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Is Voiceover Being Taken Over By AI - Don't Let Them

Jul 13, 2020

I was ‘slapped in the face’ by an advertisement on social media this week that went something like this:

Never buy another voiceover again! 

Download and subscribe to (insert product name here) For the low, low introductory price of 67 dollars for a lifetime subscription and you’re set for any type of voiceover you require…

Initially, I was a little concerned…

Is it possible? Is it time to sell my Microphone? Have they finally done it? Have I been replaced by an AI voice that is indiscernible as completely synthesized? 

Have they finally caught up with Humanity and made AI sound natural?

In my humble opinion, what we’re dealing with is just another form of competition entering the voiceover market and by my limited research I’d say at this stage there are lots of ‘big hats’ at the rodeo, but not a lot of cattle.

Read on young Jedi, to get ‘the scoop’ on what I’ve discovered...

What is AI for voiceover?

Firstly, let’s take a look at what these clever AI programmers have created and what I think the current product is ‘good for’ and then let’s look at what AI can and can’t do

There are all sorts of offerings in the market at present, promising all manner of miraculous natural sounding voices to use on your voice project and the latest and greatest technology tells us that AI voiceover programming has ‘nailed’ the human inflection and the ability to add natural-sounding breaths and this, they tell us, is the ‘game-changer’... 

Now in saying that, I can see how this type of product could be used to replace boarding times, train arrivals, bus routes, weather reports, traffic updates, etc, and at a stretch, you may even find this being used on low-cost informational sales videos and youtube explainers.

Should we be nervous?

Given AI is at the forefront of this type of voice development, It only stands to reason that the voiceover product will become improved, with an ever-growing level of versatility, with more features and will be cheaper to buy and will be of a higher quality as time goes by…

..... "Fiverr Will Ruin And Destroy The Voiceover Business" - Remember this one? 

But, and there is a huge BUT… to illustrate this, let me take you back to your ‘day to day journey’ as a voice talent who is constantly dealing with other humans.

I’m sure you’ve had clients who don’t really know exactly what they want, 

but they know in their heart you’re the person for the job... right?

They’ve decided on this particular project they want you to be friendly but ever so slightly aloof, with an authoritative and conversational tone…  but not sales or announcer-like with a little bit of added melancholy to your tone but not too much, (as that would ruin everything) followed by pure bliss at the end of the read, and then give it some gravitas on the final two words of the script?... And can I have it in 2 hours?

Yep, just another day in voiceover. 

I’m not completely serious in my example, but I’m sure you get the point… 

But guess what? No matter how clever the AI program, no matter how many voices they sample and synthesize, or how many algorithms are thrown at the voiceover industry, 

AI will never be able to give you a level of diversity above a selection of menus and choices and is in its very nature, is limited to its programming boundaries.

Which leads us to the conclusion that AI will not replace voiceover artists, it is just another option for businesses to choose from. 

We should not ignore AI, but we should not stop adding amazing customer service and top of the line voiceovers. 

What can we do to combat this?

If nothing else, the latest offerings show us that there’ll always be ‘something new nipping at our heels’ as Artificial Intelligence and technology changes, and note, ours is not the only industry with AI and ‘virtual bots’ threatening our existence. 

I also read pretty soon AI will be able to write articles better than humans and will put millions of writers and journalists out of work as well… I say phooey! 

Putting first things first:

Your Brand: Maintain your marketing habits and ensure you are offering compelling content daily, so your potential clients know where to find you, your frequent clients know you are around, and continue to educate, inform and entertain. 

Offer more value:

Give three versions of the project read, with slightly different feels, so as to cover all possibilities, provide WAV and MP3, ask questions, get to know exactly what your client wants, they’re human after all and they’ll appreciate your spectacular level of care! 

Great Customer service:

Never has it been more important in voiceover to provide fast turnarounds, reasonable prices, great advice, proofreading, grammatical suggestions, alternate pronunciations, background music, and sound effects… need a hand setting up what you offer? 

Be better in every single way:

Be faster, be funnier, be engaging, be consultative, be relational… 

Remember, people buy from people they TRUST and LIKE… 

How do you like and trust a machine?

You see, when it comes to the crunch, AI is just another gadget created to serve humanity,

It’ll try, but it can’t replace a relationship, 

Just like social media is a poor second to real friendship… 

So, it’s time to build on what you have, provide great service, and engage your audience…

Here’s to your ongoing voiceover success,

Anthony Pica