Do I Need An Agent To Be A Voiceover Artist?

Aug 07, 2020
If you’re new to voiceover as an industry, you’d be forgiven for not knowing how integral a ‘part’ was played by the voiceover agent before the internet changed the business forever…

Once upon a time, or 20 years ago, or so... it was ‘virtually impossible’ to find and book work in the voiceover industry without having agent representation, as agents and advertising agencies held the keys to voice rosters and casting calls with major corporates and they also had the ‘last word’ on whether you’d work or not… Let’s take a look at the role of the current day agent and whether you need one to be a voiceover artist...

What are agents and what do they do?

The role of the talent agent hasn’t changed much, and in other ways,
has almost changed completely! The main difference these days?
Agents now have to present their services online just as we do and agents have to compete with voice websites, independent voice talent (like you and I), and freelancer sites.
Before the internet, the way you’d seek out voice talent was solely through an advertising agency or an agent who managed their voice talents appointments and audition bookings and were paid a commission to the tune of 15 - 20% on the jobs their talent received! 
Everyone that worked in voiceover was represented by one or more agents, and had usually come from a background in Radio or Films or TV and was either part of a ‘stable’ or a roster that belonged to an advertising agency, which was usually connected to a production studio and was solely managed by one or a series of agents…

To be a working voice artist before the internet, was generally a very hard position to achieve, It was also generally a very well paid position and one of privilege & prestige.

Agents are now online too, in the form of websites

In order to compete, Agents have had to change the way they offer representation and like today’s voice talent, can now market themselves online globally, focussing on best service and a unique stable of voice talent on their books. Agents have had to become similar to voiceover websites, in that they offer their management services online, but ‘set themselves apart’ by offering to manage the ‘more unique and higher standard’ voice talent available.
Where agents differ from voiceover websites is: Websites don’t offer any ‘management’ of your voice portfolio other than hosting your profile, there is no ‘seeking of jobs’ for you exclusively.

You don’t need anyone, but it can help

Like any marketing assistance on your voiceover journey, it can be helpful to have someone ‘in your corner’ promoting you to casting directors and production studios, but on the other hand, much high profile voice talent who are represented by an agent or two will tell you that their agents provide maybe only 1-3% of the voiceover work they do per year… So, can you survive and build a successful voiceover business without an agent?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Do you like to make the rules, or do you mind if someone else does?

If you are the type of voice talent that likes to ‘swathe their own path’, to try different marketing angles, to head off on creative tangents… then possibly an agent would not be a compliment to your voiceover business. 
If you like to make your own rules and do things your way, working with an agent might be problematic, as any agent worth their reputation would want to have a hand in your marketing and promotions. This is certainly something to keep in mind when seeking out an agent and understanding their character… Is the agent you’re focussing on easy-going or serious and business-like?

How do I ‘bulletproof’ my voiceover business?

Whether you are currently seeking an agent or not, the bigger question is:
With or without an agent, How do you ‘bulletproof’ your business?
There are many different answers to this question, but my advice is: 
Having as many different ‘streams’ of voiceover income is paramount to a stable and resilient business.
Trends change, websites open and close, markets, and economies rise and fall.
That’s why it’s so important to have as many profiles and connections to voiceover projects as you possibly can and that’s why consistency is KEY.
Your marketing, follow up and promotion should be your constant focus!

What’s Next?

If you need assistance in preparing your profile and showreel in order to seek out Agent representation… CLICK HERE
You’d like help in bulletproofing your voiceover business... CLICK HERE
To your ongoing voiceover success.
Anthony Pica

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