Yesterday, I got an email from a respected voice over training studio in NYC warning again of the actions of scammy demo mills taking money from unsuspecting and eager would-be voice actors, and leaving them with unusable and unmarketable — even insulting — demos.
How easy it must be to defraud a person who has stars in their eyes about becoming the next Mel Blanc. If you’re an established name in this business, you know that the calls come regularly from people with incredible pipes, who’ve been told they should be doing voiceovers, and who want to know how to get started in the business. Thank goodness they came to you and not one of the scammers.
Since you have their rapt attention be sure to share with them the following 5 ways to spot predatory VO Demo Coaches/Schools.
1) They will typically promise that a weekend’s work in their studio will result in a dynamite demo you can take to any agent any where to get voiceover jobs. Beware the over-complimentary feedback and get-rich-quick promises. VO learning takes time, demos take time, and successful voice-over careers are rarely realized in a weekend. Even Ted Williams had some radio background training.
2) They can’t really give you names and contact information of truly satisfied past students when you ask. You should be able to get at least 5 names from them of people who are effusive in their praise.
3) When you Google them, their business, or their history, you find that no one’s ever heard of them, their Google search results are sparse, and their trail leads nowhere. Good studios and coaches leave friendly traces of success and unsolicited recommendations in their wake.
4) Their website, the studio, their equipment, and even their business cards look schlocky. Not all demo studios look like a million bucks, but good ones will work like a well-oiled machine. Even eager VO wannabes need to beware of voice-0ver phishing techniques. If their website and their business cards DO look slick, but you’re still wary…revisit #3.
5) Their ads and marketing materials use a lot of superlatives, are short on details, and long on promises. Ask plenty of questions about their methods, their experience, proof of their promises, and don’t be rushed. If they’re that good, they must have a long line of students waiting for weeks to get in.
Honorable mention: They demand you pay them a princely sum up front. The good ones will only ask for a reasonable retainer to get started, and the balance upon completion.
Like any other training you would expect from any other field of endeavour, a little bit of homework goes a long way. Be thorough in your search, and you’ll start hearing a few of the same names — the good ones — over and over again.
Here endeth the lesson for today.