Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Watermarking Your VO Auditions

Today's blog post is inspired by a great question that was posted on Such A Voice's Facebook page about watermarking auditions that you post on directories such as Voices.com and Voice123.com.

A watermark in the audio world refers to a second audio file that is laid over the voice over to protect it from being used by a naughty client who wants to use your talent without paying for it. An example of a watermark for a commercial you audition for might just be a ding every few seconds that doesn't obscure the quality of your sound but would prevent the client from using the whole script without you knowing it. Another common method would be to insert, "This is just a demo by Jane Smith," after 15-20 seconds of a full script audition.

Although watermarking can protect your voice over jobs, it's not advisable to watermark every audition. Especially if you are working with a well-known client or someone you have worked with in the past, watermarking an audition could be interpreted by the client that you are distrustful of them. They might pass up your great audition that was watermarked because, "What, did he think I was really going to use his voice over without paying for it?"

The risk of having a dishonest client rip off your work (and hard-earned voice-over training!) often doesn't out-weigh the risk of offending a potential client. Good working relationships are vital to your success in this industry.

So, when is it a good idea to watermark your work?

It depends. As a professional voice-over artist, it is up to you to use your own good judgment. Instances that you might consider watermarking your audition could include:
  • An over-seas client you aren't familiar with;
  • A new client you haven't heard of who would like the entire script read for the audition; or,
  • An "unknown" client or project that was posted through a questionable venue. (I love craigslist.com, but anyone can post jobs there with any goal in mind.)
One good thing about the highly globalized world we live in today is that it's easy to network with voice-over artists all over the world. If a client treats you badly, you have the option to let the world know through social media. If someone is trying to scam you, it's also easy to get that information out there to protect future victims. (Ref., the Sleazy Sneeze Guy.)

What's your take on watermarking your auditions? Post them here for discussion!


  1. I have heard the pros can cons of watermarking and I agree with some that it is a question of trust when you are dealing with an unknown. I watermark scripts by re-arranging phone numbers or omitting a word or do not audition the entire script.

  2. Thanks so much for the blog. Great info.!

    In regards to the comment above, do you think that "rearranging phone numbers or omitting a word" might send a signal to the client that it was a mistake in the read, rather than an intentional move to create a watermark?

  3. I would recommend being more obvious and intentional about the watermark. There's no reason not to be upfront about it if you're going to use a watermark.

    Thanks, glad you found it useful!

  4. Beep, beep, beep.