How to Hire
Voice Talent on the Internet

There are now quite a few websites offering consumers voiceover casting services. About 10% are reputable or worthwhile.

I’ll cut to the chase…

If you ever read the term “The world’s most trusted brands use….(us)” , “voice seeker” , “1, 2, 3” or, “we have thousands of voices”……run.

Run as far and fast as you can.

Doing so will save you a pile of time, money and aggravation and, you’ll be helping to support voice talent. Valuable advice for those looking to hire voice talent on the internet.

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In the beginning…

I invented the service of delivering a quality voiceover product via the Internet in 1998. I was the only one offering the service at the time.

Since it was a new service, nobody looking for VO services knew how to hire voice talent on the internet, so a large part of my job was educating my customers. Today, thousands of companies hire voice talent equipped with home-based studios to produce their audio.

A proverbial minefield

The problem is, the “voiceover industry” is not for the faint of heart. Voice talent P2P (Pay to Play) sites in particular are ripping off both companies and talent to the tune of millions every year.

They’re simply taking advantage of widespread ignorance of what the service costs and the “proper” way to hire voice talent.

So, the voiceover service is still in it’s infancy stages and therefore – like a new version of Windows – there are still a ton of bugs in the system.

By “bugs” I mean there are plenty of ways for someone looking to hire voice talent to get ripped off by rookies, hacks, or suspect VO talent agencies.

Get educated

With that in mind, I’ve composed a list of common FAQ’s that my clients have been asking me for years; a snapshot if you will, of some of the the more common questions asked with respect to how to hire voice talent on the internet.

If there’s something here you think I should add, please feel free to drop me a line. Enjoy!

hire voice talent on the internet

How to hire voice talent on the Internet

Voice talent (P2P) website scams?

How can I avoid voice talent or website (P2P) scams?

The best thing to do is avoid websites that list “thousands” of voice talent.

Picture if you will, a car auction.

You can look at the car, kick the tires, even start the engine. But, you can’t take the car for a test drive. You have no idea how the previous owner or owners took care of it, whether it was in an accident, if the transmission or brakes work….you get the picture.

You’re going to bid on this vehicle – and maybe even buy it, without really knowing what you’re getting….or whether or not what you pay for the car is a fair price.

This is what many people have encountered on a voice talent P2P site like Voices dot com. What’s worse, you can’t trust the people who are running the auction.

If you fall into the trap of letting them cast your project for you (when they call you with the hardsell), they will tell you the job will cost say, $1,000. They’ll post your job to talent with a budget of $100-$250. They try to get the cheapest talent they can find and present only those auditions to you.

So, you’ll pay $1,000 for a voiceover where the talent did all the work…..and got paid $150.00. $850.00 of your money went to the middleman, who convinced you to hire the cheapest talent they could find.

Don’t believe what you’re reading?

Please feel free to click on any of the links below and if you’re really interested, listen to this interview (at around the 30 minute mark) of the CEO of Voices dot com dance around the questions of transparency.

Obviously, I don’t like these websites, as do most professional voice talent.

They have ruined the industry by creating a cesspool of mediocrity and further, a mechanism with which they can rip off the unsuspecting client or talent.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Though rare, there are professionals on the internet like myself who have been doing this for decades who are fair and reputable voice over vendors.

Consider you could also support your local voice talent agency to hire voice talent if you live in a major center.

How can I save money?

How can I save money by hiring a voice talent with a home studio?

The funny thing is that not too long ago, it was pretty expensive to record a voice talent.

The only way for companies to get a voiceover recorded was to employ the services of a professional recording studio. Or an ad agency. Or a voice talent agency. Or all three. Really, it was not a simple task. First they had to find a voice, which meant finding a voice-over agency to send out a casting call.

With the talent chosen, they would then select a recording studio, book a time and get the audio recorded and edited. Depending on the studio, engineer, format, talent and length of the recording this process could be very time-consuming and therefore expensive.

Indeed, the aforementioned method is alive and well today; especially in the major centers that have a thriving voiceover industry like Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Singapore, Sydney, Berlin, Paris, etc.

That was then, this is now. Today, companies needing content recorded is as easy as a search for “professional voice talent” on Google. However, this is the part where things get tricky. Everyone is a “professional” nowadays; a decade ago, there were probably 50 people providing VO services from home.

Today, there’s 100,000 or more.

Where you save money is the elimination of all these people who, collectively, had their hands in your pockets just a short time ago – the voice agent, the ad agency, the talent, the recording studio and the copy writer. Today, you can easily compose your own copy and deal with the talent directly; complete with a recording studio.

However, while this sounds easy…..the “voiceover industry” is still in its infancy and is rife with pitfalls and scam artists.

And so, we have our next question…..

How can I find quality VO talent?

How can I find quality voiceover talent, audio and service?

You can, but keep in mind that voice talent are in general, an odd bunch.

Most come from a broadcasting or acting background and very few are good at running a studio or business. Sure, the voice is great, but 9 times out of 10 the audio sucks and they can’t seem to figure out how to submit an invoice in a timely, professional manner.

Don’t get me started about the egos….lol. Here’s a link to a voiceover blog post I put up years ago; a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

What this means to the consumer who wants to save a few bucks, is weeding out the talent who (aren’t weird to deal with in the first place and) are equally good at recording engineering and customer service as they are at voicing script…ergo – the quintessential “entrepreneur.” Remember when I said earlier there was only 50 people providing voicing services on the internet over a decade ago? Yeah….they would be the “entrepreneurs” you need to find.

So, how do you find them? Well, you won’t find them on a P2P site. Indeed, there may be one or two in the lot of 200 auditions, but all the “real” pros left those sites years ago. You’ll find them through agencies (good talent agents screen their roster of voice talent) or through an established, reputable professional like myself who offers a small, boutique roster of quality talent.

A word about P2P sites. Be careful. Many of the “better” talent you’ll find are Union talent working under a pseudonym; you may well find yourself in legal trouble when you find out the “non-union” talent you hired (and paid for a full buy-out on usage) was, in fact a member of a Union.

Again, your best bet is with those companies and agencies that have screened the talent beforehand; those who can tell the difference between good and bad voiceover talent and have checked out their service, audio, etc.

As for searching, keep in mind that just because they appear on Page#1 on Google (this includes P2P sites) doesn’t mean they are “reputable” or talented for that matter. It just means that in many cases, they paid for those rankings. In the case of my site….well….the rankings are primarily organic. I’ve been here since 1998 and basically invented the business model.

Again, buyer beware. The “industry” in which you are about to invest your money in is – in most cases – not very reputable, nor experienced. Oh sure, they placed the Better Business Bureau logo on their website, but don’t assume they applied for it…..! It’s probably a cut and paste job.

Think “smoke and mirrors” first wherever you go and proceed accordingly. Your next step, is to learn to “listen” carefully…..

What to listen for....

What do I listen for?

A good question many people never consider when searching for voice talent.

Many people fall into the trap of what they “personally” want to hear, rather than what the end-user (your listener) “needs” to hear. Let’s say that the person searching for a voice is a female and has always loved a guy with a deep smooth voice. However, the content this person needs to get recorded is hours of technical e-learning stuff for an audience that is primarily male.

The female producer hires the guy with the velvet pipes, only to find out later that the students aren’t absorbing the material because the voice talent sounds like he’s a hypnotist reading a weather forecast.

You can tell the difference between good and bad voice talent very easily. First of all, always have them send you an audition featuring a sample of your content. Voiceover demos are only good for narrowing down the field. As you listen to their audition, close your eyes and ask yourself if the talent sound like they are reading from a piece of paper, or whether or not they are speaking “to” you in a personal manner.

The mark of a good, professional voice talent is one that can make garbage sound good. By that I mean, they can interpret any script put in front of them – no matter how poorly written – and make it sound believable to the listener.

Do the aforementioned exercise and I guarantee you, a huge percentage will fail the test.

And speaking of “testing” voice talent, read on…..

Audition voice talent.

What’s the best way to audition voice talent?

First of all, knowing what you want to hear in an audition saves everyone a lot of time.

You first need to decide on gender, a vocal “age” range and then listen to a few voiceover demos to narrow down your choices in respect to tone and style. Then you send out your audition request.

Remember that you’re asking someone to do something for you for nothing. That said, it’s important to be courteous in respect to making the audition process simple and easy for the voice talent to facilitate.

You only need to listen to about 30 seconds of content – max. Your direction should be succinct and informative. For example:

“This is for an e-learning module; a software demonstration for our employees. The audience is primarily female. We are looking for a male voice between the age of 25-35. Keep it conversational, but professional. Medium pace. We’d like to hear a couple of styles if that’s possible….”

The audition you get should sound something like this. (If you’re listening to the whole article, you don’t have to click the play button on the player below; read the content underneath while listening).

Sample voiceover audition

The “Case file” is the core of the software. A case file includes all the information regarding a case. A single contact may have multiple case files (tone).

Now, let’s go ahead and create a Case File. To create a New Case I am going to click on “New Case”, which will bring up the form that needs to be filled out to create the new case (tone).

First of all I will enter a case number, which can be letters, numbers or a combination of both.

Then make a selection for the type of process, in this case I will select “New Filing”.

First, there’s a “slate” or introduction informing the client of who the talent is and that there are 3 versions to listen to, ergo three tones. Then, we hear the first audition which is right on the mark in respect to the direction given by the client. The second take is a deeper (older) tone; a touch more formal and the third take is a younger voice (25 years of age) with some texture to the voice to add some character.

Note that we hear the talent speaking “to” the listener and not “at” them – it doesn’t sound like a radio announcer reading a weather forecast. We get the sense that the talent is not merely reading the copy, but rather interpreting the words in an effective manner.

Finally, each style is distinctively different in tone, character and age. This is also the mark of a pro voice talent; many people out there claiming to be professional talent are unable to perform multiple, distinctive styles.

If you would like to hear a custom audition of your content from myself, please feel free to click the button below and I’ll respond right away!

Here are some relevant links regarding some of the pitfalls and current status of the VO industry as it stands today.

World Voices’ article “Transparency Now” regarding P2P sites (they’re talking about, IMHO).

Marc Scott with his comments on transparency regarding P2P voice talent websites.

Paul Strikverda and his frustration regarding being unethical and greedy

Andrew Randall and his experience with respect to the scam.

That’s all the information I have on the subject of how to hire voice talent on the Internet. If you have a question or there’s some subject matter relevant to how to hire voice talent, please drop me a line.

Thanks for reading!

Kind regards,

Todd Schick

Audition / Quote Request

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