Within the industry, you’ll generally find that there are some voice artists who represent themselves and others who use an agency. This, of course, poses the question for those who represent themselves as to whether or not they need an agency to secure work or whether, in some cases, there’s absolutely no hindrance to their career to keep doing what they’re doing. It’s a question we’re commonly asked and, as such, one which we wanted to take the time to offer our expert opinion on.
Let us start by saying that you don’t, by any means, need agency representation to earn a decent living as a voice artist. There are plenty of artists who represent themselves and do very well from it, however you need to be confident, business minded and know when to say no and turn down work which doesn’t see you fairly compensated for your time. For many, agency representation is a dream come true, allowing them to focus on recording and developing their voice, however it’s by no means a ‘must-have’ for a successful career.
What is an agency looking for?
Securing representation from a top agency is tough and it’s important to remember that. Most aren’t interested in representing anyone who hasn’t got a wealth of experience in the industry already and certainly won’t entertain taking on anyone who doesn’t present a demo which is nothing short of perfect.
That’s not to say an agent isn’t right, it’s more a case of knowing when the time is right and, at the start of your career, it often makes more sense to learn the ropes yourself, negotiate your own deals and gain the experience needed to make the jump to professional representation.
Understand that an agency will take a cut
Agencies need to earn money just as you do and they’ll inevitably take a cut of any fees you earn. However, there’s also the argument that you’ll struggle to land the top paying roles without an agent but, if they can command higher fees for you in the first place, their cut is more than covered and justified.
Know how to land your own work
If you’re just starting out as a voice artist, go out on your own. Put together a website which is clean, easy to navigate and presents your demos as the focus, whilst understanding how to market yourself. Become active on social media, know how to network with others in the industry and start becoming known in the industry ‘communities.’
Offer a competitive, yet fair, rate structure
One word of warning when negotiating your own deals is to understand how to put together a competitive, yet fair, rate card. It’s all too easy to allow yourself to be knocked down considerably on fees, however it’s similarly just as easy to over-price yourself without necessarily meaning to. Know your worth whilst also understanding the going-rates. It’s important to remember you’re running a business but that different jobs come with different budgets at the same time.
What must always be considered here is who your client is and the value of a job not just as a one-off but in the long run. Your fee structure must always be in context to both the brief and the client and, as an example, offering affordable (there’s a big difference between affordable and cheap) rates is a great way to land regular work, becoming the preferred voice for a client. This, over the course of a longer period, could end up being far more profitable than a one-off job on a higher fee. Understanding your client can also help determine the right fee structure as working for a translation agency may mean there’s a lower budget than working directly for an advertising agency, given that they themselves could be 3rd or 4th down the supply chain (and you beyond that).
The majority of voice artists dream of agency representation and when the time is right, yes, it’ll do wonders for your career, however if you’ve not got the experience in winning your own work, spend time learning the ropes and, in many cases, the agent will approach you rather than the other way round.