Voiceovers and Bad Demos – The Not Silent Blog 10/30/18

There are a lot of bad demos out there. Whose fault is it?

I bring this up because a few weeks ago, an aspiring voice talent posted his newly produced commercial demo on a voiceover-related Facebook group. It was bad. He sounded good but the production quality was awful, just awful. Fellow voice talent and good egg Paul Stefano also heard the demo and had this to say:



Thanks for the support and the fantastic idea, Paul!

I felt compelled to post the demo in another group because I was concerned about the quality of demos this particular producer is putting out there and wanted to see if anyone else had a bad experience with him. My jaw dropped when some voice talents questioned whether I should be “outing” the producer. Others thought I was being too subjective, while still others thought the production quality doesn’t matter because the talent has potential.

Are you ****ing kidding me?!

What ever happened to professional standards? Did I miss a memo or something?

This “producer” took this guy’s money and made a crappy demo. It was too long (as per current industry trends), the recording space didn’t sound like it was acoustically treated well, and it wasn’t properly mixed in post-production. That is not being subjective, that it a critique from an experienced audio engineer who has produced many demos. I also listen to a lot of demos as the VO Strategist. I’m no engineer but trust me; this was a bad demo.

Another fellow voice talent and good egg Melissa Exelberth also heard the demo. This is what she had to say about the responses to my post:

Is there some kind of war against qualifying to meet a standard these days? I keep seeing posts that denigrate having and meeting professional qualifications. As if anyone can do anything just because they say they can, without going through studies, training or anything. If you feel comfortable having heart surgery by someone who says they can do it because they performed surgery on their barbie doll, in an OR on the 20th floor of a building built by someone who said they could do it because they once built a tree-house, be my guest.

You go, Mel!

I am sick and tired of the tidal wave of new voice talent who have no idea what they’re doing, the glut of predatory coaches & producers who are making money off of them, and the ever-lowering of standards by many voice talents themselves. There is always room for good new talent and we as a community are happy to mentor and support them properly, but too many people are getting taken advantage of. This guy is one of them.

TIP OF THE WEEK

How do we fix this?

I love Paul’s idea and I’m happy to help some voice talents who got hosed, but can we be more proactive? Unfortunately, there are way too many aspirants and ratty producers to catch them all, but let’s do what we can to get some good information out there. Here are some reasons why bad demos are made and what we can do to prevent it from happening again:

  1. The voice talent may not have the talent to be in the voiceover industry. Be honest! If someone doesn’t have the pipes to be a voice talent and asks you if they have a chance to make it: save them time, money, and energy by being upfront. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, send them to me or another coach. Tough love is part of this business.

  2. The voice talent may have the talent but didn’t get sufficient training to make an effective demo. Having a good voice isn’t enough! You need training in breath control, microphone technique, script interpretation, genre mastery, and much more. Point them in the direction of quality demo producers who will give them the right training to make an effective demo.

  3. The voice talent may not have properly vetted the demo producer.  In all fairness, it’s hard to vet one if you don’t know what questions to ask. The easiest thing to do is listen to their past work, ask for references, and get a second opinion.

If you have a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel: let’s get the word out! It gets harder every day to uphold & promote professional standards but we have to keep trying. Please do your part to inform and enlighten the voiceover community so new talent don’t get taken advantage of.

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