So, you’ve been tasked with finding a voiceover artist to record the script for your company’s explainer video. This is not something you have ever done and it’s easy to panic. Don’t worry, there are plenty of options out there and you will find the perfect voice!
Where to Find a Voiceover Artist?
There are a number of different ways to search for voiceover artists. Any search for ‘voiceover artist’ or ‘female/male voiceover artist’ will bring up thousands of results on google. Where do you start?
You will probably notice that a lot of casting sites pop up. Here you post a snippet of your project and have voiceover artists audition for the job. Try to be as thorough as possible with your casting brief. Specify what gender, voice age and voice style you are looking for. Give some direction to the voice, this could include things like: light, conversational, corporate, friendly, sincere etc. If you are unsure, say that you are open to interpretation. Indeed that’s more vague but will give you a wide range of auditions to choose from.
In addition, you can search the casting sites using voice keywords, such as: upbeat, trustworthy, friendly etc. Scroll through the options and either contact some voiceover artists directly, or invite them to audition privately for your job. There are pros and cons to all casting sites and it should be noted that they’re not all created equal! I recommend Bodalgo and Voice123, having completed many jobs through both and had great experiences.
LinkedIn is a good place to search for voiceover artists. Again, keywords are your friend here. Dialling down on what you are looking for in terms of gender and accent will bring up the best results. Most voiceover artists will have links to their demos/website and examples on video of their work. Also, asking your network to recommend some voiceover artists should prompt loads of tags.
Similarly, Instagram is a good place to find a voiceover artist. This may give you more of an insight into what it’s like to work with them. Facebook business pages for voiceover artists are less common, but there are still plenty out there that are worth checking out.
If you want to go to the voiceover artist directly. Then searching through the websites that pop up on a google search is the way to do it. As above, listen to their demos, read testimonials and get a feel for what it’s like working with them. Then if you have any questions, drop them a line, they should be more than happy to help you out.
Lastly, you could go down the agents route. Some large agencies have many talents on their books and other boutique agencies tend to be selective. Unlike some casting sites, there will have been some vetting of talent (to a degree). This is a more expensive way to go, but may provide you with a more professional service than on a casting site.
Home studio qualities can vary massively. Never go off what you hear on a voiceover artists’ demo as these are usually recorded in a professional studio. I advise always getting them to record you a sample so you can do a quality control check. Alternately, a lot of voiceover artists’ now have home studio samples on their websites, like mine on my demos page. If you have no idea what good audio should sound like, ask a sound engineer to help you out. You could also double check with the person at your company/the production company who will be assembling the video.
Voiceover Profiles is a directory of voice talent who have all passed stringent tests to be on there. I am proud to say that I made it as one of just fourteen voices (out of hundreds of applicants). Our home studio quality, turnaround time and attention to detail were all tested. Searching for a voiceover artist on here would ensure that you get the perfect sound for your project. If my voice/accent isn’t right for your project, there are currently 24 other voiceover artists to choose from.
Alternatively, your company may be providing/booking a studio for the voiceover artist to attend. Make sure your location is close to the voiceover artist, or check if they are prepared to travel.
How to Decide if They Are the Right Voiceover Artist for You?
So, you have found a handful of voiceover artists and have decided that one (or a few) might be right. What next? To hear a snippet of your script, a good voiceover artist should record this for you for free. If this is to your liking, you can skip to the next step. You could ask for a different read/ask a another voiceover artist entirely, if you aren’t happy with the sample.
You Have Chosen Your Voiceover Artist (hurrah!)
After deciding on your voiceover artist, it’s time to talk money. It’s up to you whether you go to them with your budget, or ask them their fee for this particular project. If you have no idea what rates a voiceover artist might generally charge, check out the Gravy for the Brain Rate Guide, which breaks down suggested fees for different types of projects.
Be clear with your voiceover artist about where the final audio is going to be used. A usage fee isn’t usually charged for internal work. But work that is in the public domain, on social media and in paid ads will incur a usage fee. This is usually a percentage of the voiceover artists’ basic studio fee (BSF). Read more in my FAQs about BSFs and usage. A good guide on licensing and usage for hirers is supplied by Gravy for the Brain.
Read your script out loud. Doing this will ensure there are no sticking points and that everything flows nicely, if it doesn’t, it’s time to do some editing. Also, if you need a script read in a certain time frame (30/60 seconds for example), reading it out loud will show you if it can actually fit. Furthermore, try and get final sign off on the script before you send it to your voiceover artist. We can easily integrate changes, but doing this takes extra time.
What we Need to Know
Right, you have decided a fee with the voiceover artist and your script is ready to go. What next? I ask loads of questions when working on a project, as I want to get it right for the client. However, providing the following for your voiceover artist will save a few emails back and forth (not all voiceover artists will ask you all of these questions, but I generally do). I have broken these down into performance and technical questions.
-Be sure to define what your project actually is (usually this will have been done when discussing usage). It might have been called an explainer video by someone higher up, but actually it’s a short e-learning piece.
-A final word count is useful, especially if your project is e-learning, as most voiceover artists charge by the word. It is important to note that things like dashes which are said as ‘or’ should be counted as one word, and UK mobile phone numbers would be counted as 11 words.
-Your notes for direction. Pace, accent, tone and what you want your audience to think, feel and do when they hear the project.
-Who is your intended audience?
-Do you want to listen in and direct the recording? Or are you happy to let the voiceover artist self-direct?
-Pronunciations of tricky words and names in the script. It is useful to know how you’d like phone numbers said and grouped, for example ‘0’, as ‘zero’ or ‘O’.
-If you want a wild recording (the voiceover artist records at their own pace), does it need to fit in a certain time frame, e.g: 30/60 seconds?
-Do you need the voiceover artist to add music to the audio recording?
-Does any file splitting need to happen?
-What sample rate and bit depth do you want the audio recorded in? (If you don’t know what this is, ask the voiceover artist).
-What format do you want the file delivered in? wav/mp3 etc.
-When do you need the finalised recording by?
-What kind of processing do you want done to the audio? As standard, I will get rid of any background noise, mouth clicks and most breaths, will lightly compress and normalise the audio. But some people want the rawest form of audio you can provide (after cutting out mistakes), so they can do whatever they want to it.
-How do you want the file delivered? WeTransfer, Dropbox, email etc.
-What are your capabilities for payment? Can you do a direct transfer? If you would be sending the money overseas, what do you have in place for this? The voiceover artist will probably have a few ways set up and can offer these to you.
These things are not necessary for a voiceover artist to record your script, but they certainly help:
-If you have the completed/draft version of the video, sharing this can be beneficial. It helps them to understand the mood you are going for and could totally change their delivery.
-Sending over music you intend to use (if you have already chosen it) is also very helpful. The music will heavily influence the delivery and you may get an entirely different read.
-Any examples of previous company videos that have the style you are looking for are always useful. As are examples of reads you like or certain voice styles.
In the Hands of the Voiceover Artist
Finally you have sent over your signed off script and answered the required questions. If you have set a deadline for the audio and established what the voiceover artists’ turnaround time is, you should expect to receive it by then.
If we use a service like WeTransfer, we get a notification when you download the file. But a quick email to say the file arrived, nonetheless sets our mind at rest. Lastly, review the audio and let them know as soon as possible if there are errors or you need any changes. Each voiceover artist will have their own revision policy, make sure you are aware of this before they start recording.
Understandably, we are part of a chain, as are you (usually). Therefore, we know it sometimes can take a while to get final client sign off. Reach out to your voiceover artist if you need any changes/additional lines. Indeed if they are recording with a professional set up, any pick ups should slot in nicely.
Then, that’s it! By this point you should have your finished audio ready to put into your project. Get the voiceover artist to send you their invoice (if they haven’t already) and make sure it’s paid within their payment period. If you want to use that voiceover artist again in the future, without a doubt just send them a message, we love returning clients! If you want a different voice, start from the search again. Alternatively, you could ask your voiceover artist if they know any other suitable people, if the gender/voice style/voice age is different to theirs. We are always happy to recommend colleagues who we think might be right.
In summary, working with a voiceover artist isn’t as intimidating as you might think. We are a lovely bunch and always strive to help our clients in any way we can. There are an overwhelming amount of voiceover artists out there to choose from. Hopefully with my tips, you will find the perfect voice for your project and know exactly what to do when you’ve found them. If you think I might be the right voice for you, fill out my sample demo request form or get in touch.
P.s: Sending over a copy of the finished video for us to use in our self promotion (with permission) is always appreciated!