The 3 Don’t’s of Voice-Over Demos — the Undistilled Version

Expanding on the 3 Don’t’s of Demos
I hope everyone has a chance to check out 3 Don’t’s of Voiceover Demos written by Steve Lowell and featuring myself, Erik Sanchez from Sticky Audio and Jim Kennelly from Lotas Productions (http://realtimecastingblog.com). I want to just expand a bit on my thoughts as I’m much longer winded than either Erik or Jim.  My further thoughts are in boldface.
Here’s are my 3 Don’t’s:
1. “Don’t cheap out. (okay… I admit that’s a little harsh but it’s definitely what I said).  Your demo is a calling card. Don’t cut corners on quality. Your demos should have all the bells and whistles to show your best. How much it costs may depend on where you live, but make sure if you are seeking to find an agent, make sure the quality of the demo echoes the market you are trying to work in. If you cannot afford to make a demo, wait until you can afford it. You will save money that way” (in the long run that is).   A point I have to emphasize is if you are sending your demos to agents or managers… you may only have one legitimate shot to be heard.  If you present an under-produced demo, you will be remembered as not good enough rather than for having an underwhelming demo – so don’t risk that perception.
2. “Don’t try to throw everything and the kitchen sink into a demo. Agents are looking for a signature sound. If you think you do everything, you had better know that everything you do is undeniably great. If not, it will only be a distraction.  A former colleague (Scott Linder @ DBA who definitely presented this quotation much more colorfully) once added, “Every one wants to think they can be every color of the rainbow, when they may do just as well serving one color of the spectrum.”   Here’s something else to keep in mind though: variety could and should come from the types of spots on the demo.  If it’s a commercial demo you can have a car, a fast food, a home cleaning product etc.  If it’s a promo demo perhaps a broadcast network, a sports network, a news spot, etc..  All can have your “signature” sound but you are proving your signature works with different types of spots, genres and products.
3. “Don’t let your demo go stale. Keep your demo updated every year, if you can. If you have aged out of your demo, it is time to make a new one. That one demo you find perfect will not be the one you use forever. Make sure you update your demo as much as you can with new work, even if that means once a year. Fresher is always better.  Why? Clients want to catch you in the moment when others are hiring you as well.”  A final point as well: there is nothing more problematic than having an older spot on your demo which is distinctly from that period.  I had a great client who had a spot that opened with “Coming in 2001” in the first sentence of the first spot on his website.  To make a long story short, a producer ten years later who knew that person well had no problems poking fun and, although the producer may have been amusing for a second, he made his point.  I immediately called the voice client and told him he had to change the demo.
Feel free to let me know if this is helpful and be sure to check out the original post.
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