Do you know where you are on your voiceover journey? As a demo producer, one of the most uncomfortable conversations I have with talent is a frank evaluation of their ability. I will produce for any voice actor whom I believe will be able to see a return on their investment in a professional demo. I’m not as rigid as some; I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that one should not do a demo until they are ready to submit to a top-5 LA union agency. On the other hand, I do turn away a majority of the demo inquiries I get for simply not being demo-ready on any level (high search rankings mean I get a LOT of newbies knocking on the door.)
That’s a tough chat to have, but in some ways the most awkward moments come when I have to counsel talent who are booking or capable of booking through small market agencies, online sites, and their own marketing but aren’t quite ready for the major leagues.
Up-and-coming talent has a right to work. There are tons of jobs across the genre spectrum paying market rates, and truly elite talent is far from abundant. Voice actors at various stages in their journey will scoop up many of these jobs, and quality professional demos will help them book and earn more. But a demo doesn’t make you better than you are. It presents what you offer in the best possible light, wherever you are on your journey. I believe that all bookable talent has a right to a top-quality demo, but knowing where you stand is critical.
Before investing in a professional demo, you should know two things: 1.) Where your current ability level is, and 2.) How do you intend to use the demo you are creating.
If you are unsure of either of these things, talk to your coach and your producer. If you’re in the middle of your journey talent-wise and ask me to make you a demo to present to the biggest coastal agencies, I’m going to say no. If it’s meant to enhance your marketing or get you a bite from a regional agent with a larger roster, that’s a different story, and it also may be a different demo.
As a coach and producer, I’m always happy to offer a candid opinion on your ability level. Just be prepared to hear the truth. You are, of course, free to seek a second opinion. If a demo producer tells you no, you’re doing yourself a disservice if your next step is to find one who will tell you yes.