Today we thought we’d pay homage to the voice actors who put the life and soul into this industry. And let’s face it, they deserve more credit than they often get. In the words of Village Voice writer, Heather Baysa, “Life as a voice over artist is really just a constant hustle.”
In the same article, voice artist Sondra James puts it another way: “You’re background, you’re furniture. You provide atmosphere. But let’s face it, you’re not important.” Ouch! So what’s life really like for voice talent in the modern age?
The impact of technology on the industry
The most obvious impact on the industry, in recent years, is how technology has changed the voice over recording process. Whereas the only option was once to haul voice artists into recording studios, sound engineers can now create finished voice overs without ever meeting the artist face-to-face.
This isn’t always the best approach, of course, but it opens up a new world of possibilities – not only for the businesses that need a voice over, but for the artists and studios involved in the recording process.
If you come to us with a marketing video that needs audio in six different languages, for example, we can connect to studios and voice artists around the world, via our ISDN network. This allows us to complete your project faster and keep prices affordable – a double win!
The changing role of voice artists
In many ways, the artists who give your brand its voice have also been liberated by the rise of digital technology. On the plus side, there’s more voice over work than ever, as the industry caters for a wider variety of sectors and technology. Meanwhile, voice artists can now record from home with studio quality equipment and enjoy a work-life balance many can only dream of.
The downside is, it’s easy for anyone to start out as a voice artist these days, but incredibly difficult to make a success of it. Which means competition is fierce and the supply of work doesn’t nearly match the number of voice artists – no matter how much the industry has grown. The result is a growing number of voice artists who have to fight and claw their way up the ranks, earning a measly wage for a highly demanding job. Many of them don’t make it.
Times are tougher for the established names too – it’s increasingly difficult to land a major role now (let’s say in animated feature films), because the parts typically go to big-name Hollywood actors instead.
The natural evolution of voice industries
Technology hasn’t been the only influence on the voice over industry – and it’s not just the newcomers who have to work their socks off either! Established artists have to keep up with an industry that rapidly evolves by nature, because they’ll soon get left behind if they don’t.
Rewind fifty years, and voice overs were largely in the announcer style, by male speakers, in “the Queen’s” English. Things sure have changed though – these days we have a much stronger understanding of the psychological influence that gender, accent and other factors have on an audience.
It hasn’t been an easy journey though, and even with all the technological changes, the industry isn’t as glamorous as some might think. But, if we can celebrate one thing, it’s that we’re getting better at what we do, with every year that passes – and that means better voice overs for you.
So next time you’re in the business for a voice over, spare a thought for the person behind the voice, and the hours of hard work they put in, to give your brand its all-important personality.