It was not too long ago that the phrase, "I am a voiceover artist," would instantly stir inquisitive responses from curious strangers at a cocktail party. Inevitably, that next question was either, "what is that?" or "how did you get into voiceover work?" The questions, although asked from different people, were always the same. Recently, however, these conversations about the voiceover industry itself have pivoted to a different question: "as a voiceover artist, are you afraid of being replaced by artificial intelligence?" After many thoughtful conversations regarding this subject, I decided to simply deploy artificial irony and ask Chat GPT directly, "Will AI eliminate the voiceover industry?"
Here is what Chat GPT says about the voiceover industry, and I wrap up this blog post with my own words after this Chat GPT answer:
While AI and text-to-speech (TTS) technology have made significant advancements in recent years, it is unlikely that they will completely eliminate the voiceover industry in the foreseeable future. The voiceover industry serves various purposes that go beyond simple narration, and human voice actors bring unique qualities and nuances that AI-generated voices may not replicate entirely.
Here are some reasons why the voiceover industry is likely to persist alongside AI:
While AI-generated voices have improved and are suitable for specific applications, such as text-to-speech for accessibility purposes, customer service, or navigation systems, they still have limitations. Issues like unnatural intonation, pronunciation errors, and a lack of emotional depth can be apparent in AI-generated speech.
The voiceover industry will likely continue to evolve alongside AI technology. Human voice actors may even incorporate AI tools into their workflows to enhance productivity and streamline repetitive tasks. However, their artistic contributions and the human touch they bring to voiceover work are aspects that AI is not likely to replace entirely.
Okay, now back to me, CHRIS. Here is the wrap up that I mentioned above:
So there ya go; the short answer to 'are you afraid of losing your voiceover career to AI?' is "nah." As work-flows become more automated, brands will rely on the human voice to personalize content and build trust with their consumers. For example, I could have started and ended this blog-post with AI, but I believe it is important to hear from a human as well. In the future, the desire for authenticity may require more regional dialects to be used to prove that the voiceover artist is actually human, and to demonstrate that companies value authentic customer relationships (awe, bless yur heart and git yur boots ready, I speak Texan, ya'll!).
And finally, if you have read this far, then I will splash a human emotion into this voiceover/AI blog post and simply say that, personally, in my small corner of the internet, I protect peace and choose to not live in fear. The simplest way I have found to stay optimistic and hopeful, versus living in a fear, is by maintaining my sense of wonder in the world, which keeps me in a perpetual state of curiosity. This curiosity has served me well by providing me the ability to keep learning, adapting and growing as a human and a voiceover talent.
I mention this because the truth is that doing the voiceover job is the reward for the real work, which has very little to do with the performance of voiceover. While I wish that every waking moment of my day was spent voicing projects in my voiceover booth, the reality is that voicing a video project is really only the smallest part of the job of the voiceover talent. When I am not in the voiceover booth working on projects for video producers, creative directors, advertising agencies and production houses, I spend time producing turn-key projects for other brands, editing video projects, cleaning up voiceover audio in ProTools, creating content for social media (let's connect on Instagram - @therealchrisburnett), updating my voiceover website (did you know I added a financial narration section?), auditioning for projects, invoicing and bookkeeping, crafting newsletters, touching base with clients and writing blog posts (such as this one), etc. All of these ancillary creative skills that are used to generate voiceover work are marketable skills in their own right. In short, my passion for voiceover combined with my innate curiosity has made me a creative pocketknife who soaks up all facets of the creative process, and I am fortunate that I also enjoy the ancillary creative pieces of a career in voiceover.
So when we see each other at our next cocktail party, let us move away from fear. Instead may we chat about the benefits of a strong and malleable mind - the ultimate hedge against change and any technological advancement.
Hi friend! - remember when you read an insightful, well-thought-out blog post from a creative talent and thought, 'this guy is on a different level and I would love to get to know him.' I'm so glad that you thought that, and that you reached out right afterwards so we could get together and connect over coffee, cocktails or dinner. Here is my email address so we can connect: email@example.com
When sending a longer piece of copy to voiceover talent, it is customary to not always send the whole script. Why? Because many times you will not want to listen to the entire piece from a voiceover artist, since there are many candidates submitting for one job. However, before sending the trimmed down version of your script to the talent, consider doing the following:
Rather than arbitrarily picking a spot to the cut the copy, ensure that you are selecting a portion of the script that includes an emotional adjustment. Typical narrative pieces have a beginning, middle and end. For instance, in the commercial world, this might include a “problem and a solution,” whereas in the corporate narration world this might involve “where we have been versus where we are going.”
Therefore, if you would like to hear more engaging reads from talent, you must ensure that the copy has at least two emotional points in the trimmed-down version.
By keeping at least one emotional adjustment in your script, you have an objective moment in which you can note a transitional tone from the voiceover artist. Not only will you hear more nuanced performances in the auditioning process, but you will also arrive at your session with confidence that the talent can interpret the longer version of the copy.
If you have questions regarding your next project, please reach out.
As creatives, we may not always be communicating with clients that work in a similar space. For instance, as a voiceover talent, I may voice an internal piece and take direction from an HR representative, and this individual may not be accustomed to communicating tone and direction to voiceover talent. Therefore, it is important to meet your client in familiar territory.
Are you struggling to understand a client's desired tone? Rather than asking the client how they would like the project to look and sound, consider asking about the company culture.
Usually, the culture within a company is reflected throughout the branding, both internally and externally. By having your client describe their company culture to you, they are effectively communicating the tone and style of the messaging.
For instance, if the company offers a relaxed, remote working environment and encourages casual dress, their messaging is typically delivered to the audience in the same manner. Alternatively, if a company operates from a fun, creative, personality-driven space, then the messaging will more-often-than-not reflect the entertaining, quirky nature of its employees.
In short, communicating a project’s intended tone can be a tricky task for individual's outside the creative field. However, by having the creative team clearly understand the core values and culture of your client's company, you can easily grasp the style and honor this in your content. For several examples of different “styles” of corporate e-learning narration projects, please visit ChrisBurnettVoiceActor.com/elearning
If you have questions regarding your project, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Chris Burnett - seasoned voiceover talent, on-camera talent, coach, creative thought-leader and hopefully your new best friend. Let's chat-preferably over cocktails.