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Hey Voice Actors!
Do you shorten or watermark auditions?
7 reasons why you shouldn’t!

Voice actors often record part of their auditions. Sometimes they watermark them.  And they have lots of reasons for doing so … some super valid.
Buuuut have you thought about this from our perspective, since we are the people casting and hiring voice actors?
When casting, we need the whole audition because sometimes we’re: 
  • Listening for character development.
  • Listening for consistency, stamina, breath control.
  • Listening for how engaged a voice actor can keep us.
  • Comparing a particular line in the script, and that line could be anywhere throughout the audition.
  • Comparing the closing line (tagline).
  • Playing the entire audition for a focus group.
  • Playing the entire audition while watching the video to determine how well they go together.
Hey voice actors, imagine you’re buying a new car that should last 100,000 miles, and the car-dealership let’s you test drive it the distance of 20 feet. Hard to judge, yeah? That’s like us casting a 10-hour audiobook with a 20-second audition. Hard to judge, yeah.
Sometimes we need long auditions.
Wait, what? Oh no, worse! The client may (uh, should) be concerned by incomplete auditions:
  • Sometimes clients are confused why a voice actor missed part of the audition. Seriously, how can a new client trust you to read their whole script if they think you accidently miss parts of their audition?  Clients often have no idea why voice actors would object to reading their entire script. After all, your website probably says “free auditions”, rather than “free auditions up to 20 seconds”.
NO! could it get even worse? Uh yep! ACK!! HARK!!!
  • Rather than shorten the audition script, sometimes voice actor ‘watermarks’ the script. (Watermarking your recording is intentionally making it unable to be used as the final product, in order to ensure the client doesn’t use it without telling you … and therefore without paying you.  Common watermarking techniques include adding a noise (e.g., ‘beep’) somewhere during the recording, or changing or skipping a few words of the script, or fading the volume in and out somewhere during the recording).  With that said…
    • A client who doesn’t know that you’re intentionally watermarking will assume you’ve made a mistake on your audition.  They likely e confused and turned off.  I don’t blame them.
    • A client who knows that you’re intentionally watermarking could feel discouraged. Because it’s the same as the voice actor telling the new client, “Hey, thank you for sending me an audition! I hope you’ll hire me and we can have a business relationship! Oh, and also, by the way, I don’t trust you, so I’m going to watermark the audition.”  Come one, this is a horrible way to begin a new relationship.
Hmm… I was considering cutting this article off early – you know, like leaving off the second half. Or maybe watermarking it by intentionally messing up some words, just so no one copies it. But I chose to put it all out there.
My $0.02 is for voice actors to put it all out there. OR (yes, there is an “or”), if you feel it’s not justified to read an entire audition, then discuss it comfortably with the client. Explain your rationale, your reasoning, your policies…Just be sure to not convey that you don’t trust them.  They won’t like that.