marketing skills, and take a class or two. Adapt or die, as they say.
NEWS AND NOTES
Thursday, May 30th 9am-3pm EST: “The VO Tech Deep Dive and eLearning Extravaganza!” 338 West 23rd Street, New York, NY, 10031. This all-day workshop will consist of two classes: in the morning Amanda Rose Smith will dive deep into audio engineering (from studio creation to mastering files) and in the afternoon I will run an intensive “Learning to do eLearning” seminar covering everything you need to know about the world of eLearning and Corporate narration (which includes live coaching). Tickets are on sale now!
September 13th-15: VOcation NYC! This is a shiny new conference which is all about the business and marketing side of the voiceover industry. There is an incredible lineup of presenters who specialize in the marketing and business side of the voiceover industry, including keynote speaker J. Michael Collins. Go to VOcationconference.com to check out the conference and click here to register!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Tom Dheere is a 20+year veteran of the voice over industry who has narrated thousands of projects for hundreds of clients in over a dozen countries. He is also a voiceover business & marketing consultant known as the VO Strategist and produces the comic book “Agent 1.22”.