Making the Transition from Singer to Voice Talent

Many voice talent start their careers in music, particularly as classically trained singers. During tireless years of training a voice for singing, a bounty of skills are developed including vocal stamina, projection, breathing capabilities, phrasing, tone, inflection, elasticity, rhythm, sight-reading, posture, diction, interpretation, and characterization.

The voice is an instrument, just like a flute, a guitar, or a drum – however, the voice is a very special instrument, for reasons I’ll now reveal.

The most dramatic difference between the voice and other instruments from the string, brass, woodwind, and percussion families is that the voice is able to communicate using speech, that is to say, language. Whether it be a vocalise sung on vowels, an oratorio by Handel, a wordy patter song by Gilbert and Sullivan, or a pop medley, language is incorporated into the piece, something which even the most convincing instrumental performance cannot convey.

The written word is at the very core of a song composed for a vocalist just as copy is at the core of a script written for voice-over talent.

The voice is also organic, that is to say, your voice is a living, breathing instrument, able to phonate (utter speech sounds) as well as function melodically like an instrument, relating one pitch to another.

The voice is the most versatile of all instruments and is also the only instrument that is a part of your physical self, making it portable and convenient.

Now, you might be thinking that just because someone has developed their instrument and embodies all of these traits doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a great talent for voice-overs. The answers may surprise you.

A singer, in many areas, has several practical advantages that help them transition from a career in music to a career in voice-over. With all of the technical aspects out of the way (regarding vocal technique), all that’s left is interpretation of the copy, performance, and a means to record their voice.

Their unique vocal education, vigilant care of their instrument, and ‘polished’ sound are another set of benefits when getting started. Their voice is already pleasing to the ear, it’s just a matter of speaking rather than singing.

That being said, the voice-over talent does not live on Easy Street, and a singer shouldn’t expect that making the leap from song to speech will bring automatic success.

As in any career, research and private instruction are necessary to fully grasp the magnitude of the profession as well as to learn what is expected of them in this new arena.

Do I record at home or go to the studio down the street? What do I charge? Should I be in the union or not? Do I need an agent? What’s the demand like for jingle singers who can also compose?

The same questions enter the minds of any aspiring talent new to the industry. In that way, singers are on a level playing field with colleagues who left professions in other fields such as science, visual arts, journalism, or law.

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

Stephanie Ciccarelli is the VP of Marketing with, the voice over marketplace hosting more than 7,000 professional voice talents. Stephanie is also the author of The Definitive Guide To Voice-Over Success and Voice Acting for Dummies.

Voice Over Books

Books and audio books on working as a voice over artist written by experienced, established artists and coaches for all levels. Great reference resources and guides for the bookshelf of any voice professional or anyone wanting to get into the industry. These are just a small selection available in our Books for Singers section.

How to Read Copy
Professionals Guide to Delivering Voice-Overs and Broadcast Commercials is an interesting and informative book for beginners on the basics of copy interpretation. Although it does not cover the aspects of human emotion it is a valuable introduction for the beginner on voice acting. Points out the most important aspects of DJ work (and almost all kinds of broadcasting) and how to do a good job reading copy and sounding natural on the air.
Read more at Amazon UK
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How to Start and Build a SIX FIGURE Voice Over Business: Set Your VO Career on Fire!
by Bill DeWees
Everyday, you hear thousands of voices on the radio and TV. Someone had to record that voice track. And guess what? That someone could be YOU! In less than 60 days, you could be making money as a voice over artist. Good money. REAL money! And you know what else? You don’t even need to have a “great†voice. It’s all about storytelling and marketing. BOTH of which you’ll learn in this book! Bill will reveal a SYSTEM that will catapult you into the world of high paid voice over work. What are you waiting for? The 22 content-packed chapters include: What is Voice Over and How Can YOU Capitalize on it? What Can you earn as a voice over artist? The “old†voice over model and why you need to understand it. The “new†voice over model: how and why things are different. What it takes to succeed in the voice over business. Union vs. non union jobs and which choice makes more sense. Why being an “announcer†can kill your VO chances. Performance skills you need to make a solid living. Office tools every voice over artist must have. Setting up your home studio: tricks and techniques. Your daily workflow and how to maximize your efforts. Tricks of the trade for editing your voice over work. Creating a “killer†demo: your big key to getting more work Designing a website that will generate you a steady flow of business. Your marketing philosophy as a voice over artist. Marketing strategy for the winning voice over professional. Executing your marketing strategy for maximum profit. Using your database of clients and prospects effectively. Collecting on the money you make: getting clients to pay. Setting your voice over rates to maximize your monthly income. How to use your customer service as a marketing tool AND, much, much more!
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The Complete Guide To Connecting Audio, Video, And MIDI Equipment:
Get the Most Out of Your Digital, Analog, and Electronic Music Setups
by Jose Chilitos Valenzuela
This one-of-a-kind handbook describes through photos, line diagrams, and step-by-step instructions how the average student, enthusiast, voice-over talent, editor, engineer, musician, and/or producer can easily connect any of the various types of analogue or digital audio, video, and MIDI equipment in their studio setups. Readers will also be able to identify, purchase, and connect the specific A/V and MIDI equipment necessary for any creative job. Easy to understand and fun to use, The Complete Guide to Connecting Audio, Video, and MIDI Equipment will bring a professional or home-based studio completely up to date and up to maximum speed, making the music come alive. Jose Chilitos Valenzuela is founder and owner/president of AudioGraph International (AGI), a full-service recording studio and Avid-authorised and certified Pro Tools bilingual training centre since 1994. Chilitos has worked as an audio engineer, design engineer, synthesiser programmer, ADR editor, sound designer, sound editor, music editor, record producer, and mixer. He has also written The Complete Pro Tools Handbook and several other digital audio and MIDI books.
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The Voice Book: Caring For, Protecting, and Improving Your Voice
by Kate DeVore
More than 30 million Americans rely on their voices for their jobs–from teachers, religious leaders, and entertainers to lawyers, executives, salespeople, and doctors. A controlled voice increases self-confidence and enhances charisma, approachability, and trustworthiness. Yet an astounding 30 percent of professionals develop preventable vocal problems that could ruin their careers. And most do not know that both the quality and tone of one’s voice can be changed. The Voice Book: Caring For, Protecting, and Improving Your Voice is a one-of-a-kind reference that will save and improve your voice, your job, and your personal life. With dozens of vocal exercises and a detailed guide to the anatomy and physiology of voice, the book covers the full range of vocal health, from protecting against hoarseness and laryngitis to expanding speaking range and enhancing voice tone and quality. Illustrations, photographs, FAQs, and an accompanying CD make The Voice Book the first vocal self-help book of its kind and a must-read for anyone who wants a dependable, strong, and engaging voice.
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There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is:
A Complete Insider’s Guide to Earning Income and Building a Career in Voice-Overs
by Elaine A. Clark
Voices are increasingly in demand for commercials, cartoon characters, announcements, and other spots. This outstanding handbook explains how to launch a career and ?nd work. Along with sample commercials and script copy, the author gives advice on vocal exercises, self-promotion, and business matters. Chapters include: getting started, voice-over aerobics, copy basics, melody and tempo, layering techniques, believing what you say, commercial and stylized characters, corporate narration, animation, video games and toys, getting an agent, marketing your talent, and staying on top of the business. This expanded edition features new tips on making a demo CD, vocal modulation and breath techniques, advanced copy-reading strategies, and a section on how copywriters see the job of the voice artists for whom they write. If you’ve ever been interested in voice-over acting, you need this book!
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Voice Acting For Dummies
by David Ciccarelli and Stephanie Ciccarelli
Make a career out of your voice? Easy. Voice acting is like acting, but just using your voice! It’s a unique career where the actor’s voice can be heard worldwide-in commercials, on audiobooks, in animated movies, documentaries, online videos, telephone systems and much, much more. The point is to bring the written word to life with the human voice. With step-by-step explanations and an abundance of examples, Voice Acting For Dummies is the ultimate reference for budding voice actors on auditioning, recording, producing voice-overs, and promoting themselves as a voice actor. Creating a voice acting demo. Finding your signature voice. Interpreting scripts. Using audio editing software. Promoting your voice acting talents. If you’re an aspiring voice actor or an actor or singer. considering a career transition, Voice Acting For Dummies has everything you need to let your voice talents soar.
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Voice-overs: A Practical Guide (Book/CD)
by Bernard Graham Shaw
Containing scripts, music and sound effects for adverts, documentaries, training films and radio drama, this book aims to explain and teach the skills of voicing radio and television commercials. It also includes scripts written for well-known brand and companies and gives advice on how to find work. There are sections too on making your own demo tape, work in a voice studio, interpret text, work with CD-ROMS or computer games , look after your voice and work in radio drama. In addition there are listings of websites and contact addresses and voice-over terms. A free CD is included which has many of the original jingles and backing tracks for the scripts used in the book.
More info at Amazon UK
Read More at Amazon USA