Voice over is constantly evolving. Let’s take a look at the current trends in voice over and where this industry could be heading.
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What is Voice Over?
Voice over is essentially adding a voice to existing content. Here are some of the most common types of voice over:
- Voice Over Narration: In a documentary, for instance.
- Voice Over for Audio Ads: Voices which give life to audio ads are a form of voice over, created by voice artists.
- Full Dubbing: Voice over and dubbing are different. Dubbing is a full translation and replacement of original voices (for films, TV and video games) and voice over is an add-on voice. However, the same voice artist may very well be able to accomplish both. When we talk about trends in voice over, it’s important to include dubbing in the discussion.
- Voice Over Announcements: These run a varied gamut. They could be a simple recording, alerting passengers on a subway, or recordings used in museum tours, amongst many others.
- Trailers for Films.
- Corporate videos.
Less Geographic Limitation
Today, voice artists may still be limited by geographic location. The divide between voice talent who are able to access a physical market and those who work remotely has been well documented.
A voice artist today may work dubbing anime, for example. Such a talent will usually live in places like Los Angeles, London, New York or Texas. These are the centers of anime voice acting. Because such voice acting is so time-consuming and grueling, and because it requires constant auditioning, this sort of talent will work ‘in-person’ and eventually concentrate solely on anime.
Voice talent which creates audio ads, however, may have a degree of flexibility. They may live in different places and work remotely. Bunny Studio is a good example of an online hub for voice talent around the world. Such talent will eventually concentrate on audio ads, though perhaps miss out on work which still requires a physical presence, like anime.
One of the major trends in voice over, however, is the move from having to be in a particular place and towards more remote work. This will probably take place across the board.
The industry is rapidly increasing its capacity to handle larger and more complex projects online, like they would an audio ad. We’re ready to bet that long-form voice over work, including complex dubbing with multiple characters will be created online in the near future as well.
Online All-Inclusive Providers
Another of the trends in voice over worth examining, is the consolidation of online all-inclusive providers which solve many voice over needs for clients.
Bunny Studio, for instance, is able to bring together talent and clients and solve a vast array of needs online and remotely. Such a possibility was simply unthinkable in the old days and even unfeasible until recent years, because the technology quite simply wasn’t available.
This is one of the major trends in voice over. In the near future, online all-inclusive providers will continue to consolidate and expand. In fact, expect these online all-inclusive providers to be able to handle more and more types of assignments of increasing complexity. Eventually, the difference between an online studio and an in-person studio, will be minimal in terms of capabilities and skill.
This obviously means something else: a customer must discern which platform is worthy and which one isn’t. A good amount of providers will appear in the market, perhaps unsuited to the rigors of the business and eventually unable to provide first-rate voice over work. How to decide between them? Certain things come to mind:
- Is the online platform experienced? How long have they been in business?
- Can I read testimonials and success stories on their web page?
- Do they list some of their clients?
- Do they have samples of their work that I can browse through?
- Is work delivered in a timely manner?
- Are they receptive to communication and feedback and respond rapidly?
- Is customer service excellent?
- Is their web page design modern, easy to use and detailed?
More Online Audio Platforms
A related topic is the inevitable increase in online audio platforms where voice over work (like audio ads) may be placed. Currently, there are multiple avenues to place audio ads online, such as :
- Podcasts (either running an ad or sponsoring a podcast). These podcasts may appear on Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Buzzsprout, Podbean, and SoundCloud.
- Music platforms, where the ad is run in-stream or in between songs, like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music.
These, however, are only the beginning. Expect to see a vast assortment of online audio platforms, catering to many different groups and demographics. Also, await a move towards greater specialization and niche content platforms.
Such a move, evidently, will impact voice over, creating more opportunities and more specialized voice over work for more discerning audiences.
Better Prepared Freelancers
Voice artists working in voice over in more ‘formal’ settings, such as anime production studios, are undoubtedly savvy and well trained. The unfortunate attitude of some in years past was that they, the ‘formal’ voice artists were the real deal, whilst the freelance voice artists were not. This wasn’t quite the case before and it certainly isn’t now.
Expect freelance voice artists to keep growing in their craft and to become more cognizant of technology. Also, expect online all-inclusive providers to test voice talent to ensure a stellar roster of voices. The quality control of voice over work online will be on par with in-person studios. In essence, more training, more knowledge, better handling of technology and shrewd quality control will be defining factors of voice over.
The Need for Accents and Localization
Another of the trends in voice over which is important is that of versatile voice talent. Indeed, voice artists who are able to imitate accents will find more work opportunities, as the need for localization of audio content grows.
A Growing Market and More Customers
We’ve talked about the talent and the platforms, but what about the clients? The trends in voice over include a growing market and therefore an expanding customer base.
When we work with the English language we tend to forget about other languages and markets which are constantly surging.
At over 450 million native speakers, Spanish is a major market demanding voice over work. One of the major trends in voice over will be the need for more Spanish voice over artists. Such voice talent must have the technical skills, but also good knowledge of the particular Spanish countries and cultures.
Enhanced Targeting of Audio Ads
Perhaps the greatest feature of audio ads is that of targeting. Another of the trends in voice over will be further enhancement of this technology and therefore better pinpointing of voice over audio ads to the specific demographics intended.
Eventually, perhaps, such targeting of audios may get to be overwhelming. The case of Facebook ads is revealing. Though not quite audio ads, it shows us the way of ad targeting now.
Several critics have commented on the targeting of Facebook ads, and of buying ads on Facebook: “To find out exactly what type of data Facebook buys from brokers, we downloaded a list of 29,000 categories that the site provides to ad buyers. Nearly 600 of the categories were described as being provided by third-party data brokers. (Most categories were described as being generated by clicking pages or ads on Facebook.)” As can be gleaned from this, the targeting of Facebook ads is very specific, even extreme.
Voice over audio ads will continue to evolve. Recently, Pandora unveiled interactive audio ads. The idea is to have people interact with the ads they listen to:
“For its initial rollout, Pandora has partnered with Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Nestle to create audio ads that entertain, present tips, etc. to grab users’ attention and entice them to listen to the rest of the ad. For example, DiGiorno’s ad presents the listener with a joke, “What did the Digiorno rising-crust pizza says to the oven when things started getting heated?” then, the user is prompted to verbally respond “yes” to hear the rest of the joke.”
These new voice over technologies are most likely only the beginning, in a push to innovate and create more attention-grabbing audio ads.
E-Learning is essentially learning which uses online electronic technologies. This differs from traditional learning which utilizes a classroom, in-person teachers, materials, etc. It may include things like distance education, computer learning or online learning. Such a training program or curriculum may culminate in a degree.
This new form of learning is making strides. Recently, the Ontario government in Canada introduced a requirement of e-credits for graduation of high school students. Education Minister Lisa Thompson stated: “When it comes to online opportunities for our students, I think we should all agree… we want to make sure that they have every opportunity to put their best foot forward.”
Online educational content and materials usually need voice over work. An educational video on a med school review program for example, will need a voice over narrator that essentially reads the script prepared by the educators. Expect e-learning to become one of the major trends in voice over in the near future.
Trends in Voice Over: To Sum Up
There are several important trends in voice over to be aware of. Perhaps we could summarize them by saying that the convergence of improved technology, better freelance talent, a growing need for voice over work, more clients and emergent international markets will create online multifunctional studios.
Such online multifunctional studios will rival traditional ‘in-person’ studios and, eventually, overcome them in several facets. We do so many things online already, that this move is simple another step in such a journey. Eventually, these online studios will be able to handle the most complex voice over jobs with ease.