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Should You Make Your Own Demo?

No well-produced voiceover demo can hide bad acting.

Do you think that a top person in the industry, who’s cast or produced hundreds of spots, and listened to thousands of demos, will be fooled by a poor actor regardless of the demo’s production quality? And do you think if they WERE fooled, once they found out that the actor was not good, that production quality would matter?

In the modern marketplace, where you have to produce your own auditions and paying work from a home studio, you must be good enough to produce and update demo clips, with a big caveat:

You must follow a system designed to get the best voice acting out of yourself, or work with a coach, or both.

You must have a home studio setup to professional sound standards. Here’s how to do that inexpensively—home studios have advantages vs. professional studios, mainly that you can concentrate on adjusting ONLY what the microphone picks up, rather than focusing on the entire room.

What is Quality?

Most people don’t produce or listen to voiceover demos as part of their job. In practice, that means that the “quality” of a sample of your work to the average listener is more of a “pass/fail” situation.

Someone hearing a sample of your work and saying “Cool—that sounds great! I didn’t know you did voiceover” is a good result.

So we suggest that you start with one clip that is “good enough” and start letting people hear it through a “Hear my Voice” button in the signature of your email.

Then you can add a second clip and an outro. Now you have enough to start on a marketplace.

Quality Standards

What is the typical structure? What are common expectations in the industry for the production, the length, number of clips? Starting with a clean recording in a good studio, how should music and voice be mixed? How should takes be sequenced and connected? Click here to learn how demo quality is measured.

Your Money Voice

There is no point in attempting a professional demo before you are able to compete for top auditions. To win auditions, you need a system based around your money voice. Your money voice is sometimes described as:

  1. The overlap between what you do well that they pay the most for;
  2. The kind of national work that people like you are getting.

There is no substitute for learning about your money voice. We suggest starting by listening to hundreds of LA and NY voice demos to find people that sound somewhat like you, and save whichever of their demo clips sound most like you with names like “warm-upbeat-car-commercial”. Once you have a few dozen of these saved, they can be references to help you decide what approach to take with an audition. You can also transcribe the scripts.

What a Demo Does…

…depends on who is listening, where and why.

A demo is a sample of your work. Whether it is an “official” or “standard” demo DOES NOT MATTER, as long as some of the people who hear it leads to paid work!

On some marketplaces where voice talent get work, a common “demo” is simply a recording of someone saying “This is Jane Doe, I will record quality voiceover for you in an American accent…” etc. There are voice talent who have made $100’s of thousands of dollars with a simple intro like that. That said, it is not the most effective choice in 2022-23.

In other cases, the “demo” is a collection of video clips of actual work the talent has voiced for clients.

Some “demos” showcase only one category of work, such as “commercial”, “animation”, or “IVR”. Others showcase multiple categories.