As an agent I get the question “what are you looking for?” more often than any other with the possible exception of, “where’s my check?” What are you looking for? I’m not sure I can answer this question any better professionally than I could personally – when I was single!
But I do have some thoughts…
When a talent contacts me for representation, like any employer, I first look for signs of sanity. Of course I want to rep someone who is talented but I also want someone to be normal, professional and hopefully likeable.
Little clues about the personality can emerge, even from a short cover letter or introductory e-mail. Is it riddled with spelling mistakes? Do they appear not to know anything about my agency? Have they attached files or links that don’t have anything to do with voice work? (A photo is always nice but I don’t need the 11 jpg’s and 4 Quicktime files).
Some of the above may seem like nitpicking but the agent-talent first impression is much like a blind date. You get a sense early on whether you want to stay for dinner or not (metaphorically speaking).
And these little things are general signs of sloppiness. Is it much of a stretch to suggest that the person who doesn’t proofread her e-mail might not show up for an audition? How much does this person care about his career or people’s perception of him if he can’t even take 45 seconds to review grammar and spell check?
In general, us talent agents want the people we represent to have some experience or at least training and speak in complete sentences – both on microphone and off. Here are some general DO’s and DON’T’s when approaching an agent:
- DO drop me a line with legitimate questions about the agency and/or the voice industry.
- DON’T ask how much money you can make before I’ve even heard your demo, or try to correspond for an entire afternoon because I’ve responded to your initial inquiry.
- DO follow up with an e-mail or phone call to see if I received your demo.
- DON’T call 9 times in one afternoon, hanging up each time until someone answers your call live. Are you not aware of a little bit of technology called call display?!
- DO actually spell my name correctly in your cover letter or e-mail intro and have a general sense of the agency you’re contacting.
- DON’T send a group e-mail to 12 agencies at once. It screams “I don’t care who represents me and I can’t be bothered to do any research.”
- DO send or e-mail a professionally recorded demo, approximately 1:00-1:30 in length.
- DON’T send 8 separate audio clips, each 3 minutes long, covering every take you’ve recorded in the studio since 2001.
- DO spell check. Of course I know you’re not applying for a Masters in Victorian era literature but you ARE asking someone to represent you who has never met you. Being professional and actually proofreading what you’ve written starts things off on a good note.
- DON’T write an essay when applying for voice representation. Brevity is attractive. You’re not applying for a Masters in Victorian era literature.
- DO try and show a sense of humor, but only if you have one.
- DON’T mistakenly think your Simpsons character impersonations are hilarious. Odds are they’re probably not.
- DO take yourself and your work seriously.
- DON’T take yourself and your work too seriously.
Having said all this, if you’re a voice talent, I don’t think you should ever ask the question “what are you looking for” because it implies you’re potentially willing to present something that isn’t authentic.
Is my answer to that question going to change your approach, what you do or what’s on your demo? You need to do what you do – and do it well.
I mean, if I said I’m looking for a guy who can voice grandfather roles in radio and TV spots, and you’re 27 years old, what would be your response? You’d probably send me your demo anyway!
Or if I said I’m only looking for voices who sound 20 years old and you’ve been in radio for 30 years, that’s where the conversation ends.
So the short answer is: An agent is always looking for – or at least interested in – an exciting, unique, professional voice who doesn’t care what the agent is looking for!