Contributed by David Seager
My career as a voice artist: Gotta say, for some odd reason, I do love it. A fresh piece of copy to dissect and absorb. Ahhh! Let me at it! Now, what are we selling here? Who are we trying to reach? Marking up the script helps focus the thrust of the read. Then, who am I speaking to? Which one of the many characters that live in my brain and my vocal chords am I? Where are we, my inner listener and I? What am I wearing–in my head? All that considered, we begin the read, locked in the moment. Living it. Experiencing it, be it extolling a dog food, or being totally lost in the world of a spell casting evil wizard.
Now wait, there’s more! Perhaps you’re doing a directed read. There is interaction. Maybe you nail it. Enter endorphins, elation, fun! Or maybe you become adept at hiding your total confusion over self-contradictory instructions– “Let’s try that with a more relaxed intensity.”–or “Make it sound more purple.” Then there’s “Please do me twelve variations on that line,” or, “Awesome, that was perfect. Now do it again.”
It’s all good! What’s not to love?
On the other hand, there’s the perpetual calling, e-mailing, and cajoling needed to get someone to give consent to give you a read in the first place, or even the second place; trying to make friends with those who’s tone of voice says “Alright, already! Now go away.” And then there is the rise of the Pay to Play sites for which you can audition along with over 150 people for the same 60 second piece of text. I recently had a producer elucidate his method for choosing talent: contact a cattle call site, get 25 or thirty submissions, gather your staff of ten people, and then have them vote as to which one they like. So you return to your sound proof cubby without a smidgen of feedback as to where you might have been off the beam, or why the company has only budgeted $150 for a 2000 word reading. I fear this is having an adverse effect on the industry in general. When did bargain basement pricing gain precedence over talent? And yet we press on! There is nothing like the creative spirit which springs into full blossom when we land that gig, and it makes us smile.
David Seager is pursuing a new career after 35 years of designing books for adults and children for National Geographic. His caramel baritone has enhanced many a TV and radio commercial, and his characterizations have populated video games and animations. He is currently expanding into medical narration. You can find him and hear his menagerie of personalities at davidseagervoices.com.