You ask the average person what a “Voice Over” is and they may be stumped. For those that do know what it is, they often categorize it as a service for ‘THEM’. You know, for those large corporations, advertising firms, major gaming companies and other production houses. Which all of that is true. Popular video games, animated TV shows, corporate advertisement, film projects, and promos all use voice overs for their products and ads. I have been privileged and blessed to have provided my voice in all of these areas. But what many are surprised with is all the other areas that quality voice over services are used and how accessible it is to all of us.
Many people are of the mind ‘I would never have a use for a voice over’ or ‘hiring a professional is only for the big companies that have all the money’. That may have been true in the past, but you might be amazed with the scope of projects we at DownStage Voices have serviced just from our studio. Projects for individuals, hobbyist, entrepreneurs and small companies as well as the large corporations, production houses and major brands.
So, what has changed? Well, changes in the marketplace and new technologies have made professional voice over services both more accessible and more affordable to everyone. New technology has allowed small studios and home studios to pop up all over, run by independent freelancers. This means that the overhead for these services has dropped and the middle man has been removed. In addition, the trend of creating a ‘cafeteria system’ of services that allow customers to pick and choose the services they need, once again bringing down the price. What does this mean? It means that small companies and organizations can have access to professional level voice over services that used to be just for the big companies, meaning small companies can compete more evenly in this area. This is our goal and mission here at DownStage Voices, to make professional voice over services as accessible and customized as possible, to fit a broader range of budgets and help level out the playing field. We still provide a full-service voice over offering to major corporations, where they have greater control and more direct access to our studio time. But for those companies that are willing to give up some of the full-service aspects of our services, trust in our abilities rather than having a live directed session, and only picking the services they absolutely need, they too can have top quality voice overs that can fit their budgets!
So where can you use these services? You might be surprised. We have provided voice overs for phone systems for small companies, startups and entrepreneurs.
A professional greeting for your customers and the chance to up-sell is huge in presenting yourself as a legitimate professional business that your customers can feel comfortable with. We have voiced business presentations in videos and PowerPoint, web advertisements and promos, product presentations and how to guides, training and orientation videos and presentations, as well as standard advertisements on the radio. All these projects helped those companies present themselves in the best light. For individuals, I have voiced poems for poets, book promos for writers who self-publish, school presentations, college projects, and I even voiced the words to a song that an older gentleman wanted to present to his wife for their anniversary. The options are only limited by your imagination.
Of course, this marketplace expansion does have its setbacks. A primary example is how easy it is for anyone to record audio these days, which means that there are a lot of people around providing their own voice over business, whether they are qualified or not. So now the individual or small organization that is looking for affordable voice over services, has a hard time finding the provider that truly gives them the professional services they need.
So how do you find that provider or studio that can give you true quality for your money? You need to look for someone that has a professional setup (not just saying they are professional). Ask about their studio and their equipment. When you hear their samples, are they crystal clear, professional sounding and present themselves like the professional voice overs that you hear on TV, radio or games? Who have they done work with before? Have they done work for major brands? If large companies have trusted them, chances are better that you can too. Do they operate and interact with you professionally (never be afraid to ask questions before ordering because professionals don’t mind interacting with potential customers)? If they can’t present themselves, their work or their recommendations in a professional way, then chances are they can’t do it for you either. Are they established? Do they have a website, if so is it done well? Have they been doing this work for a while? The more of these items that you can check off, the more comfortable you should feel in their ability to provide you with the expertise you need. Of course, there are always variations on this and ‘diamonds in the rough’ as well as those that present well and delivery poorly, but this is a good framework to start with.
Also, chances are they are NOT going to be the cheapest. For example, at DownStage Voices, we structure our offerings to make things as accessible as possible, but there is a limit to what can be done. Professional settings, equipment, software and resources (talent) cost money and those costs must be covered. On the other side, there are those who say, ‘I won’t turn on my system for anything less than $300’. I would stay away from those as well. They may be good, but they are not the ones that are willing to work with you. Your project may be a $300-$8,000 project, but the provider should always be willing to talk with you. And for me, I work in my studio all day, so my system is already turned on, no charge to flip the switch on my systems 😊. So, when you shop, don’t make your decision on cost/rate only. Realize that for professional work, you still need to pay a reasonable rate. Places like Fiverr have a huge amount of cheap voice over services provided by people who are not trained, without a decent studio and cheap equipment, and the number of 5-star ratings they have doesn’t always tell the full story. There is one young man on Fiverr with thousands of 5-star reviews with the image of him speaking into the wrong end of a cheap mic, in a room that is not properly setup to record in. Stay clear of these types if you need a truly professional voice over. Not to say you can’t find professional voice over services on Fiverr because you can, you just have to hunt to find them.
In short, there are resources out there to help you with your personal projects, hobbies and in your business. If you are serious about them, you should look to serious providers to help you get where you want to be.
Neil Rogers is the Co-Owner, Director, Engineer and talent at DownStage Voices. He is a veteran professional actor and voice over artist, who started working in the industry in the late 1980’s. He opened his full time Voice Over studio in 2016 where he has recorded for major brands, games, phone systems and more. Visit www.DownStageVoices.com to learn more.