Here’s what you need to do in order to find the right voice for your project.
- Decide whether you want to work with a studio or with an independent voice talent.
A studio offers guaranteed sound quality, a database of voices from which to choose, audio editing, and post-production (music, sound effects, etc). When working with a studio, all communication with the voice talent is done through the studio. Payment is made to the studio, including the talent’s fee.
An independent voice talent usually has their own home studio. The voice talent records and edits the audio themselves using their professional voiceover equipment. This cuts out the studio as middleman; however, not all voice talents offer post-production, and it is important to check the quality of their recordings. Payment is made directly to the voice talent.
This article deals with finding independent voice talents.
- Locate voice talents in one of the following ways:
Online voiceover marketplaces
Marketplaces enable you to browse through and listen to talents who are members of the marketplace. You can also post a job op, usually for free, and voice talents will send you auditions and price quotes.
Ask people you know to refer you a voice talent. You can also use online business networking sites such as LinkedIn, to find voice talents whose services are highly endorsed.
Use search engine to search for talents online.
- Listen to each voice talent’s voiceover demos.
Ask yourself whether their tone, style of reading, and voice quality projects an appropriate image for your company.
Also, ask to listen to a dry demo (that is, a recording without any music added). A dry demo can help you assess the quality of the audio, because glitches and background noise are not masked by music. For example, here is a dry demo recorded at my studio:
- Ask the voice talent what type of studio equipment they have.
At the very least, they should have a studio-quality microphone (not a 15 NIS computer microphone!) This is mandatory!!! The quality of the audio is in a large part determined by the quality of the microphone. In the recording world, there is a saying: "Garbage in, garbage out"…
Additional equipment might be: An audio interface, mixer, professional audio software, and acoustic treatments. While I myself have all of these things and believe them to be crucial to sound quality, I am not listing them as mandatory, as there are plenty of excellent voice talents who make do without these things, through various workarounds.
In order to gauge the quality of a talent’s studio, ask them whether their demos were recorded in their home studio. If the answer is yes, then listen to the demos (in particular, a dry demo) to decide whether the quality suits your needs. If the talent recorded their demos elsewhere, then request a sample file recorded at the home studio to determine the sound quality.
- Decide what your needs are.
Do you need dry voice only; that is, the recorded voice without any music or special effects added? Or do you also need post-production (music, special effects, mixing, etc).
- Ask about the talent’s fees.
Talents usually offer one or more of the following rate schemes:
Per hour of studio time – The fee for each hour the talent spends at a local studio (applicable for talents working at local studios)
Per hour of work – The fee for an hour of recording and editing audio at the talent’s home studio
Per finished minute – The fee for 1 minute of recorded and edited audio
Per word – The fee for 1 word of recorded and edited audio
Per page – The fee for 1 page of double-spaced text, font size 12, font type Arial, page size A4
- Find out how soon the work will be completed (turnaround time).
Does the turnaround time fit in with your project schedule?
- Ask the voice talent what their recut policy is.
A recut is when the voice talent re-records part or all of the text. Usually, if a recut is requested due to a mistake made in the reading or recording, the talent will re-cut the relevant part of the script for free. However, if you need a re-cut due to a change in script or direction, the talent will usually charge you for the re-cut at a discounted rate. The talent usually limits the number of times they are willing provide re-cuts at a discounted price.
Note: Saving money is important, but don’t be tempted to hire an amateur, as you will likely get what you pay for! Check out the video The Voiceover Wiener for an explanation of how bad a voiceover can hurt your business.
Article by Victoria Feinerman