The Best of the Old Voice Over Model

Now close your eyes and think back to the 90’s when you purchased music at the mall.

Do you remember picking through CDs, cassettes and records? Remember when you could scan barcodes and listen to just an excerpt of a song only in the store? Have I lost you? Am I completely dating myself?

In the same way the music industry has changed so has the voice over (VO) industry.

Back in the good old days of VOs the world was dominated by two markets, an elite few who were chosen and the agents that represented them.

In the 1980’s to 2000’s if you lived outside of LA or New York the possibility of being a voice over performer was a distant memory. So sad.

Talent back then had agents to find auditions. Agents had the powerful breakdown list and a lot still work like this. The breakdown list is casting opportunities in TV shows and commercials. Agents will receive the list of auditions for the next day and make the calls to talent.

When I first started in voice overs back in 2001- ahem time flies- I could be out for two to three auditions a day! I’d visit actual casting offices that would hold auditions for say Huggies.

Before 2001 friends in the biz tell me – their days were completely booked between auditions and bookings. In fact, many times they’d have to decline an audition because of actual VO work. Crazy right?

In VO recording session you wouldn’t be in your private studio away from everything. Instead you recorded in a post production house surrounded by the ad agency, audio engineer and sometimes the client. Don’t get me started on legal being in the room to talk about how the copy is written. You practically put a show on for them.

The majority of these auditions were for national network commercials and sometimes promotions. Best thing about going through that unnerving situation above is for one word – RESIDUALS.

A residual is a payment to the talent for a repeat of playing a commercial with the talent’s voice. This means every time a performer’s voice aired on a national network like ABC, NBC and CBS the talent is paid. Then depending on the brand, time the commercial airs (11pm preferred over 2am) and market the talent can get some serious coin by the end of the year.

Many VO actors would solely make their living through voicing commercials. Residuals on one commercial could range from $7,000 to $30K plus. That can get pretty high!

Next imagine if your voice is used for a tag. A tag is the little line at the end of some commercials that are then used on multiple projects. Pretty much rolling in the dough.

Sounds like a dream on a cloud? What happened you ask, as you realize this is the “old VO model” find out next week in the following blog post “ The New VO Model for a Curious Mind” Would love to hear from you! Feel free to give me a shout out about your memories of the voice-over industry back in the day. I am just a tweet away.

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