by Jason McCoy 

Updated May 2020

Have you ever wondered how to make a voice over demo?

Well, the easiest way is to hire a demo producer.

Or you could make a voice over demo yourself.

WHAT, produce my own demo?? I know what you’re thinking:

It’s been said many times, “A voice actor should NEVER produce their own voice over demo”.

Why?

Because we may not get the results we’re hoping for.

But isn’t that the case for many things in life?

Companies should NEVER voice their own phone prompts, right?

But they do.

…We should NEVER do our own painting, right?

But we do.

No matter what the task is, hiring a professional to do it is probably going to give you the best outcome.

That goes for voice over, painting and pretty much everything.Enter your text here...

That doesn’t mean you CAN’T do it.

There is a time when producing your own demo may make sense.

That time is when you’re caught between not having a demo and having no work.

Is a self-made voice over demo the worst thing you can do?

Maybe – if your demo is done so poorly that it doesn’t do you voice or talent justice. Yes, that would be bad.

Except for that – what could be worse?

How about not having a demo at all?

That would prevent a career from ever taking off.

Unfortunately, no demo = no voice over jobs/income.

And no voice over jobs/income = no money to hire a voice over demo producer.

What about hurting your voice over career by sending out a bad demo?

First off, if it’s a bad demo you shouldn’t be using it. You must be the judge. But even if you’re an awful judge and do end up sending a bad (or even terrible) demo to a prospect, what are the odds they’ll remember you a month later?

Slim to none. People are busy. Which is probably why we forget 90% after 1 month.

That’s why we’re taught by marketing experts to stay in touch with clients.

Because even with a killer demo chances are a client will forget your name within a month.

Don’t get me wrong – Voice over demo production is an art in itself.

There are many extremely talented producers who can make you sound amazing.

And yes…

It’s always best to hire a voice over demo producer…

…but when you have more time available than money (and no jobs because you don’t have a demo), producing your own voice over demo can help get the cash flow ball rolling.

That’s why I’m going to show you how to make your own voice over demo (without killing your career).

Before we get into the details, keep this in mind:

Only you know if you’ve got what it takes to make your own voice over demo.

Effective self-criticism and good judgement are key to making your own voice over demo!

Let’s get started:

How to Make a Voice Over Demo in 5 Steps

Step 1: Find a Popular Voice

If you’ve spent any time auditioning you’ll notice artistic direction that mentions a specific actor or project.

This is HUGE clue!

The client is telling you exactly what they are looking for.

And odds are…

…if this client liked that spot or voice over delivery, there are probably hundreds or thousands more who want that same sound.

Which means having that popular style as a sample on your voice over demo could help you land those jobs even faster!

Using a popular voice as a reference for who’s getting hired, is a great starting point for your demo.

Find a voice actor who is popular and also similar to your own voice sound and style.

Here’s a few examples: Morgan Freeman. Tim Allen. Dennis Leary.

Sometimes it isn’t so much the actor but a certain project. You may not know who voiced the project but it’s the sound or feeling that the client is searching for.

For example, Apple commercials have a calm and conversational feeling that is often referenced by clients.

It doesn’t matter what voice over niche you’re producing your demo for, you can find samples on sites like YouTubeiSpot.tvVimeo, etc.

Once you find the voice over, you’ll use this as your inspiration.

Step 2: Study the Voice Over Example and Practice

Study the voice over and try to mimic that voice.

Wait, mimic? Aren’t we supposed to be unique and original as voice actors?

Yes, you do want to be unique and original as you grow.

But if you don’t have a demo, a known voice, or a brand for your voice yet, you can find voice over work quickly by studying what others are doing or have done.

If you’ve got a voice that can sound like Morgan Freeman, there’s a lot of voice over work you could be getting.

Remember, the goal of a voice over demo is to show clients what you’re capable of doing with your voice.

Analyze the voice over. Really pick it apart to figure out how it was done. Learn something from it.

As you listen to the voice over, pay extra close attention to these 2 things:

1 – How was it read? Consider things like volume, pace, inflections and pauses.

2 – The type music used. How would you describe the music?

Now transcribe the voice over into a script which you’ll use to study even more.

You can quickly transcribe a video by playing the audio on a site like Dictation.

I used this video as my example and Dictation quickly spit out the copy:

Make sure you add your own notes (like commas for slight pauses or where emphasis was added) to help you understand why this voice over worked so well.

NOTE: I originally suggested the next step be to record your own version of this exact script. Several comments made good points about this being a copyright infringement. So to keep everything legal and on the up and up, it’s best to write your own script…

Now, take some time and write your own short script using the example voice over as your inspiration.

Step 3: Record Your Voice

By now you’ve listened and studied the example voice over multiple times, written your own script and now you’re ready to record.

Using your script (including your notes) and what you learned in Step 2, record your voice over with your audio software.

Remember, you want your read to match the style of the popular voice over you’re using as your example.

It should sound exactly the same:

Same mic proximity.

Same delivery style.

Same pacing.

Same emphasis.

Same inflection.

Same pauses.

Step 4: Add Music

Now that you’ve got your vocal track recorded, it’s time to add the music (assuming the popular voice over example had music).

This is where people make mistakes because it involves production.

Up until this point you’ve basically been doing the job of a voice actor. Now, it’s time to get into producing the demo.

Check out a royalty free music site like AudioJungle or PremiumBeat to find music that is similar to the music in your example.

Think back to Step 2 and how you described the music.

Just plop that adjective into the search box on the royalty free music site and BOOM!

That brings up thousands of options to choose from.

If you don’t find many songs using your search, try using another word to describe the music or if the song reminds you of a band, try searching the band’s name.

Browse through the songs and select the one that best represents the music from your example.

You’ll need to purchase that song in order to use it on your voice over demo.

Once you purchase the song and download the MP3, you’ll just mix it together with your voice over (most audio recording programs have mixing capabilities).

VOICE-OVER TIP

 Sign up for AudioJungle’s newsletter and you’ll get a free music track every month:

When mixing the music with your voice over, remember to keep the music volume low so it doesn’t overpower your voice. Also, make sure your final mix down is in stereo.

Step 5: Repeat

Done! Now you’ve got a great sounding sample for your voice over demo (and your only expense was the cost of the music).

You’ll want to repeat this process a few times in order to build up a full demo showing your different styles.

Even though you probably recorded longer, only use about :10 worth of this sample in your demo.

Ideally you want your demo to be around 60 seconds and showcase about 6 different styles.

This is how to create a professional sounding voice-over demo

Now you know how to make a voice over demo.

Hopefully this self made demo will be good enough to score you work so you can eventually hire a professional voice over demo producer to do it for you.

Until then, just keep doing these steps:

Step 1: Find a really popular voice or project that is similar to your own style

Step 2: Study the voice over for clues and write a new script

Step 3: Follow your script and record a voice over

Step 4: Add music or effects to finish off the sample

Step 5: Do it over and over again until you’ve got a killer self made :60 voice over demo.

Remember the point of a voice over demo is to show prospects exactly what you’re capable of, which may include sounding similar to other popular voices and (as you grow and succeed) your own original style.

How to Become a
Voice-Over Actor


A FREE 5-STEP GUIDE TO GET STARTED IN VOICE-OVER

  • Hey Jason….
    From quite some time I, ve been looking,reading and watching videos about voice overs and u hv given very encouraging and inspiring advices…. . Thankyou soo much…. Keep the good work up… Stay blessed

    Reply

  • Thank you so much for the information. I signed up to the Voices.com website and I didn’t know where to start. I bought my first microphone, and waiting to select my headphones. This is great info. Question, do you 100% need a set of headphones when doing voice overs?

    Reply

    • Hey Scott – no headphones aren’t a must-have for recording voice-over. Many voice actors feel they can do a better natural read without them.

      Reply

      • Thanks Jason. Would that apply even if I didn’t have a real studio? Just because I will probably start just doing demo’s in my closet..

        Reply

        • Yes, that’s still fine. But you do need a way to hear playback of the voice-over. Usually headphones or quality monitors so you can hear any clicks or noises.

          Reply

          • Ok sounds good Jason. I think I will purchase the headphones just in case. They’re only like $60 so not a big investment. The microphone was only $60 as well.

  • THIS was so so very helpful in getting started with my first demos. I am really looking forward to creating. Jason, as always, thank you for your guidance!

    Reply

  • Thank you so much for this article. I started to do voice over because over 60 People told me that I have a special cute voice and that I definitely should be a voice describer for animation. The first article that I’ve read about voice over was yours and it was easyy to read and very useful. Thank you! I appreciate that!

    Reply

  • Don Henderson says:

    Thanks Jason! Time to get busy.

    Reply

  • Thank you so much, Jason! Really useful article and hope it will resolve my problem! But what about using the brand name in my demo? The clients can think I was hired by them, thus adding me prestige. Or this corresponds to imitation? For example, a lot of vo actors imitate Mickey – and that’s okay, no one sues them for that…

    Reply

    • I think it’s fine and have never heard of anyone having issue with it. If in doubt, ask an attorney.

      Reply

  • Having the skill to produce your voice over work from your own studio is vital if you want to be free. If you rely on their studio then you are just another employee. I have my own studio. A laptop, excellent USB mic, DAW, Headphones and a nice quiet place. sometimes in my home, in the middle of the woods or on a boat in a secluded harbor at anchor.

    Reply

      • A digital audio workstation (DAW) is software used for recording, editing and producing audio files. Adobe Audition, Audacity, Reaper, etc.

        Reply

  • Hernan Soto says:

    A “Professionally Produced Demo” will certainly showcase what a Professional Producer can do for you at his studio with all his pro equipment. If you cannot reproduce that in your home studio, you would have wasted maybe thousands of dollars… Just my $.02

    Reply

    • Jason McCoy says:

      Good point Hernan. No point in sounding professional on a demo if you can’t reproduce that in your own studio. That will only disappoint clients.

      Some demo producers will direct you over Skype from your studio. So you record from your studio, send the producer the files and they produce it in their studio.

      Reply

  • Josh Harness says:

    Thanks for this article! Was exactly my plan too. Get some demos rolling then use the cash from those jobs to pay into a professional coaching/demo production option. Relieved to hear it’s viable!

    Reply

    • Jason McCoy says:

      Hey Josh, You’re welcome!

      Sounds like a plan. Which audio editing software do you plan to use? Adobe Audition, Audacity, etc?

      Reply

  • Thanks for all your helpful advice Jason! This is another great article.

    Reply

  • gatoronfire4lord says:

    I recently attended a voice acting workshop. One of the FIRST things the teacher stressed was how important it is to get a PROFESSIONAL demo done. Companies can tell if you do it yourself, she said. If you want to get work, you HAVE to have that professionally made demo. We did a group practice, and the next day she emailed everyone. She told me I had great talent and a real future in the business…

    …and then pitched her company’s suite of coaching and demo production packages, which STARTED at around $1500. So thank you for providing the advice on exactly HOW to make a good sounding demo without shelling out 1-2 months of paychecks for the average person. I get not recording into your webcam microphone and sending that, THAT would be noticeable, but as you say, the regular person who has an idea of what they are doing should be fine.

    Reply

    • Jason McCoy says:

      Exactly! Demo producers can definitely help direct you and create a mix where you sound your best. But I believe in building a business from cash flow. If you can make a demo yourself that gets you work, that’s a great starting point.

      Reply

    • Josh Harness says:

      Such a voice right? Had the same deal lol

      Reply

      • I went to a 2 hour SuchAVoice class. Didn’t realize until the end it was two hour commercial. Good info, but at the end he pitched a $3,000-$6,000 coaching and demo session and compared it to paying $17,000 for haircutting school. I agree too, I can pay $750 to do a professional demo, but I will never be able to reproduce the quality at home?

        Reply

  • Eloisa Fortin says:

    Ive been looking,reading and wathjng videos to start voice acting and this article of yours is a perfect and clear picture on how to start. THANKYOU!

    Reply

  • Can you really use scripts from commercials for your demo? I thought there would be domain issues with that.

    Reply

  • Sarah Puckett says:

    Thank you for this!! One question, is it ok to use any script (nike commercial, radio ad, etc) for our demo? Or do we need to come up with our own? Is there a copyright issue for any of this?

    Reply

    • Jason McCoy says:

      That’s an excellent question Sarah.

      I’m not a lawyer, but personally I don’t believe it’s infringing on someone else’s rights. Remember you aren’t using someone else’s voice over, and you wouldn’t be earning money by selling that demo. The sole purpose is to show what you are capable of doing.

      You are using someone else’s work to guide and inspire you to create your own. You could change words in the copy or just use the feeling from the sample to create something similar, if it makes you feel better.

      Reply

      • Noah A. Bolmer says:

        Unfortunately I need to interject here. You are using someone’s copyrighted work (remember, any original work fixed in a “tangible medium of expression” is afforded automatic copyright protection) as a marketing tool. While I doubt lawsuits for this are common, it is absolutely not legal. Copying commercial work for marketing purposes is questionable advice.

        Reply

        • Jason McCoy says:

          Very good point Noah. I’ve modified the step in the post to avoid any possible infringement that may have arisen from the original direction.

          Reply

        • WRONG. It’s not for marketing purposes. You aren’t turning a profit by sending anyone your demo.
          An example: A band is looking for a guitar player like Kurt Cobain. I send in a demo of myself doing covers of Nirvana songs. The band likes it and allows me to join. All perfectly legal.

          Now, if I was to sell those songs, then I would be violating copyright laws. Otherwise, it’s perfectly legal to imitate someone else’s work for the sake of displaying one’s talent.

          Reply

  • Prashant Tomar says:

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you so much for just an amazing guidance. I have seen many artists who don’t share the tips just because they have a fear as if someone will be on their competition if they share their tips. You’re amazing!! Thanks again.. I’m from New Delhi, India

    Reply

  • Great advice. I do have my own pro produced demos already, but am inspired to have a go at making my own celebrity ones now! I am a female British RP voice, so will need to get busy looking for some Brit voices to add to my list, and get practicing. Yikes! Here we go….

    Reply

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    >