Causing A Ruckus. Again.

Sweet watchdog.Oh dear, I think I stepped on some very sensitive toes, last week.

And I’m not at all sorry.

If you weren’t part of the now 8,500 strong group that has read last week’s story, click here to catch up on what you missed. It will take you to:

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Become A Voice-Over.

Some of the folks who read it, kindly called me:

“Disheartening and rude.”

“Snarky, mean-spirited, and quite arrogant.”

“Negative, pompous and absolute.”

Another commentator wrote:

“Seems like a severe case of sour grapes and he/she really needs to seek out a career change…”

People know me so well, don’t they? They haven’t got the faintest idea whether I’m a man or a woman, but they sure know my deepest motivations, and darkest desires.

Listen up people. There are psychics among us, and they know exactly what drives us!

If you’ve read all the comments, you know there were other opinions:

“A little reality check is always a good thing. And, as Paul pointed out at the end, if you’re a fool and passionate about it, then you’ll love every lonely, frustrating, fabulous minute of it!”

“As one of the doe-eyed hopefuls making these same mistakes and assumptions, I respect his perspective.”

“Knowing these truths and being aware of the harsh realities of the business is what helped me survive and get work.”

IT COULD BE WORSE

Should you belong to the group that believes I was impudent and impertinent, you must read a blog post entitled:

Five Reasons You Won’t Make It As A Writer,” by John Hartness.

Here’s how it starts:

“I’ve decided to just embrace my role as the Simon Cowell of the writing world. I’m honestly tired of being nice and supportive to everyone who comes up to me with a half-baked idea or worse, a half-baked product, and asks what I think. Because they don’t want to know what I think. They want to hear how awesome they are. And most of the time they aren’t awesome. Most of the time I’d be better off trimming my toenails than reading their godawful attempts at a book or story, because at least that can get exciting if I trim a little too closely. So here goes – unexpurgated Hartness on why you’re not going to make it as a writer.”

And that’s only the beginning…

If, after reading that tirade you still believe I’m the rudest man in the voice-over universe, your skin is way too thin. That’s a serious problem, because -just as the life of a writer- the life of an average voice talent revolves around rejection. And if you’re not rejected enough, you’re not auditioning enough.

Now, is this me being negative and bitter again?

Hell no!

I’m not saying anything new. I’m merely stating a fact, and if you can’t handle that, you are being bitter. Not me.

RULES AND EXCEPTIONS

Here’s what most of my critics pointed out (and I paraphrase here):

While there is some truth to Paul’s five points, there are exceptions to his rules. Quite a few people are making a good living as a voice-over. Some are doing very useful work. It is possible to be social and productive as a VO.

To that I say: Big whoop!

I know a few actors who aren’t waiting tables in NYC or LA, but what does that prove?

Of course I’m generalizing. Anyone who has been in this industry for longer than a year recognizes that. But that doesn’t mean there’s no validity to my point of view. Here’s a quick recap:

– This world needs less talk, and more action.

– VO rates have been steadily eroding.

– Being a voice-over can be unhealthy, and lonely.

– Finding the work often takes more time than doing the work.

– It may take years before you make some serious money.

WHAT’S MY OBJECTIVE

Let’s be honest. Are these really the statements of some disenchanted, fearful soul, meant to scare newcomers off his lawn? Or am I simply restating a few arguments countless colleagues have made for many, many years?

If you have a problem with these conclusions, why shoot the messenger? Why not write to that online casting site you paid good money to, and ask them to raise the minimum rate, and to do some decent quality control? You’re an esteemed member. Shouldn’t you have a say in these matters?

And to commentator Scott Spaulding I’d like to say this:

You claim that there is money in voice-overs, and that’s fine. Your profile on Elance/Odesk tells me that your minimum hourly rate is $38. You voiced an animated infographic for $82! And you’re telling me that you’re “not working for beer money?”

Are you serious?

You wrote:

“(…) just because you work as a voice talent, doesn’t mean you don’t have any interaction with anyone. You can still pick up the phone and call a client directly to try to build a relationship that way. As well as cold-calling potential clients and try to build a report with someone other than through email.”

Yeah, let’s cold call a client to break the social isolation, and build a relationship. I’m sure that’ll go over really well. We all know how much people love to get a cold call. I haven’t had one in a while, and I really miss it.

WHO’S HYPOCRITICAL

I do have to commend you for your honesty, Scott. You said:

“I did find your comment about the voice conference speakers a little bit hypocritical though. You make a snarky remark about the VoiceVIP’s talking about themselves and plugging their own books at these conferences… when you’re doing the same thing on this blog! You have a link to your book on this page that says “Buy the book!” They’re using the conferences to help advertise and sell their book and you use this blog to help advertise and sell your book. You even plugged your book in one of your replies to someone who posted a comment.”

Are you saying that I shouldn’t promote my own work on my own website? What school of business did you go to? You’re on my turf, and the number one goal of this site is to generate an income. How is that hypocritical? You have samples of your work on your website, don’t you? 

There’a big difference between landing on my site, and going to a VO conference. The 5,000+ people who visit my site every month pay zero dollars. What do they get for that? Over 120 blog posts that many visitors find informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Unlike some VO-conferences, I’m not asking people to pay a hefty fee for my privilege to plug my products.

BEING PRODUCTIVE

Scott, I totally disagree with you on your definition of “productive.” You said:

“Whatever you’re doing that is helping build your VO business IS being productive. Whether it’s looking up places to contact, working on a new demo, emailing potential clients, looking up new marketing ideas… it’s all part of working towards your goal of getting business!”

Being busy does not equal being productive. 

In any business, input leads to output. Input can be anything used to produce a product or a service (such as writing newsletters and emails, producing demos, making calls). Productivity is measured by the result of those actions. It’s the output that matters.

When you’re delivering services at a more rapid rate than before, you’re being more productive. Not when you’re making more calls, or when you’re doing market research.

MY MOTIVATION

As an envelope-pushing, pot-stirring blogger I accept the fact that people will criticize and ridicule me. Different opinions and dialogue are welcome, as long as we can have a civilized discussion. 

I also realize that not everyone gets my tongue-in-cheek style. People tend to take the written word more literally, and snarcasm is not for everyone.

I never ask my readers to agree with anything I’m suggesting, but here’s the thing. I don’t provoke for the sake of provocation. The aim of last week’s piece was to provide a counterweight to all the propaganda from companies that are still trying to sell the same old story to a new, naive audience. If anything, I had expected a firm response from those companies. Instead, some colleagues accused me of dissuading newbies to join my club.

“If you don’t have anything positive to say, then perhaps you shouldn’t say it,” is their advice.

Sorry, but that’s not how I was raised.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I do more than complain and campaign. And when I spot things in my industry that seem unfair or downright wrong, I speak up. I don’t care if that makes a few people uncomfortable. As long as things are comfortable, nothing will change.

So, allow me to be that self-appointed watchdog. I may step on a few toes here and there, but my bark is worse than my bite.

You see… I told you so:

This industry is going to the dogs!

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS Be sweet. Please retweet. 

photo credit: Miss Olive via photopin (license)

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs." goo.gl/ihVpMc

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Freelancing, Internet, Money Matters, Pay-to-Play, Personal, Promotion

45 Responses to Causing A Ruckus. Again.

  1. IAN WRIGHT

    If Paul’s blog was headed “5 Reasons Why You SHOULD Become A Voice Over” and it explored the bullet points (1) Be Your Own Boss, (2)Work The Hours You Want To Work, (3) Work From Home, (4) Set Your Own Rates, (5) Earn Untapped Income Potential…would that be more useful to newbies and those in the early stages of getting established ? Quite frankly, if somebody says to me “Ian, I’ve got good news and bad news for you”, I always say “give me the bad news first”. On that basis we can get the “crap” tabled first and then work on the positive. In any case, the +’s of working VO have been and are constantly exposed by many others. Not so many are as up front (YES the blog title IS an attention getter) in dishing out the reality of the negatives. It’s like a friend of mine in real estate sales recently told me. There are many in real estate earning big money, but many more are not, for a variety of reasons. He then went on to highlight the hard yards and conditions involved for new players, part time players and even established players in ‘breaking through’ to START making a decent living. Truth is, in Australia where I live, the “average” real estate agent earns around $35-$45k per annum. If my real estate friend was to do a blog on his industry I KNOW he would have no second thoughts in heading it “5 Reasons Why You Should Never Become A Real Estate Agent”. His rationale is to (1) Gain attention of those contemplating real estate sales, (2) As a first filter, weed out the serious contenders versus the tyre kickers, (3) Pay a courtesy to the committed so they know up front ‘what’ it takes, ‘how long’ it’s likely to take and ‘how much’ they’re likely to earn or not earn, (4)Challenge potential sales people to question themselves whether they are prepared to put in the long, hard yards ? and (5)To be totally transparent to not just the potential employee but his/her spouse, partner, family. Paul’s blog, in my mind and from my experience simply balances all the noise out there re the VO industry. Without this attention getting, in your face approach, many unsuitable people (despite having a good voice or being great at accents or doing fabulous gaming characters) would fail and then wonder “Why” ? Regards, IAN

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  2. Mark Middlestadt

    Like my morning coffee, I begin my Thursday morning’s with your blog.
    Paul, as usual you state it like it is. No dancing around the issue, and certainly no hand holding. The fact is, if you want to succeed in Voice Over, or anything today, it requires effort, true desire, and passion! My 17 year old son gets angry if another kid looks at him the wrong way. I sound like a broken record. I’ve told him, you can’t let other people’s opinions or comments affect you, or this world is going to eat you up!
    I’m very much a newbie to voice over. I practice, take workshops alongside some very skilled veteran voice over professionals, and I listen, learn, take criticism, learn from that and step by step move forward. Someone once said: anything worth having is better appreciated, having earned it yourself. The fact is, in any profession today you are expected to work longer hours for less pay. Benefits keep getting cut back and only the small handful at the top get the big paychecks.
    So one can complain about it, or you can ask yourself what more must I do to achieve better.
    This is what I think you convey. Life is not a free ride, sometimes the wind will buffet you to the left and right, but if you want it bad enough, and are up it you’ll push past the roadblocks and the reward will be that much richer.
    Paul, I love your blogs every week. Keep them coming!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    The trick is to turn those road blocks into stepping stones, and that’s easier said than done. If anyone could do it, anyone would be doing it!

    A VO career is a career without shortcuts. That’s not a popular message, but I think it’s true. Like Bob Bergen said: you’ve got to have a “survival job” in order to make it through the first years (and beyond).

    I sometimes wish VO’s would be as good speaking up for themselves, as they would for others. My blog is my way of speaking up, and I’m so glad you seem to enjoy it!

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  3. Kitzie Stern

    Paul, I’ve been in this business a long time. I’ve done other things but always come back to VO because there’s nothing like it. But it’s a challenging ride sometimes — your last post hit the nail on the head. If it discourages some, they don’t have the fire in the gut to do it. I love VO — I love the challenge & complexity of bringing a script to life, and also love that I can do it in my pj’s with a cup of tea in my basement. The rewards are great, but it’s sometimes a slog to get here. Thanks for being honest about it.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Apparently, honesty is not a popular policy, Kitzie. At least for some. I challenge those who do not agree with me to prove me wrong. I sincerely hope they succeed, because VO is such a fun way to go through life. It has its ups and downs, but show me a profession that hasn’t.

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    Kitzie Stern Reply:

    Paul, agreed. I’m someone who is easily bored, and VO has kept me interested all these years. VO’s are the greatest group of people too, there’s very little ego because we all (mostly) prefer to stay anonymous.
    Newbies & people outside the business don’t realize the time, training & money that go into learning the craft. It’s acting, and it’s not easy. That’s the harsh reality.

    [Reply]

  4. Helen Moore-Gillon

    It’s too early for a zingy comment – but I just love reading your blog on a Thursday morning… and this one was a humdinger! You are a brilliant watchdog 🙂

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you, Helen. I’m wagging my tail right now!

    [Reply]

  5. Paul Garner

    Paul,
    This article makes me think of my first VO coach. From time to time, especially when I was challenged by a particular piece, he would ask me if I really wanted to be a voice actor. Did I really want to work this hard for no guaranteed return? That always irritated me and I would answer “Yes, I do!” Later, I realized what he was doing. He wasn’t being “mean”, he was testing my desire, my passion, my mettle. I am very grateful for that, now. If a few negative comments were enough to stop me from becoming a voice actor, then I probably wouldn’t have lasted very long anyway.
    Thanks for the great discussion, once again!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Your coach was very wise. It takes commitment to last long in this business. If that commitment isn’t there from the start, you might as well not waste the time and the money.

    Every teacher puts his/her students through a series of tests. Should some readers be put off by this week’s and last week’s blog, they obviously failed the test (and saved themselves a lot of time and money in the process).

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  6. Deven Mack

    So much of this article is spent focusing on Scott Spaulding. You start out quoting him THREE times in a row, yet introduce his three quotes as “some of the folks”. I find that very misleading, given the overwhelmingly positive reception you’ve received in the comments here — though perhaps more disagreements took place off-site. I feel that all of the issues I had previously touched upon were given little to no rebuttal here, however, there seems to be some backtracking in your recap.

    Here is but one example of what you’re saying now:
    “Being a voice-over can be unhealthy, and lonely.” True.

    Versus what you said before:
    “You have no one to talk to but yourself, and you’ll never see a response from the people you’re supposedly entertaining.”
    False.

    Therein lies my fundamental problem with how you wrote your article. Please, PLEASE by all means tell people this is an excruciatingly difficult line of work, but again, I don’t believe in counteracting the false hope of P2P/demo mills by spreading false doubt. Incoming generations of talent need gatekeepers who are here to educate. You can cause someone to question whether or not this field is for them through pure fact; without the need to ridicule approaches that are disagreed with, or present worst case scenarios as generalized absolutes to see who’s “tough enough” to take it.

    Does every depressed, struggling actor who gives in to inner and outer pressures to quit deserve to be dismissed as unworthy or “better off somewhere else”? Everyone has different breaking points, it doesn’t mean they aren’t passionate or devoted to their craft. The common hardships and horror stories should still always be shared, but so too should the fact that there are many different paths to succeeding in VO.

    Yes, this business does require a VERY thick skin, which many can grow over time if they aren’t crushed early on through falsities or needless negativity. My problem is not with the core messages I believe you’re trying to convey; it’s in HOW you convey them. The words of an industry veteran to a rookie can carry enormous weight and should never be taken for granted.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Of course anyone is free to comment on my articles, but when the argument gets rather personal and petty, I like to look at the source to qualify the comments.

    Today I searched for your voice-over website, Deven, but I couldn’t find it. Do you have a professional presence, or just a social media presence?

    On YouTube you wrote: “I don’t take freelance job offers as an actor, sorry. I do freelance casting/directing jobs, however.” So, how am I to take you seriously if you don’t seem to be a serious voice actor? Anyone can put impersonations on YouTube, but that doesn’t constitute a career.

    The reason I responded to Scott was because his reaction was representative of what other critics had to say on this and other platforms (including emails). The way he had worded it was just perfect. That’s why I quoted him. As you can see, I also included a few quotes from those who agree with me to balance it all out. I did not -however- have to include a rebuttal to friends and colleagues who were supportive anyway.

    For the record: I never deemed anyone unworthy; I never dismissed anyone, and I did not spread false doubt. Those are your conclusions. Not mine.

    Could I have given nuances to my opinion? Absolutely, and those who have read the rest of this blog (as well as my book), know that I do my best to paint a more complete picture. For this particular installment though, I chose some shock therapy which was rather mild, compared to the blog about writing I referred to in the beginning of the blog post.

    I didn’t feel the need to share VO success stories, because the internet is already plastered with them. Behind every story of success, is a story of sacrifice, and of overcoming disappointment. Those stories aren’t very popular because they don’t sell memberships and coaching contacts.

    You may not like my tone, but you don’t wake a daydreamer up by whispering gently in his or her ear.

    [Reply]

    Deven Mack Reply:

    It is not my desire to be petty or attack your character, Paul. I felt the points I brought up on your original article were quite valid, yet had been either overlooked or ignored. As you said yourself, sometimes one needs to make noise to be heard. Unlike some of your detractors who believe you aim to scare away competition, I *genuinely* believe that you do want what’s best for this business, and that we share many of the same core ideals. Like you, I even started working professionally at the age of 17.

    I really, really don’t want to make this about me, but since you opened that can of worms, I’ll start there and follow up with the other subjects soon after. I must note that you focused on one of my very few YouTube videos to not feature any of my professional work. Try these:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoRcdtIvi8A
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdEbs1VJmuE

    Among other things, I am currently starring in 3 animated TV series as well as a long-running TV/radio campaign for a telecommunications company. I cast and directed a million-selling Microsoft-produced video game and have several very successful students who credit me with both launching and guiding their careers. I’ve only been at this for 10 years myself, but I like to think that I have at least a decent grasp upon what I’m doing and talking about. The only jobs I’ve ever known pertain to VO.

    As already stated, I am not a freelance actor. A business-oriented VO website of my own only garnered me freelance, non-union job offers that I do not accept. My web presence is now almost exclusively devoted to interacting with people who enjoy my work, sharing what I’ve learned, and occasional silly fun. I don’t even want more students, because I handpicked mine and I don’t care to charge them for my time — which I’m well aware is financially moronic of me.

    [Reply]

  7. Kent Ingram

    Once again, if one doesn’t read THROUGH your blog, Paul, they’ll NEVER get the REAL message behind it. The problem is, we humans sometimes have a tendency to skim, rather than digest, articles such as yours. If you get the whole point of it, THEN go ahead and get pissed-off, if you still disagree with it.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You’re right Kent. I’m a skimmer myself. I even prefer my milk skimmed.

    If I’m not pissing certain people off as a blogger, perhaps I should do something else with my time. So, I’m glad I ruffled a few feathers. Controversy increases readership!

    [Reply]

  8. September Day Carter

    Since I know nothing of the old school except what my 20+ years in radio hubby has to say, I don’t have a longing for the “old days”. However, I was previously married to a “computer guy” during the height of the Internet bubble. When he began,so few of the population understood computers and code. After 10 years, his job was almost obsolete, down from 200K a year. Accessibility to tech has made the VO population swell. There are many more of us. But the cream rises to the top. I remain open to most avenues of work, choosing what I want to do. I don’t bad mouth P2P because it’s where I got my start and how a complete nobody ended up doing her first ever LIVE VO gig for MTV in Las Vegas. A cold call is how my relationship with Amazon began and I’m now the voice behind their tech. I’ve only been doing this 7 years and I still have the joy but I have wisened up a bit and I hold my ground more. For instance, Nike wanted me to do a 6AM session yesterday. That’s not possible for me with my kids and life. Old me would have moved mountains to make sure to retain the client. New me understands my value and that a company who wants a pro will move the session to accommodate the talent. I love what I do because I have so much time with my kids. Everyday we go to the Zoo, or Aquarium, or Museum, or playground or pool or nature walk. I have a say in my success. I am accountable for myself and my failures as well as my achievements. THAT’S the beauty of VO, of small business in general.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for sharing your story, September. I think you’re one of the exceptions that proves the rule, and you can be proud of that. Of course not everyone is exceptional. In fact, I believe a significant majority of those who hope to make it as a VO have no idea what’s in stall for them. That’s one of the reasons I’m sharing my perspective of the business.

    By the way, there is a big difference between badmouthing P2P’s and criticizing them. They are often confused, and it isn’t helpful. It is perfectly possible and often necessary to point out certain flaws. I’ve done it many times. My aim has always been to give feedback that would improve the service, and make P2P’s more accountable.

    More and more colleagues are disenchanted with these online casting behemoths, and “members” are leaving in droves. Companies that do not listen to their customers will eventually go out of business.

    [Reply]

  9. Sally Blake ( Voice On Fire )

    Well you did it again Paul 🙂 Your blog has inspired debate and thought provoking responses. I appreciate everyone’s input. Ahhh… Thursday mornings with my first cup of coffee. Love it!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I always have some coffee beans on a saucer in my studio. It’s the first aroma I smell when I start my day, and I love it!

    [Reply]

  10. Laura Branch Mireles

    Years ago, I was an associate producer at a television news station. The executive producer/evening anchor drove me crazy with his constant critiquing and sarcasm. He did it to everyone, not just me. Sometimes I got downright offended at his “mentoring style”. The station newbies would commiserate after work over drinks about how “horribly rude and arrogant” this guy was. One day, it even resulted in a closed-door-conference-room-face-off between him and me where my gloves finally came off. You know what? To this day, when I write, proof or report news, I hear his voice in my head, reminding me how to tweak a story to make it not only grammatically and factually correct but enjoyable as well. And I smile. I thank God every day for him and all I learned. He toughened me up and taught me well. Cheers to you, Paul, for your bravery to do the same.

    [Reply]

  11. Xander Mobus

    I want to start by saying, I don’t think having a negative opinion of your article is implying we are psychic and know everything about you. All we know and all we can interpret, agree with or disagree with is what you have written. The problem I have is with what you have written. Not that I think you are “mean”.

    My first question would be “Who are you writing this article for?” I ask this because you say you are trying to be be a voice of reason to newbies who hear all this propaganda from these pay-to-play sites. Fair enough, but then I read: “Of course I’m generalizing. Anyone who has been in this industry for longer than a year recognizes that.”

    That raises the question to me, if you are trying to inform new people, but it takes a seasoned vet to spot your, if I may say, gross generalizations, then it follows that you are, if not misinforming these newbies, misrepresenting the business to them.

    The second issue I have is that you admit yourself you have a snarky quality. And if this article was meant to be simple catharsis, venting your frustrations to other vets, I’d have no issue. But it’s not. People just entering this business, or looking to enter this business, are reading. When they read this article, it appears to be for them. Now they are being “snarked” at by a seasoned pro who is letting them know that they should not be doing this.

    I suppose this is up to interpretation, but how is someone who has little to no experience realistically going to take “The world doesn’t need you?”

    If you this article was meant to be a deterrent to people entering the business, then fine. That is your opinion. I disagree with it, and I dislike the sentiment, but it is your opinion. But that isn’t what you are claiming was your sentiment. There is a disconnect between what you are apparently trying to say and what you are saying. As mentioned above, we cannot judge you as a person or your intent. We can only judge the words in that article.

    I have many friends just getting their start in this business. They are talented people who absolutely SHOULD be out there auditioning and being compensated for their work. But they are not seasoned pros. They don’t have the confidence that comes with experience and first-hand knowledge of the business. They did not respond well to this article, because they trust someone who has been doing this longer. You have the authority, as someone who has been doing this for a length of time, to give insight into the VO world. The people who don’t have that will trust that you are not going to lead them astray.

    Truthfully, you had some good points. You expressed problems with the business. But facts, like opinions, can be stated in many different ways, and each carries with it a different implied meaning. The glass is half empty will always sound worse than the glass is half full. Your article seemed to favor the former sentiment. This can be so damaging to people looking for information on this life and can give them a warped sense of how things really are.

    So, I while I respect you trying to raise awareness of real issues with the business, I cannot help but dislike the irresponsibility you showed in your representation of it. True, you are not forcing anyone to read your article. However people will. People looking to get informed on how they should go about pursuing a career. They will not walk away having a better understanding of this world. Only the cynical feeling that they have wasted their time on something they were passionate about.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Xander, I have to thank you for all your comments. There’s one thing I believe you don’t quite understand:

    In order to be heard, you have to make noise.

    At the risk of sounding like the arrogant bastard some people think I am, I’m quite good at making noise. You may not like the tone of my blog posts, but the fact is: it gets people’s attention. Should newcomers be scared off by short blog posts like mine, they’re definitely better off doing something else. If you intend to give up that easily, you shouldn’t even be running your own business. You need people to hold your hand, and tell you that everything’s going to be alright.

    You asked: “Who am I writing this for?”

    I have about 35K subscribers and followers. Many of them are fellow-VO’s. Others work in radio, tv, and the rest of the entertainment industry. But because much of what I write about is applicable to many creative freelancers, my blog is followed by copywriters, photographers, graphic designers, actors etcetera.

    It is interesting that, in spite of all the support I have received from seasoned voice-overs, you still zoom in on the fact that you believe I misrepresent the industry. If that were the case, every commentator would have burned me to the ground. Furthermore, you only direct your arrows at me, and never mention the gross misrepresentation/propaganda coming from certain demo mills, VO training centers, and online casting services. To me, the real problem lies there.

    You may accuse me of being irresponsible, but I would consider it highly irresponsible not to talk about the challenges facing those who are about to fork over a substantial amount of money in pursuit of a dream. They deserve to know that there’s a different side to this wonderful profession. Hearing about that side may turn certain people off, but I’m sure others will feel even more determined to beat the odds.

    [Reply]

    Xander Mobus Reply:

    Thanks for your response. I appreciate that you are willing to have a dialog about this. This may simply come down to a difference in our viewpoints, but I do want to stress that realism and pessimism are different. While you do mention the propaganda churned out by demo farms and pay-to-play sites, your main article doesn’t really seem to be about them. Phrases like “the world doesn’t need you”, “the sedentary lifestyle of a typical voice-over is unhealthy for the mind, body, and soul” even down to the title itself have absolutely nothing to do with warning people of the dangers of being suckered by people looking to make a quick buck by promising you fame and fortune.

    Instead you focus on why one shouldn’t even bother entering the industry, even if avoiding these propaganda sites. And what’s more, you represent the life of a voice actor as a lonely existence that no one will ever thank you for and you can never make money at. Yet in the comment section you claim to feel very rewarded in your work and that you make a decent living at it. This is either a double standard or one is more true than the other. Again, I can only judge the words written and to me they simply do not add up.

    I agree that there are many scams and crappy sites out there trying to milk money out of a lot of young naive talent who simply don’t know any better, and warning them of this is great. But you offer no real alternative. So what constructive is really being taken from the article? Scams are bad? Fair enough, but that isn’t the only point. The point of the article is “Never become a voice over”. It’s in the title.

    Which brings me to my last point. If you believe that in order to be heard, and for the greater good of making people aware of these scams you have to not just make the point, but jazz it up by saying never get into voice over, then fine. But that is sensationalism. It is not portraying this career as it is. If it takes a seasoned pro to spot that and this article is meant for them…then what’s the point? If you are a working veteran of this industry you are aware of these things and aren’t buying into them. If the point is to raise awareness among the new folk who need to be made aware of these problems, then by your own admission they would have no ability to see through, as you say, “generalizations”. They will take out of it exactly what you put in your article. This is a lonely life you won’t make money in because the world doesn’t need you. Never get into voice over.

    You have said “If you intend to give up that easily, you shouldn’t even be running your own business” and, sir, with respect, I think that is a bit crap. You may not drive people to quit, but the new people reading your blog automatically, by virtue of you being a seasoned pro, trust your opinion. You simply have more experience than they.

    If you tell them in your own words “you should never become a voice over” they are not being educated. They are being told to quit. With great power does in fact come great responsibility, and you have the power of knowledge and experience. Your article did not represent my career or experience in VO, nor did it reflect the careers and experiences of my friends in this industry; and it doesn’t even sound like it represents your career either. That is generalization, at best, and misrepresentation and sensationalism at worst. And none of those things educate anyone.

    So if you do intend to educate people to fight propaganda, then I applaud you. But resorting to discouraging new talent simply for the sake of being heard, I cannot get behind.

    Thanks once again for your time.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for continuing the dialoge, Xander. You may label my strategy to increase my readership as “sensationalism,” but I’m not interested in labels. What interests me is the effect. Sensationalism is shallow, and I seem to have initiated a discussion that -in my opinion- is anything but shallow.

    You’ve read the response of many experienced colleagues who echo and applaud my words. So, to say that I misrepresent the business, is baseless. Of course there are success stories big and small, and I’m glad you don’t recognize yourself in my words. But as in any other artistic profession, many are invited, and very few are chosen. That’s not a negative opinion. That is a fact.

    Stating that fact in and of itself is not necessarily discouraging. A mountain may look intimidating, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be climbed. Some people enjoy and thrive, taking on near-impossible tasks.

    You have every right to disagree with me, but I still believe this world needs more nurses, teachers and scientists rather than Don LaFontaine soundalikes. I mean, if you were stranded on a remote island, with a doctor and a voice-over artist, and you could only keep one person around, which one would you pick?

    Xander Mobus Reply:

    I appreciate your continued responses! And you are right! Dialogue is being inspired, but being fair, Fox News inspires dialogue. The means to getting to that dialogue is still awful.

    I’m not trying to make a direct comparison between your blog and Fox News, obviously. None the less, I find that a poor shield.

    Sir, if you had said exactly what you just said in your comment in your blog, we would not be having this discussion. As always, my issue is with the presentation. You have raised valid issues, but there is a difference between “The world doesn’t need you” and “But as in any other artistic profession, many are invited, and very few are chosen”.

    It is the difference between cynicism and reality. In your original argument you stated emphatically, not that you personally felt the market was flooded and perhaps life would be better for them pursuing a different career, but that the world did not need them. You can argue both are different wordings of the same argument, sure, but the phrasing changes the tone and the meaning.

    There are many great articles about this business which detail the challenges. Most legit pros who do such blogs will tell you up-front about the challenges. But warning of challenges and saying “Quit” are different. The title of your article was “5 Reasons Why You Should Never Become A Voice-Over”. This is a statement simply saying “DON’T DO THIS” not “Why it will be difficult. Be prepared for these challenges”.

    It is possible we will not see eye-to-eye on this, and I respect your opinion. I just wish you to understand that your original article could cause damage and discouragement to new voice over artists due not to your intention, but your presentation of it. Again we cannot tell your intention. Just what you have written.

    While it is easy to dismiss this as “they shouldn’t be doing this if they can’t take rejection” I don’t think that’s a valid argument. Discouragement is discouragement. It may not be your job to encourage and hold hands, but neither is it your job to tell people to never do this. Disillusionment and discouragement are very different. Disillusionment I am totally okay with. Discouragement for the sake of it troubles me.

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Xander, I want to be very clear and then move on, because your arguments are getting repetitive.

    First of all: this is my website and this is my blog. You may not agree with me, and you may not like my provocative tone, but you cannot tell me what my job is, and how I should conduct myself in that job. You’re not my editor-in-chief.

    If you feel that I have discouraged people “for the sake of it,” you are wrong. I cannot make people do or feel anything. I don’t have those extraordinary powers. I don’t think that my readers are that easily manipulated. They are perfectly capable to take from my articles what they like, and to draw their own conclusions.

    As a blogger it is not my job to please every reader, or to offer a balanced story about the pros and cons of being in this business. Of course there are so many aspects of voice-over that make it the best job ever, as the last lines of my original post indicate. I have dealt with those aspects in other articles, and most people know about them already.

    You may feel that the way this dialogue started was “awful.” That’s perfectly fine with me. As a blogger the worst thing that could happen is to write a story, and people don’t care. I want my articles to be read and talked about, and I will use every means at my disposal to make that happen.

    So far, my “5 reasons” story has almost 10,000 views, and the dialogue continues. I couldn’t be more pleased!

    IAN WRIGHT Reply:

    Xander, I’m 61 and have worked in commercial radio for 44 years. Before I started full time, I did a couple of years in between schooling. Despite having incredible enthusiasm and ongoing passion to ‘do it’ there were obviously negatives with the business (and still are). I still have to either put up with or alternatively work around crap. That crap is either industry related, creatively related or more to do with individuals and their ‘take’ on things. Would I prefer to have less crap ? Sure ! But the thing is, I went into this business knowing there were negatives and as I get older (and possibly grumpier) I’m still discovering frustrating issues and people. Aligning this to the Voice Over industry and the parallels are the same. So for newbies and established operators Paul has done those destined to ‘survive’ and hopefully ‘thrive’ (no guarantees !) a BIG favour. There’s no point getting into Voice Over with rose coloured glasses, as many times than not, the view will be distorted. What Paul does with his well written blogs is give you ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’. Honestly, if the negatives of the Voice Over business scare off some people, either they need to mature in the reality of life BEFORE taking on this challenge or possibly seriously re-think “Is this option REALLY for me ?” Regards, IAN in Australia.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    As Ian pointed out so well, one has to deal with crap, even in the voice-over industry.

    The trick is to turn that crap into manure!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    As Ian pointed out so well, one has to deal with crap, even in the voice-over industry.

    The trick is to turn that crap into manure!

    [Reply]

  12. Dan Lenard

    Paul,

    …. ….. …. Um, You said it all! The truth hurts some. Any further philosophical pontification on my part would be redundant to your already well chosen and right on words of wisdom. I hope I get a chance to hang out with you again soon. I sense another EWABS appearance in your future.

    :-3)

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Another EWABS? Some people might see that as scandalous self-promotion, Dan. But for you guys, I’ll take the snide remarks in stride, and explain myself some more.

    For those of you who are new to the business, Dan hosts a terrific weekly show (together with his buddy George Whittam), and it’s called the East West Audio Body Shop, or EWABS. It’s live, every Monday at 6PT/9ET. You can watch past shows on the EWABS YouTube Channel.

    [Reply]

  13. Rosemary Benson

    There was a song in “The Wiz” titled, “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,” and it seems some of your critics are singing it. If people are dissuaded or incensed by your points, my guess is that they are either new to the industry or didn’t read carefully. And, just because you don’t want to hear something doesn’t make it mean, false, or hypocritical.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I love a good song, as long as the singer isn’t out of tune. Some of my critics could benefit from a few singing lessons. Shall I send them to you?

    I’ve come to realize that quite a few commentators don’t read past the headlines, or they just skim the text. That’s why so many missed the last few lines of last week’s blog. I skim too, but when I comment on a post, I make sure to read the whole article first.

    [Reply]

  14. Shane Morris

    Albert Einstein Quotes – “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.”
    I’d complain but who’d listen! Another audition just came in, gotta run! Maybe they’ll listen! :-0
    Thanks Paul! Keep em coming!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Good luck with your audition. It’s time for me to start recording too. I’m updating a PADI-course I voiced, so I’ll get more than my feet wet.

    [Reply]

  15. Kevin

    Interestingly, as I read your post again, it made me think of think of someone I know starting out in health insurance sales. Then, I realized it probably applies to any startup business.

    I remember when I started out as a radio and night club DJ, I would get a lot of people wanting advice on how to “get in”. I’m sure it seemed like easy money. I would usually try to talk people out of it. I knew that if I could talk them out it, they wouldn’t last long in that business. Most would lose interest pretty quickly. But there where a few who knew the work involved but we’re still interested. Those, I would try to help as much as I possibly could.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    That’s precisely why I subtitled my book “Freelancing for voice-overs, and other solopreneurs” (Sorry Scott, I had to mention it again). Running a VO business is like running other creative freelance businesses. Even though I look at the world through the lens of a voice-over, a lot of what I have to say can benefit graphic designers, photographers, copywriters etcetera.

    When it comes to voice-overs, many are interested, but very few are committed. Like you, I’m all for informing the interested, and helping the committed.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Anyone who’s read more than a few of your posts would see that spirit permeates your writing. As you said, “I’m all for informing the interested, and helping the committed.

    Thanks for your great work.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I’d love it if people would read more of my stuff, but apparently, I’m a hypocrite for promoting my book on my own site…

  16. Taylor Stonely

    Paul, no matter what the critics say, you are spot on! There are challenges to every industry, and VO is no exception. Those of us who are fairly new to the business need to have reality hit us in the face a few times to keep us focused on the prize. This is not a walk in the park, but a grinding, dizzying, frustrating slog that does have its rewards in the end. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. Bravo on your courage to speak out!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you, Taylor. As a voice-over, it is my job to be outspoken. Sometimes I even get paid for it!

    [Reply]

  17. IAN WRIGHT

    Paul, if only the world let alone the Voice Over world was more open, honest and not afraid to cut the BS. I find your opinions straight down the middle and spot on. And if you sell a book or two in the process, well, I can think of worse publications to read ! Keep it up my friend. Regards, IAN in South Australia.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Based on the overall response, I’d say that 75% of those who responded were echoing my sentiment. Of course any blog revolves around subjective opinion, and I never shy away from a debate.

    [Reply]

  18. Ted Mcaleer

    Man oh MAN DO I LOVE THURSDAYS!!!!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Me too, Ted!

    [Reply]

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