DS Entertainment VO Division
FAQ Voice Over Info (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is a Voiceover?
It's the art of using the voice to sell, inform or entertain on radio and TV commercials, non-broadcast narrations for corporate audio or phone lines, animation or cartoons and new media/technology.
People always tell me I have a great voice and should do Voiceovers. It sounds like fun. How do I know if I have any talent? I don't want to embarrass myself or waste my time.
It takes much more than a great sounding voice to be successful in voiceovers. While clear speech is essential, you also need to be able to take a script (that someone else wrote) and make it believable and sincere. It has a lot to do with timing, as well as voice quality. With proper training this skill can be learned. It's a combination of having a great voice, but most of all, the desire to be persistent with it. You will also need to invest in your voice business, you will need training and a professionally recorded demo.
I've heard that the same people (mostly celebrities) get all the work. Is this true?
Not at all. There are thousands & thousands of television and radio stations in the United States, all running an average of 15 commercials per hour and each TV station runs approximately 20 commercials per hour. That means each hour there are many thousands of commercials on the air, nationwide. It's not possible for a small group of well-known actors to do all that work. It could be beneficial for the advertisers to use a household name/and or voice. But, most producers are looking for a fresh new voice. With a great demo and persistence, anyone can break into the voice over field. It takes desire and passion to be a voice over talent.
Do I need to join SAG or AFTRA to do Voiceovers?
No, you do not have to be union to do voiceovers. One can be quite successful as a non-union voiceover talent but there are plusses to be union. * Pros and cons on each side of that question. There is SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and AFTRA (American Federation of TV and Radio Artists). They both have benefits.
Union Pros: As a union talent you are guaranteed union scale wages and residuals. Residual earning potentials can be tremendous. If a client doesn't pay for the work that the talent has done under the contract, the union will sue on the talent's behalf. There are different union scale pay rates for voiceover talent, you may contact the union's websites to get rates. There are too many variables for each type of usages and markets to explain briefly.
Union Cons: Union talent cannot do non-union projects (period). Non-union talent can do union and non-union work. To join the unions the initial union fees to join are over $1,000. + depending on your market size area. Then, the talent pays dues annually, based on the work you did that year. (For more info, visit the SAG and AFTRA sites).
Non-union: I would advise all talent to wait, until they book a union project, before joining. As non-union talent, rates are negotiable, residuals are not generally paid. Although DSE always tries to make sure the spots are only ran a certain amount of time, and if they want to run it again, they have to pay the talent (ie. 13 week, 1 yr buyout, etc) another session fee or buyout rate.
How much money can I make in this business?
Top voiceover talent make six to seven figure incomes. If you are lucky enough to book a long-running national commercial you can make well over $10,000 + in residual payments for just one spot. But, don't get too excited, yet. You will need to perfect your voice and marketing, marketing, marketing. Most non-union jobs pay anywhere from $75.00 - $400 per commercial, depending on the market size and depending on whether it is tv or radio usage. But, it is a great place to start to build your voice over business.
Can I do this if I have a "day job"?
Definitely! It may take a few years before your voiceover career is established. In the meantime, you'll need to invest some of the money you make at your day job in things like classes, demo tape production and duplication, and marketing expenses to get your voiceover career off the ground. So, keep the 'day job" for now.
But how do I do both? Do they hold auditions and bookings on evenings or weekends?
Unfortunately not. Can happen, but.. not likely. Most voiceover sessions happen during normal business hours. But, a lot of voice over auditions we receive at DSE, are via emailed. We email you the script and you will need to email back an mp3 format to us. So, it is important that you have the equipment to tape yourself for voice over auditions.
What does a Voice Over agency do?
A Voice Over Agent will promote your voice over demo to casting directors, producers, ad agencies and exclusive clients. Sometimes you are booked directly through agency and sometimes you must audition. DSE makes sure all voice over talent are promoted professionally. We promote our talent, set up auditions, assist the talent in any way possible to make sure our talent are promoted professionally, book the talent, we keep track of accounting (payments, residuals, etc) Most important... We pay our talent!
How much agency commission do we pay to DSE?
DSE commissions are: 10% - union and -15% - non-union, for our services. You never pay an agent before a job is booked and paid for. Usually payment comes to the agency and is then disbursed to you, less agency commission, 30 - 60 days after job completion. If talent is paid direct, then talent sends the agency the commission, upon receipt.
Do you need to live near New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago to be a successful voiceover artist?
No. You can be a successful voice over talent and live in any market area. With all the technology today, you can be in LA and patch into NY for a voice over session. DSE has national and international talent and clients.
Director / Voice Over Division / Director Misti Douglas