What's in, what's out? What's the vibe and where are we headed.
Now I don't promise to answer all these questions, but in this blog, we're going to talk about Voiceover in 2024. The things that people are talking about online, the ways in which people are setting themselves apart, and what could be coming our way as technology continues to evolve.
So let's dive in...
Things are on the up!
Last year podcasts and audiobooks recorded massive increases in sales and listenership, and although technically the economy was at a low point, online content and digital ads saw a big increase. [ Side note - that kind of work can be a minefield to quote for, so make sure you are getting your dues and asking people to help if you don't know what you're doing! ]
So although some areas of work may have slowed, others are on an upward trajectory. And as more and more content moves to streaming, social media and unconventional platforms, voices are going to have to adapt to stay relevant, especially with AI on the rise.
Like them or loathe them, Voices.com published their Audio Trends report, and in it they claim 41% of creative producers are expecting to increase their voice over budgets in 2024.
You can check out the full article here.
What can you do?
So an increase in budgets surely emphasises that there is still a large, and growing need for quality voiceovers. But as the quality of home studios gets better, and more and more VO's enter the fray, how do individuals set themselves apart. And what should we be focussing on in 2024.
Audio Quality is a priority, and that comes from many different sources, but your gear, your recording space and your editing are all going to affect the quality of your audio. And as more and more voiceover artists deliver quality audio, it might be time to think about upgrading that piece of equipment or investing in that new acoustic foam.
Coaching is essential. Now we all know the difference between a voiceover who has had coaching and who hasn't, we can hear it in the voice. So in 2024, being someone who receives coaching and training from others is very important. It's going to set you apart and help you define yourself as a career professional.
Character work, now not everyone who does voiceover also does voice acting. Some talented individuals specialise in medical narration and educational content. But with the growth of the gaming and audiobook industry, as well as streaming and online content, now is a great time to start sharpening up those character skills and accents.
Another interesting blog to read is from American Voice Over Will Vincent. He wrote a blog called The Evolving Landscape of Voiceover, and it covers some interesting industry points. You can check it out here.
What about Marketing?
So 2024 is all about investing in your business and scaling up that skillset! But what about marketing trends, there's got to be some new trends for the year ahead.
When it comes to marketing we defer to the ultimate VOpreneur, Marc Scott, and his recent podcast about trends for the year ahead.
His number one point for Marketing Trends in 2024 is 'Mobile First.' Emphasising that more and more we continue to use our phones to get work done. So that means that if we are doing it, then our clients and buyers are doing it. So make sure that your website is easy to navigate via mobile. Make sure that your content is designed with mobile in mind. Make sure that your email signature is easily downloadable for a mobile. All things mobile.
It's a short pod but well worth a listen, click here to check it out.
But of course Marketing is always changing, people are including more and more video content in their marketing and finding new and creative ways to connect with clients. If you've been doing direct marketing for a while now you know as well as I do that some clients respond on the first email, others on the fifth, and some...never.
But one thing I think we're all going to have to start doing, is making things far more real, and far less 'salesy.' In the same way that the hard sell has diminished of the years, the run of the mill marketing email that has no purpose, no point, and no heart, is surely going out of style. To be replaced with a personal, inclusive approach that connects us with our clients in a more human way.
Auditions...time to get good!
Now as we continue to diversify our businesses and seek employment from lots of different sources, one thing I think is essential for 2024 is getting good at auditioning. More and more my direct clients are coming to me and asking for a quick demo, and I know that's because they have another 10 (if not more) voices who they are asking for the same.
And that's not to mention the work on P2P sites. Whether you use them or not, whether they are on the up or down, the work there is a cornerstone of some VO's businesses, so getting good at auditioning is essential if you want to compete in that market.
It's estimated that most producers listen to the first 10 seconds of an audition before they make a choice about staying put, or moving on. So start well and hold their attention in the best ways possible.
Something new this way comes...
Now although character work and gaming is all growing, as more and more media is created for us, the growing audience; there is also a new form of media that is not only being made available online, but is also coming into the mainstream of exhibitions, storytelling and advertising. And that, is interactive media.
Last year I voiced several interactive stories for a new company, where by the audience is able to select the pathways of the journey, and create their own outcome. More and more of this work is coming to the forefront, as well as much bigger projects.
Some of you will have noticed several interactive exhibits in London opening up at the end of last year and the beginning of this one. Exhibits that require talented actors and voices, to not only bring characters to life, but to guide listeners around the exhibit. Might be time to dust off that old audio guide reel!
So keep an eye out for interactive media opportunities, and brush up on those clear but commanding tones to help guide and engage listeners.
Finally...lets talk authenticity.
Over the last decade creative industries have seen a huge rise in the importance of diversity and inclusion, and from that we have the rise of the word authenticity. Authentic people telling authentic stories.
But what does authentic actually mean:
Well according to the dictionary it means 'of undisputed origin, not a copy, genuine.'
Now in what we do, there is often the need to manipulate our tone, our vocal quality, even our accent, but does that mean it's not authentic? When it comes to character work, I don't think so, but when it comes to using our natural voices, more and more people are looking to the real thing instead of someone who can do an accurate imitation.
But, as a voice artist, I still believe that having authentic sounding accents, even if they aren't your natural voice, is an essential notch to your tool belt.
So while authenticity is important, none of us working freelancers are going to turn down a job. So it's up to producers to seek out those unheard voices, those talented individuals from all walks of life, that can bring our projects to another level.
And we're not even going to talk about AI, because real people and real voices are the new trend for 2024!
Happy voicing everyone.