Stop Bashing Voices.com!

ProtestThe history of the world is littered with intelligent people doing stupid things. 

Some of those people have interesting excuses:

“I continue to suck on this carcinogenic stick, even though it could kill me. It’s just so relaxing.”

“I won’t stop sexting, even if it ruins my marriage and my political career. I can’t live without the excitement.”

“My employer treats me like dirt, but I’ll stick it out because I have great benefits.”

The people who are saying these things are smart and have been around the block a few times. Yet, they choose to continue to behave in weird ways, almost as if they have no choice.

I had to think of these people after I heard of yet another chapter in the ongoing saga of Voices dot com (VDC), sticking it to voice talent. Under the heading Did Voices.com Just Take a 92.5% Commission?,  colleague Marc Scott reported that VDC had the audacity to post a $4000 job for a measly $300. How do we know? The VDC audition script for this national TV spot happened to be identical to a script that had already gone out to several agencies. 

Busted!

In its defense, “Voices” claimed the project they posted was cast in a different way, with multiple roles instead of one. Scott spoke to people who had received the original casting, and they disagreed. In their understanding, the client was offering $4000 per role. Not $300. 

In an email response to Scott, VDC went a step further in explaining the $3700 difference. Get this. They said their quote wasn’t even based on the client’s budget, but on their own rate sheet.

Well, no matter how you spin the story, offering three hundred bucks for a national TV spot is beyond pathetic, if not outright insulting. But that seems to be the way VDC treats the people who put the voice in “Voices.” 

If all of this comes as a shock to you, you’re either new to the voice-over business, or you have been ignoring the facts. It’s been a year since my two posts Voices.com Is Slapping Regular Members In The Face, and Voices.com: Unethical and Greedy? were published. These stories have been read thousands of times (20,337 & 21,547 respectively). Since then (and well before that), colleagues as well as VDC employees have been venting left and right.

In light of all this, here’s the question many VDC members are asking themselves:

“Should I cancel my membership?”

Here are some typical answers:

“I feel betrayed. However, they are a good source of income for me, and I can’t really afford to dump them out of hand.” 

“I hate what they’re doing, but sixty percent of my income comes from VDC. I’m not going to quit and lose all that money.”

“I guess I could leave VDC, but where would I go to find all those VO jobs?”

And that brings me back to the opening of this blog post: intelligent people doing stupid things. In this case, many are complaining about VDC, but they renew their membership anyway. Year after year. I find that hard to justify. 

As long as you keep investing in a company that does not have your best interest at heart, you keep that company in business. It’s that simple.

We know how VDC operates. We know that those who criticize VDC’s business practices are ignored and kicked out, but listen to this. If -after all that has been revealed- you still choose to collaborate with this Canadian company, you are an enabler who has no right to complain. 

Frankly, your outrage means nothing to me. It’s just lip service (and we all know that voice-overs specialize in lip service). It’s easy to protest if you don’t have to pay a price.

It doesn’t stop there, though.

People tend to reveal what’s important to them in the choices they make. So, if you choose to stay with “Voices” because you’re afraid to lose the income, you choose money over morals. It shows that your conscience is for sale. To me it also indicates that you don’t really seem to care about the long-term effect low rates are having on the industry. As long as you get paid your $200 for that ten-minute industrial, all is well. Money is money, right?

To those who fear they’ll have no career without “Voices,” I want to say this:

There is life after Voices dot com!

As a freelancer it’s bad business to make yourself dependent on one or two sources of income. “Voices” is not the only game in town. You have many options, and as a professional you should explore all avenues. Here’s the good news.

There are clients who are willing to pay $4000 for your voice. Why settle for $300? Why should a voice casting site that’s already making tons of money off memberships and escrow fees (that just went from 10 to 20%!), pocket the difference?

If you think you’re entitled to a fair share, and you feel you’re not getting it at Voices dot com (or at any other casting service for that matter), you have to do something about it. For your sake, and for the sake of your community. But let me be straight. 

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t moan about the middle man, and support him at the same time. You can’t complain about the quality of the water, and pour yourself a glass. 

If you want to be part of the solution, you can’t be part of the problem. 

Unfortunately, words alone are not going to bring about change.

Bad things happen when good people do nothing. 

But as long as you’re unwilling to take action, stop bashing Voices dot com!

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS Be sweet. Please retweet.

photo credit: Demonstration/Parade/Performance/Public Hearing – Hamburg 28.05.2016 beyond welcome: another planning is possible right to the city – never mind the papers – schwabinggrad ballett 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, Money Matters, Pay-to-Play

30 Responses to Stop Bashing Voices.com!

  1. Gerald MacKay

    I’ve been a paid member of Voices.com for over 5 years, including a Platinum member at one point. The number of projects “professionally managed” by Voices.com has been very concerning to me. During one of these projects, we had a problem connecting by ISDN for a scheduled session. Because I had no contact info for the client, I tried to contact the manager at Voices.com to figure it out. She informed me that she was in a meeting she couldn’t get out of, and would deal with it later. Because of this, we had to reschedule the session. Handling this issue is exactly what their role was supposed to include.

    I’ve also noticed that more and more “professionally managed” job postings say that auditions should not be slated. I can only assume this is to prevent clients from knowing the names of the talent, so they could not contact them outside of Voices.com. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like an odd thing to include in a job posting.

    Now, with the increase from 10% to 20%, I’ve contacted Voices.com and asked to cancel my subscription. It’s a very unfortunate situation, and I hope Voices.com changes their business practices soon. It’s been a great service for me, and has helped launch my voice acting career. But the service, as it operates now, just doesn’t work for me anymore.

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  2. Dave Steele

    I have few thoughts about the voice.com audition process and on the surepay/escrow fees that recently doubled.

    First, the hike in fee’s to 20% I feel is uncalled for. Many professional subscribers (like me) already pay a yearly fee of over $300. Then, to hike the fee to 20% for the ‘convenience’ of a sure pay system seems a bit outrageous. It was supposed to be a fee for voices.com common to upkeep the sure pay system, as well as provide subsequent revenue to voices.com. I can understand a 10% commission. But, 20% is just not right.

    Second, take a look at all of the jobs that talent audition for which are never completed. There are literally hundreds of auditions (on just my answered section) that have never been completed. All of the time I put in for auditions, only to be hit with a 20% rate IF the job is even awarded or completed.

    I like voices.com – I have been with them for years, but it seems like an additional kick to the gut when I take the time to audition, see the 20% surepay fee AND watch as the job is NEVER completed. Not awarded to someone else, just watch the potential VO client walk away from the job forever.

    If I take the time to audition for a gig that has a $500 to $750 budget… and if it is NOT the professional services division… if I bid $500, with the 20% escrow/surepay fee, the client see’s a $600 charge.

    It just seems the voices.com is not playing the quick fix money game for them, rather than truly making it easy for a talent to complete a job.

    Voices.com – please. Change this.

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I’m not sure the folks at voices dot com are still reading my blog posts, Dave. I have been critical of their business practices in the past, and they removed my free profile from their site. Voices dot com knows how many members feel, because these members have been cancelling their membership in droves. Their goal is to make money, and not to make the people who put the Voice in “Voices” happy. Remember: people like you keep this company in business. As long as a majority of members stays silent, this Pay to Play can keep doing what it’s doing, and laugh all the way to the bank.

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  3. Philip Banks

    In my world, no one is talking about the “Canadian Voice Exploitation Collective” Slogan – We will be rich whereas YOU Naaaaaaaa not so much!

    In my world, not only is no one talking about the above they are not doing anything about them either.

    Elitist? No. If you’re reading this then my world is your world too! So what’s the difference? My part of our world is populated by people who, whilst aware of the DON’Ts are too busy doing the DOs!

    Paul’s blog is an excellent example of what one should do in order to stand a chance of making anything, let alone a living, from voice over work and shaking your fist at the world isn’t one of them nor is spending money on the book, the video, the class or the suppository “The lazy way to Voice Over riches”

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Hi Philip, it’s always good to read your comments. Part of me totally agrees with you. In order to move on and have sustainable success as a voiceoverist, it is beneficial to get out of this world… this world of greedy middlemen (and women).

    On the other hand, I know successful colleagues who still use a company like VDC to get leads, and land additional work. They complain openly about VDC’s business practices, yet they can’t bring themselves to cut ties with an easy system that sends job opportunities to their inbox every single day. Those people are part of my world too. They read my blogs, and they email me with questions.

    As a blogger, I want to cater to a broad spectrum of the VO-community, and that’s why I still write about VDC. But there’s more, and for that I’m going to quote what I wrote to our friend Peter O’Connell:

    “Ultimately, this story is about more than a Canadian Pay to Play. It’s about the future of our industry. About fair rates. About fair treatment of talent. About professional standards. Because we all know that as soon as one Pay to Play bites the dust, another one will appear that’s even more exploitative. Also, every day a new group of people will try their luck in this industry, and thy need to be warned and educated.”

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    Philip Banks Reply:

    You are correct and everything you write has value in this context.

    We are business people all united by one thing “we sell our voices” and yet for the most part are divided by fear of consequences. We should not fear the consequences of being thought lesser mortals for doing deals or for being pompous idiots for doing what’s best for the future. Everyone will claim they are doing the latter whereas the truth is that the majority are doing no such thing.

    One of my dearest friends shrugs at the people who walk away from VDC saying “If there’s a job for 50 bucks I’ll do it, it’s a bag of groceries”, I admire the pragmatic approach. If I dare to comment on the bigger picture she’ll slap me down with one killer comment “I DON’T get a sniff at the stuff you do!” She right to want to feed her family and she’s right that on a daily basis my two Collies eat better than she does. For the record, Beluga Caviar is good for their coats.

    You equip people in two ways you inform them of the Don’ts and this blog contains a bucket full of DOs. Long may that remain the case.

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  4. Mark Weitzman

    After several years of maintaining a paid subscription, I’d become so dissatisfied with Voices.com that I quit VDC recently.

    VDC causes it’s voice talent so many headaches that it’s members realize it’s just a time-wasting burden. I’d begun to dread dealing with VDC.

    It’s strange to me that I feel pleased to be free of VDC. A company that causes its customers anxiety? VDC ought to be concerned.

    Recently, following a trail of links, I discovered a post from VDC on a blog about quick and easy ways earn money at home! The blog indicated the article was a paid-for post — that is, VDC paid the blogger to post the article.

    Here:

    http://realwaystoearnmoneyonline.com/use-your-voice-to-make-money-online-with-voices-com/

    The content of the VDC post is directed at people who do not know about the voice over business at all. The article informs the reader that voice overs can actually be done at home, and states “Anyone can sign up to offer voice talent at VDC.”

    The article is an appalling effort to garner income for VDC and misleads the reader into thinking that the voice over business is just so simple and easy. (I mean, have a look at the comments section of the article.)

    Just another reason to leave VDC.

    (And say hello to World-Voices Organization (WoVO), http://www.world-voices.org)

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  5. Mary Morgan

    Brilliance as always Paul! I quit P2Ps six years ago and haven’t looked back.

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  6. Unsatisfied Jan

    If you’ve ever had an account and had any interaction with them, why not let it be known publicly.

    More people will see your gripes at the links below than anywhere else:

    https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Voices-com-Reviews-E852790.htm

    https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.voices.com

    If everyone left negatives reviews, you would actually have an impact on their business. As you have been a customer that has had a BAD EXPERIENCE.

    DO IT! Stop complaining. START DOING.

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    Lara Reply:

    Glassdoor is for employees only and has valuable information demonstrating the truth behind what Voices.com does. If you spam it with VA complaints it makes employee testimonials look fake and discourages them.

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    Unsatisfied Jane Reply:

    If you do a voice over through them, and they pay you, then you are a freelancer and technically have worked for them.

    Remember they pay you when a project is finished, not the client.

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    Lara Reply:

    You are not an EMPLOYEE of Voices.com. It’s worth it to have the information straight from them.

    M Reply:

    This site would be more appropriate. There are already 44 reviews there too.

    https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.voices.com

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  7. Peter K. O'Connell

    Thems that loves it, luuuvs it.

    Thems that hates it, haaaates it.

    They are a deceitful company. They and their investors are fine with that.

    The horse is dead, Paul.

    I know you’re trying educate and probably blow off some steam (yes you are). But the next step in this sorted saga is legal action by somebody against them (attorneys general et al). Come back to it then. The existing narrative will not fade from the internet

    Until then, there are other stories to cover, better ways to help, more clicks to be gotten. That’s the stuff the up and comers need read from an experienced voice.

    And if they want useless, mindless blog crap, you know where to send them 🙂

    Hope all is well with you,

    Best always,
    –Peter

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Voices dot com would love it if this issue was a dead horse by now. However, based one all the responses I received, including Facebook comments, retweets, and personal emails my readers will never see, the game is by no means over. I can understand it might feel that way to those who have left “Voices” a long time ago. They’ve moved on, and can’t understand why the rest of the world hasn’t followed their lead.

    Ultimately, this story is about more than a Canadian Pay to Play. It’s about the future of our industry. About fair rates. About fair treatment of talent. About professional standards. Because we all know that as soon as one Pay to Play bites the dust, another one will appear that’s even more exploitative. Also, every day a new group of people will try their luck in this industry, and thy need to be warned and educated.

    Like you, I see many other stories to cover, and more clicks to be gotten. That’s why I recently finished a six-part series on the topic of “delivery” in voice-overs. I’ve written about the aspect of competition, and who knows what I will write about next.

    But like an annual visit to the doctor, I will revisit the voices dot com topic from time to time for a regular check up. If only to cut through the smokescreen of Pay to Pay propaganda…

    and blow off some steam!

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  8. Matilda Novak

    Excellent article, as always, Paul.
    “If you want to be part of the solution, you can’t be part of the problem.”
    That’s why I finally walked away from them for good this year after WoVOcon.
    Your insight is much appreciated.

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  9. Papatone

    PS: sorry about the typos. I’m dictating via iPhone while whispering while holding a sleeping infant. 🙂

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  10. Papatone

    This information is good for newcomers. Saves me time and energy. I myself got burned working with an online agency writing and directing commercials. When they close their doors, they owed me $8000. For which they got paid. There were others who they owed 10 times as much. I don’t know be surprised to find out that I don’t think anybody ever that paid after the company disappeared in a single day.

    It’s nice to know that there is life after Voices.com. As a newcomer, I would like to hear what some of the alternatives are. Maybe you could do an article on the next stage of one’s development if they decide to go it alone?

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  11. Fred Gleeck

    Stop bashing anyone who has found a way to make money doing voice over work INCLUDING Fiverr! Money is money and experience for those just starting is important.

    [Reply]

    Fred Gleeck Reply:

    VoiceOverManifest.com

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting on it, Fred. For a moment I thought you were going to talk about “making money doing voice over work,” but then you mentioned Fiverr. Here’s my quick take on sites like Fiverr.

    I wasn’t trained to do more for less money, because it’s much more rewarding to do less for more. Virtually aynone can get a VO job by putting in a low bid. There’s no pride or professionalism in that. There are better and faster ways to gain experience, so please don’t sell yourself short.

    The link you included when I click on your name (VoiceOverRevolution) leads to one of Bill the Wees’s websites. Were you trained by Bill, and are you promoting his services under the radar? Is Bill’s book How to Start and Build a SIX FIGURE Voice Over Business (Set Your VO Career on Fire! how you found out about Fiverr? You’ll have to do an infinite amount of Fiverr jobs before you hit that six figure mark, by the way. Let me know when you get there!

    The second link you posted (VoiceOverManifest.com) doesn’t manifest itself. Was it supposed to lead to a website? In that case it might have been designed by someone selling his or her services on Fiverr. I guess you get what you pay for.

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  12. Marlene Bertrand

    You are so right, Paul. I have been independent most of my working life. I don’t like to pay to play. If I work, I want to get paid. If people don’t want to pay me what I think I’m worth, then I don’t do work for them. But, more to your point, when we start messing with people’s money, they respond. If people stop giving their money to companies that don’t play fairly, the company would have to take notice and change their ways… if they want to stay in business. But as long as people are willing to work for peanuts, they are pretty much getting what they signed up for. I don’t boycott and I don’t bash. That’s all “talk.” I just simply won’t do business with a company that is not fair to the people supplying their existence.

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  13. Kent Ingram

    Paul, I can sure remember the vitriol you went through, when you first exposed the Pay-to-Plays, a year or two ago. I believe we even chatted privately about that, as well the practices of another VO professional, who told me that I could be taught how to “manipulate” Voices.com, Voice123, VoiceBunny and VOPlanet. But, after talking with you extensively about all of this, I made the decision to cancel all of them. Not only on principle, but monetarily, as the cost to “play” far exceeded whatever bones I was thrown. In other words, the return on investment was just plain CRAPPY. Thanks for all you do!

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  14. Keith Michaels

    I long ago cancelled my membership but never actually deleted the profile. Until today. They wanted to know why. I have already spent many hours providing feedback since 2012. In one ear, out the other. But when you cancel your account and they ask you for feedback, recite Ezekiel 25:17 with the same eagerness as Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction:

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

    🙂

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  15. Bev Standing

    It is exactly these reasons that I chose to cancel my membership only 3 months in to a top tier renewal. I have no issues with the staff, they’ve all been so great to work with, however I couldn’t agree more; THERE IS LIFE AFTER VDC.

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  16. Lara

    Check out how their very own employees describe their job and how Voices.com works:

    https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Voices-com-Reviews-E852790.htm

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  17. Paul Stefano

    People always put their money where their mouth is. I made the decision to walk away from Voices after just 5 months in the business. I decided early on that I had to uphold my standards. Unfortunately, I had already paid for a full year of membership. So you know what I did? I sold my membership second hand. Apparently, you can do that with Voices blessing. It was shocking how many people contacted me interested in what was essentially a 40% discount on the annual membership. I guess money talks in most cases.

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    Chris Mezzolesta Reply:

    Indeed, it seems to be the only language they know.

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  18. Chuck Davis

    Yes, there is life after the Pay to Plays. All of them. I know, for some, it’s part of their marketing mix. For me, the insane amount of low-ball opportunities was exhausting. Not auditioning, mind you…..just looking at them. I made a decision, some years back, to never work for less than I’m worth…and to not waste my time in cattle call situations. VDC and the rest represent just that, at least to me.

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  19. Helen Lloyd

    OH YES!!!!! Spot on Paul. At some point, if you believe in something you have to follow it through. If one is going to take the moral high-ground against sharp business practices, you have to remove your support from whichever organisation that you’re complaining about – whether that be a pay to play site, ACX, an agency anyone else. Currently there is a wave of disapproval in the UK about Apple allegedly avoiding paying UK taxes despite making and selling products here, but if you’re still using an iphone, you really have no right to complain … you’re keeping them in business, similarly if you drink Starbucks, Costa, buy from Amazon, purchase on e-bay … and the list is growing. Many years ago, the Church of England boycotted Nestle products (so no Nescafe in their many coffee shops) because of their baby formula promotions in the third world, Nestle changed its stance. Be brave … OK so there might be new folk who are prepared to take the deals that V.com are offering, but if the BEST folk pull out, then the organisation will lose credibility over time. Just leave V.com … and boycott those tax dodgers. If enough people do it, it may make them re-think!

    [Reply]

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