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How to work with voice actors using Ad Studio’s free voiceover tool

A step-by-step guide to giving voice actor instructions for audio ads.

From popular entertainment to public transit, voice acting is much more than just reading a script; it’s an art form – and it can make all the difference in your message’s impact. As an audio-first platform, we understand how important it is to nail your ad’s voice and tone. That’s why Spotify Ad Studio offers free audio creative tools and services, including access to professional voice actors, to help you easily create polished audio ads.

Whether you’re brand new to audio or a seasoned audiophile, our self-serve ad platform helps you make well-executed ads fast. Getting what you want from your audio ad’s voiceover starts well before the voice actor steps up to the microphone. First, you’ll need to write a script, and while we can’t do that part for you, we do have a number of tips, tricks, and sample ads to get you started. Next, you’ll need to add instructions for the voice actor to help them understand the emotion, tone, and speed of your ad.

Not sure what to say? Here are a few tips on what to note in your voice actor instructions.

Put yourself in the voice actor’s shoes

Before you can give someone else direction, it helps to have a good understanding of how your script sounds. Try reading it out loud to get a sense of the tone and pace of your audio ad. Make sure to highlight any pauses or words to emphasize – a well-timed pause or use of emphasis can often be more impactful than adding in more words.

A 70-word script should equate to a 30-second audio ad, so note the overall timing of your ad so your voice actor understands how much time they have to play with. Also, be super clear in your instructions about the pronunciation of names – including people’s names and business or product names – and tricky words. When in doubt, spell it out phonetically (fuh-neh-ti-kuh-lee).

Pronunciation help

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Voice actor instructions: In the third line, La Jolla should be pronounced "la HOY-a" and Louisville should be pronounced "LOO-i-vul." Final audio should be :30s in length.

Say more with a pause

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Voice actor instructions: Take short pauses when reading the first line, as if you’re setting a scene. Include another pause when reading our tagline at the end.

Explain the voice actor’s role and the target audience

Help the voice actor understand what role the “voice” is playing in your audio ad so they know how to sound. Is the voice actor a bold announcer, narrating a story? Or is the voice actor a knowledgeable educator, teaching listeners what they need to know about your product? It’s also important to spell out who the actor is speaking to and what the ad aims to accomplish. Tell the voice actor who your target audience is and give them direction on how you want that audience to feel.

Advice from a friend

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Voice actor instructions: Sound like a best friend giving helpful advice. The target audience is women 25-45. Listeners should feel confident they can get all their holiday shopping done at our store.

Tip from a happy customer

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Voice actor instructions: Sound like a happy customer giving a testimonial. The target audience is women 25-45. Listeners should feel a sense of urgency about getting their holiday shopping done.

Describe your desired sound

When it comes to directing your voiceover’s tone or mood, use highly specific and descriptive words to explain how your script should sound. Instead of using adjectives, try using action verbs to communicate what you want the voice actor to do. For example, saying “draw the listener in” or “urge the listener to really think about what you’re saying” is more helpful than just saying “be engaging.”

Similarly, it’s helpful to provide your voice actor with instruction on how you do not want your script to sound: “This ad should sound uplifting to listeners and should not sound serious.” Unsure quite how to describe what you mean? References are welcome – feel free to include links to other voiceovers or ads that exemplify what you’re trying to achieve.

Match the listener’s environment

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Voice actor instructions: This voiceover should sound calm and cool, but quiet, like you’re in the library. It should not sound overly enthusiastic or upbeat.

Communicate emotion

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Voice actor instructions: Urge the listener to really think about what you’re saying. Sound convincing, inspiring, and passionate.

Above all, giving some instruction is better than none at all – you’d be surprised how many advertisers use the voice actor instruction space to say “thanks!” instead of giving direction. While we’re proud to work with such a polite bunch and we’re sure the voice actors are glad their work is appreciated, we know they’d prefer specific instructions instead. And on the off chance your voice actor doesn’t get it just right the first time around, Ad Studio makes it easy to request changes to your voiceover along with changes to your background music and sound mixing.

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