How Important is a Voiceover Demo?

I’ve taken numerous classes, agent meet and greets, and webinars. In every one of them, it never fails that the floor would be open to questions and one person would ask a dreaded question about demos. And after asking the question, there would come a cavalcade of conflicting answers from different people. It’s not their fault, it’s a very stacked question. You have to know people’s goals, you have to know their budget, and you have to know their abilities. So… Let’s dive into demos!

If you plan on attempting to get an agent in a metropolitan area, it is important to have a voiceover demo. Demos are the only calling card you have to show, so if it is professionally produced, it helps. Demos also are a networking booster because you are training and working with recording studios within that metropolitan area. A professionally produced demo would also showcase a few different styles to give the agent and clients an idea of what jobs you should audition for. So, if you plan on spending that big chunk of change on a demo. Make sure you’re shooting for an agent. Also, make sure that you produce it in a studio or with a casting director that is known in the agent’s area. That way the casting director will vouch for you and might give you an introduction. Voiceover actors in this category do not need to create a home studio and intend on recording in other studios. Hence, in this situation, demos are important.

On the other hand, if you are unique and have a very specific sound, know a foreign language, or are the diamond in the rough everyone is looking for, then definitely get in touch with the agents and casting directors through a class or meet and greet. Gauge what they think you should do. Some may sign you on the spot. Some may ask you to drop by and audition for them. Some may recommend you produce a demo. Some may recommend you take more classes. Do not take advice from someone who will not get you direct work. Get in front of the people you want to work with and ask them what they recommend you do next.

If you plan on setting up a home studio, then spending thousands of dollars on a demo may not be the best use of your time and money. Investing in a mid-range microphone and studio setup will give you direct access to the vo marketplace. You’d be able to start auditioning right away. You may even consider cutting together a demo from the jobs that you produce. You could even create your own niche demo for categories like audiobooks, e-learning, explainer video voiceovers, and voicemails. Just realize that as you get better, as your microphone gets replaced, and as you make money, you should redo your demos. Your demos are a representation of what your studio can produce. If you get hired using a demo produced in a million dollar studio, they may complain if you give them a finished product produced in your closet. So, it doesn’t make sense to professionally produce a demo if you are going the home studio route.

So how important is a demo? For agent seekers, pretty important. For home studio entrepreneurs, not so much. Don’t get bamboozled into spending thousands of dollars for a useless demo. Know what your getting, why you’re getting it, and what you’ll get out of it.

Justin Torres

Justin Torres is a professional voice actor located in New York City. He hosts the 'Everything Voiceover Podcast' and works from his professional home studio as well as client studios around the New York area.

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