That’s A Wrap! Here’s What We Learned At SOVAS

Dec 20, 2023

Step into the world of voiceovers, where words come to life through the magic of narration. Whether you’re a seasoned expert, an aspiring voice talent, or an advertiser, the opportunity for growth never ends—and we’ve got the insights on all the trends, tricks, and tips to help you start the new year sounding great and connecting with the right audiences. 

The Studio Resonate Team at SOVAS - (left to right) Miya Kanzaki, Creative Director; Casey Baker, VP of Creative; Steve Pogatch, Senior Manager, Audio Production; Chanel Peek, Copywriter; David Cuetter, Lead Audio Producer

Our team of voiceover experts attended this year's Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS) That’s Voiceover Conference and made a big impact. Our maestros, David Cuetter, Lead Audio Producer; Miya Kanzaki, Creative Director; and Steve Pogatch, Senior Manager, Audio Production, led and participated in panels, watched talented competitors, and even went “speed dating”. 

Let’s get into what we did at SOVAS and the top takeaways from our favorite moments. 

VO In Podcasts 

There are all kinds of genres in the voiceover industry, from promos to narration to video games; artists have quite a few options to choose from—but one of our favorites is podcast Announcer Reads. Cristina Milizia, one of our top-performing Announcer Read VOs, and Natasha Marchewka, co-host of the podcast Speechless: Real Life in VO, joined Miya as she led a panel about the art of podcast ads. The panel gave insider perspectives on how to customize a script read for the unique podcast listening environment. 

Studio Resonate are innovators in the world of audio production, and we’re experts in creating outstanding podcast ads (and more) that advertisers can feel confident in. By curating scripts and creating the feel of a customized listening experience, VO artists can lean into the listener mindset. Miya shared the top tips and best practices for successful Announcer Reads, broke down the process behind finding outstanding VO talent, and did some live reads to show the difference between Announcer Reads and Host Reads. 

To hear these best practices in action, check out these two examples of the same script and see if you can spot the differences. 

Illumable Announcer Read - David Cole
Illumable Announcer Read - Cristina Milizia

Here are some nuances that stood out to us: 

Both reads sound like a regular person you'd meet any day (not a terrestrial radio announcer, for instance), but each has a distinct personality. 

  • Notice where David places emphasis and where he naturally speeds up, slows down, or pauses. 

  • Cristina has a great non-verbal detail where she takes a breath after the bagel line, that adds authenticity to the read.

Keeping it Human 

David and Steve, the dynamic duo behind VO mastery, were back again by popular demand. This time, their panel, Pandora: Elevating the “human”listening experience - A VO Masterclass covered developing voice performance skills and maintaining the “humanness” in voiceovers at a time when AI is on the rise. They also shared training tips and gave a glimpse of what it’s like to work with the Pandora brand. This masterclass was a fun and interactive experience that gave eight audience members the opportunity to get up on stage and read from prepared scripts. David and Steve provided feedback and insights in real time in order to help audience members nail their voiceovers in the future. The scripts were also given in English and Spanish, so attendees could spot the differences in tone and inflection. 

Spanish Script Read

English Script Read

A Chance To Work With Us 

This year, we were excited to offer an exclusive opportunity. That’s Voiceover attendees had the chance to audition to be on Studio Resonate’s VO Roster. Over 100 interested VO artists submitted their audition clips prior to the event and David and Steve chose the lucky winners. After dishing out auditioning tips and helpful guidance to the audience, they chose two voice actors, one in English and one in Spanish, and even played the winning audio clips for the audience to hear.

By being a part of Studio Resonate’s roster, VO actors not only get to work on Pandora, but all of our platforms and beyond—think SiriusXM, SoundCloud, the SiriusXM Podcast Network, and more. We’re home to the largest addressable (ad-supported) audience in the U.S., meaning this is a great place for VO actors and advertisers alike. 

Speed Dating 

David and Steve also coached the speed dating session, where they sat down for a quick five minute face-to-face with a VO and listened to their demos. They met with a wide variety of people who presented in English or Spanish and gave their best feedback on ways they could improve. 

David’s main feedback for Spanish VO: Many talents still deliver with more of an ”announcer” tone, hard-hitting sell. Pull it back and speak more conversationally and natural.

When voicing a script, think about: who am I, where am I, and who am I speaking to (audience)? Choose a specific person, a relationship. What am I doing; what’s the action in the scene?

David Cuetter, Lead Audio Producer, Studio Resonate

Steve noticed that some of the talent were using heavy sound effects and spots with other voices in them. Here’s his advice:

Add up the amount of time you’re using sound effects and other voices, and take that result and divide by the length of your demo, that resulting percentage (often almost 10%!!) is space on your demo that is not featuring YOU! Make it about YOU and YOUR voice! You have limited time to do so!

Steve Pogatch, Senior Manager, Studio Resonate

For an advertiser looking to hire VO talent, keep an ear out for authentic, unique voices that will resonate with your brand and your audience. And for more expert VO tips from the team, check out last year's insights

Things Heard and Seen

In addition to the super rewarding and insightful panels our team led, they got to attend several panels and learn valuable information to take into the upcoming new year. Here are some of the top moments that stood out to us and the takeaways we took from them.

Optimizing The Commercial Read: The Gateway Genre - This was a panel where you could hear from the experts in the commercial realm and explore the various VO genres. 

  • Many folks don’t want to put in the time; just auditioning won’t do it. Just like athletes, musicians, etc, you need to train and keep improving. Study, get coaching.

  • Most people don’t love the sound of their voice. To help move past that, listen back as a different person when you’re finished recording; not with headphones, try it in a different playback environment like on a speaker 

Voiceover Changed My Life And It Can Change Yours Hosted by Paul Cartwright - Paul shared his journey of struggling to raise three kids while simultaneously trying to make it in the VO industry. 

  • Every journey is unique, don’t compare yourself to others.

  • It’s okay to be afraid. Take fear by the hand.

Give Our VO A Go

We had a fantastic time at SOVAS meeting so many talented artists, learning about the trends of the year, and hosting informative panels. We are constantly learning and evolving our practices and setting trends along the way. Ready to break through with VO? Work with the experts at Studio Resonate to get your voice and your ads on trend. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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