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
Chris Burnett - seasoned voiceover talent, on-camera talent, coach, creative thought-leader and hopefully your new best friend. Let's chat-preferably over cocktails.