Casting Voice Talent

It’s never been easier to source a voice for your radio commercial.

It’s also easier than ever to get stuck into old habits of using the same voice talent that you always have.

Shaun Malzard, Creative Director at ARN in Melbourne asks his creative teams, “If it was YOUR MONEY (and not the clients) that you had to spend from YOUR wallet – would you still want to cast THAT voice.  Would THAT voice make such a difference to your Creative?  If the answer is yes – CAST them!  If the answer is no, you may want to consider another option.“

So how do you currently cast a voice for your client’s radio commercial? We asked some of the best in the business for their tips and techniques when designing the individual sound of a client’s business.

John Rowland from Rowland Productions states, “The people who do it for a living, do it for a living, so it stands to reason that they're pretty good at it.  But because they are called to do the same old same old, they go from studio to studio doing the same stuff.  So challenge them!  Make it harder. Sheryl Munks has a lot more to her than just 'husky'.  Did you know Jude Beaumont is hysterically funny?  Has anybody ever cast Sigrid Thornton to be a hair lipped chicken for animation?  

Andrew Sidwell is the National Creative Solutions Ideas Director at SCA. He has always prided himself on finding and developing voice talent. He suggests, “speech impediments work, don't discount a lisp or a slight wabbit r roll.” Andrew says, “Strive to find someone who's not on a lot of other ads on the stations your campaign is airing on.

Go interstate, or international. You've done this great job differentiating your clients brand and message in the script stage, don't stuff it up where it counts, when the message meets the audience. Too many times we opt for professional sounding voices because that's what the client has paid for and is expecting. I prefer a memorable voice because the brain seeks novelty, and I know that this will give my campaign a slight edge. The more slight edges I build up the better the chance for consumer engagement.” 

Carl Hitchmough is the audio production director at ARN in Brisbane. He gives us his top 5 tips when casting voice talent.

  1. Not saturated in the market
  2. Someone who fits within and can talk “believably” to the demographic
  3. Someone who takes direction well
  4. A natural affinity with the subject/product/brand
  5. Personable and not a drag to be around.

What musicals are on in town at the moment?  You will find a wealth of voice talent in the chorus of any musical that no one has ever heard of. This is just as applicable in regional areas – community theatre and ‘improv’ venues might be some places to search. John Rowland agrees, “Singers and comedians spend their lives analysing words of songs and gags to figure how best to milk a piece.”

“Whomever you cast remember you are casting them to bring something magical to your script. Make sure you let them, and that you are open to it. It’s a collaborative process, you aren't the only creative in the process, so let go of the control freak tendencies and be entranced by others creative talents” says Andrew Sidwell.

Above all, if you're going to cast against type, if you're going to challenge them, if you're going to do something a bit different … let the talent know beforehand.  Send them the script.  Call them up to discuss your ideas so there are no surprises on the day.  Get them to work with you, sharing their ideas, putting in what they have to offer.  These guys are good and they will share all of it if they are approached the right way.  

Rick Wade the MD of Traffic Jams sums it up in these 5 points

1. Availability

2. Willingness to get out of their comfort zone

3. Able to change through the job to reach a better outcome

4. Be open to critique

5. Not take themselves too seriously!

As Andrew Sidwell states, “Pay full price … and then some! Voice acting is a talent; it shouldn't be reduced to bulk deal sessions or haggled down. Protect and value your voice talent. Pay them for every character they do for you, pay the loadings, pay for longer than an hour call if the recording goes long.  In my younger days I set up our first bulk voice sessions, I now regret that path. It encouraged a culture of ad breaks cluttered with same voices, and selected voice artists getting the majority of work, and others missing out.”

~ Daryl Missen.


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