Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

Vocal Fry: The Next Big Trend in Voice Production?

Vocal Fry is also known as that creaky sound many people make at the ends of words or sentences. Recent research has found that the creaky voice phenomenon may be a growing speech trend in college age women. Check out what the Today Show reported about the growing pattern:

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Basically, this study says young women are subconsciously picking up vocal fry from idolized singers and celebrities. This new research begs the question: Is this what you're likely to hear from brands going forward?

The answer? A solid…maybe.

Why Some Brands Should Use It:

Using or avoiding vocal fry in professional recordings - microphone

Businesses that cater toward young women should pay attention to this research. If they’re listening to their customers, these brands should be able to identify the vocal trend and match their Message On Hold and other marketing content to it. Kim Kardashian’s store, Shoe Dazzle, would undoubtedly make the list of “Vocal Fry Friendly” brands (as the reality star is one of the biggest culprits of vocal fry). Since people like to hear a voice that’s like their own, it makes sense to use a voice similar to your customers’. Think about it this way: An NYC Pizzeria wouldn’t use a guy with a Boston accent in their telephone hold marketing, would they?

Why You Should Avoid It:

Some people associate that creaky sound with being bored or elitist. Some associate it with a lack of intelligence. Some just think it’s irritating. If that sounds like your callers’ point of view, avoid this trend all together. It will make a telephone hold time absolutely unbearable for callers.

Avoiding vocal fry goes beyond sound, too. It turns out, it might not be a trend after all. Many associate vocal fry with a “west coast” accent, and people have been noticing vocal fry in speech for many years. So that creaky sound might not be something that is appealing to your callers after all. It might be a normal part of speech that we don’t notice or don’t care about.

The Audio Marketing Lesson:

If you’re talking like your customer—both in writing and in audio programs—you shouldn’t have a problem deciding whether or not you should ask a voice over talent to add a little fry to her voice.  But you should know that voice over talent aren't going to fry their voice unless you specifically ask for it—it goes against proper, widely-taught, pronunciations.

What do you think? Will you be adding a little vocal fry to your next MOH program, or do you think this is a “trend” that really isn’t so trendy?

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Tags: recording tips, audio branding, voice over talent, audio marketing