Voice Over Agents

Getting a voice over agent is not like winning the lottery. It does not mean that you suddenly are special, famous, better than anyone else, rich, going to earn a living, going to get jobs or going to go heaven. Oddly enough, the same applies to having a voice over page, but they both help…a hell of a lot!There are good agents and bad agents, there are honest agents who have built up large businesses through toil and turmoil and those that have stolen contacts whilst on a payroll and started up on their own, there are those that say they are agents and are not, those that say they are not and are, and of course those who use their fame, position or profile. All of them will help.Some of them will welcome you having a voice over page elsewhere with their number and email on it, some of them will not. In fairness you haven’t really got much choice. It’s damn hard to get an agent, let alone a decent one, so you will have to do what they say, even if it is unlawfully obstructive or involves you changing your name to something daft.The oldest agents are the best in our experience, they have seen it all, they were often the starting place for many of todays “offshoot agents” i.e. those that stole contacts then set up on their own. You can easily find out some of the older agents by checking on companies house and looking up how long they have been trading. The oldest agents tend to be best as they are the most experienced and invariably have the most influence with the companies they supply voices to; but the older and more established the voice over agent the longer the waiting list is.We have conducted considerable research into voice over agents and there are some serious companies in operation. Hobson’s for instance is one of the most highly regarded and most difficult to register with agents in the UK, at our last check, they too were the ones doing the most business.

In our research we have also found that you might be in for a rocky ride dealing with some of them. Some are obnoxious, and seem to be incredulous that you dare apply to be on their books. Some are warm and professional and have a rejection policy that is fair, kind and polite. If you ask around and look carefully for reactions you will get to know who is nice and who isn’t but be prepared to be insulted. The aforementioned company is not one of those companies by the way.Smart talent find a way to do both or as much as they can, in that they have an agent who covers large significant types of jobs and allow personal voice over pages feed smaller jobs to them or to generally feed work to their agent. It’s not that agents don’t bother with small monies, but that they have larger clients budgets and overheads.Invariably though one thing is for sure and that is, agents will not handle smaller equity based fee jobs very often and your own personal page will not handle huge TVR repeat type jobs very often.Having an agent is a great thing but, it has no guarantees; some agents have hundreds of voice over artists on their books not working. This is mainly due to the fact that there are so many agents nowadays. You might even find yourself working for years to get accepted by an agent but still finding out that all your hard work has amounted to nothing.Agents make their money based upon commissions, and they have very high overheads. They have to have posh show off offices in Soho, pay salaries to the people “working the phones” and have to have lots of lunches with people. They work very hard to make their money and even harder to get a reputation from clients, this means you have to be realistic about how they operate. Are they going to use valuable time equity resources to promote you or the person that already brings them £100,000 a year in commission? This is not to put you off, but to educate you into managing your expectations and of course your ego.It really is not all that having one, but you can get great jobs from if you do.Rhubarb are another example of a voice over agent who have been around a very long time, they are very smart and efficient. From our research Rhubarb and Hobson’s are among the leaders alongside Rabbit, Yakkety Yak and Lip Service. Without disclosure it would be unfair to “chart” these companies in terms of their artist numbers or revenue, but a calculation between gross revenue and the number of artists might give you a vague idea on your percentage likely hood of work, but it would be very crude.Sure there are lots of other agents but we omitted the ones that have been rude bitchy or cruel to our artists or us. Don’t be disheartened though, however some are, they get you work and that is all that matters.Voice over agents do change their talent, and the good ones do have listening sessions, this is the good news, the bad news is, if they have someone who they think sounds a bit like you, you won’t get a look in. So step one is have something genuinely unique to offer.Voice over agents also know what makes a good demo so get one and get it in to them, note your application should illustrate that you are aware you may be on pause until their next listening session. You could for instance word an email or note to say.

“I have listened to all your voices and still feel I have something unique to add. Would it be ok to request my demo illustrating this is added to the next time you do a listening session or a refresh?”If you want to do a demo, a cheap option is to ask a producer to help you edit, record or cut a demo with you for a “freelance fee” alternatively you could contact a company who might do the whole thing for you.It’s also useful to remember that voice agents get about 50 demos a week but if you are unique you will still have a chance. Tenacity is the next piece of advice, being an annoying pest is not. There is a thin line. Treat agents with respect. At best you can hope for a rejection or a date when they may have a listening session. Pick your chase up times carefully and note that it’s probably not wise to ring. Yes sales books and seminars will tell you to call, talk to people, sell yourself, push, turn up; but we think that is a tacky and sure fire way to land yourself in the pest bin. British people hate being sold to, especially those that think they are at the center of the universe in Soho or those that are losing money whilst listening to you beg. Keep it formal, business like and intelligent. Sending agents chocolates or yellow pretty bows on CD’s won’t help.Make sure you are aware of the above, have something truly unique, and be prepared to enter the most competitive world in the Arts.