My name is Talumba Chirwa, I am Creative Director at www.hooklineavenue.com and manager of a whole bunch of interesting projects over the last few years.
I have been in the Marketing space for over 6 years now going on my 7th, hard to believe. Time flies, it wasn’t too long ago when I was a new graduate completely nervous and completely scared of the world, not sure if I would make it. My experience with voice over work in particular spans from creation of scripts, finding the right voice over talent to bring the ideas to life, making of studio recordings, all the way to booking and monitoring adverts on radio.
I worked at Ogilvy here in Malawi for 4 years at an affiliate named roofhouse-Ogilvy. Had great times before moving on to Hookline Avenue. Some of my clients over the years have been KFC, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Nestle, RAID, DStv and Airtel Malawi to name a few. I have also been involved in the entertainment business with the likes of Sonyezo, Patience Namadingo, Home Grown African ( Classick & Hayze Engola) and was a Head Judge on Times TV Dance show Kajive Season 2. I would like to believe that will suffice as an introduction.
Lets’ begin with something you may not know. This FUBU Ad below was the 1st advert I ever did. I was a student at Wits University in Johannesburg doing Media Studies and Organizational Psychology (which I have a degree in). I am the voice rapping, I was called in by my producer friend, David Campos and I improvised the rap and wrote it in 10 minutes (its an off the cuff adaptation of a famous song by a rap group called Dead Prez). I felt some type of way about it as an Artist at the time I guess, so I never talked about doing it. I got paid R3,000 (i.e. MK150,000.00), didn’t complain was good side cash for a student. That was in 2009 if I recall correctly.
Here is an ad I did back when I was in University, I don't remember why I kept it a secret, but I guess I didn't think it was proper to make noise about it. In any case I am sharing it now to encourage any creatives that all you need is to seize an opportunity and you will be surprized what may turn up.Go to www.talumbachirwa.com and read the full story in my article called "How Much Do Voice Over Artists Get Paid in Malawi?"
Posted by Talumba Chirwa on Friday, May 1, 2020
What is a Voice Over Artist?
A Voice Over Artist is a person who lends their unique voice to a brand or production in order for it to be recorded and used for a character, a narration or to convey a message on behalf of a Client. Clients pay the individual for the voice over performance they have done and own the work that has been commissioned.
There are a lot of different mediums you can do voice over work for. Some obvious and others less obvious. Machines like Lifts or Cars have Voice Overs to alert you when they are moving, a door is open or when you are reversing. Some toys like dolls or educational computers have voice over prompts inside them think Buzz Light Year and Woody from Toy Story. In fact the most familiar Voice Overs are Mobile Network AVRs (Automated Voice Recordings) like the Airtel AVR for “The number you have dialed cannot be reached at the moment” which were performed by Randy Martin (English) and Priscilla Chimphinda (Chichewa) who I have had the pleasure working with for years.
Fantastic examples of great Voice Over work are Kratos by Christopher Judge or the legendary Phil Lamarr who performs a plethora of iconic characters notably Samurai Jack. These people do voicer overs professionally for a living and make millions of dollars so their ability to sound like different unique characters is an important skill.
YouTube Video for Kratos Voice Over:
How Much Does Voice Over Work Pay in Malawi?
Most Voice Over work in Malawi revolves around the usage of distinct natural voices for Announcements, Corporate Tags, Adverts and Broadcasts.
An entry level payment for Voice Over work in Blantyre is around K20,000 (R400 or $30) at a reputable studio and less at more low budget establishments. The most I have ever gotten anyone for Voice Over work ironically is K150,000 (R3,000 or $250). I believe it was for some Voice Over work if not a rap Home Grown African needed to do for the Coca-Cola Kuphaka Life Campaign. There is no reason it cannot be higher depending on the volume of the work. Though I do not see Local Brands paying beyond K250,000 for an unknown or non-celebrity. Therefore, in Malawi Voice Over work generally is a side gig and you cannot live off of it because, adverts are created by companies seasonally. The people who make the most money out of their voices or Voice Over work in Malawi are DJs or Presenters. This is because, they get hired to host events, do performances and record adverts in addition to their day jobs.
What Do You Need to Do To Get Into The Industry?
You will have to do two things; 1) Practice and find your voice 2) Get exposed. This is the reason a lot of Voice Over work in Malawi is done by DJ’s and Celebrities. People have a good idea of what they sound like and what they are paying for already. They have also had enough time to perfect their delivery so that it sounds natural and full of punch. It takes a while to find your voice, but it is important that you must sound natural as well as stand out from all the voices currently in circulation.
My suggestion is to introduce yourself and your work to Studios and Advertising Agencies, to people that produce adverts for clients not the companies themselves. They have more influence to directly place you in an ad if they like you and have access to knowledge so they can suggest you for a project you may not even know about.
You can start with me, give me a shout via email@example.com DO NOT attach an audio. Sending people audios is outdated, it overloads emails and some company emails don’t receive large files. Instead if you want to provide a sample, include a link to somewhere you have uploaded it whether a data sharing service like WeTransfer (www.wetransfer.com) or a streaming service like YouTube or SoundCloud etc.
Here is a quick List of Some of the Top Voice Over Artists I know or have worked with in Malawi. It is not an exhaustive list or in any particular order. This is an introductory list to help you listen to what voices currently being picked on the Market sound like and perhaps help you find your niche. I know from recent projects that local clients are hungry for new voices and are looking for more diversity. There is also room for good strong female voices as most VOs in Malawi tend to be male.
Top 6 Most Familiar Voice Over Artists in Malawi
- Tapps Bandawe
A very difficult voice to miss in Malawi, punchy and full of flair. Tapps is the owner of Gold Mountain Media and local Pioneer of in store radio. His voice does the adverts in between content when you are in Spar Super Market, listening to People’s in store radio or Chichiri Mall Radio.
2. Randy Martin.
A very familiar voice as Airtel Malawi’s Male English Voice AVR for calls.
3. Rina @rinageneral1.
A local artist, recently worked with her on an FDH ad for their See Things Differently Campaign.
4. Yankho Seuda @yankho_seunda.
Local TV Personality you can catch him Live on Times TV.
5. Sam Kabambe @SamKabambs.
Event Host and Former Radio Presenter at Capital FM.
6. Emanuel “Big Boy Sleam” @Deejay_Sleam.
Dj at Power101FM in Blantyre.
I wrote the scripts to all the ads attached. If you are interested in script writing also give me a shout. Maybe I’ll write an article on that as well in the future. We will see.
Otherwise, thanks for reading. Give me your feedback or follow me on social media for alerts on upcoming articles @Thii_Cii.
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