The Truth About Who You Can Trust as a Voice Acting Coach

Guest Post by Marc Cashman, V-O Coach:

Voiceover is Show Business

Finding legitimate people in any business is tough–not just show business. There are a lot of people out there who claim expertise in their field. And, only afterward, do we determine that they weren’t as good as their promotion.

Well, we all know that anything that sounds too good to be true, is.  But there are scammers out there–a LOT of people out there who would love to separate you from your money, promising you an instant career in very short amount of time for just a few thousand bucks!

There are scammers who go to the local community college and offer a low-cost voiceover seminar, only to finish the session with a high-powered “closer” promising you a V-O demo after just two days of training!  The cost? $4000, plus you have to pay airfare and hotel.  Another outfit “auditions” you to determine if you’ve got enough talent to be a voice actor.  I wonder how many people they turn away. Answer: no one.

There are always going to be people who’ll tell you that the market is too competitive, and therefore too hard to break into. The truth?  The market is competitive.  Voiceover is show business!  It may be an anonymous side of show business, but it’s still show business.  And by nature, it’s very competitive!

Good News!

But, if you have a great voice (see the Ted Williams story) and a desire to throw your hat into the voiceover ring, there’s never been a better time to do it.  The industry has changed dramatically in just the past few years. Companies offer people all over the world access to dozens of voiceover jobs every day.  It used to be that you needed an agent to have access to these voiceover opportunities, but not anymore.  And, more and more people are going to voiceover classes near where they live or study with great V-O coaches remotely, no matter where they reside.

What to Ask

Here is a list of questions to ask a potential voiceover instructor or coach to determine whether they’re up to snuff:

  1. How experienced are you? Is the teacher a current voice actor or casting director? If so, they’ll know the latest trends in what clients are listening for in auditions.  Is he/she a director, producer or casting director?  If so, they’ll have a lot of experience on the other side of the glass, and the potential to hire you after you’ve completed your instruction.
  2. What’s the basic setup? You need to hear the feedback and information between takes recorded for your subsequent review. Make sure that whomever you train with gives you a digital recording of your performance, along with their critiques on the same audio file.  That way you can listen back to how you did in the session and hear whether you progressed.
  3. Do you work with anyone, regardless of experience? Smart instructors screen prospective students to make sure that they’re all basically on the same level and get the most out the course.  They quickly vet students to evaluate their experience, skills, physical and mental state and what they expect to get out of coaching.  And, if a potential student has challenges, like dyslexia or speech or breathing problems, they refer them to a specialist.
  4. Do materials accompany instruction? Are handouts disseminated?  Information that accompanies instruction is invaluable.  This is material that you’ll be able to refer to and use long after the class has ended.
  5. Is there homework? Experienced teachers will give you exercises to practice between sessions to keep your abilities honed and focused.
  6. Can you re-schedule a session in an emergency? Some coaches charge you if you have to cancel a session at the last minute; others don’t.
  7. Do students like the coach? What’s the word-of-mouth? Are there testimonials available?  Can you contact current or former students directly?  Sometimes talking to people who’ve taken the course can give you a more objective view.
  8. What are the hourly rates? Rates vary from as low as $50/hr. to $250/hr.

MARC CASHMAN is one of the few people in the commercial production business on “both sides of the glass”—as an award-winning Radio and TV commercial producer, as well as a working voice actor and author. Creative Director of Cashman Commercials, Marc creates, casts and produces music and copy advertising for radio and TV, winning over 150 local, regional, national and international advertising awards, including the prestigious CLIO, on behalf of hundreds of advertisers. Voted one of the “Best Voices of the Year” by AudioFile Magazine—three times—Marc is a veteran voice actor in Radio and TV spots, foreign film dubbing, animated series and videogames, e-Learning narration and over 100 audiobooks.

In addition, Marc instructs voice-acting of all levels through his V-O classes, “The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques” in Los Angeles, CA  and New York City, and as an adjunct professor at California Institute of the Arts. He also coaches voice actors through his online and tele-coaching programs, and produces voiceover demos. 




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