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Can Commercial Voice Over Demos Expire?

Aug 17, 2007
Whether it's just a bit of spring cleaning for you or if you're in for an all-out demo overhaul, updating a commercial demo from time to time is necessary. The lifespan of a commercial demo is determined by a number of factors. Common indicators that your demo or parts of a voice over demo may be past their prime are: Dates and Times mentioned in the ad copy; Music Selections; Voice Age; and References to Pop Icons and Events of Yesteryear.

Dates and Times: Marc Cashman received a question on Ask the Voice Cat about how often a voice talent should update their commercial voice over demo. Marc focused on the issue of dates and times, saying that if a product is mentioned to be older than two years, try to edit out the date or leave the dates out altogether when recording initially. For instance, if you have a commercial read in your demo about a model of a car that was 'new' in 2005, it might just be time to update that demo.

Music: Let's look at the music factor now. Does the music sound retro? Are the sound effects in line with what you would expect to hear today? Are there cheesy synthesizers in the background? Music often sets the tone for a voice over demo and helps to establish your personal branding style. Don't let styles of music that have been shelved for too long give clients the wrong impression of your production or music selection skills. There are many royalty-free music libraries out there that you can purchase updated music and sound effects from to keep your demos current.

Voice Age: If you recorded your commercial demo in the 80s or even the early to mid 90s, the demo itself may not only sound aged, but your voice may have matured since that recording, too. Voices age, just like your bodies do. A good example is the hesitation that the directors for the Transformers movie due out this summer had with guaranteeing that the original voice actors from the cartoon series in the 1980s would be cast again in their roles. I'm not certain if the vocal aging process is as noticeable in men, but the voices of women continue to mature until you are forty years old. That's a lot of changing and readjusting to your voice and vocal technique in the span of a voice over career. Ladies, your voice will peak around the age of 40 - it will be your signature sound and technically, you'll be in your vocal prime. That's something I've always been told by singing teachers over the years when questions arose regarding longevity of a career. Their advice in that department was nearly always accompanied by the fact that women have years of vocal growth ahead of them and not to worry about postponing a singing career in your twenties.

And finally, we find ourselves again in ad copy refinement... References to Popular Icons and Events of the Past: If you have a spot that mentions a Beatles reunion with Paul, George and Ringo, it may be time to cut that bit. George Harrison passed away in 2001. If you have a reunion tour of a band or anniversary reference in the ad copy on your demo, make sure that it is still relevant or at least accurate. Perhaps it isn't something in the popular realm but a political ad campaign. If the person isn't currently running for office or did not succeed in their attempt, strongly consider removing that spot. It may confuse people who are listening to your demo, and of course, reveal the age of the demo. So, now you have the tools to evaluate the state of your commercial demo. Let us know what you dig up!
About the Author
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the VP of Marketing with Voices.com, the voice over marketplace hosting more than 10,000 professional voice talents. Stephanie is also the author of The Definitive Guide To Voice-Over Success.
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