Many people, when looking for a voice artist, may well have a celebrity voice in mind. They may need an announcer for their event to sound like Peter Dickson from The X Factor, or perhaps like Stephen Fry to give their project a touch of whimsy and sophistication.
Unfortunately, rather than seeing these voices as a guide to the style of voiceover that they want, people will often start to look for impressionists.
And that’s where things get tricky.
You see, a celebrity’s voice is their intellectual copyright. It is they, and they alone who own the rights to use that voice in whichever media they see fit, and so if someone else comes along and attempts to ‘pass off’ their voice as someone else’s, certain lawyers quickly become like cartoon baddies, with their eyes spinning around and turning into pound signs.
“But wait, there are plenty of impressions being used every day”, I hear you cry, and you would be right, but take a closer look and you will see that in every case, those impressions will come with some sort of disclaimer – a simple line somewhere that will say ‘all celebrity voices are impersonated’.
My personal favourites are the MoreThan adverts featuring the very talented Josh Robert Thompson as Morethan Freeman. They’re a wonderful example because the company are not claiming to be using Morgan Freeman – they are flat out telling you that you’re listening to an impression, and for me that actually makes the advert more powerful.
So when people ask me to provide a Voice of God in the style of Peter Dickson, I simply point out that I can provide a powerful voice with plenty of gravel, but that it must not be passed off as someone else. In other words, don’t put the X Factor music behind it and have me say things like “It’s time…to face….whatever it is”. It cheapens your brand and more importantly, it’s not fair on Peter himself – a jolly nice chap who has worked hard to get where he is!
Yes, I do do impressions. There are a number of comedy ringtones out there that I am proud to have recorded. Half the fun is in finding a voice that I think I can do well and working on it until I think it’s passable, so if you’re looking for an impressionist, ask me to mail you a list of the voices I currently do.
Alternatively, ssing a voice artist like me means that we can work on creating new and unique characters together. There’s no risk of copyright infringement and what’s more, you’ll have fun being a part of that creative process.