Too Much Information Is Good:
A guide to client briefs in voiceover booking
Before I became a full-time professional voiceover artist, I used to eat information for breakfast.
I used to eat information at drive time.
I used to eat information overnight.
And I used to regurgitate it, so that people who’d never come across that information before could absorb it and understand it first time.
In my previous life as a broadcast journalist for Europe’s biggest commercial radio group, I needed information to do my job. Who? What? How? Why? Where? When?
These were crucial interrogatives to get important information across. But the information I was given had to be good information. Information that made sense and didn’t raise questions.
If I didn’t have good information, I couldn’t understand the story, let alone condense it into three lines and broadcast it to millions of listeners.
You’d think that because we live in the age of information (internet, smartphones, You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Instagram, 24-hour TV and radio etc.) that we’d all be good at sharing information by now, especially in business.
Unfortunately, when it comes to quoting for some voiceover jobs, good information can be in short supply. Take for example a recent job requiring a ”young adult” voiceover artist to deliver so-called ”DJ drops” (taglines to insert between songs). The job? 500 words. The client? A live entertainment/events company.
So that’s the What? and the Who? covered, then.
But as briefs go, it’s a bit, well, brief.
Clearly, the job description was lacking the other storytelling elements, including most crucially, ‘How?’ That is, how is the voiceover going to be used? For how long? And on how many platforms?
Because ‘How?’ relates to ‘how much’ something is going to cost.
Could you be a bit more specific?
As this was not good information with which to form a quotation, I emailed the person behind the advert. A reply came back: ”they’re an events company, doing weddings etc. but we have asked for clarification for your quote”.
As I write, I’m still waiting for the good information I need to be able to audition for, and quote for, this particular job. I hope it comes back before the submissions deadline.
So whether it’s describing how you want something to sound, or explaining the scope of projects, voiceover artists need good information from clients.
In the case of the live events company needing DJ drops, a better advert might have read:
”We are a small live entertainment and events company, operating in the north west of England (primarily Manchester and Liverpool) with a turnover of £400,000 a year and small staff of 6.
We require an edgy, young male or female voiceover artist (with a playing age of 18-30) to provide taglines (DJ drops) in between music played at our clients’ events.
These will be played all year round at small business conferences, Christmas parties, and weddings.
We organise approximately 105 events per year, at which the drops will be played once an hour for a maximum of 6 hours.
The voiceovers won’t be used for anything else. We don’t have a budget in mind, but want a professional sound for our events.
The successful candidate may benefit from further work in future, as the business expands into the north east (Sunderland and Newcastle).”
Admittedly, this information isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly good information to work with.
Time For Reflection
So when booking a UK voiceover artist for your project, please think carefully about:
- Who you are as a business (or who your client is, if you’re an agency)
- What sound you’re trying to achieve
- Your budget (if you have one)
- How the voiceover is going to be used (explainer video, awards ceremony, on hold, TV advert, radio commercial, mobile app etc.)
- How many times
- For how long (1 night only, 3 months, 12 months etc.)
- On how many platforms or products
- Where in the world
- Your word count
- Your deadline
- When you’d like to record
- How many hours/days of recording will be necessary
- Whether you’d like to direct the recording sessions
- Whether you’d like to attend in person or remotely
- What format you want the files in (.wav, .mp3 etc.)
It’s understandable that clients (with little knowledge of voiceover casting and licensing) may not have thought about such a checklist. They probably know they want a voiceover and, in some cases, they want it quickly.
But clients will, I’m sure, also understand that a lack of good information can – for the voiceover artist – make quoting harder than doing the actual job.
Voiceover is by no means the only industry in the world that depends on accurate information from potential customers in order to quote correctly and fairly. Builders, architects, graphic designers, advertising agencies, marketers, insurance companies, estate agents, barristers, and many other businesses and professions need good information and good briefs to deliver their services.
So, please, be a good client. Be open. Be honest.
Give me too much information.
Give me good information.
And I will tell your story.
Cover photo by Tayeb Mezahdia from Pexels
© Copyright Chas Rowe 2018