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?
“(…) 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.
In fact, nine agencies have just formed the VO AGENT ALLIANCE, pledging Fairness, Integrity, Confidentiality, Professionalism and Diligence. The VO Agent Alliance is actively expanding, and ready to speak with other agencies willing to stand up for our industry. The nine agencies are In Both Ears, Go Voices, Voice Talent Productions, Play Talent, Umberger Agency, DeSanti Talents Agency, Rockstar Entertainment, The Actors Group, and ta-da! Voiceworks.
Let’s find out what SAG-AFTRA’s response will be. Perhaps this is their chance to show the voice acting community that -at last- it is taken seriously. Their reaction came on August 23rd, and it was lame and late:
“This new consolidation is of interest to SAG-AFTRA considering it could potentially impact members in the future. We will be in regular conversation on the subject with members, talent agents and casting directors, along with VDC and Voicebank. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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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