Becoming a Voice Actor - Part 2, "You can get into Voice Acting with minimal investment!"
Part 2: “You can get into Voice Acting with minimal investment!”
Yes, you can!
To keep a long story short, the “entry fee” for launching a professional level VO business is far lower today than it has been in years past. There are many articles online that will explain this shift and the advancements in technology that allowed it if you want more context.
To illustrate this point, I spent around $400 to get started in Voice Acting. This included all hardware, software, and acoustic treatment for my space. With this setup I landed gigs for global corporations, and earned funds which I reinvested into additional gear, professional voice acting coaching and demo production.
My experience is not an anomaly in this industry. Look around and you’ll find story after story of successful voice actors launching, and even building their business to 6-figures, on a nominal budget. Pretty cool I’d say!
THE WHOLE TRUTH…
There is an endless amount of budget gear, and an equal amount of guides and reviews for this gear. If you are anything less than a true audio expert, the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming. While I am not a technical gear guru, I have learned (through trials, errors, and victories) to ask certain questions during the gear acquisition process that can help to avoid making the wrong purchases:
Who is providing the guide/review/information?
What are people using this gear for?
There are a lot of self-proclaimed “experts” in the realm of audio gear. Some truly know what they are doing, some don’t, and some have a solid opinion for certain types of audio production (we’ll discuss this in the next section).
Focus on who is writing the guides or reviews you're reading. Are they a pro voice actor? An audio engineer? A professional casting director? Do they have experience working at a professional level in VO? Or are they simply a hobbyist?
An amateur review can be extremely well intentioned, but the reality is that someone who is not earning a living from professional VO is unlikely have the type of experience or expertise you need to make sure you start out on the right foot. The last thing you want to do is buy gear that works for an enthusiast only to find out that you won't be competitive using it at a professional level (note: Professional does not mean top tier; solid audio quality is required throughout all levels of this industry).
Look for suggestions from people who have professional expertise in VO or a closely related field. Check credentials, listen to their work, and make sure you know the source. This will help you to weed out a lot of poor or incomplete information.
Professional audio producers often use different spaces, different recording processes, and different gear for different applications. Recording vocals for music vs. voiceover can differ significantly. Even within voiceovers, gear requirements can differ.
Certain pieces of gear may easily crossover from one application to another, but other pieces may not always fair so well. For example, a radio broadcaster will often utilize a dynamic microphone, whereas an audiobook producer will typically prefer a condenser microphone due to the condenser’s ability to pick up more “vocal detail” often preferred for nuanced, emotional performances.
Don't let gear ratings be your sole guide. Keep your eye on the details! If the gear you're looking at has 100 4.5-star reviews, but you can't find any evidence in these reviews that it's being successfully employed for your purposes, you may need to keep looking.
When considering any gear, pay close attention to the application the piece of gear is being reviewed for. This can be a huge driver in whether or not it’s appropriate for your specific situation.
I hope the above two tips help you to reduce the potential stress that comes with selecting your first pieces of equipment! To help get you started, here are two reliable resources, both successful pro Voice Actors:
Bill Dewees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hBVkpHaDQU
Tune in next Friday for Part 3, "There is a LOT of work in VO!"
Until then, I hope you have a great week!
Voice Acting, Voiceovers, Gear Choices, Gear Acquisition, Getting started in Voiceover