As a voice over artist, you will be spending much of your time searching for your next job. On may sites like Voices, ACX, or even Fiverr, you will be asked to audition for numerous positions. Sometimes the script for the audition will be long (a complete chapter for an audiobook), average (a hundred words or so), or short (a tagline, or call-to-action, about 10 words).
When you come across these audition script, you may start to ask yourself whether you really SHOULD be reading the entire script…
Short answer: Don’t do it!
Except for a few edge cases, you should not read the complete script/project for your audition.
There, now that I got that out of the way, your next question is undoubtedly: why not?
Remember: this is just the audition!
This is just an audition. The purpose of an audition is to demonstrate to the potential client:
- the sound of your voice
- your editing and mastering skill
- the silence or ambiance of your recording studio
On the vast majority of voice over audition sites, each job posting made by a client will receive between 40 and 100 auditions. The hard truth that you must accept is that the client will only be listening to the first five to ten seconds of your audition before clicking “next” or “shortlist”.
…client will only be listening to the first five to ten seconds…
After the client has created a shortlist, they will then re-listen and prune some more, until they are left with the winning voice over artist they intend to hire.
Only then, if the client likes the audition, will they hire you for your services, buy your gig, or create a contract with you to proceed with the FULL project.
What’s the danger?
The short answer: They take your “audition” and use it, as-is, for their finished project. Without compensation.
This is not likely with national brands, agency-mediated auditions, or high-profile advertising campaigns. But can you really know for sure who the client is?
After submitting a full-read audition and getting no response, you’d rightfully assume you were not selected… and would have no way of knowing that your read made it into their local radio broadcast (in a different country from you), for an Internet ad, or even embedded into their children’s toy!
And you won’t see a dime. Sure, you could track them down, but really the only winner there would be the lawyers you’d need to resolve the case.
Exceptions to the rule
As with most things, there are exceptions to the rule.
One of the few exceptions would be when auditioning for long-form projects such as audiobooks. The customary audition script will be either about four to five pages (or a complete chapter) from the manuscript or a series of extracts that come to the same length.
The narrator should read the complete script in this case because it gives the author a sense of how your voice holds up for the duration, and whether there are volume hills and valleys, or bad habits that really only come out with longer reads, like sharp intakes of breaths.
Just be careful that their “chapter” is not really the entire manuscript for a potential white-boarding voice over…
Audio wartermarks - an alternative to the short read
If you feel obliged to provide a complete audition read, then consider protecting yourself by adding some form of an audio watermark. This is essentially a sound overlaid on top of your read which allows the client to hear your performance, yet renders that particular track unusable for broadcast.
I have had some clients request a custom audition of a paragraph or two, where the script felt entirely usable as-is. In this case, I recorded my audition, but also recorded a short phrase (“Audition for
So there you have it - In general, don’t give complete audition reads, especially for shorter, “complete” scripts which appear to be the entire project and not just an audition.
Leave out a phrase from the middle or end, but I do recommend you give the client their call to action or tagline, so they can hear the most important part, in your voice.
And as always, stay Dedicated to VO.