Voiceover performers generally aspire to one of two possible career paths: 1) being the voice of a beloved cartoon character, or 2) becoming the next Don LaFountaine of the trailer world. Everything in between, whether commercials, narrations, promos etc., is usually not considered until the reality check occurs that the entry point to other voice work is much easier and still profitable.
Regardless of a talent’s success, the majority of male performers still look at trailers as being the pinnacle of the business, which is problematic at many levels, beginning with the number of talent who actually work in trailers. There always was a misperception that 5 guys do all the work, but even broadening that to 20 is still an incredibly small number of people working consistently. Probably a thousand voice talent can claim they “make a living” working in commercials, but only a tiny fraction of that is working in the trailer business.
Talent also doesn’t realize there are only a handful of reps consistently soliciting the trailer business. Many agents, for instance, moved away from the trailer business because without an already established talent in their stable, the diminishing returns of opportunities is dramatic and building real relationships is often fruitless. From a performer’s perspective, if they don’t have one of the reps who is already working consistently with the trailer houses, their chances of success go from slim to slightly better than 0%.
So what is a talent supposed to do if they think they have what it takes even with the odds stacked against them? Here are the only options:
1) Get coaching by a reputable authority. Beware… there are only a handful.
2) Create an incredible demo and commit to the fact you will be updating it every year. Don’t plan on skimping on costs either. You will need to spend somewhere between 2–5K as well as an extra $1,000 per year.
3) Do whatever you need to do to get repped by one of the few agents and managers working in the biz.
4) Keep focusing on the voiceover biz that’s paying the bills because your trailer dream is only viable as long as you remain relevant in the rest of the industry.
Also remember, even after taking the above steps, the odds will always be against you. However, at least you know you are pursuing your dream and you have given yourself a real shot to succeed.