Do not start before the start: A different take on demos

Posted May 23, 2016 by

Do you start your auditions on p2p sites by slating your name? There might be an unpleasant surprise waiting for you because there is chance your auditions don't get listened to ...

Over the past eight-plus years of bodalgo, I have probably listened to more than 20.000 voice demos (i.e. the audios you upload to your profile) and auditions (the audios you audition with). Many of them start the same way: A voice (usually not the talent's) slates the name of the talent, sometimes followed by the type of recordings the listener is about to hear.

Don't get me wrong: Back in the days where you sent out CDs or perhaps even music cassettes it probably made sense to slate your name at the beginning of an audition. But auditions used with online casting websites do not need this.

Demos vs. auditions

It is important to understand that there are two types of recordings: There are demos you will upload to your profile page. And there are auditions (including custom demos) that you will use for auditioning.

"And, um, what's the difference, smarty pants?" you might ask.

Shot in the foot

Don't shoot yourself in the foot by slating your name in an audition – buyers could get easily annoyed with this

It. Is. Huge. Demos and auditions serve completely different purposes. Where the demo boasts about your skills in general, using all kind of sound f/x, music bed and what not else to impress the audience, the audition wants to sell your voice for a specific job. Just like a shop window (your demo) will try to attract as many people as possible, the clerk (audition) will want to sell you a specific product.

Now put yourself in a buyer's shoes for a moment.

Imagine you have posted a job (with a proper briefing as you had read "How to create a great job posting" before) and received 30+ auditions. Now you need to go through all of them to identify which voice suits your project best.

So you start listening and each and every single audition starts with the talent's name and type of recording before getting to the point. Annoying! You are not interested in the talent's name because you already know it! It's written right there! Right next to the audition! Always there for you to remember (isn't the internet a beauty?).

But it gets worse: After listening to the 20th audition that starts with the name, chances are you will skip to the next altogether before even listening to the audition.

Do you see the difference? It's okay for your demo to have the name and category slated (although I am not even convinced this is necessary for demos used on online casting websites) but it can instantly kill your chances when you are auditioning.

So there you have it: Your auditions need a different approach than your demos. If a script was posted with the job, there is no doubt that reading an excerpt of the script will increase your chance of nailing the job (I am very well aware that this is difficult topic. Yet, nobody can deny the truth. I will blog about "custom demos" in the coming weeks). But no matter if you provide a custom demo or use one of your existing demos to audition: you want to strip away the name slating opening unless the buyer has explicitly asked for it or you know for a fact that you are dealing with an audio producer/casting director or similar which are used to this kind of process.

No time to read the feature? Check out this summary: Demos and auditions serve different purposes. While it is okay for demos to have your name at the beginning, do yourself (and the client!) a favour and refrain from slating name, client, job-id or anything else when auditioning on an online casting website. Your audition might not be listened to at all when it "starts with something before it starts".

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Reader's comments Your thoughts

Armin Hierstetter wrote 10 months ago
Hello Mike,

The article is about auditioning on p2p sites. It does not suggest not slating for agency work. I made this now more clear by putting some sections in bold typeface.
Mike Madden wrote 10 months ago
This article is very confusing. It seems to use Demo and Audition interchangeably even though it's made a point that they are obviously different.
Like this section:
--
So you start listening and each and every single audition starts with the talent's name and type of recording before getting to the point. Annoying! You are not interested in the talent's name because you already know it! It's written right there! Right next to the demo! Always there for you to remember (isn't the internet a beauty?).
--
Right next to the Demo? You were talking about auditions here. Why did you mention demo?


Slating - for auditions- is what most major agencies in NY and LA require of their talent for submitting auditions. Over 25 years in the business and EVERY agency I know of asks for a slate at the top, in the style of your read.
This is interesting advice for P2P sites maybe, but I'm not going to change what my agency asks for.
Mike Carta wrote 10 months ago
Three former agencies I used stressed, "Slate your name and name of agency at the beginning of your audition..." on every audition I did for them.
Tom Test wrote 10 months ago
I'm grateful to have your feedback on this issue, Armin. I never used to slate when auditioning on P2P sites, only for talent agents. But about a month ago, I began slating on ALL my auditions. I probably heard or read some advice contrary to yours and switched tactics.

But what you say about the issue makes perfect sense! I recently asked about a dozen female talent to submit for any audition I was helping with, and it *was* a bit annoying to have to listen to slates. So I am now convinced that your suggestion of NO slate before auditions is the best practice.

Also, Jim Buchanan's advice on file naming is excellent. I generally use First_LastName_MyPhone#_ClientName
Armin Hierstetter wrote 10 months ago
@Troy: There is, of course, *much* more to successful auditioning than this. I will try to write about auditioning in general in the weeks to come.
Troy W. Hudson wrote 10 months ago
Wow Armin, so the last 500 auditions I've submitted to "other places" have all been for nothing :)
Thanks, from this point I will not, will not, will not identify myself - thanks for the tip I wish I had seen earlier.
Oh well, live and learn.
Michael Sessums wrote 10 months ago
That's a very important thing to know, Armin. I hate slating on auditions anyway. But when you are required to slate, be sure to do it yourself and in character for the copy you are going to read. Using a generic slate may lose you the job, too.
Jim Buchanan wrote 10 months ago
A talents DEMO can be and probably SHOULD be filled with Name Identification and an AUDITION does NOT need a slate. BUT may I suggest the AUDITION file name SHOULD have the talents name. Don't just name your file...ABC Widget VO. NO...label it YOUR NAME-ABC Widget 00-00-00. Why. A talents voice audition may not be right for THAT particular project...but...COULD be for something in the future. The audition may "catch" the ear of the producer and then will have SOMETHING...at lease a name, date and reference audition... to search for that talent in their data bank...and be able to SKIP the middle man and go DIRECTLY to the talent.
Kim Handysides wrote 10 months ago
Great insight Armin. Thank you!

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