13 Signs You Might Need a New Voiceover Demo Reel

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Beyond your sparkling personality, dulcet vocal tones, and unlimited imagination, your voiceover demo is the most important tool you have to secure work in this business. It’s the vehicle you’ll benefit from most to drive your career—provided it’s done right!

So how do you know when you need a new one? If you have professionally produced, competitive demos but you have yet to land a proper agent or work steadily, then consider the following before completely throwing the baby out with the bath water:

  • Does your old demo run longer than one minute or one minute and 10 seconds?
  • Do the spots sound like you can carry (or have carried) national campaigns and brands?
  • Do all the spots on your demo sound like fake radio commercials?
  • Do your reads sound forced and over the top?
  • Does it sound like you’re trying to be someone you’re not?
  • Do you have spots that try too hard to sound humorous but completely miss the boat?
  • Does your talent agent handle everything but voiceover?
  • Has it been four years or more since you last updated your tracks? (Depending on your age range and the changes in the market, you may need to tweak an otherwise effective demo.)
  • Does your demo sound great to you, but your graphics are less than professional? Packaging your product matters! Would you buy anything that was poorly packaged? You wouldn’t. Neither would your target audience.
  • Have you landed a few good national television spots that you could add to your current demos?
  • Do your demos consist of projects you’ve actually booked, but few are of the caliber that would honestly elevate your career to the next level?
  • Have you sent out repeated promotional mailings to producers for at least two years? (Promotion demands repetition and tenacity.) If not, you may be the only who knows your demo exists.
  • Are you unsure of who your target audience really is and how to promote yourself directly to them to make yourself known, accessible, and familiar?

Of course, numerous “chop shop” demo production studios may lead you to believe you need a new voiceover demo every year. However, at Actors’ Sound Advice we disagree with this notion if your demos were produced well to begin with. Yearly updates may suit their needs, but not yours. The truth is if you invested in proper training prior to producing your tracks in the first place, and enlisted the services of a seasoned demo producer from the start, then your demos should last you a good three to five years—the average time it takes establish yourself as a brand in this or any business.

Your agent may not agree, but then agents typically don’t handle marketing or are all that experienced in promotion. They have access to the work you’re best suited to land as a voice talent, and they know what the job is worth. What you want to know is whether your agent feels your demos are competitive or not. So listen to a few demos from your agent’s talent roster that are in your wheelhouse. How well do yours compete? Ideally, your agent offers an honest, objective perspective when needed. You’re expected to arrive fully realized on your agent’s doorstep, you know. Help your agent out, and stop making him play through a handicap. Keep in mind he isn’t a producer. Present your best—always.

After all, if you’re not in the ballpark, you can’t possibly play ball. Bring your A-game and play to win!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Kate McClanaghan
Kate McClanaghan is a casting director, producer, and founder of both Big House Casting & Audio (Chicago and Los Angeles) and Actors’ Sound Advice. She’s a seasoned industry veteran and actor who has trained actors and produced demos for more than 5,000 performers over her 30 years in the business.
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