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This article by Caroline Calogero was published in U.S. 1
Newspaper on July 19, 2000. All rights reserved.
Finding Your Voice
E-mail: Caroline Calogeroprincetoninfo.com
It’s not just the crazies who hear voices. We’ve all
listened to that little talking Chihuahua push us to eat more tacos.
Such voice-overs are everywhere, says Dan Levine, a composer,
author, and producer (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Levine will
give a bird’s eye view of this industry and explain how to break into
the market in a seminar at the Learning Studio on Thursday, July 20,
at 6:30 p.m. The workshop repeats Thursday, August 17, at 2 p.m.,
and Tuesday, September 12, at 6:30 p.m. Cost: $49. Call 732-355-0600.
Levine explains that the voice-over market isn’t limited to
When narrations are included, it’s huge. Corporate films and videos,
canned announcements inside stores, explicators of voice mail menu
choices, and of course, talking elevators all use voice-overs.
is an enormous amount of work out there. So much more than people
realize," he says.
Naturally, not every voice box has what it takes. "You’ve got
to have something special to work with," he says. Your vocal
should be interesting or commanding enough to spark comments.
telling are compliments from those who have never met you in person
but have only heard you speak over the phone.
He describes the work as very close to acting. "A lot of people
have good voices but still don’t have the instincts." Levine
three qualities are necessary for success:
a turn reading copy at the microphone. After class he offers discreet
evaluations of whether your vocal chords are made of the right stuff.
For those with promise, his production company stands ready to provide
coaching and demo services, and apparently these Learning Studio
are one of his sources for new clients.
Despite the multitude of opportunities, many voice-over wannabes have
trouble getting a piece of the action. Levine will give advice on
how to crack the market and which market segments are most
"Most people go about it the wrong way. Most people go to New
York and immediately try to compete with the big boys in town. That’s
not the way to do it," he says.
Levine hints at sharing a unique approach to marketing a voice-over
persona. He boasts his plan has "proven to be successful with
hundreds of people."
The son of a dentist and an English teacher, Levine majored in music
theory at the Manhattan School of Music, Class of 1972, and was
for a 1993 Tony award for best original score for his musical
Karenina." He has been producing commercials for nearly 30 years,
has written a book "You’re on the Air," and teaches his class
in voice-overs at 150 schools up and down the east coast. He has
in Mahwah, New Jersey, and outside Burlington, Vermont, where he is
building a recording studio for his projects in composing music for
For those interested in pursuing voice-over jobs, Dan Levine
offers follow up programs. These sequels train people in voice-over
techniques, help them put together a demo, and assist in marketing
the demo. Levine calls the demo the "calling card of the
and the equivalent of a vocal resume.
To make demos, Levine works with producers in Philadelphia, New York,
Washington, D.C., and Boston. He estimates costs range from $3,000
to $5,000 in New York City and from $1,000 to $2,400 in other areas.
Newcomers need two demos, one for commercials and one for narrations.
Each demo runs 2 to 5 minutes in length.
A demo should be looked at as an investment, says Levine, the means
to get the work. The money spent should be recouped in one or two
Levine considers voice-overs the highest paying field in the world.
Careers often begin as part time endeavors fit in during evenings
around another job. The sums he quotes for potential earnings seem
princely; even beginners can make $50,000 to $100,000 per year, he
Levine is constantly evaluating voices and hearing some he thinks
should give voice-overs a try. They include Amtrak conductors, his
doctor, and anonymous souls in hotel lobbies. "My ear is my
The vocally gifted, like cream, will naturally rise to the top.
talent will not be overlooked. Good talent will be recognized and
led by the hand to the forefront," says Levine. Look out, James
— Caroline Calogero
(www.learningstudio.com, but note this site can be "sticky" and hard
to exit from).
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— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.