It can be hard to predict where the voiceover industry will be in 10 years. Technology evolves so fast, and new innovations could pop up at any time. However, we can take a snapshot of where things stand and where they’re heading in the short term. The voiceover industry is a fascinating mix of art, technology, and culture, and it’s often a microcosm of what’s happening broadly in those sectors. Here are some current trends that are worth keeping an eye on.
With the rise of online shopping, especially in the wake of the pandemic, customers are more than ever being treated like numbers on a spreadsheet. There’s been a bit of backlash to this, as consumers want to make connections with brands. That means displaying some personality and talking “with,” not “to;” in marketing messages. They are also looking for lighthearted and fun messages because everyone needs that in this world. As a result, commercials and marketing content have been leaning towards conversational styles. The goal is to engage with the audience by talking with them like you would a friend. This is appropriate for marketing, e-learning, or even on-hold messages.
The pandemic also ramped up working remotely, and the voiceover industry was no different. For the past several decades, voice actors were concentrated in arts centers like London, Los Angeles, and New York. They would have to go from job to job and were always auditioning, so being close to the action was crucial. Auditions were in person, and the work was done in a studio.
While film and television voice actors may have to still be in-person in the controlled environment of a studio, audio ad actors do not. With technology getting better all the time, voice talent can now have the options to audition and work from home, on vacation, or in-person. The industry is ramping up its capacity to work on big projects online, so soon we will see more and more movie and tv voice actors following suit.
It’s not just people in the voiceover industry who are working remotely. Every industry is experiencing that paradigm shift, as are students. What this means is that there is an increased need for eLearning voiceover work. Training sessions, how-tos, and other instructional videos are very popular at the moment, and will only get more common in the coming years. Many workplaces are finding it hard to fill positions, and can save on training costs by producing videos. The same thing goes for universities and colleges. If they can’t fill positions in person, then they will try to fill them with videos.
One Stop Shopping
Along with remote working, there are studios that operate as all-inclusive providers of talent that operate almost exclusively online. They connect the talent with the client based on their needs at the time. One day, they might need an explainer video. Next, they may need voice talent for an advertisement. It can be quick and easy for the client, and all done online, so it’s very convenient.
As these agencies expand and evolve, they can start to handle more complex projects. You can get several voices for an ad, all specifically suited to their roles, for example. They are starting to compete with in-person studios because they can reach outside of their geographical area for talent, and they can service any client, no matter where they are located.
Having voice talents in gaming is nothing new. Games have been hiring even Hollywood actors for the past couple of decades. However, as the industry gets bigger, you can expect there to be more voice-led games. Google and Amazon are investing big money into this sector, and will need voice talents to help them make it happen.
As opposed to tapping controller buttons or keyboard keys, with voice lead games you interact solely with your voice. Speech recognition software picks up what you say, and the characters on screen respond to you. Some games will use synthetic voices, but the ones that want more realistic interactions are using professional voiceover talents.
Virtual reality is constantly evolving as developers work to create more and more immersive experiences for users. It’s been popular for a few years, but now that the technology is coming into its own, expect that popularity to explode. Entertainment and information properties are starting to invest in VR because of its exciting capabilities.
There is and will be a need for voiceover talent to help create the worlds that developers are designing. Because they want VR to be as realistic as possible, they don’t want synthetic voices or robots. The voices and sounds users hear will move with them, and the user will be able to tell what direction a voice is coming from. You will be able to put on a headset in a movie theater so you can have a truly immersive experience. For this to happen, they will need voiceover talents to make it feel like real life.
Both podcasts and streaming platforms are extremely popular, and will only grow as they start to replace radio as our preferred audio entertainment. When commuting to work or mowing the lawn, people want on-demand access to what they want to listen to. Advertisers have come on board and found success inserting ads onto these platforms. An ad may play in between songs, or there might be an ad break during a podcast.
As the brands using podcasts have started to find success, larger brands have started to notice. You will start seeing bigger brands on some of the large podcasts and streaming platforms, and they will need ads for the same products but catered to different demographics, depending on the type of content the ads are attached to. An ad for a large soda brand would be different in Canada and Scotland, for example. Voice talents will be needed for all of these different advertisements.
The voiceover industry is expanding and evolving, much like every other industry in the post-pandemic world. It will be fascinating to see what new technology and innovations take the industry next. For now, these are the most important trends to keep an eye on.