• Stephen Carlock

Becoming a Voice Actor - Part 4, "You need to have a professional voice demo!"

Part 4 - “You need to have a professional voice demo!”

Hello everyone! So…I’ve missed a few weeks of blogging. You’ll have to forgive me. With 3 small children and a budding business things come up. Without further ado -

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article may deviate from some of what you've read on the internet. As with everything you read on the internet, please take it with a grain of salt. I am NOT a voice over coach (perhaps one day). I do not have 20+ years of experience in the industry. This article will feature me speaking from my own experience in voice over. I hope that it is helpful to you!

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that you do need to work toward recording a professional voice over demo…eventually.

First, let’s talk about the pros of a professionally produced demos:

  • High quality audio. Professional demos are generally recorded in a pro studio outside of your home.

  • Believable scripts. A professional script writer knows current VO industry and market trends at a very detailed level. They are capable of writing relevant, real scripts that truly feel like finished projects.

  • Professional direction. A lot of VO work is self-directed. You play to role of actor and director, making sometimes tough choices. During a demo, you’ll normally have a pro guiding you to bring out your best!

  • Professional production. It takes a lot of experience to choose the right music or sound effects for a piece of copy, and even more to successfully put everything together without over-producing the demo or downright destroying the audio.

On a side note, if any of the above is NOT offered by your demo producer, be cautious. Unfortunately there are a lot of sharks in these waters.

A few instances in which you absolutely need to have a professionally produced demo are:

  • When marketing yourself to regional and national brands. (this mostly goes through agents, but sometimes you get some direct connections). They have experience with high quality product, and they want high quality product.

  • When seeking an agent. Agents expect professional demos that will be competitive on their roster. The more prestigious the roster, the better your demo needs to be.


You’ll notice that I said you should aim for a professional demo eventually. Make no mistake, you do want to create a professional demo (not one you made on your own, or one your friend who runs audio at church made for you). There are two primary common misconceptions, though:

  • Until I have a demo I can't get any work!

  • A professional demo is the first thing I should focus on!

“Without a demo you won’t get any work!”

FALSE! While a demo is key to taking your VO career to the next level and building a sustainable business, you can get work right out of the gate without one. While I was receiving VO training, I made several thousands of dollars without a demo via pay-to-play casting sites (such as Voices.com) and audiobooks (via ACX.com). I worked hard on my recording space and applying new skills in copy interpretation and delivery as I learned, and landed some gigs for GLOBAL corporations during this time. As an added benefit, I used the money I earned to help finance further coaching and my eventual demo production.

LESSON: Yes, focus on creating a professional demo. No, you do not need a demo to get some work.

“A professional demo is the first thing you should focus on!”

A demo is absolutely one of the first things to focus on, but you shouldn’t pull the trigger until you learn the craft and are ready to roll. When I first became interested in VO I attended a local seminar put together by a large VO production company (which will remain un-named). At the end of the seminar they told me they’d love to record a demo with me. They also said this to every other attendee.

I recently listened to a demo produced by this company for a colleague who is new to the business, and it was honestly…lackluster. This was not because the actor was un-talented, but because they were not ready. And now, they’ve paid thousands of dollars for a demo that I wouldn’t suggest marketing to any agents.

LESSON: Before you record your demo, take the time to learn the craft. When you feel you’re ready, find a legitimate coach or producer to get some feedback before you pull the trigger.

Thanks for tuning in to this blog series. I do truly hope that it’s helpful, and welcome any and all feedback or requests! Next up — Part 5, “VO is always fun!”



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