How The Voiceover Industry Has Changed For Me
In 2020, the world changed. Because of Covid, we entered into a lockdown on 23rd March 2020 and it meant living our lives at home as well as entirely working from home if possible eventually. It happened for voiceover artists even London ones like myself. And I find it has principally continued to be that way. I now record from home more often than in West End studios.
Prior to the lockdown, in 2018, I had set up a home recording studio. Many voiceover artists already had by then, but as pretty much all of my voiceover work came from my agents and essentially took place in Soho recording studios, I'd never thought much about having my own studio nor needed it. That is until I decided to make voiceover my principal job, and let go of the film production work I'd been doing for 12 years. A few months before setting up at home, I'd been to a Gravy For The Brain voiceover Christmas party and bumped into a very successful French voiceover artist with whom I had a fun catch up over a drink. He's always been ahead of most in his career and how he manages it, never playing catch up. He casually mentioned that the work he gets from his agents only represents about 30% of all the voiceover work he gets. That really made me sit up and take notice.
What had I been doing? Why was I not set up at home?
So I did set up my home studio and never regretted it. I absolutely love the balance of work I receive from both my agents and my own clients. Here are the main differences to me as a VoiceOver artist in London since setting up my home recording studio & the lockdown happening.
More Direct Clients Work
Maybe the lockdown did not cause it, but I can definitely say the balance has tipped for me since. I believe more and more clients don't go through agents but go directly to the voiceover artists who can record from home. This can have repercussions on quality control (many non-professional & non-experienced VoiceOver artists profess to be so), and rates declining. However it has been an opportunity for me to grow as a French VoiceOver artist working in both English & French.
Setting Rates & Negotiating
My agents had always safeguarded industry rates and proper remuneration for usage. Now when I receive direct inquiries, I am not always, but too often, offered rates that are way below industry standards. I really stand strong, where i can, and fairly negotiate but do turn them down if they are just too unfairly low. I have wondered what I would have accepted if I was only now starting in voiceover. This is a murky area for voiceover artists. It's terribly hard to turn a job down, but accepting recording fees for little money is indeed a race to the bottom where nobody wins in the end.
When possible, stand your ground and kindly educate clients on why it costs what it does to hire a professional voiceover artist and use their work.
Recording From Home
Versus going to studios and not worrying about much apart from arriving on time, being prepared & giving your best performance! Times have changed. Much time is saved when you can record from home but it is a different energy you have to be prepared for. Literally I make sure I haven't been sitting in my studio for too long before a recording whether the client is joining the session or not. I make sure I've had lots of fresh air, prepped the text, and done my vocal warm-ups. Personally I enjoy the technical aspects of recording from home. You need to make sure you can troubleshoot technical problems from your end, and know what the client's technical specs are. I also continue training myself in all aspects of audio recording and editing. Both Gravy For The Brain & The Voiceover Network have brilliant online courses in all areeas of the industry.
It takes time to build your own clients. Patience, drive & marketing are key. When you don't rely 100% on your agents, how do you find clients as a voiceover artist? Well, some come to you by recommendation or just having found you by googling French Voiceover Artist in London or similar key words, which is the lovely way. I find it works well to specifically target companies that need voiceover artists and send personalised emails that really show you have researched who they are and why your services could be of use to them. I also use LinkedIn to connect and reach out. I have found that Instagram is not the platform for me to find clients through, so now I just enjoy the platform in a non-professional context. Facebook also doesn't work for me professionally. I'm not currently on any Pay2Play. I might change my mind again but I found the fact most of the auditions/tests don't get listened to terribly depressing. I make sure I attend voiceover conferences too like the Voiceover Network and Gravy For The Brain where you always learn & connect so much with people in the industry.
Self-Motivating When Working By Yourself
The reassuring part on this subject is that you just get better at it the more years go by. Swim or sink really. Plus it's likely most of our freelancing friends go through the same challenges in that area and they can advise you or be a good listener on bad days. I have found that since becoming a mum, and having 10 times more to do but at a fraction of the time now, I just make sure I get on with what I have to get done and quickly. That's my self-motivation. Don't waste time you have little of!
All you can firstly do is prep your text/script and always make sure you understand it well (it seems obvious but if you are recording a medical training video it usually requires a little research), can pronounce all the more unusual words seamlessly & confidently. Then I make directing choices. Usually 2, maximum 3 keywords so I don't have to think about it once I've decided (for ex. speaking to 1 person in a room, or 300 in a big assembly, quiet or loud, reassuring or motivating, serious or fun, young girl tone or mature, etc...). I find it crucial to listen back to the takes a few times and be 100% honest if I'd be satisfied if I were the client. As voiceover artists, I find we are very acute at recognising THE take. We just hear it and we know.
All I can do is give 100%. That way, if the client doesn't end up choosing me, I have no regrets.
The voiceover industry will continue evolving and posing new challenges to which we'll have to adapt. The biggest most frightening one to me being artificial intelligence voice generators. Will they eventually replace us? They already do a little. I can't imagine how AI voices will be able to give nuanced performances. Nobody really knows. But if they do take over, as always, we'll just adapt.
À bientôt les amis
Angélique Talio is a highly experienced French-born voiceover artist In London, who works in both French & English. She was the voice for the New Renault Clio in the UK & Boohoo in France for years. I am based in London but work with clients in France, USA, Canada and throughout the world. Find out more >