Do I Need an Agent for Voice-Over Work - Pros and ConsMay 04, 2023
If you're considering a career in voice acting, you may be wondering if you need an agent. After all, agents can help you find work, negotiate contracts, and get paid. But do you really need one to be successful?
It's not an easy answer. There are pros and cons to both signing with an agent and going it alone.
Pros of signing with an agent
- Agents have access to casting directors and producers who may not be aware of your work.
This is one of the greatest reasons to work with an agent because it is difficult to get your foot in the door with most of these directors and producers. Agents have built relationships and trust over the years which can get you an audition and access to voice-over jobs that you would normally be left out of.
Check out this incredible article by Voquent listing "161 Voice Over Agencies From Around The World"
- Agents can negotiate contracts on your behalf, ensuring that you're paid fairly.
I have helped many professional voice artists over the years and negotiating contracts is one of the largest headaches they face. When you are just starting out, or have been in the business for a while, voice-over agents are extremely handy when knowing what should and should not be in a contract.
Another great article I like on finding voice-acting agents is The Complete Guide to Getting Voice Acting Agents by Bunny Studio. I think this one because they also speak about the difference between a talent agent and a manager. Managers are hired to manage all your work, no matter where it comes from. Managers are not there to get you voice-over work.
Talent agents exist to find your work and bring you opportunities that best suit your talents and skills as a voice-over artist.
Check out Atlas Talent Agency to get a look at a top notch agency. You can get update on the Atlas Talent Agency twitter as well.
- Agents can help you build your brand and market yourself to potential clients.
This is one of my favorite things to talk about other than voice acting. Agents know how to market and brand you because they have been doing it for years. Not only have they helped other voice actors, but they have built a brand for their business as well.
Agents have a unique talent to market you and build a brand while they build their own.
This is a beginner's guide to getting a voiceover talent agent from Voices called Getting a Voice Talent Agent - Even though it is from 2022, it has some good content.
Cons of signing with an agent
- Agents take a commission from your earnings, which can reduce your profits.
As more and more voice actors work from their home studios, the "bootstrap" mentality has come to dominate parts of the voice-over business.
Since most of the costs have gone away from having to book a studio, audio engineer, director, etc. (although this is still the best way to get an amazing directed project that is high quality), many voice talent struggle with the idea of paying commissions.
The feeling is that it will reduce the amount of money that you make.
Side Note: Even though this is under the cons section, I would like to point out that paying a commission to get work that you would not have received in the first place doesn't seem unfair to me.
- Agents may not be able to find you work right away, and you may have to wait months or even years before you start booking jobs.
Because agents are dealing with many voice actors, it can seem that things are moving slowly when it comes to getting business for you. Just remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Agents may not be familiar with your specific voice-acting niche, which could limit your opportunities.
Make sure that you find a voice acting agent that specializes in your specific area of expertise so you don't find yourself with no auditions.
Backstage has a nice guide for landing a talent agent here: How to Find (and Land) a Voiceover Agent. It was written in 2020, but still has some great info.
Going it alone
If you decide to go it alone, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success:
- Build a strong online presence by creating a website and social media profiles.
- Network with other voice actors and industry professionals.
- Attend voice acting workshops and classes.
- Submit your demo reel to casting directors and producers.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to sign with an agent is up to you. There is no right or wrong answer, and what works for one voice actor may not work for another. Consider your own needs and goals, and make the decision that's best for you.
Here are some additional things to consider when making your decision:
- Your experience level. If you're just starting out in voice acting, you may want to consider signing with an agent who can help you get your foot in the door. Agents have relationships with casting directors and producers who may not be aware of your work.
- Your niche. If you have a specific niche, such as animation or commercial voice acting, you may want to look for an agent who specializes in that area. Agents who are familiar with your niche will be better able to find you work that fits your voice and talents.
- Your budget. Agents charge a commission, which is typically a percentage of your earnings. If you're on a tight budget, you may want to consider going it alone until you're able to afford an agent.
So much of what voice actors do or don't do revolves around their education. The more you know, the more you have a chance of making it in this industry. Check out A VO's Journey Elite Academy to learn more.
No matter what you decide, remember that the most important thing is to have a strong demo reel and to network with other voice actors and industry professionals. With hard work and dedication, you can build a successful career in voice acting, with or without an agent.