Voice actors are the unsung heroes of the entertainment industry, and they can contribute greatly to any company or firm that chooses to hire them. No, they don’t make conference calls or manage crises; they have a different job, voice acting, as the name suggests. While the job is just as fun as it sounds, voice acting is far from easy. As for the gains for a voice actor’s client? Well, they are quite stellar. A voice actor is a link between you and the public, but before we go into that, let’s take a deeper look into what they do.
Voice actors are the people behind many things. They are the people behind beloved cartoon characters like Dory, Mike Wazowski, Simba, Ursula, and Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy. They are also the people who made audio branding what it is today. Audio branding is creating a brand for a company using sound. Think about the jingles from McDonald’s and Nokia, and the grand theme of 20th Century Studios. They also contribute to everything in between, audiobooks, video games, public service announcements, radio advertisements, film narration. Yes, Morgan Freeman is a voice actor.
What a voice actor does is that they take a script, along with the directions given to them by a client or a director, and with enough leeway for them to get creative, they cultivate a sonic identity for their character. Let’s take Dory, for example. She is a fish on a screen and nothing but words are written in 12 pt. Courier font on a script page. But, we know she’s dorky, kind, sensitive, incredibly forgetful, and suffers from ADHD. How? Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen brought words to life. She created a character that we can help but fall in love with.
Unlike stage and screen actors, voice actors only depend on their voice. A good voiceover artist is very versatile with their voice. They should be able to summon different pitches, emotions, volumes, and identities at will. All of that brings to life the vision of a client or a director. Besides relying on well-known names like Morgan Freeman or Ellen DeGeneres, many brands also use sites like voices.com to find up-and-coming talents or less famous — but not less talented — alternatives.
Any successful business was only successful because of good branding. McDonald’s. iPhone. Disney. What came to your mind upon reading those words? Golden arches, the Apple logo, and either the Mickey Mouse doodle or the castle, right? That’s called creating a brand. Things that people see and associate only with that specific brand. If you add audio to the word, it becomes the things people hear and associate only with that brand.
As bloody annoying as she is, the lady that interrupts your music on Spotify to insult you for not knowing what an 8-track is - even though you probably do - is part of Spotify’s audio brand. We hear her and we immediately think of Spotify. Sure, most of us hate her but imagine someone who doesn’t know the platform listening to a couple of friends bonding over that hatred. They would go to check out that platform, just so their music can get interrupted by her.
Whether it is through soundbites, jingles, or advertisements, a good voice actor can offer your business a unique character. This is why looking for a voiceover agent and finding the right candidate for a project often takes time. After all, if you are hiring someone to become the “voice” of your company and grab your target audience’s attention while forming a connection with them, then that voice has to be perfect.
The entertainment field is rich with opportunities for voice talents of all ages. Consider converting a book into an audiobook. To do that, you’ll need a narrator and if your book has characters, voices for each of the characters. Now, some people would scoff at that while saying, “How hard can it be to read into a mic?” The answer is, very. What a voice talent does to the content they are responsible for is much more than just making it audible.
Entertainment is about grabbing someone’s attention and maintaining it. A good TV show gets you with a good pilot to keep you hooked, and they will end with a strong finale to keep you waiting for their next season. When a show stops garnering attention, it gets canceled. In the case of audiobooks, you need characters and a narrator to keep your audience hooked. Bear in mind that with an audiobook, you need to achieve what a regular book makes, captivate the listener while keeping them immersed.
The same general concept also applies if what you need is dubbing foreign films and series. Imagine seeing a nerd on screen, but hearing a jock’s voice. Who would pay attention to that? This is why the job needs a spot-on candidate. Inconsistent performances, insincere emotions, and voices that don’t match character descriptions, among many other factors can cause your content to flop, despite how good it is on paper.
Also, keep in mind that the voice you’d require for entertainment is not at all similar to a voice you’d require for a business’s needs. Let’s go back to the Spotify lady. Her voice is perfect for a short advertisement, but in what world would you be able to listen to her narrating a nine-hour book? What about an emo girl’s voice? Would you ever pay attention to what she has to say about McDonald’s?
All in all, if you feel like you need a voice actor and are considering candidates, make sure you take your time with the vetting process. Pick someone who matches the character you want and fulfills the criteria you’re looking for. You’ll find several actors, each with their own addition to your character’s personality. Whether you work in the business or entertainment industry, it pays to think of your character’s physical attributes as well as their voice. Remember that the whole point of hiring a voice actor is to affect people’s perception, to conjure up images and draw scenes using only their voice.