When it comes to demos, there are many folks out there willing, ready, and eager to produce one for you. Some will work with you on the copy, others will write it for you. Some will have you record from home, others will have you come in to a studio. There’s a lot of flexibility and a lot of options. But there’s one thing that demo producing companies have in common:- getting a demo is EXPENSIVE.
How expensive, you ask? I’m talking save up your pennies for a long while, punch in the gut expensive and that punch feels especially spicy if you’re scrapping for funds to get your VO career up and running.
Having a demo is one of the largest expenses you’ll incur when it comes to launching your VO career. Due to the expense, there have been a couple of hot questions circling around lately...
1. Do we actually need a demo to pursue a voiceover career?
2. How many various demos do we actually need?
Valid questions, I say! When it comes to spending money, we should always be aware of our expenses. We really need to analyze if an expense is worth the cost, and what kind of return on our investment we should see from it.
question 1:- Do we actually need a demo to pursue a voiceover career?
I’ve chatted with talent agents, casting directors, VO educators, coaches, working professionals and they’ve all given me the same answer. YES - you MUST have a demo. And it’s strongly recommended (although not a requirement that your demo is professionally produced.
What do I mean by professionally produced? I mean that unless you’ve successfully produced other people’s demos -(more than one at least! get your demo produced by a reputable professional, as in, demo production is an active, if not dominant, part of their business).
Why is having a professionally produced demo so important? That IS where the expense kicks in. Well, your demo is your calling card. It’s the first impression most folks will have of you in this digitally dominant world. And if that’s the only representation you have of yourself regarding the work you do, you want the thing to be pristine. Truly reflective of your best work - which is voiceover, btw, not production. So, given that… yeah, professionally produced demos are kind of important.
But like I mentioned earlier - demos are expensive! Especially if they are well done and by a reputable producer. Depending on the type of demo and the company producing it, pricing can run from 1200 dollars - 2500 dollars. Just know it’s that expensive and budget appropriately for it.
question:2 - how many demos do we actually need?
I’ve heard of folks having 5-6 different demos floating around on their web page. There are specialty niches in voiceover, and folks are lining up to have a demo done in each specialty. And at 1200 dollars -2500 dollars a pop, I gotta say, “WOAH. Is that actually necessary?” From what I understand, the answer is...Maybe.
If you are just starting out in your voiceover career, you are great with a single commercial demo. Keep it simple. The commercial demo can contain a variety of reads and character types and it’s the most commonly requested demo from those who’d like to listen to your sound. So, in that situation, I would say to stick with one demo - the Commercial demo.
Now if you are branching out your career into specialties, then it would probably make sense to have an additional demo. I’m thinking about specialty niches like Animation or Audiobooks, where the niche is likely the main focus of your VO career (you’re not trying to do “all the things”. Those two niches, specifically, play under a slightly different set of “rules” than the more general Commercial niche, which is why having an additional demo would make sense.
settling into a specialty niche can come years after you get into voice over. Each specialty niche requires its own amount of training and coaching, and if you’re looking to get a demo in that niche, make sure you’ve gotten the necessary training and will have the high quality demo required to do well in that niche.
So those who have 5-6 different demos in various niches? I can’t quite understand it… both from an expense and a niche perspective, but I’m also not them. I have to think that they made the best choice for their business when investing in all those demos. Does that mean I have to do the same? If we’re talking about making the best choice for my business - yes. Do I need all those demos? - absolutely not.
moral of the story
So out of all this, we’ve decided that, yes, we need a demo. And preferably, a professionally produced one. But one can often be enough at least for a good while.