What Do VO Agents Listen For In A Demo?

One of my listeners, Jaden, was generous enough to share a link with me to a fantastic article on Backstage.com! It’s called:

Ask an Agent: What Do You Listen for in an Audio Reel?

There are some wonderful agents represented in this article including:

  • Cathey Lizzio from CESD
  • Stephanie Blume from Imperium-7
  • Cynthia McLean from Sutton, Barth & Vennari
  • John Erlendson from JE Talent

Each one of the agents explains what they’re listening for when they receive demos from prospective voice talent. Remember, these are the people who have to decide whether or not they’d like to represent someone based almost completely on 60 seconds or less of hearing their voice acting. Each one of them approaches demo submissions differently.

However, there is one similar pattern that emerges from all of them:

They all want to hear solid acting.

Acting ability is the key to an animation performer’s success in traditional animation and gaming, now more than ever before. – Cathey Lizzio

When I cast on animation projects, I look for acting ability, comedic/dramatic timing, and an interesting vocal quality. – Stephanie Blume

Overall, we expect competitive talent to display in an audio reel strong acting, comedic timing, a wide range of vocal and performance ability, and the ability to make a character walk off the page into life. – Cynthia McLean

Like anything else, we listen for acting. – John Erlendson

Developing your acting skills is the single most effective thing you can do to elevate your chances of succeeding in voice acting. It’s more important than vocal range, your age, or your recording equipment. You must be able to act believably and competitively in order to be considered to play characters. This is something I stress extensively in my podcast, especially in Episode 10: How to Practice Voice Acting Anywhere and in my special report The Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Voice Acting. You should check them out!

Hopefully this article gives you some insight into the minds of agents. I certainly found it enlightening! Best of luck to you in your voice acting endeavors!

5 Responses to “What Do VO Agents Listen For In A Demo?”

  1. Angelican Marcos says:

    This very intriguing to know i will so look up to this thank you and your listener Jaden for this link i thank you 🙂

  2. Ryan Ashlight says:

    This is also exactly what Andrea Romano (if, like me, you watched Animaniacs, Batman: The Animated Series, Tiny Toon Adventures – a personal favorite of mine – and so many other cartoons as a kid, she directed not only these, but so many more), one whom you mentioned in an earlier post, believes quite strongly as well.

    And while we’re on the subject, it’s quite a humbling experience to go back and rewatch some of the old cartoons. As aspiring VAs one and all, to be able to take in an appreciation of the sheer depth of talent that brought you up as a kid, and perhaps even be able to apply some of that to your work today, is, quite frankly, just awesome.

    • Maxwell Myers says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Watching Rescue Rangers and Duck Tales, you finally get to piece together how that Magic is made. It blows my mind.

  3. Odell Atkinson says:

    This is rather subjective though. Some of these agents might not like casual sounding acting (like film tones), whereas the other might enjoy character based performances. It’s entirely based on the individual agent. Is there a way you can find out what they like? My immediate impression would be that they’re too busy to talk to anyone. Especially with the high-end agencies.

    Any edification on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Yup, it’s subjective. There’s nothing objective about acting. You’re not going to be a match for every agent. Luckily you don’t have to be. You only have to be a match for one.

      One way to find out what an agent likes is to go to their website and listen to the demos of their clients. That will give you a sure fire way to learn what they like.

      Hope that helps.

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