This is Part 3 of my 3 Part Series on Voiceover Agents. If you missed them, here’s Part 1 and Part 2. I’m so pleased to announce that the series has been picked up by VoiceoverXtra, as well. VoiceoverXtra is the industry’s leading online Voiceover publication. I’ve been reading it since I started in VO, so it’s been lovely to become a contributor this year! Click here to check it out.
Congratulations on getting a Voiceover Agent (or being in the position to start looking for one…!) This is a huge step. It’s very important to acknowledge and celebrate our victories! That’s number one. But the actual “work” doesn’t end there. This is just the beginning!
Having an agent is a partnership and each side has responsibilities, just like a marriage or any other business partnership. I know a lot of people who start with an agent and then it kind of fizzles out and never goes anywhere. The actor is left feeling confused, frustrated and embarrassed, scratching their heads and asking themselves: Am I even still with them? Don’t let this happen to you!
The key to avoiding this is to establish a personal relationship from the get-go. Let yourself be known! Establish a good rapport and keep the communication flowing. Do your job and do it to the very best of your ability, consistently. Be someone they grow to count on and expect great things out of. I know it’s hard but DON’T BE AFRAID OF YOUR AGENT! REFRAME the relationship if you need to: They work for you, even though at the beginning it doesn’t feel like that at all. Practically speaking, in actuality, it sort of isn’t that way at the beginning…the dynamic definitely feels like you are working for them. But somewhere along the line, that will start to change. Here are some thoughts on how to embark upon this new journey.
The first several months of working with an agent is definitely the “dating phase”. You are testing each other out to see if it is a good fit. It’s also like starting a new job, in that you want to put your very best foot forward. What does that look like?
Communication: It’s up to you to ask questions at the beginning if you are unsure about procedure or what to expect. Agents are busy people; lots of times they are on overdrive and will just start sending you auditions without giving you any details about what they expect. If they don’t tell you, ASK how they want the files labeled, do they mind more than one take – and if so, is two the limit, etc. and anything else that comes up. The time to ask these questions is now. Find out how they want things submitted and do it right, every time.
Timeliness: Get things in ahead of the deadline. It makes their life easier and they will love you for it. It also makes you more likely to book a job! With so many people competing these days, you want to be one of the first to be submitted, not one of the last. If you wait, the job might already be booked before you even send yours in!
Be a Pro: Follow directions and do excellent auditions. Every time. Make sure both the acting and the sound quality of your auditions are competitive. If you include more than one take, be sure the takes are different – some sort of different style, approach, tone or feel. If you can’t make them different, just send one take.
Keep in touch: Stay in touch regularly with your agent if you don’t hear from them. Be on the conservative side in terms of frequency and definitely don’t bother them with random nonsense, but do drop a line now and then with a friendly hello. Keep it brief, light & polite and offer up something fun or (even better) let them know what you’ve been doing on your end. Agents like clients who are pro-active. For example, if you take a workshop, particularly if the teacher is a working industry pro (Producer/Director/CD), tell them about it! I always let my agents know who I’m working with. It gives me an excuse to drop them a line and it’s also practical – if their paths cross, my agent knows we’ve just seen each other and can mention me!
Keep records: Take note of all the auditions they are sending you. I always keep a file with all of my auditions for a couple of reasons. This allows me to track of how many auditions they are giving me and what types. It will be important a few months down the road when you are assessing the relationship. Instead of “feeling like” you’re not getting a lot of auditions, you will have a record of exactly how many and what type you are getting per week and per month. Likewise, if they seem to be out of your wheel house, or if there’s a particular type of copy or genre that you’re not getting, but would like to be reading on, you can discuss this with them with specificity. Note: Make sure you do this within the “trial” period of a few months; in other words, don’t wait six months or a year to bring up an issue if it has been on your mind! Finally, by keeping good records, you can also refer back to them easily if you book a job, and you can keep a tally on your booking ratio, auditions to jobs booked with this particular agent.
If you impress your agent out of the gate by being a complete professional who consistently submits above average takes, they will grow to love you. That is your job: to do great work always. In the beginning they are feeling you out, so PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD. DO NOT MISS AUDITIONS. DO NOT TURN THEM IN LATE. DO NOT ACT WEIRD. Do your job: be courteous, polite, grateful, graceful, impressive and fun to work with. That’s our side of the street.
Now, what should you expect from them? Join me next week for: How do I know if my agent is good? If you haven’t yet, sign up for my blog on the top right hand corner of the blog page so you don’t miss it…and if you liked this article, please share it… Cheers and happy voicing!