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.
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, 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
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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)