top of page

Opinion: It's a Craft not a Cult!




To know me is to know that I take a no bullshit approach to what I share with voice actors (and my agency and production clients too, for that matter). I present this meme as a word of caution.


In a previous meme, I posited the idea that there are two different voice over industries. Lately, the one that relies heavily on social media and self-marketing has had a lot of infighting and finger-pointing over everything from conferences and coaching to demo reels and beyond. It creates so much confusion for newcomers that they simply don't know which way to turn... which leads to them spending good money on bad advice.


Actors themselves have a fierce loyalty to certain people that seems to defy logic. It's great to respect and appreciate accomplished people that are offering real value for your career, but even the best out there can only offer their personal experiences. The only universal truth in this business is that there isn't one!

 

I find that new or aspiring voice actors worship people on social media who may themselves be relatively new to the game. It's not uncommon to see people who have only a spot or two under their belts suddenly coaching or speaking at conferences and events. While opinions may vary on whether or not that's problematic, beware who you put on a pedestal. For example, if you're studying VO marketing because that's the path you want your career to go (where you're your own boss, and you're going to cultivate your own clients independent of talent agents and the traditional model), does that coach have an actual marketing or advertising background? If you're going to invest in an animation reel, is the person producing it or coaching it in the business? Look them up on IMDB. Are there pages of credits, or just a couple of small ones? To that end, I've had many people reach out to me based on my IMDB page, which happens to list many cartoons and animated features, telling me they want me to produce an animation reel for them. Sadly, I have to tell them no- because while I have a long list of credits, I'm not the director! I just handle the audio. Could I pull it off? Probably. But I don't. I wouldn't feel comfortable. Do your homework. Vett your coaches. Make sure they make a living doing the thing you want to do.


From where I sit, I find that voice actor social media comes across as the lovechild of multi-level-marketing and the real estate industry, whipping newcomers into a frenzy and creating FOMO if you miss the NEXT BIG EVENT. Even for the consulting work I offer, I've had people show up and push back on what I'm trying to help them with to improve their sound because someone else told them something different. Or I'll recommend a coach that I know will help them, but they're 100 percent committed to courses offered by only one person. Each coach or person you study with is going to expand your capabilities in ways big and small. If you put all of your eggs in one basket, you'll only be as good as that one coach- maybe. And if that one coach doesn't have much of a track record... well. Good luck.


It's a craft. Not a cult. Don't drink the Kool Aid.




9 Comments


This may be long, but it's a cautionary tale that I hope is helpful. There are 2 industries. Both (mostly) welcoming and supportive. The newer version... is a hot mess.


I've been in the industry 17 years. I didn't live near a studio, so I made my own in my alcoved attic 2007, without the luxury of YouTube or google advice. I busted my butt to build my career and client list without representation, because I didn't live in LA or NY.


Until about 4 years ago, I'd never heard of a VO conference or coach or demo producer. I came from radio and have a degree in audio engineering so I listened to trends and produced my own demos,…


Like
Replying to

Your comment has perfectly summed up how I feel about it all!!

Like

Btw, this is Annie Silver (my name doesn’t come up here). This is great, Frank, you are spot on. And I’m with you, Sara. When I started my vo career in 2004, the first thing I learned was that, coming from the Songwriting world, I had to take acting classes. So I did - as well as commercial and character coaching and even improv classes. I looked at it as college, my preparation for a career. I never believed in gurus, so I found people who actually worked in the industry and knew what they were talking about. I know it’s served me well. And all that stuff about social media and even contests? Such fluff and nonsense. St…

Like
Replying to

Annie, agreed on all fronts! One thing I recommend to people who are looking for coaching is to ask the following question: “What do you currently have running” If somebody guiding you is not in the game currently or previously, move on!! So many people trying to make a book in this business now, it’s incredibly difficult to weed out the BS. (BTW-every successful voiceover talent I’ve ever known or worked with has never relied on any of these conferences, etc. They were working ACTORS. But that was then…)

Like

Great article Frank and Sara K makes a great point. If the industry is shifting from being called “voiceover” to “voice acting” then acting and improv classes should be standard training.

The VO industry is on its head right now and the MY DAD HAS A BARN LETS PUT ON A SHOW mentality has turned what was once a craft into a social media side hustle.

This is the new norm and if you are thinking about this as a possible career in 2024 I agree that your due diligence in finding the right mentors is as important as any step if not the most important one. I said mentors because not one person covers all genres.

Like
Replying to

Well said! That’s the part of the equation that’s consistently missing. “Voice Actors” on social media comment about “the elites” or the “that one percent”, but really it’s that there are talented actors who also do voice work verses people with a nice voice that happened to take a few classes. Big difference.

Like

At this point, I think I should just have this engraved on my tombstone: “ It used to be a business, and now it’s a racket.” It’s a truly sad state of affairs for those of us who have made a living and a life out of this business. This new version of it is the equivalent of a black Friday sale at Macy’s. Yes, cream can still rise to the top, but the amount of potential shit that you have to wade through to get there, does not somehow seem worth it. Might I also suggest that anyone trying to get into this business take an acting and/or an improv class. This isn’t just about connections, it’s about talen…

Like
Replying to

It’s interesting, because I had a thought related to your comment recently. There have been voice acting surveys going around to gauge what people make, whether they’re union or non union, how they get their work, etc. But I don’t think there are any questions that address skill. Like - did you study acting? I may be wrong. Maybe it’s there. But it’s an important question, and I think there should be a delineation between voice overs and voice actors.

Like

Thank for your sharing... SO with you on this Frank!

Like
Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
bottom of page