If you are doing your job right as a voice over artist, you will either be working on queued jobs for clients, working on your craft (demo reels, marketing, courses), and with any remaining time you should be auditioning. In fact, most say you should aim to submit up to ten auditions a day! Of course, fewer if those auditions are for long-form reads such as audiobooks, but definitely on the higher side for short-form auditions such as through P2P sites such as Voices.com and Voices123.
So, with all those auditions being performed, day after day, what exactly should you be doing with your audition files?
Why keep an audition file at all?
Some might ask why bother saving the audition at all. If the client wants you, they will ask you to record the “final” script, won’t they?
You should save your audition file for a short period, at least until you are certain the client has received their final voice over.
Clients are sometimes fickle, and there is the need to re-cast a role. They might simply re-visit the list of auditions they received and select an alternate voice over artist — like you!
When you are offered a role due to your audition, it is very helpful to have the original audition to refer to so that you can have a reference to emulate when the client asks for “more of what you did”. Without the audition, you won’t know how fast you read, or what specific tone, or emotion you used.
Toss? Keep? How long?
If nothing else, you should keep it for the audition window specified by the client, plus an additional period (say a week) in case the client decides to re-cast and re-visit the audition list for an alternate.
After that period, you have a choice — toss the auditions or keep them?
Some will suggest tossing them. They are probably useless, and won’t be used by you or anyone else again.
Others will suggest that you keep them, and I count myself in this group. Let me tell you why.
Storage is cheap!
Don’t delete your auditions. Hard drive space is cheap, and you should be able to archive a year’s worth of auditions without any problems. You can feel safe tossing them after a year. Your mileage may vary, but a year’s auditions will be around 20-30 GB of storage. A 128 GB USB key is under $20. A 2 TB SSD drive is just over $100.
And for any finished project you have, where the client hired you… archive those in multiple locations. You never know when the client will ask for a slight tweak a month or more down the line, and having the files will save you the effort of re-recording. Particularly for non-fiction, if the client releases a “revised edition” three years down the line, you’ll be glad you still have the original source files.
My file organization
As an FYI, let me present my file organization which has three “folders”.
Every single audition goes into the Auditions folder. Simple enough. This folder gets big and will have hundreds of files. I suggest naming individual project folders after the client (for sites like Fiverr) or project number (Voices.com and other P2P sites), or audiobook title (for ACX and Findaway). The idea is to make it dead simple to find when the client gives you a call-back, and you need the file before going to production.
If I get a client, I move the relevant audition’s sub-folder into the Production folder for reference and append “-aud” to the filename. I then create a new project in the Production folder with a similar name (without “-aud”) to keep them together. If the original audition was for an audiobook, I don’t even bother creating a new project, but continue adding new tracks to the project file (one for each chapter).
Demos are those projects which I created as demos, and other projects where I join them into a demo reel. I keep these separate for quick and easy reference and updating on a regular basis. Remember, if you are not working for a client, you should be working for yourself!
To keep files within a manageable size, auditions over a year old get pruned occasionally — sort by “last modified” date and trim those over a year old.
Files in the Production and Demo folders are never deleted… Remember, storage is cheap. My Production and Demo folders are replicated to 2nd local storage and also to the cloud.
So there you have it. Toss? Keep? You decide, but at least you should consider your options and the possibilities. Now, you decide! But always stay dedicated to VO!