Frequently Asked Questions
While much has changed in the voice-over industry since 1988 when Samantha founded Voicetrax San Francisco, her guiding vision has remained the same–provide rigorous, state-of-the-art training in all genres of voice-over so students can develop the skills necessary to compete successfully anywhere, whether in San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York. Samantha hand-picks only the top talent agents, casting directors, producers, and actors in the industry to give Voicetrax students an opportunity to learn from the biggest and brightest teachers all under one roof. Check out our amazing group of Guest Directors profiles!
To ensure that students get the most from their Voicetrax training, Samantha and her staff have created a supportive, friendly, safe environment emphasizing creativity, imagination and self-expression without fear of failure–a fun place where even non-actors who just want a creative outlet feel welcome and at home, to such an extent that everyone gets personal, hand-written guidance from Samantha twice a year to guarantee an individualized experience best-suited for each student.
Nowhere else in the country will you find such a comprehensive curriculum in one place. Our program offers all the guidance and instruction necessary to become a competitive, well-trained voice actor. The ratio of Voicetrax students turned working voice actors is unparalleled in the industry. The bottom line is our students work and they work often.
Do I need acting experience to do voice-overs?
Many people who study at Voicetrax have no previous acting experience, but since learning to do voice-over is primarily about learning to act with your voice, acting is the foundation of our curriculum. To meet the needs of students who have little or no acting training, we offer many beginning and intermediate-level classes that focus on teaching acting basics in a relaxed, unintimidating way.
Do I need “natural-born” talent to do voice-overs?
Our philosophy at Voicetrax is akin to the growth mindset that tells us that intelligence and creative ability are attributes that can be developed and improved over time, meaning in essence that talent can be taught. Anyone with the desire to pursue voice-over, the commitment to study, the willingness to take risks and ultimately be themselves has the potential to succeed. Voicetrax provides an environment where students can unleash their creative powers and enjoy what they’re doing, and continue to love it even in the face of the inevitable challenges that occur while learning something new. We’ve seen students with the focus and determination to succeed overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles through perseverance and hard work. And if you think you need to have a “great voice” to be a voice actor, let’s bust that myth right here and now. Because voice-over is about acting, your wonderfully exquisite and unique voice is the only voice you need for success.
How long will it take before I’m ready to make a demo?
You should put together a demo only when you are good enough to compete against the working talent in your market. Generally, it takes a few years to develop the necessary acting and self-direction skills to meet this standard. While it’s true that in this age of digital “enhancement” you can manipulate tracks on a demo to simulate a certain level of voice-over proficiency, bear in mind that if you’re hired, you’ll be expected to deliver the same level of performance represented on your demo, on demand and in real time. If you’re unable to live up to your demo, the same producer won’t hire you again.
When you’ve acquired the acting and self-direction skills necessary for a good demo, it’s important to work with an experienced demo professional because your demo will play several key roles in your success. First and foremost, the bigger and better paid jobs are usually acquired via agent-sent auditions and to get a reputable agent to sign you, your demo must be at a certain standard both performance and audio quality wise. When agents and casting directors hear demos that aren’t up to industry standards, it demonstrates the actor submitting the demo isn’t well trained and doesn’t understand the competitive nature of this profession. Secondly, a well-produced demo can bring you direct bookings (being hired without auditioning) through your talent agent and online casting sites and in this competitive field any job you can get without having to audition will help you to create stability in your earning potential.
How many Voicetrax students actually become working voice actors?
Our percentage rate of turning both actors and non-actors alike into working voiceover professionals is unparalleled in the industry, with literally hundreds of actors who started at Voicetrax now working full-time as voice and on-camera talent in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. We also have a significant majority of students go on to supplement their incomes at different levels by consistently booking jobs and others have gone on to work as directors, producers, casting directors and instructors. In fact, nearly 25% of our Guest Directors are former students.
What kind of home-recording equipment is required?
Contrary to popular belief, a professional-grade studio does not require you to spend thousands of dollars; if you’ve got a laptop, you already have the most expensive component. For as little as $300-$500 dollars more, you can have a closet studio to rival the acoustics of a professional booth. Just remember that you’ll likely be recording all your auditions from your home set-up, so professional audio quality is a must.
How much money do voice actors earn?
Top voice actors make a lot of money–upwards of seven figures, but that’s a very small group. However there are thousands of voice actors who are hired to do voice-overs every day, and many are able to make a comfortable living at it. While voice-over is competitive, there is always room for talented, hard-working, professional newcomers.
Earnings vary dramatically depending upon the type of jobs you book and whether you’re a union member. For instance, how much you earn for a TV or radio ad will depend on where the spots are broadcast and for how long. Rates can range from between a few hundred dollars for a small market radio spot that airs for a few weeks to several thousands of dollars for a nationally broadcast ad that runs for months.
For most other projects–including multimedia, industrial narration and video games–actors are typically paid on an hourly basis. Rates for the first hour normally range between $300-500. For sessions lasting longer than an hour, rates for each additional hour are normally between $200-350. For sessions lasting more than four hours, or for projects requiring multiple recording sessions, the negotiated hourly rate may be less. For audio books, rates are typically in the range of $100-200 per hour, depending on the length and complexity of the project.
We encourage our students to enjoy the journey and the process of learning voice-over. Along the way, you’ll experience the joy of discovering your creativity and expressing yourself. If you can do that, the financial rewards will come.
Is there a minimum age for training at Voicetrax?
A Voicetrax student must be 16 years of age or older. Because acting is the foundation for competitive and marketable voice-over skill, any child interested in voice-acting will benefit from whatever drama training is available in school or even community theater. Although we find the classroom setting far and away the most complete and efficient environment for training, private voice-over coaching might also be a more viable option for children till they come of age.