A big challenge for many voice talents of all experience levels is genre focus. How do you pick a voiceover genre to focus on? How do you know which one right for you? How do you know when to stop pursuing it?
To give you some insight, here is my “genre journey”:
When I started pursuing voiceovers my genre focus was commercials. I chose that one mostly because it was 1995 and I didn’t know of any others. A lot of them didn’t even exist yet! There were no Explainer Videos, Apps, etc. so choices were relatively limited, anyway.
While I was pursuing commercials (by trying to land NYC agents and going on auditions with very limited success), in 1997 I landed an eLearning client and I’m still working with them to this day. For a long time that was my only regular client. It didn’t even occur to me that while I was trying to get work in one genre and not getting anywhere I was getting semi-steady work in another. I should have learned more about eLearning and looked for other clients in the NYC area. Hindsight is 20/20, you know.
Around 2005 I discovered Medical Narrations. I got great training and a great demo but I sounded too young and didn’t know how to effectively market myself. Fail.
Also in 2005 I landed my first Industrial client. It went great for a while until I emailed the owner of the production company and complained about the scripts and how we were being directed. Shockingly, I wasn’t asked back.
In 2006 I did a breakdown of my voiceover revenue for the first time. I realized that 75% of my VO work was eLearning. That’s when I ended my rat-racey God-I-Hope-I-Get-It starving-artist way of thinking and my career improved immediately. I also told by NYC representation to stop sending me on in-person auditions. The freed-up time gave me much more time to market myself. It’s also around the time I discovered the wonderful world of audio books. Within a year I got my first audio book, Danielle Steel no less!
In 2012 I discovered Explainer Videos and became one of the first voice talents to market myself online as such. In 2013 I narrated almost 100 Explainer Videos. Nowadays everyone and their second-cousin has an Explainer Video demo and the rates have taken a nosedive.
Here is my genre breakdown by percentage of revenue in 2017:
Audio Book: 11%
Medical Narration: 2%
Video Games/Animation: 9%
VNR (Video News Release): 1%
VO Strategist: 7%
I’m very happy with the variety of voiceover work I do. I get a steady stream of work from my eLearning and Indsutrial clients and they are the foundation of my voiceover business. They provide funding for training, demos, and marketing in whatever other genres I choose to focus on. Now that I live in New York City, the pendulum has swung back and I’m going to focus on commercials again.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Now that we have taken a journey down Tommy’s Genre Memory Lane, these are my genre focus suggestions:
Do your research. Explore every genre of voiceover and start with the ones you have the best chance of getting work. The genres you have a knack for may not necessarily be the genres you got into this business to do.
But Tom, I wanna do cartoons and video games! eLearning is borrring!
You know what else is boring? Being broke and working a 9 to 5 job you hate. And those “boring” genres can pay your rent.
Get trained by a reputable coach. There are many out there that can coach you up in every genre. If you’re not sure who to work with, just ask me and I’ll be happy to give you some recommendations.
Produce a quality demo. I have heard too many crappy genre demos from some aspiring voice talents who are trying to do it on the cheap without training. Save your pennies and do it right the first time!
NEWS AND NOTES
November 9-11: MAVO is coming!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
From my village to yours; this is Tom Dheere, The H is Silent, but I’m Not.
Tom Dheere is a 20+year veteran of the voice over industry who has narrated thousands of projects for hundreds clients in over a dozen countries. He is also a voiceover business and marketing consultant known as the Voice Over Strategist and is currently producing the comic book “Agent 1.22”.
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