THE LA / NY MYTH
Published May 5, 2013
I’ve noticed something about the voiceover industry.
There is a deceptive myth in the voiceover industry that to make it in this business you have to crack the L.A. or N.Y. barrier. It’s simply not true. Don’t think so? Look at the facts:
Various estimates for spending on advertising in the United States annually place the amount around $200 billion a year (over $500 billion worldwide). A surprisingly small amount of it is spent through L.A. or N.Y.
According to the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), American companies spend about $20 billion a year on eLearning and sales training. Almost none of that money is spent through L.A. or N.Y.
It’s impossible to come up with a dollar figure for annual spending on corporate video/narration work because the way companies define and report spending for such projects is rather ambiguous, but it would appear that it is most certainly in the billions of dollars a year. However again, almost none of it comes through L.A. or N.Y.
So where does the myth come from?
Well, television programming and screen generally are produced through L.A. and N.Y. outlets. So, of course animation voicing and promotional voice work for TV and screen tend to come out of those markets. And yes, some commercials are produced by production houses in those markets. As a result, people assume that those two markets are the Meccas of our industry.
But it’s not true.
There is great production work being done in every city in the United States. Because of the technology, those production houses that use voice talent have discovered that it’s just as easy to work with a voice talent in any other market as it is to have one come into their studio.
In fact, do a quick internet research on talent agencies. You’ll find that the percentage of L.A. and N.Y. agencies servicing voice talent is equitable compared to the number of agencies in other markets. Then, look at where the auditions are coming from in the industry. The bottom line is there is more voiceover work available outside of L.A. and N.Y!
Without naming names, I have heard other major national voice talent say that they are able to get more work out of L.A. and N.Y after leaving those markets because the auditioning process is different and less demanding on the talent. One talent explained it this way, “When I was in L.A. I was required to go into a studio to audition for a job. That meant that at best, because of the traffic and conditions in L.A. I could only get to generally no more than four auditions a day. If I landed a job, that actually cut down on my auditions. Now that I’m no longer living in the market, they obviously can’t require me to come into the studio for an audition so I can get more auditions in. As a result, I can audition in numerous cities either by emailing an audition or by a live ISDN audition, and I get more work!”
Then, consider the exploding eLearning and corporate narration industry. Very, very few companies run these types of jobs through L.A. or N.Y. They tend to use local companies or production companies that specialize in these formats. In fact, my experience is that most of the eLearning work is coming from international companies.
How can you and should you take advantage of this situation?
Well, first of all you need to decide where you are going to make your mark.
If you’ve decided that you have to be part of the TV and screen industry then by all means connect with those outlets.
If you’ve decided that you can make your mark in the vast commercial world outside of L.A. and N.Y. go for it! Start locally and move out geographically. Find out who’s doing what. Connect with them and determine how you can fit into their needs.
Secondly, if you’ve decided to pursue the opportunities in eLearning and corporate narrations, pursue those options aggressively! You’ll find that almost all of those jobs are outside of L.A. and N.Y.
Believe me, the work is there. I was just copied on an internal memo that went out to the employees of a major eLearning company. The memo simply stated that they were aggressively seeking voice talents that could handle character and natural conversational deliveries “wherever we can find them.”
If you are one of the 95% (I’m guessing on that percentage) of voice talents that don’t live and depend on L.A. or N.Y. you can take heart. There is a lot of work out there – far more than in just those two markets.