A Deal With The Devil

Thanks a lot VoiceBank. You just made a deal with the devil.

Yes, you desperately needed a facelift, and you needed more money to up your services. Your auditions had turned into cattle calls. But we trusted you. Our agents trusted you. And now you’ve betrayed us in the worst way by jumping into bed with the Ciccarelli’s

Selling VoiceBank wasn’t really “selling.” It was selling out.

Don’t tell me you didn’t know what you were doing. You knew about their business model, screwing talent at every corner, cheapening our noble profession. But you were horny for money, and you took whatever you could get. And thanks to the kind folks at Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, I’m sure you got a pretty sum. 

By taking the cash, you have shown your true nature, VoiceBank. Likes attract. You even admitted it in the press release:

“From early meetings,” said VoiceBank CEO Jeff Hixon, “it was clear to me that our companies had much in common, including a similar vision for the future.”

And what might that future be?

* Strengthening an unethical, greedy middle man who charges a hefty membership fee (which will probably increase), and takes a 40 – 50% “management fee”?

* Bypassing agents who negotiate fair terms & fees for the talent they represent? Putting them out of business, perhaps?

* Turning more and more union jobs into non-union jobs?

* Speeding up the race to the bottom?

* Turning unique voice talent into a commodity?

Hixon continued:

“(…) this relationship with Voices.com will be an invaluable benefit for both Voicebank.net and our customers.”

One category is clearly missing in this statement, and it is telling. Hixon forgot to mention voice talent. You know, the people who put the “voices” in VoiceBank and voices dot com (VDC). These voices are outraged, stunned, and disgusted. They also know that one can do a lot with 18 million dollars of Morgan Stanley money, but one cannot buy quality or integrity. 

As a result of this acquisition, a hungry, hopeful mob of cheap, amateur talent will be released to clients and casting directors. Let’s see how much time a busy voice booker is willing to spend, listening to a never-ending stream of VDC crap auditions. Casting directors have already been bypassing VoiceBank, counting on agents to find the right voices. That’s not going to change now that the Canadians are in charge. 

Let’s see how many agents will cut their ties with VoiceBank, and double their efforts to make the most of their network of connections. Here’s the thing: the value of VoiceBank lies in the agencies and their roster. Take away the agencies, and you take away the value of the acquisition. The exodus has already begun. 

Let’s find out what SAG-AFTRA’s response will be. They’re already talking about it. Perhaps this is their chance to show the voice acting community that -at last- it is taken seriously.

What can you as voice-over do? Talk to your agent(s), and express your concerns and your support. Tell them you don’t want to have anything to do with the new and deteriorated VoiceBank. Ask them to pull out, and move on. If you subscribe to the weekly workouts, call to cancel, and tell VoiceBank why. Donate the money you save to WoVo and GVAA.

If you still have a profile on voices dot com (whether it’s free or not), ask to be removed immediately. If you seek a solution, you can’t be part of the problem. 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.

The bottom line is this:

Voices dot com may now own VoiceBank.net, but it does not own you or me.

As voice talent, we cannot control companies, clients, or colleagues. We can only control ourselves. I left VDC a long time ago, and I survived. I have never landed a job through VoiceBank, and I’m still here. I have quite a few amazing agents, but if I had to rely on them to make a living, I’d be out on the street.

At the end of the day, I am my best agent. No one will do more to further my career than the guy who stares back at me in the mirror. I know I don’t control the winds of change, but I know how to adjust my sales. And no, that’s not a typo.

Out in my neighborhood I just walked passed a majestic sunflower. It had taken months to grow from a small seed into a radiant explosion of yellow. But today, something had changed. 

The giant flower became top-heavy; too full of itself, and now it is bending its small neck toward the ground.

It became a victim of its own weight.

In a day or two, it will all be over.  

You can bank on that!

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

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Comments always make my day!

  1. Pingback: It's Time To Choose | Nethervoice

  2. Pingback: Stop Bashing Voices.com! | Nethervoice

  3. Paul,
    Right on! This news is definitely not sitting well with me . I’m trying not to be negative but I agree with you there’s no way it won’t impact the VO community. I would love for us to figure out how to be more proactive.

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    If it wouldn’t impact the VO community, VDC would not make this move. Now it is our time to respond. I’ve listed several ways in which we can react to this move. In all the years that I have been blogging, I have written a lot about the fact that real pros are PROactive. Let’s show them what we’ve got!

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  4. Like you, I don’t really wish horrible things on them. That was wishful thinking, not based in reality. Karma will, indeed, come back to bite ’em in the butt, as you indicated. I’ll leave the consequences to that.

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  5. Well Paul, after reading your past blog about VDC and other comments from others in the VO community I chose to not renew my subscription with them this year. Then I saw the email from Jeff Hixon and I was stunned. Though my measly fee probably won’t impact VDC that much, all this confirmed to me that I made the right decision.

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Never underestimate the power of one individual on the system. Right now, a collective of individuals is following your lead and creating a ripple effect with ever widening circles!

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  6. Great article. The eternal optimist in me hopes that voicebank wont allow things to change for the worst. We can only hope!
    Thanks again for the article!

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    If they’ve been bought, I wonder who will be in control. Rumor has it that VDC wants to start its own VoiceBank, and Ciccarelli can get a head start by using the database he just purchased.

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  7. Great thanks, Paul, for this blog! I was a member of the Big-3 sites, one of which was VDC. Once you exposed their greed and “scammery”, I pulled the plug on all of them. They ripped me off, big-time! I spent a hell of a lot of money on a massive, busted dream. I hope all of them go down in flames for what they’ve done.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I wish no one harm, but I do believe that karma has no deadline.

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  8. Sunflowers are beautiful to behold, and thus a less appropriate analogy than would be a less attractive weed. However the real threat is not just from growth during it’s season, but also from the seed that fall along with the plant when it’s season is done.
    I’ve kept my garden well weeded, and enjoy it’s bounty. But if my neighbor doesn’t also tend to their crop, and allows weeds to germinate, mine can be affected as well.
    Be a hoer. Not a whore.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for that, Joe. In the eyes of many members, VDC is still an attractive option. What could be easier and more convenient? You pay your membership fee; post a few demos, and the auditions start coming in, each and every day. You can do this in your PJs!

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  9. One door bangs shut and another door shooshes open pneumatically (cue Enterprise door SFX). Could this be an opportunity for WoVO® to shine and be a better, more efficient and helpful service than VBN? Hmmm…

    Thanks for the post, Paul. You da bomb!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Well, there’s a WoVo chat about this topic tonight (8/9) at 10 ET/7 PT. Let’s find out what they came up with.

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  10. Thank you Paul for your perspective. I tend to agree and do not see this development as the ‘end of the world” as others do. I find it a bad trend, but not the end.

    By the way, I am enjoying your book (re: from a vometer.com contest). Great tips and advice. I think it is time for your Dutch Auction idea to come to life!

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  11. I am grateful that I have managed to build a reasonably successful career without dealing with on-line auditions of this sort, waiting to pounce along with dozens of other talents. But my heart goes out to all who are affected by this merger (mash-up?); we each have our ways of attaining success and I know a lot of people depend on this kind of audition. My hope is that it doesn’t negatively affect the market overall because, like you, Paul, I have agents who are very helpful but my best – and most successful – agent is myself.

    Thank you again, and always, for your thoughtful insights.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Because this is such a big deal, I don’t see how it cannot have a negative effect on voice talent. The system is being rigged (to use a loaded term) to benefit clients and the middleman. Morgan Stanley knew this was going to be the case, and that’s one of the reasons they decided to pump $18 million dollars in VDC. Kaatching!

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  12. Absolutely, Paul. Yes, I too had a reactionary moment or two with this news. But then, it actually put some “fire in me” to up my personal marketing efforts and to up my game in many regards. By far (it’s not even close), the great great majority of the work I get is through the things I’ve found on my own and through my own marketing efforts. The phrase, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” (William H. Johnson) rings even louder for me than before.

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    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    What does worry me is the impact this acquisition may have on rates across the board. That will also have an effect on the jobs I book myself.

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    Paul Payton Reply:

    Something that big can’t help but affect the market. I agree with you, Paul.

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  13. Paul, once more, you speak for the masses of – hard working, get on the phone and email and get your work, creative to the nth degree – VO talent. It really saddens me about VBN (I guess I’ll have to start calling them VBN just as I use VDC now). How many talent will be affected by this? How many agents? Will agents start leaving VBN as voice talent left VDC? As someone said, “I’m getting my popcorn.” It’s going to be an interesting near-future!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    As the saying goes: “The best way to predict the future, is to create it yourself.”

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