Sound Good? We’ll Be the Judge of That.

Being a Fly on the Wall at a GM Voices Talent Review Meeting

Gathered mid afternoon in Studio A, GM Voices’ talent manager, its top directors and audio engineers gather around the console in plush furniture, respective coffees and teas in hand. The lighting is dim, the proper audio-sampling ambiance created. It’s time to get to business.

This is GM Voices’ monthly talent review, a group evaluation of all the demos received in the preceding several weeks. We’re looking for a few good voices, but the obstacles for these prospective roster additions are many. This is only the first cut, and it can be unforgiving. The quality of voice is the primary component, sure. But is the read style natural; the voice demo is produced by reading from a script, but can our panel suspend their disbelief? Is there a market need for this style of voice? Does the voice stand apart from the other gender offerings in this language on our roster? If the demo was recorded internationally, is the studio setup acceptable?

First up is an Italian male voice. The read is clean and professional, but our reviewers agree that it lacks the hard-to-describe “it” factor of the best voice talent. Besides, we’re staffed strongly with Italian males. This voice goes in the “maybe,” pile. He might get a formal audition (the next big step), but it’s doubtful.

Next is a Hindi female voice. She has really good studio arrangements. The read is clean; the sound is distinguished, almost aristocratic. But something seems amiss. “Where did this talent go to school?,” asks our talent manager. “I hear a European influence.” Uh oh. This might be a deal breaker. It’s important that our talent maintain a local, in-country sound. Mark this voice as “investigate further.”

Then, a German male. He has a good sound, but his voice is combined with post-editing, music and sound effects that make it difficult to evaluate on its own merits. We’ll see if he has something a little more streamlined to pass along.

Our reviewers perk up. On deck is a Gujarati male. Interesting. Gujarati is an Indian language not formally offered on our language list. For reasons long and varied, we haven’t yet found the right talent. But maybe this is the guy. His standard read sounds good. So does his studio. In the demo, he also includes some commercial character voices that get a few laughs. Most of our recordings are play-it-straight voice prompts, but any acumen for the “acting” component is always well received. There is more research to be done, but it looks he’ll get a formal one-on-one audition with a GM Voices director.

Following the meeting, our talent manager works on the yeses and maybes. For international languages, the talent need to be authenticated as “native.” Assuming it’s a go, it’s time to talk business—contracts, commitments, compensation, assurance, insurance. All that fun stuff.

Several weeks later, it’ll all begin again. Maybe next month there will be the elusive Gujarati female.

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