If you’re in the early stages of starting out as a voice actor, you might be wondering if you need an agent. I was wondering the same thing so I did a bit of research.
Do voice actors need agents? No, voice actors don’t need agents but an agent can help a voice actor to get more “exclusive” work like national commercials. It’s possible (and commonplace) for voice actors to get most of their work through their own marketing efforts and through online voice marketplaces.
There are other ways that an agent can help you as a voice actor. In the rest of this article, we’ll look at the specific ways an agent can help a voice actor and when it makes sense to hire an agent.
When do voice actors need agents?
Agents are kind of like the “gatekeepers” of commercial voice auditions. You can absolutely get work on pay-to-play sites like Voices.com and Voice123.com but you’ll need an agent if you want to get some of the more “premium” commercial work.
You’ll need an agent if you mainly want to do work like:
- National commercials.
- Big-studio productions.
- Network TV gigs.
Can you spot the trend? A voice agent will help you get more “prestigious” work. This is the work where the casting directors just don’t have the time to sift through hundreds of online demos. They’re working on a deadline and need as much help as possible to cast the right person as quickly as possible.
Which is where an agent comes in. A voice agent will typically have a bunch of voice actors on their books and will be able to quickly pick a few to send on those auditions.
So if that’s the kind of work you’re after, you’ll need an agent. Chances are, you’ve probably already established yourself in the industry. You’ve probably got a few years of experience and you’re already earning a decent income from your career as a voice actor. You’re ready to move to the next level. If that’s you, then it might make sense to get an agent now.
Or if you’re getting so much work that you’re not sure which opportunities are worth going for and which you should ignore, then you might need an agent. An agent will help you by matching you up with the work that’s better suited to your talent and better suited to your pocket. (They get paid on a commission-only basis, so they want you to be earning as much as you can.)
If that’s not you, then you probably fit in this next group of people.
When do voice actors NOT need agents?
You won’t need an agent if you mainly want to do work like:
- Local Commercials
- Video Games
- Corporate Videos
- Self-guided Tours
Most of these kinds of voice work can be found on online marketplaces like:
It’s really just if you want to do national work (or major studio work) that you’ll need an agent.
But that doesn’t mean that an agent can’t help you in your career. Even if you don’t want to do “bigger gigs”, you can still get a lot of value out of hiring an agent.
What does a voice over agent do?
An agent will do and say whatever they can to help you get in the casting director’s door.
Agents usually have unique contacts and connections that can help you land work that isn’t easily available online. When a client needs talent, they’ll often first phone their contacts before going online to post a job. So some of the best voice gigs might never make it online.
Agents don’t make money unless you do. Which means they’ll work hard to match you up with only the work that’s right for you. On the flipside of that equation, if you’re not a very good voice actor, or if you can only do one kind of voice acting, you won’t be getting many calls. It just doesn’t make sense for an agent to get you an audition that you probably won’t land.
Most agents won’t be interested in signing you until you’ve already established yourself. If you find an agency that does sign inexperienced voice actors, be careful. They might be playing a numbers game and you might get sent to a LOT of auditions for roles that you’re unlikely to land. And that can be frustrating and disheartening, especially when you’re starting out and haven’t yet done many gigs.
Your agent will negotiate on your behalf to get a higher rate. That’s because they earn anywhere from between 10% and 20% of your rate for a job. So it makes sense for them to negotiate on your behalf. That can help you earn a much better rate. A less obvious perk of earning a better rate is that you won’t have to take on as many gigs per month. Who doesn’t want to work less for the same income?
Can you be signed to multiple agencies?
Unless you sign an exclusive contract with an agency, you can sign up with as many agencies as you like. This can be a great way to try out a few agencies until you find the one that works best for you. But you don’t have to settle on just one agency if you don’t want to. It just makes it easier down the line, when you’re busier, to only have to deal with one agency.
How can I get a voice over agent?
There are basically two types of agencies: full-service agencies and boutique agencies.
Full-service agencies represent all kinds of talent. From actors and singers to models and voice over.
Boutique agencies usually focus on a niche and they’re usually found in city centers because there’s just a bigger talent pool to draw from.
You should first figure out what kind of agency makes sense for you. If you’ve got multiple talents and you’re not just wanting to get voice over work, then a full-service agency makes sense. But if you only want to do voice work, then a boutique agency could be the right choice for you.
Another reason to choose a boutique agency over a full-service agency could be if you can’t record at home. An agency focused on just voice talent will likely have a studio where you can record your work and auditions. That could be a huge help if you can’t start a studio at home.
Once you know what kind of work you want to do and what kind of agency will help you get that work, it’s time to do some research.
Find the websites for some agencies and check out what their requirements are. Some will want just an MP3 sample of your work. Others will want links to your website and profiles on voice marketplaces. Others might want a write-up on your past experience.
Another important preparation step is to check who they currently have signed. If you notice that an agency specializes in one kind of voice acting, and that matches up with what you can offer, they could be a good fit for you.
On the flipside, you might find that it makes sense to offer the opposite of what they already have a lot of. For example, if an agency mostly has older talent, they might be quick to sign someone a bit younger. If they mostly have men signed no, they might be looking for women to sign.
You’ll need to use your intuition to figure out what the right message will be for each agent. And make sure your message is tailor-made for each one. You don’t want to be sending every agency the same message. It’ll just come across as spammy.
Once you know what they want, it’s time to send some messages. It won’t necessarily be easy to get an agent. Be prepared to take some rejection and don’t give up if it doesn’t work out initially. You might need to fine-tune your message or you might need more experience. Eventually, if you stick with it, you’ll get signed.