What happened when I tried hiring a voiceover online

Ordering a voiceover online Knowing your competition is important in any business. As an in-studio voiceover, online voiceovers are my main competition.  (There are, of course, other English voiceovers in Copenhagen, but we’re a relatively small group, and most of the others have British accents.)  But it’s no secret that it’s quick and easy to hire a voiceover online.

And it can be inexpensive.  I’ve seen online voiceovers on sale for $5, or DK30.  At that price, anyone can afford them – even me.  I thought it would be interesting to experience what it was like to order an online voiceover, and that maybe it would give me some insight as to how I could provide higher-quality service to my in-studio, in-person customers.

Burtman

Burtman

My first hire was Burtman, a friendly-looking guy who spoke English with an Afro-Carribbean accent. In his online profile, he said he had worked as a news reporter, photographer, TV presenter, radio news presenter/anchor, programme director, news editor, a magazine editor and in advertising and public relations.  I wrote a brief script for Burtman advertising my own business, as my own clients hire me to do.

This was the script:

Hello. I’m a voiceover Kay booked on the Internet. Booking voices online can be inexpensive, but you don’t get the face-to-face sparring partner that can come to your studio in Copenhagen. Kay will work with you to improve your English text and get the tone and pace that you want. Og Kay taler flydende dansk. Book Kay at 26 83 64 88, or at k-a-y-x at americanvoice-dot-dee-koh .

Burtman sent back a voiceover in about three days.  It had a kind of buzzing sound in the background that made me suspect he’d recorded it on an iPhone. He did have a very nice voice.  He didn’t read my script at the pace I would have chosen, or emphasize what I would have emphasized, but I couldn’t argue that he hadn’t read the script I had given him.

It was kind of like putting a coin into a vending machine: there was no interaction, no feedback, until the finished product was dispensed. I certainly got what I had paid for, but it was slightly dry and tasteless.

I thought it might be more fair for me to experience hiring another American female voiceover similar to myself. There were plenty available online, and I scrolled through their profiles.  One had purple hair.  Another promised “near-perfect, non-dialectical pronunciation”.  I wondered if she could pronounce “non-dialectical.”

I took some time to listen to a variety of my online competitors’ sound samples.  A few were very nice, if a little unpracticed.  One lady was audibly drunk.  One spoke in a squeaky tone that could scrape the paint off of metal, making her choice of a voiceover career questionable.

Anyway, It ended up taking me the better part of an hour, another downside to online voiceovers: amid the many serious professionals lie plenty of amateurs, so a fair amount of sorting is required, a bit like a garage sale.

I was tiring of my project, so I did what male casting agents have done for decades: I just chose the prettiest girl.  That was Jennifer.

Monique

Jennifer

Jennifer read my ad in a crisp, clear voice, with a pleasant Southern accent. With one difference: Southern U.S. accents are usually slow, relaxed and lilting, but Jennifer spoke at an incredibly quick pace, as if she were rushing to get a bus. Or, given the amount I was paying her, perhaps she was just rushing to get to the next voiceover so she could make a decent living.

At any rate, the voiceover was not useable, and Jennifer did not really seem like a pro.  For my final choice, I went with a voiceover who could at least offer a professional education in performance: Jeremy has a Master in Fine Arts in musical theater, making it clear he knew how to stand on a stage and belt out lines in “Phantom of the Opera” or “Grease” or other great classics. I figured I could count on him to read my script with a lot of enthusiasm.

Jeremy

Jeremy advertised himself as having an “energetic, confident radio voice” and he was very flexible as to content. “I am happy to provide a 60 second recorded voiceover of whatever you would like me to say,” he said in his profile, “the only exception being that I will not speak any curse words or take God’s name in vain.”

Jeremy was indeed a pro: he delivered 6 takes of my little ad. I had slipped a small amount of Danish into my script to show potential Copenhagen voiceover customers that I could chat in the local lingo while external providers could not.  But Jeremy went the extra step and found an online pronunciation service to guide him, and although he seems to have confused Danish with Swedish, I was impressed by his initiative.  Jeremy is a top-of-the-line online voiceover, and it only took me 2 or 3 hours and a couple of missteps to find him.

And yet…there was not a lot of feeling to Jeremy’s reading of my text.  He hadn’t met me, he knew nothing about my product, and even though he was putting his all into his performance, there wasn’t much depth to it.  I suppose that if your product or project is not particularly special, a good inexpensive online voiceover like Jeremy is good enough.  But if you’ve put a lot of passion into your project and want the voiceover for it to be the best it can be, let me help you. Jeremy will tell you how to contact me, or you can just do it directly, at http://www.americanvoice.dk.

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Hvordan finder man en billig voiceover?


Det er ikke nødvendigvis nemt at finde en billig voiceover, som passer til lige netop dit behov.

Hvis vi går ud fra, at du allerede har lagt dig fast på en persontype til en engelsk stemme, fx mand/kvinde, ung/gammel, nutidig/gammeldags osv. så vil jeg nu præsentere mine tips til at fortsætte søgningen.

Skal man bruge et agentur?
Et agentur, som har med voiceovers/speakers at gøre, kan tilbyde en alsidighed, som jeg – som amerikansk stemme og dansktalende – ikke kan tilbyde. Vil du have en græsk voiceover, en 8-årig svensk dreng eller en bedstemor der læsper, så er et agentur nok vejen for dig.

De fleste agenturfolk er meget søde mennesker, men det skal dog nævnes, at andre kan være lidt luskede. Et dansk agentur bad fx for nyligt mig om at imitere en asiatisk kvinde i 50’erne, og jeg er en amerikaner i 30’erne! Jeg gav det en chance, men jeg må indrømme, at det ikke ligefrem var vellykket.

En decideret ulempe ved et agentur er, at du får et forhold til agenturet og ikke speakeren. Det betyder, at hvis du har et løbende projekt, så bliver du nødt til at gå gennem agenturet, hver gang du vil arbejde med speakeren, og så ellers håbe at forholdet mellem de to forbliver godt.

Dette er fordi, hvis dit projekt skal opdateres efter en længere periode, som fx et halvt, helt eller halvandet år, og agenturet ikke længere arbejder med den oprindelige speakeren, så kan det blive nødvendigt at lave hele vokalsporet forfra, hvilket medfører flere udgifter.

Personligt forhold
Har du et personligt forhold til speakeren, behøver du ikke betale et agentur, hvilket betyder mindre udgifter, og oftest kan opdateringer klares uden problemer.

Jeg har over en længere periode haft en klient med sit eget studie i indre København, og jeg laver generelt mindre opdateringer til min engelsk voiceover for dem gratis. Jeg kigger forbi studiet, bruger en halv time på at optage nogle hurtige lydspor og så kan jeg shoppe lidt bagefter. Min klient sætter stor pris på min indsats, og jeg har intet imod det – det er en del af vores fortsatte forretningsmæssige forhold.

Og mens en agentur kan hjælpe med at finde en perfekt og fast voiceover til dig, skal agenturet betales, hver gang I arbejder sammen. Så hvis du finder den perfekte voiceover gennem et agentur, så kommer du til at betale det agentur i lang, lang tid.

En sidste kommentar hvad angår visse agenturer er, at de søger at fremme udvalgte stemmeskuespillere, som kan have underskrevet eksklusive kontrakter med agenturet. Dette kan betyde, at disse agenturer ikke nødvendigvis vil forsyne dig med den voiceover, der er bedst for dig, men i stedet den voiceover som er bedst for agenturet selv.

Hvordan finder man en uafhængig voiceover?
Det kan være svært at finde en uafhængig voiceover i din by, dertil kan det virke lidt skræmmende at have at gøre med en individuel person i stedet for et firma – så prøv LinkedIn. Søg efter en voiceover eller speaker i dit nærområde, og så kan du være sikker på, at der er nogen i dit netværk, som kender ham/hende og kan sige god for personen.

Du kan også google ”engelsk voiceover danmark” eller lignende plus navnet på din by – det virker også. De fleste professionelle speakere har deres egen hjemmeside med stemmeprøver, og hvis den lokale voiceover ikke passer til dine behov, så spørg om han/hun kan anbefale nogen. I København kender vi fleste hinanden, og jeg henviser med glæde klienter, som søger en britisk accent eller en canadisk mand, til mine fagfæller.

Arbejde over internettet eller lokalt?
Vi lever i en verden, hvor alle er forbundet til Internettet – dette betyder, at fx en engelsk voiceover ikke nødvendigvis behøver opholde sig i samme nærområde som dig selv.

Selvom der er nogle fremragende engelsk stemmer i København, så er der endnu flere, som er spredt rundt omkring i verden. Mange af disse har hjemmestudier, de kan hurtigt få indtalt dit manuskript og uploade det i dit fortrukne format. De kan betales via PayPal.

Prisen du betaler, er fordelen her. Jeg tager 1.250 kr. for den første time som betaling for stemmeskuespil, dertil 700 kr. for et studie hvis ikke du selv har et. Du kan sikkert få hele pakken for omkring 1.000 kr. online, måske endda mindre hvis du finder en sulten eller uerfaren voiceover.

Hvor værdifuld er din tid?
Denne fremgangsmåde har dog samme ulempe, som en generel søgning efter gode tilbud har: din tid. Det tager nemlig lang tid at sortere og lytte til de tusindvis af stemmer, som er tilgængelige på nettet. At finde den rette voiceover på en hjemmeside som Voices123.com svarer til at finde en nål i en høstak. Hvor værdifuld er din tid?

Hvis du søger lokalt, så har du fordelen af at kunne mødes med speakeren og fortælle dem helt præcist, hvad det er for en effekt, du søger. Du kan arbejde med speakeren i studiet, mens arbejdet bliver udført, og derved kan du sikre, at du får den ønskede effekt. Bagefter kan du gå derfra med lydsporet på en USB-nøgle.

Denne fremgangsmåde kan gøre et nyt ansvarsområde som at finde en god engelsk voice over i en ellers travl hverdag nemmere at overkomme, samtidig med at du ville spare en masse kostbar tid.