Are voice actors good singers? Is singing a requirement for the job? Does being able to sing have any impact on being a voice actor? All interesting questions.
One of the great things about the world of voice over/voice acting (same thing, different terms) is that it’s very broad. Voice actors are hired for over a dozen different kinds of work: everything from commercials to audiobooks, promos, e-learning projects and creating characters for animation and video games. Most of us find a niche or two (or three) that we’re passionate about and develop a career around that. Which niche you choose has a lot to do with whether or not being a singer will help you book more work.
During the 20+ years that I’ve been a working voice actor, I’ve only been asked to sing one time. My specialty is commercials, narration and e-learning, and there’s not a lot of singing involved in those areas of voice over.
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Voice actors who specialize in creating character voices for animation will benefit the most from knowing how to sing, but working in this discipline doesn’t specifically require musical ability. There are plenty of top-notch voice actors who have created hundreds of characters, never having sung a note in their life.
There are times when singing is a requirement for booking a voice over job. A lot of children’s TV programming requires the cast to sing, because characters will sing in the show. Some voice actors target specific TV and streaming networks with the hope of landing on a job that has a musical component. So in that case, being a singer is a requirement.
Regardless of niche, singers have a leg up on non-singers when it comes to a couple of things. For one, breath control. Trained vocalists know how to regulate their breath to accommodate for musical phrasing. Singers instinctually handle adjustments without having to think much about them. That could be very helpful when narrating an audiobook or a wordy bit of commercial copy.
Musicians also have a lot of training in sight singing, or performing a piece of music on the first look. As voice talent, we’re usually not given much time to look over scripts before being expected to perform them, so talent who are strong sight singers should find it relatively easy to give a decent performance the first time they read the words.
Being a singer can never hurt your chances of working in the world of voice over, it can only help. But it’s certainly not a requirement for most jobs, and there of plenty of voice actors who don’t sing anywhere other than in the shower.