Most voice actors define “the client,” by the brand or end user. My client is Pepsi, McDonald’s, Mount Sinai Hospital, etc. If you dig for more detail, they’ll often point to a producer, who may also be the person directing them in the booth. For projects solicited through online P2P casting services, the client may be perceived as whoever is managing the project on the other side of the paywall. The brand name of the end user is great for the old résumé, but the person who actually hires you is the single most important person you need to understand. Whether you’re working directly with the product owner, an ad agency, talent agent, etc., the important thing is that they’re already hiring you.
What about the 99 percent of the hiring apparatus that isn’t hiring you? The focus of this article is to get into the mind of the 99 percent and give you an irrefutable edge in getting work.
Fortunately, getting into the client’s mind is not rocket science. However, it is brain surgery. Consider how brain scientists look at the brain as an organ with different regions governing different aspects of human awareness: emotions, senses, movement, memories, etc. We do not think about this fact in our everyday lives because there’s nothing for us to do with the information. If, on the other hand, we were psychiatrists or brain surgeons trying to heal a patient with a mental illness, knowingwhich parts of the brain do what would be crucial to curing the patient.
For the purposes of this article, let’s say the brain represents all the people (or target audience) with the most influence over hiring you. The client is no longer a single individual but a collective—a hive mind. Here are five simple ways to get into the collective mind and get hired in voice acting.
1. Identify your audience. As is the case with the different parts of the human brain, identify the people and roles that make up the hive mind that is your client. Take a macro view of how these roles govern the pathways to getting hired as a voice actor. Here are the primary roles:
- Talent agent
- Casting director
- Creative director
- Game developer
2. Ask the critical questions. Below are three essential questions to ask about each of the roles listed above. You will benefit by doing a little research to uncover the answers, as they will not be obvious.
- What is the job description?
- What are the day-to-day problems to be solved?
- How does this person screen for voice talent?
3. Don’t take shortcuts. We all know the pitfalls of taking shortcuts but sometimes there’s a smart way to get from A to C without going through B. For the industrious voice actors, answering the questions above, along with diligent research over time, will put you ahead of 85 percent of the voice actors who choose not to. Answering these questions instantly propels you into the top 15 percent! Already in the top 15 percent? This is your chance to propel yourself even further! We realize the math is not precise here, but our focus is brain surgery, not mathematics.
4. Learn how the parts make up the whole. As you do your research, you will discover amazing things about how the different roles of the hive mind communicate and coordinate with each other. Each has a different objective and each does better when working in concert. Ideas, opportunities, jobs, and networking are constantly swirling, taking shape, and culminating in work. The more you understand about how these roles work together, the more likely you are to join the conversation in a meaningful way.
5. Grow with your audience. The client (hive mind) is your audience and you can never know enough about how your audience’s needs, problems, and aspirations change over time. They change with experience, job promotions, technology, new alliances, and so on. The more you can glean about these aspects of your audience, the more freely you’ll be able to flourish in the conversation. By the way, not every solution results in getting booked for a job. Sometimes the solution could be identifying someone else for the job, recommending a good dog groomer, or just being available as a sounding board during a stressful time. It all depends on your rapport with the client. You get to know your audience by listening, taking their concerns to heart, helping where you can, and letting others help where you cannot.
What we haven’t pointed out is that you, as a voice actor, are also a vital part of the hive mind. You too have a role to fulfill. We’ve simply been grooming you to nestle your way into family without disturbing the hive. You earn your way in through understanding the protocols that serve those who hire and those who facilitate hiring. Welcome to the family.