Suddenly, I am receiving a rash of emails with the question: “can you direct me to some Atlanta voiceover agents?”
Many people think that the key to voiceover success lies with an agent. Once you get an agent, you just have to sit back and let the lucrative offers come in, right? Ah, if only it were so easy to make money at your microphone!
This week, someone wrote to me about getting an agent while still enjoying the flush of success from working his first paid gig. He lives in another city and was ready to get on a plane to Atlanta to meet agents. In responding, I explained that I was offering this information in the same spirit of helpfulness that I write my blog.
If you’ve only booked one job, it’s doubtful that you’re ready for a voice-over agent to want to represent you.
In order to land a voice-over agent, you have to show that you are a marketable commodity and can offer them something that they don’t already have among the people they represent. You should listen to the reels of their talent to determine whether and how you might fit on their roster.
You also want to compare the professional sound of your demo against those you hear on-line. Those professionals are your competition for booking jobs. If your demo is homemade, you’ll want to invest in any necessary training with a coach before getting a professionally produced demo.
Hard work, initiative, and knocking on doors does indeed pay off. I just think you need to knock on some other doors to establish yourself before you approach an agent. You can get work without an agent; agents are just one avenue, not the only avenue, of obtaining work.
Check out the advice page on my site and look in the archives of my blog for more in-depth advice and resources on finding and marketing yourself to people who might hire you right where you are. To quote Teddy Roosevelt: do what you can, where you are, with what you have.
I guess my answer above is just another case where I tell people what they need to know, not what they want to hear.
A few other thoughts about agents:
- Far too many organizations are ready to prey on people’s dreams by taking their money and giving them unfilled promises in return. Modeling/talent agencies that set up in malls, organizations that hold “open casting calls” or regular searches for new talent, and places that run radio ads are probably some sort of school that makes their money from selling classes and pictures, not from booking talent. A legitimate voiceover agent doesn’t need to solicit more talent, and they only charge you when you book a gig through them, usually 10-15% of the gig!
- If the agency doesn’t have a voiceover department, I doubt they could really help you.
- You probably don’t want to sign an exclusive agreement with one agent. Many voice actors have numerous agents located across the country and in other parts of the world. To reduce potential conflicts of interest among your agents and clients, it’s best if you only have one agent per city or geographic region. Also, the relationship gets tricky when you receive the same copy from multiple agents. In those cases, I send the audition to whomever sent it to me first.
- If you are active with your marketing, be sure any prospective agents are not threatened by your efforts. One agent asked to represent me because she loved my clever pieces of direct mail and then dropped me a year later (after rarely sending me an audition), telling me that she felt my marketing competed with her. I have booked most of my work as a result of my own marketing, so I would not sign with another agent who discourages it.
If you still worry that you don’t have an agent, you are focusing on what you perceive you lack in your life. Instead, look at and be grateful for all you have. Keep a list of your accomplishments ready for review so that you can maintain your confidence and positive outlook.
A good talent agent can send you auditions and open doors that were previously closed to you. With polished skills, research, and patience, you will be able to attract the right agent representation at just the right time.
Photo: iStockphoto / Talaj