Who would have thought a short piece on leaving Voices.com would hit such a nerve?
I certainly didn’t.
If you’ve looked into the ongoing debate about Pay-to-Plays, you know my story didn’t really add any new info. Yet, it was widely read, shared and discussed.
As I am typing these words, this article has been seen by almost 1,500 people in less than a week!
Something’s clearly brewing…
Not everyone agreed with what I had to say, so today I just want to talk about a few points that came up as people started reacting to last week’s blog. Here’s one of the comments I got:
You really zoomed in on all the negatives in your story. That’s not fair.
Well, people don’t break up because they’re getting along just fine.
Voices.com does an outstanding job promoting their own business. I don’t need to do that for them.
You shouldn’t generalize your personal experience with Voices.com and present it as “the truth.”
I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I added the following PS to my story:
“Keep in mind that this blog is only a reflection of my opinion based on personal experiences. I encourage you to draw your own conclusions and invest in what you think is right for you.”
As a VO talent and blogger, it is my job to be outspoken. This blog is my platform to express my ideas based on my subjective perception of reality. I never pretend or aspire to bring my readers THE truth. By definition, a blog is based on opinions and not on undisputed facts.
Go find your own truth!
Having said that…
Garnet Williams says
Paul, as always, you have provided a fair, and balanced opinion. As you stated, you’re not telling people what they should or should not do, but only offering your take based on your personal experience. Voices.com needs to re-evaluate their business model. Hopefully soon.
Kelly Brennan says
Paul, love this article even more than the first. I applaud your willingness to stand your ground. As you say, it is your blog and your opinion. It is not your fault that so many of us agree with you. I think your “truth” is the same truth as many others and that is why it has struck a chord with so many. Thanks for your thoughts!
Silvia McClure says
How I appreciate both articles and candid thoughts regarding this issue! I have been debating my membership, my frustration with the site has increased and the drive to audition for jobs decreased.
I can’t wait for part 3… 🙂
Lee Gordon says
You mentioned that you know of no other P2P site that forbids direct contact between the client and the talent. There is one. Voice Realm has even more stringent requirements. They allow no exchange of contact information and don’t even permit revealing your last name in your profile, in slates, or in replies to audition requests. The difference is, those were their conditions from Day 1. Voices.com adopted their no-contact policy in mid-stream.
ted mcaleer says
a wonderful blog this week. I couldn’t let it go by without commenting. That’s why I keep them and print a lot of what you say. So insightful… It allowed me to examine my decisions and thought processes about what I may have done or not and draw conclusions.
Such a fresh perspective. Thanks a lot Paul!
Arlene Cooke says
Paul, your original post raised a lot of issues for me, especially as I am getting close to my second renewal date with Voices.com. It prompted me to review just how much ROI I’ve gotten, what my frustrations are, and whether I should be using this P2P site, or any. Thanks for helping me clear the dust out of my thinking. I’ve decided to end my membership there, although I am strongly considering upgrading to a paying one with Voice123. Thanks again for your post, and for sticking to your guns!
Jodi Krangle says
Very well put, Paul – as per usual. After attending the recent VoiceWorld conference in Toronto, I made up my mind to leave Voices.com far behind (coincidentally, before you posted your first blog on the subject, though you nicely covered all of my reasons for leaving). My main problem with their current policy is that “no contact information in your audition cover letter” thing. That used to not be the case. And in fact, when I first began my voice over career, Voices.com was a great place to find new clients I may not have been able to find on my own. Now, it’s unusual for a client to go out of their way to contact a talent outside of the Voices.com system – which means that client isn’t *your* client, though you’re being paid by them – they are Voices.com’s client. So I am paying a membership fee for the privilege of Voices.com getting a new client? What? Excuse me?? That and forcing me to put that extra 10% on top of my quote for SurePay – a service I don’t want or need, thankyouverymuch – is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Having asked Stephanie herself about this at VoiceWorld (and to be fair, she did very generously take the time to answer the question. I like her personally – I’m just not a big fan of her business anymore) the response I got was that “It’s for your own protection” idea that you mention above. Apparently, there have been voice talent who were stiffed outside of the Voices.com system, but still insisted that Voices.com pay them. Um… first of all, WHY would Voices.com do that? I don’t get it. If you complete the sale outside of Voices.com’s SurePay system, I get that you’re responsible for getting paid all on your own. And if you *don’t* get paid, it’s no one’s problem but your own. I’m QUITE sure this is in all the legalese on the Voices.com website. But because of a few bad apples (who apparently don’t *read*), Voices.com adopted this overarching policy of protecting us from ourselves … I just don’t buy that argument. And quite frankly, the whole idea of it kind of pissed me off. It was definitely time for Voices.com and I to part ways. For those who remain, I wish you the best of luck. But as a way to increase *my* voice over business (the reason I would pay a membership fee – which would assume it’s worth the fee I pay), Voices.com no longer has any value to me.
Terry Daniel says
Another stellar blog that is both candid and sincere. I like the direction you’re headed, Paul! There are too many blogs out there, where people just blast sites and services that aren’t working for them and those blogs do not provide much value to the reader. We won’t want to read how pissed off someone is. We want to read fresh perspectives and you have given that to us, Paul!
Kostas Aspiotis says
Hi Paul, thanks for another great and insightful post.
I agree 100% with you as we have the same POV, even if I am a Voices.com premium member.
That means that i’ve already paid my annual subscription fee. It’s been 5 months.
The results weren’t exactly what I expected for many reasons that i’m not gonna analyze today even if you have already covered the most of them.
Imagine Voices.com (or any other Pay-to-Play website) as a cake on a table.!!
A wonderful, very well made, yummy cake, on a table, in the middle of a room of a huge house that ALL voice artists are invited!!
If you have been there first, it’s sure that you have allready taste the cake (and other goodies of the house).
Well, you found that the cake doesn’t taste as yummy as it looks like so you decide to speak your opinion to your colleagues that have been there nearly at the same time as you, and to the all-hungry but without-experience newcomers to ”warn” them for the not-that-yummy cake.
Your colleagues have already take their decision based on their experience in to the VO industry.
But, the newcomers (in nearly all type of business) have one common type of answer to this ”warning”, that is:
”Listen, i’ll try just a little bit and if it is not good i”ll leave it.”
They are exited and hungry for it. They want to jump right in to the game without knowing the rules or even the necessary preparation!
That Hunger is what some others make a grat profit from!
In business they say that sometimes you have to walk deep in ______, to see clear and become more responsible so you can successfully reach your goals.
I was a newcomer and I have made many mistakes. Many!
But the lessons I got from them, priceless!!
So, I tried and successfully did transform the lessons in to knowledge for a better future!
About Voices.com or other Pay-to-Play sites, there are signs and directions everywhere so one can search and make a decision to subscribe or not before enter the gate of the Promise Land!
About me, after the end of the 12th month i’m gonna stop tasting THEIR cake. It’s been a long time that i prepare my own yummy one with love, professionalism and dedication!!
A grat day to all of you!
Debbie Grattan says
I completely understand all of these points, and have shared many of them in my tenure with Voices.com (6 years). They wooed me to go “Platinum,” or whatever they call it, for $2000 a year, which they said would provide me with more “private invitations”. I declined, but did inquire with some of the other VO talent who had made this jump, and they did tell me they were getting better leads that way. I guess with good talent jumping ship, there will be an even more marked difference between the wheat and chaff on the site, and will perhaps increase the booking ratio for those who choose to continue. As I said on the last post, my bookings on this site far outweigh my talent agency bookings (and I have MANY of them!)so for me, there is still reason to stay. But I’ll STILL be reading your blog Paul, and following your latest experiences on Facebook!
jennifer m dixon says
Well said Paul! As usual you hit the nail on the head. Thank you.
Debbie Grattan says
And PS – just to be clear. My bookings from Voices.com are a small percentage (maybe 10% or less) of my annual income as a VO professional, so it’s really a small cog in the machine. Just wanted to be clear that this is not my sole source, but a minority of income. However, I will say that I have one particular client, who originally found me on Voices.com before I started booking regularly there, that ended up being one of my biggest single clients. I still have them today. You never know where you’ll make those connections. But you also have to know when to break from something that isn’t working for you, and/or just doesn’t feel right anymore.
matt forrest says
I could tell that at least a couple of those comments you received were from newcomers who didn’t understand what’s actually going on. Being able to find out for how much a particular job was booked is something I’d love to be able to do with V123 – I often wonder how many gigs come down to price.
I recently reviewed a job offer that Voices.com posted for an Account Management role. It went into detail as to how the Account Manager would look after Clients, find the voices they need, help them through the decision making process, make sure they got a good result, built relationships with them, built up a geographical area etc etc etc. Therefore highlighting a proactive role to bring in “Clients” who need voice work.
when I asked Voices.com directly who they considered as their Clients, the End User or the Talent I was surprised with their answer. Given the job role they posted, I was expecting them to say the End User but the response I got was The Talent.
Logically thinking the Talent is the Client; we’re the one’s paying for the $299 fee and often Escrow charges. Right? Oh no no no….. When you pay for something, you expect to be looked after. But this is where the problem lies. What exactly are we paying for? Three hundred bucks to have your name and demo put on a massive database of around 25,000 people. Hmmmmm – You make a very sound point Paul, we are being exploited.
There is a big difference between Clients and Customers and quite frankly, we are Customers. The former are “looked after”, the latter are “impersonal transactions”, usually.
But nothing will change if people keep registering with P2P’s.
Your point “that enthusiasm seemed to subside rapidly over time as voice talent gained more experience” is very poignant. P2P sites are great to build a portfolio of sorts but there is a time and place for them and you can quickly outgrow them. I know that I have now outgrown Voices.com and won’t be renewing my membership.
I don’t want to work with people who want to cheapen my trade to line their own pockets. In allowing jobs to be posted by End Users that are, for example, over 800 words and only paying 90 bucks is disgusting. You may as well slap me in the face right now!
I’m not in business to line someone else’s pockets or to be used and abused. I’m here to build relationships and when one side of the relationship starts getting too big for its boots then, in Dragon’s Den speak – I’M OUT!
Matt Wiewel says
Hats off to you for posting on this subject. I’m sure you have received your share of hate mail for doing so.
However, you are saying what (I believe) most other experienced VO talent are thinking.
I have an analogy that I tell new folks that ask about P2P sites. It’s like panning for gold. You may find some nuggets, and a few may even get rich. But, you will spend most of your time standing in the river freezing your ass off for nothing.
Paul, one quote from Cicarelli stands out: “Now we have a full sales and marketing team that reaches out on a daily basis to organizations of all sizes.”
That tells me right there that the people who pay to play (the talent) are not the people they are most concerned with. Sure, they take your money, but careful analysis shows that you are paying for more than you’re getting as a talent from this particular P2Play “service”. I’ve often considered joining Voices.com, but doing the analysis shows that with lowball rates, much time spent looking for jobs on the site, etc. that I as a talent would be making pennies per hour compared to the money Voices makes off me and every other user.
Jason Culver says
This is a discussion/comment I started recently in the Voice Over Professionals LinkedIn group; it’s lengthy but, please let me know what you think.
Why did Voices.com not post my comment on their blog?
Voices.com is revising their website; in their blog, they invited comments from their talent members regarding the changes.
Most of the comments were complementary, but not all; a few addressed dismay regarding the decision to try to prevent demo reel audition submissions. Several also commented on the apparent reduction in pay being offered by producers.
With that in mind I voiced my sincere observations and concerns, and looked forward (perhaps naively) to getting feedback from the owners, David & Stephanie Ciccarelli. However, to my dismay, my post never appeared.
After numerous attempts – and several pleas to voices.com – to allow my comment to be posted, I am sharing it with you. If nothing else, I am sure it will create dialogue and, who knows, perhaps even foster a change or two (one can always hope).
Jason Culver’s comment to David & Stephanie Ciccarelli:
David & Stephanie,
While the site changes are great – it appears that the site will have an improved look, feel, and functionality – I would like to see more substantive changes. You don’t want to lose your top talent to sites like voice realm (their rates are fixed – no bidding!).
If producers had to provide a fixed rate for a project, as opposed to the current budget range, the site would have a lot more appeal for me. I dislike having to bid against other talent for a job (it’s already bad enough that we must play “beat the clock” as it is). Instead of producers focusing on getting the best talent for their project, many are focusing on the lowest price. This change alone would greatly change the site’s image from one favoring the producer – to being neutral (not favoring talent or producer).
Frankly, currently Voices.com is beginning to resemble a “bottom feeder” site (e.g. elance, freelancer, guru, odesk) where talent bid against each other for jobs. As Crystal mentioned in her comments, this is negatively affecting your talent (after-all who are your real “clients”; on the bottom feeder sites there is no membership fee required to bid on a job, and also no custom audition is required, even if a script is provided).
Now, with that being said, let me play devil’s advocate (from the talent perspective). Having owned several businesses, I understand your perspective/dilemma; namely, where is your biggest revenue source – talent or producers. Like any smart business owner, your decisions are based on your bottom line (sorry guys, voices.com is not a charity). Obviously, I don’t know your numbers but, as objective as I can be as a voice talent, I believe you can strike a happy medium between talent and producer. Please consider the following changes/UNchanges:
1. REQUIRE all producers to provide a fixed rate for their project (both talent and producers, at least who want the best product, will be happy); but don’t stop there, as Crystal also stated, have a suggested, or recommended price. Continue to allow producers to include a range, but make it difficult (“dis-insentivise” it); perhaps even a mandatory minimum rate schedule (with built-in bonus’s for early delivery – now that would be a win-win).
2. Continue to allow talent to provide generic demos (for all the reasons Crystal eloquently stated) after all, let the talent make the choice. Yes it does provide an increase of early submissions and, even though I seldom provide a generic audition submission (the operative word is “seldom”), I want to continue to have that option; after-all anyone submitting auditions has paid their membership fee.
David & Stephanie, you have built an excellent business – with an obviously great model. As a member of voices.com I think the changes I mentioned would increase your market share, by improving your image among both talent and producers in the industry.
Remember, great businesses are built one customer at a time – and are conversely lost one customer at a time.
Ed Mackay says
As a 30 veteran of the industry I can tell you it’s a whole new world. I don’t agree with the “Play for Pay” system. Because in the past casting directors and agents recived a fee from those looking for talent as well as a booking fee from the talent (for agents)
This system seems to flood the market with unseasoned talent. But it seems that with the advent of home studios few care about quality any more.
Steven Lowell says
It has always been a pleasure to read your blogs, even when they made my job difficult. LOL That said, I may sound off a bit here. Oddly, I DO think you are now “too good to be hired” on such P2P sites. Let me explain:
Services like Voices & Voice123 become obsolete when one gives up, finds out it is really hard work, doesnt get work, or best case…grows out of it after building a heavy client list. I can think of thousands of people who entered my life for a brief time, showed desire to be a voice talent, and just as quick, vanished from voice overs. Some then called these services “misleading”, and I see why now. You can show me hits, stats, data, etc. and it doesn’t dictate you will get voice over work on that site, because the data doesnt touch on the reasons why one was not hired. The stats are misleading because they attempt to serve as an indicator of progress. It doesnt matter what you or I do, if the client wants me, that’s it.
For you, these sites became obsolete, and P2P’s know they will also become obsolete for the nearly 1500-2000 voice talent, who used these sites to get work from them many years ago, but have now moved on to bigger things. And the graduating class will turn into a new batch of voice talent, who will repeat all the mistakes you watched others make. These talent will defend P2P sites too, and that’s fine. It’s their business.
I say this again as a compliment…you are “too good” for such sites because they market to a particular audience in a particular way that is not “the big market”. The big market only figured out last year that putting twitter hashtags on TV shows was great for exposure. Big market is a different demon.
In addition, you have been marketing yourself for so long online, that you dont need a website with SEO marketing to sell thousands of voice talent to thousands of clients. P2P’s have always been “champion of the up and coming working class”. The only time “big market” people ever contacted me, personally, was when they wanted access to 123’s database for an email blast. The irony was hilarious, “I hate your website, but can you email all your customers about us?”.
Voice talent/voice seekers alike, are quite often fans of the voice industry on P2P sites, but being a fan is not being a player. There are always a few “players” with money and millions of “fans” who just want a t-shirt. Websites appeal to fans, and players seem expensive, unrealistic or untouchable.
Stick with me…After I quit Voice123 and did some agent work, I found those talent I knew very well were getting very high paying gigs, the type of work I dreamed would be posted on 123, BUT I now discovered that I WAS competing to get the job I knew about to the talent first, before 7 other agents did. I realized I did not know voice talent as well as I thought, and that I was not aware of what big companies thought of 123 talent. But I also learned something more important…
I also learned…the market is settled now, and cant be changed again for a while. This business we like to think is so complicated has evened out again. How?
P2P’s serve a purpose in the industry. Schools serve a purpose.
Cheap job websites have a purpose.
Agent work is still the most coveted work.
There are websites for all of the above.
There is no perfect website. Only websites we grow out of using because we get tired of the technology, and need something new.
Recently, I learned that those who book work on P2P sites may not get work through cheap jobs, and agents. For a very simple reason:
Those seeking to hire voice talent on websites are quite often “behind the times just a little bit”, and more so look for a sound that is already proven popular in mainstream…because data has proven it. Those on the pulse of change in voice overs may not be recognized as “talented” because they are ahead of their own time on websites that focus on making choices based on data.
This ultimately means…you may not be good enough to hire for the people using websites because you’re too good and too innovative OR the people who hired you from the sites, have moved on to bigger & better jobs as well.
Whatever the case, to be fair, in P2P’s defense, I know these sites work extremely hard, and some days the work is thankless and lonely. I also know that many of the services they offer…even customer service alone…costs way more than $300/year.
ex: When a new talent gets on a live chat for 30 minutes-3 times a week for a year, to ask why they do not get work, and if their audition sounds ok. Enter the importance of “data”…Calculating ROI…that talent who paid $300…costs the company nearly $1200 in customer service staffing time a year. I also have seen the hell it raises when such services are not offered to save money.
Now, if you look at that, and picture it on a grand scale, I can see why talent not making money leave these sites, and why P2P’s also may be in some trouble. When this happens, that “really nice business who cares about talent” has to do some changes talent will not like: Either go cheap (and look like undercutting), market to the little people (and saturate the market), or go big market and ask for commission (and be complained about online for being a snobby thief of an agent). I don’t think P2P website owners are “bad”, but I do know how people behave when they get tired of dealing with them. It can be ugly. This all does show you that being your own personal brand/business is easier today than in 2009. You are still the first voice talent I think of when someone needs Dutch.
Btw…one other factor at hand is Google. After their last penguin/panda updates…search engines started favoring unique authorship by people, and not companies drowning with thousands of profiles filled with meta tags. This makes you, Paul, competition with Voices. For that reason alone, yes, you should leave the site. LOL
Please be well!!!
Rick Lance says
Paul, you are SO RIGHT ON!
In the first article and now in the second.
Steven Lowell says
I missed something…
Those “major brands” posting jobs, only make up about 6% of the jobs posted during the year. I guess its easier than advertising, “94% of the jobs posted are small businesses”.
Marketing…ya’ gotta love it. Its very easy for some website developer to throw together a video for a major brand, place it on a website, and pay talent little. Then turn around and say, “But look! Coca Cola uses our site.”
This is why less than 32% of people trust website advertising, which is funny when you consider 40% of paying talent on such sites never book work. I guess there’s an 8% out there who just should have trusted their gut. 😀
Juliette Gray says
Paul, I started this dialog with you two years ago if you recall when I was annoyed about all the things you mention in your articles that made Voices.com a bad karma presence in my life but a couple of years ago I thought maybe I was misunderstanding something, it turns out I was right on with my evaluation of them but when I questioned their “evangelical” attitude to justify all the things they do that are counter productive to the voice seeker – I felt like I was just a literal voice in the wilderness. I even gave them a second and third chance when I got those pesky sales calls from them by rejoining on a monthly basis a couple of times and usually by the end of the third week I was tearing my hair out, One amusing thing is that although they offer the monthly membership it is a huge inconvenience to their accounting system when you drop in and out. Steve Lowell does bring up a good point about being overqualified, Living in LA I am always current on what is trending – we have amazing resources for that and I think it’s true a lot of the buyers are stuck in old read styles. When they catch up we will have moved to a new style. Re the multiple duplicate auditions from agents – this is something that will come to a head soon. The way the auditions are posted by the ad agencies through Voicebank is the reason. If they do a universal post to every agent on Voicebank and many of us have multiple agents in different parts of the country we are basically screwed because even if they can post with as many agents as they want we are only supposed to submit the audition one time even though we have received it multiple times, that leaves the top five or six agents in LA and New York who are invited more personally by the top ad agencies for the top jobs to actually act as casting agents as well as agents and select who on their roster gets to audition and then they hand select which ones get submitted. If the multiple agents don’t find some way to deal with this situation – they will meet their own demise – in the not too distant future, So yes innovation is necessary. Where it comes from will be from someone with a Steve Jobs or Marc Zuckerberg mentality that can rebuild the system from the ground up – using QUALIFIED talent. Not just anyone with a USB mic and a lap top who thinks they have a nice voice. That is also the only way our union will survive too. There is a reason why you can it just join SAG by plonking down your money and it is a lot of money. This whole thing happened to the music industry sooner than the VO industry – and now musicians only make money when they go on tour – not from selling CD’s. So how many VO people will they need to go on tour – a small percentage if this really became a real scenario – maybe the next step will be electronic voices will become so good – that just like they use synthesizers for movie scores there will be voice synths for all the things we do. OK enough said – I am much happier without Voices.com and not having to field their emails and auditions. Have more time for my own marketing and two jobs just this week from new clients I have found on my own without my agents’ help either, I am constantly planting seeds and taking workshops and workout groups, remaking my demos and most importantly also seeing what I do as an art form and a business. In the grand scheme of things $300 is a drop in the bucket as a business expense – there are costs attached to running any business. We do not have inventory but these kind of expenses are our inventory. But what ads insult to injury is to pay for what is ostensibly a service that offers the service provider more benefits than the people using the service,
Elley Ray says
We are stronger together than we are apart! Exploitation dressed up never fits well- truth is a beacon of light in darker corners- keep your shining opinions paul- i applaud your voice!what we feed grows fatter and community rules!
Jessica Fields says
Thanks for your candid thoughts, Paul. I have had an entirely different experience altogether. Granted, I’m fairly new to this side of the acting biz, having been in V/O for about a year now, but I can honestly say – in the past year, just from work booked on Voices.com and follow-up projects from those clients, I know I’ve made at least 50K. At least. And yes, a lot of those were from jobs in the $100-250 range. Let’s face it, some jobs are only worth $200 – startup video narration, for example. But I’m not going to audition for a job where I feel I’m being taken advantage of. And I’ve landed jobs in the $1000-$2500 range – not on the low end, either, might I add. I have to agree with Debbie – please, all pros leave the P2P sites! Less competition for me. 🙂
In your previous article, you referenced the # of people auditioning. I’d like to say I’ve landed several high dollar, national spots when I was audition # one-hundred-twenty-something. I understand that this has been just your experience, but if it works for me then it tells me that it’s not a problem with the system, it’s a problem with the way some people work it. Works great for me. Find what works for you – and I wish all of you even more success in the coming year!!!
Peter K. O'Connell says
This whole P2P topic is so new to me…I can’t understand all the fuss!
Anywho, completely independent of all these discussions, up on my Google Alerts pops up a link to this June 5th headline:
“Voices.com Ranks #57 on the 2013 PROFIT 500 List”
….and they evidently just raised their membership fee?
Exsqueeze me? Did someone hit the news release send key a bit too early?
And how the heck does somebody say something so ridiculous like ‘it’s for your own good’ that it actually pisses off Jodi Krangle?! That’s quite a feat!
As for the argument of talent now being too good for P2P sites….I’m just going to stop right here before I cause a real stir…but that faint giggle you hear in the distance in your studio is actually me laughing (with, not at) hysterically in my studio.
Renee Fay says
I’m interest to know why they are using you on their voice talent sign up page talking about how great their site is?
“Two months ago, I decided to challenge Voices.com. My dollar-a-day membership plan paid off big time. With $2300 in the bank, I had earned more than 38 times my investment.
Paul Strikwerda, Easton, USA”
What’s that about?
Paul Strikwerda says
First off, many thanks for all your comments! I’m convinced that your remarks will help those who are thinking of joining sites like Voices.com in their decision making process. The truth is always personal and never cut and dry. Every comment is a piece of a bigger puzzle.
I also want to thank those of you who have contacted me via email. I completely understand that you didn’t feel comfortable to share your stories with the rest of the world. I am grateful and appreciative of the fact that you wanted to share them with me.
I have a few comments to add myself.
It’s easy to turn this story into a clash of characters, rather than into a discussion about the benefits and downsides of the P2P business model. Even though it’s not always easy with a Voices.com management that personifies their business, I do my best to separate the personal from the professional. As I said earlier: good people can do great things in a flawed system of their own making.
I am not on a mission to tarnish the reputation of certain people. This is about the reputation of my business: the voice-over industry. It’s a story about standards, best practices, fair fees and about increasing professionalism.
Secondly, many of the things you and I have been writing about, can be applied to other Pay to Plays as well.
Third: as voice talent it is up to us to maintain our own professional standards. Trough our actions we teach clients what we stand for and what we’re willing to accept. It’s too easy to blame the Pay to Plays for low rates and poor quality. Everyone who’s a willing, paying participant, should take a good look in the mirror.
Renee brought up an interesting dimension to this story. It is true that Voices.com is still using something I wrote in 2009, to promote their business. That same year, I blogged about this in the following article:
Please realize that this blog is a reflection of my personal journey. Throughout the years, my perspective has changed dramatically. Some of the things I wrote four years ago, I don’t believe in anymore. I could choose to delete those blog posts, but I think it could be interesting to follow my personal and professional development over time.
Anyone who has read the articles I wrote in the last two years, can confirm that what I wrote about “Voices” back in 2009, is no longer a reflection of my thinking in 2013.
A few years from now, I will look at what I’ve written today. I wonder how I will respond.
Life is about learning, changing and growing. It’s also about letting go of the past and creating our own future.
Thanks for joining me on my journey! I look forward to the road ahead!
Phil Williams says
Funny how we have (several times) arrived at the same point at the same time…
When my 2nd year at voices.com was quickly coming to an end, I began to evaluate just what my profit had been in that period…Hundreds of auditions, thousands of hours, and $10’s of income…Hmmmm. Maybe pennies of income per hour at best. Didn’t make sense…Unfortunately, my auto pay had gone through before I cancelled. Fortunately, my note to David C netted a full refund, and a “sorry to see you go” message. In the meantime, however, I had posed a query to the support group at voices as to why it was that auditions were showing up in my email hours after being posted (apparently long delays because there were dozens of “early entries” for the audition). My support person blamed my ISP…me…and then suggested that I was supposed to sit on the voices.com all day long, refreshing the audition page every 2-3 minutes so I’d be on top of list sending in demos…I indicated that I had better things to do with my day…and that 1) my ISP turned emails within 10-20 seconds of arrival (tests proved it) and 2) my talent had gotten six audio books and several other jobs, so I didn’t think it was just me…please cancel my subscription…
The other VERY disturbing element was the numbers of auditions that were being submitted to each job had jumped from the 10’s and 20’s to the 150-200 range, making it clear that my impact had been diminished by a factor of 10-20x. And I had the good fortune to pay for it…
I agree with your direction/decision Paul…the basic system is NOT designed to support talent…it’s to improve profit. The number of 25,000 talents has increased exponentially over the past two years. The number of jobs has not. It’s just MATH!
Thanks for your continuing insight!
Renee Fay says
Thanks for the reply Paul.
Should you not request that they remove your endorsement?
Paul Strikwerda says
Renee, I have thought about asking Voices.com to remove my endorsement. It was the winning entry of a contest held in 2009. At the time of my win, I basically gave Voices.com permission to use it to promote their business. They own the rights, as it were.
Shawn Maroney says
Very insightful, Paul and well said!
Stone Jackson says
A lot of great insight and sharing here amongst the pay2play successful and not so successful.
What a difference a couple of years make! As Paul mentioned, back in 2009 and 2010 we were two of the few – who through lilnked in and some other related forums, were quite vocal and (sometimes charmingly) critical of the pay2play business model and what it could and probably would mean to vo as an industry and your bottom line.
At one point I urged others to cancel their memberships and walk away..to respect the history, the craft and themselves. I can’t speak for Paul, but I know I received many private emails from those who were supportive but content to cheer the truth -not the hype- from the shadows.
People were afraid…they would ask me “Aren’t you scared of the backlash!” Kinda funny if you ask me. No boogie men ever showed up at my door or under my bed.
I find it very interesting and refreshing,that only a couple of years later, seasoned and disillusioned talent alike are no longer afraid to speak out.
As i can only draw from my voices.com experience…this sudden and not so private outburst at the “state of affairs” may be due to pay2plays becoming a world of non transparency and what seems to have become a system of favorite suppliers.The top 100 sure looks familiar week after week. Don’t get me wrong, Im hapy for the few…but the system is fundamentally flawed for the gander.
The rest of the vo pool, regardless of talent…keep in mind you don’t have to pay a red cent to practice and audition.
Scipt quality .
Paul Strikwerda says
Fear is a terrible counselor. It’s much better to come from a place of competence and confidence.
I am usually against working for someone that requires you to pay in order to have the opportunity to get work, but a site like voices will allow you to get your feet wet in a business that is notoriously difficult to get started in.
I think it depends where you are in your career. It might be worth investment in order to get the recurring clients and business.