Because so many voice talents use Pay 2 Play sites as part of their marketing strategy, I thought it would be appropriate to reproduce Juliette Gray's blog post on the home page of Voiceover Universe.
She makes a good point. The Pay 2 Play industry has, in a sense, been somewhat damaging to the voiceover industry in that it has cheapened the business. I mean let's face it, some of these sites (certainly not voices.com) now have "clients" offering $5 for a voice job! Reminds me of the real estate land grab companies - you know the ones that sell you a lot for $39 payments! Or even the used car dealers that will sell you a car for $50 a month with no credit check. Right! We trust those guys don't we (he said sarcastically)!
Look, let's face it, if a P2P site has, say 10,000 subscribers (and a couple of them probably have more), each paying $300, they are definitely making bank at 3 million dollars a year in subscription fees. If their numbers are anywhere close to what Juliette reports in her blog, then they are producing LESS than a million dollars of voice work a year! Do the math and you'll figure out that 10,000 subscribers are battling it out for a little over 3500 jobs (using the average of $200 per job - which I strongly doubt!).
That is why I say a P2P site is not the way to make a living in this business! Most of the folks I talk to say that IF they get 10% of their VO income from a P2P site, they consider that a good year.
On the other hand there are some fine P2P sites that are attempting to offer a fair service for fair pay, and many of them do filter their talent to make sure there is a level of quality performance by their membership. And they seem to understand that they are just part of the marketing process. Frankly, the P2P sites that I'm a member of have done well for me. I'm not real happy with voices.com right now, but these things do tend to come in waves.
I'm not posting this to throw stones. Many of our members use P2P sites successfully (as I've mentioned before, I've gotten good work from some of these sites) I'm posting this to encourage dynamic, intelligent and innovative ideas on how to develop our industry to greater success for the voice talents AND our clients! I mean think about it - our clients use the P2P sites because they are looking for us! How can we develop a better, fair and equitable system that works for both of us?
Here's what Juliette had to say:
I agree 100%. I'm not impressed with the screening methods of a number of P2P web sites (I won't call out any specific one in particular, because I believe this is a problem for P2P sites in general, regardless of which ones "have it worse"). I too agree that something needs to be done. More pressure needs to be put on these P2P sites to recognize the value of a VO talent's work. I know that they say they screen talent, but.......well, I've heard MANY demos on P2P sites that, for one reason or another, have no business calling themselves a professional VO talent.
I certainly don't mean to hold myself up as the pinnacle example of a professional VO talent, but I will hold myself up as someone who follows the basics. I have a booth. I have a decent mic. I have monitors to know exactly what my audio sounds like before I send it out. I have a web site.
See...here's the thing though. Those shouldn't be bragging points at all. This is basic stuff that any professional VO talent should have (or something similar, obviously--one can use "booth" interchangeably with "acoustically-treated recording space" for example). However, considering the number of people who are signing up, with little to no screening, that don't have ANY of these things...nowadays, having the basics may in fact BE a bragging point. I had a talk with a new client recently who liked my audition simply because it was the only one that didn't have a ton of hiss in the background. It's alarming to me from an industry standpoint that he liked my audition because of *that.*
He said that it was very frustrating to search for reliable talent. He went on to this P2P site expecting to be able to search through a plethora of pros...and was quite surprised when he found just the opposite. New clients especially are very confused nowadays as to what can be deemed acceptable audio and what can't be.
I'll be honest, though, I have no idea on how to organize any kind of significant effort towards reminding P2P web sites of the value of our work. SaVoa seems to be the closest thing to that, and I'm proud to be a member as a result. However, I respectfully think they should put some more effort into it. Yes, I know that VO talents are busy and that we don't have all the time in the world to attend to every little issue that might cross SaVoa's path, but I think this is one that is important enough to consider.
Then again, if someone else other than SaVoa will step up, I'll gladly help any way I can. Our work has been severely devalued.
Sorry to disagree, but Voices.com has been a terrific asset to my voiceover career. I don't depend on voices.com by any stretch, I see it as simply icing on the cake. The customer service is fantastic, their search engine presence is amazing (that alone, worth the price of admission), and the membership is a steal.
I believe the Voices.com system works just fine, because the talent with no training and inferior equipment ultimately weed themselves out...and voila'!... the cream continues to rise...just like it does in most industries.
If you use Voices.com as a client (which I have on several occasions) you discover some interesting things:
80% of the auditions are unusable...ie: cheap equipment, no sound treatment, no training, etc
15% of the auditions seem to come from those with a radio background...fairly solid, albeit a bit "announcery"
5% are stellar and always make the shortlist...strong acting skills with pro equipment and the knowledge to use it.
I don't see what the problem is...some may grumble that P2P "devalues" the voiceover business, but I strongly disagree. The savvy clients know the nature of the beast, and in many cases they prefer to look us up on sunspots, procomm, soundscapes, etc etc...where there is most definately strict quality control.
All I'm saying, Voices.com is what it is...and I choose to view it as a wonderful supplement, not the main course.
My 2 cents!
You make a good point, Quinn. I agree with you that the "savvy clients" know the nature of the beast and can judge a good audition. However, I wasn't primarily addressing the "savvy clients," in my post...more so the average client.
When I first got into VO, I read the post of another talented VO artist who had been doing this for much longer than I have (again, I'll avoid dropping specific names) who HATED P2P sites and called them a travesty to the business. When I first read that, I raised a brow. Sort of like, "What's the big deal? So a few people who have no business being in VO will submit crappy auditions--the clients will simply move on to the good ones...big deal!"
It turns out, I overestimated the average client. Yes, there are many studios and clients who know good auditions from bad, but I cannot even begin to tell you how many first-time clients I've talked to who were extremely frusturated trying to search for someone reliable and with good audio...or, for that matter, how many clients didn't even *know* what was acceptable audio. All they got were bad auditions, so they assumed that was an industry standard. The P2P sites have simply not stepped up their game to inform the average client on what an industry standard should be (in my humble opinion, of course).
So I agree, the savvy clients aren't really affected by this. I too use P2P sites as part of my marketing, as well. However, there are a ton of new clients who have never hired for a VO gig before, or haven't hired for many before, and have no clue how to approach it. P2P sites are a huge problem in that area--again, my opinion.
"5% are stellar and always make the shortlist...strong acting skills with pro equipment and the knowledge to use it."
Best quote ever, that reflects 100% of people who sell themselves as Voiceoverists. For the 95% it is never going to happen, a bit like my career as a model strutting on the Catwalks of Paris, London, Milan and Hull.
If you attend business school on day 1 you will be told "The idea of a business is to make a profit". Should you believe anything else CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK. The P2P sites appear to make consistent profits because they spend time and money ensuring that's what happens. Most Voiceoverists spend most of their time talking to other Voiceoverists about ways to avoid getting out in the real world and finding work, quality work.
Well said, Philip!
Success in this business is not about finding work. It's about creating work.
We are not in the retail business. Very seldom does someone walk up to our window and buy us. But that's what most P2P sites have done. They've created a giant vending machine for buyers.
Our best and most profitable client relationships are ones that are developed over time. This is a business, and it takes time to grow and nurture it.
Well said, Dan.
In another discussion (somewhere) it was determined that P2P sites should be another avenue for creating quality leads. I've had moderate success on Voice123, and I use it as a source for creating quality leads.
If a seeker posts a job that reeks of cheapskate, I don't even audition. For me the P2P sites have been a legitimate source for recurring work and I look at them as a "dating service" and I'm in it for a long term relationship. If they post a rate that doesn't fit my expectations, they're probably going to assault me in other ways too. If the rate is "to be defined", I'll enter my rate. If they're not willing to pay me what I'm worth - then good riddance.
I agree, Mr Hurst. The P2P sites are hurting the industry. I've been earnestly working at VO for 5 years - learning, growing, improving. Years ago, in a book (and for the life of me I can't remember the title) the author said [and I paraphrase], "When you're beginning in VO, don't quit your day job. It takes time to be heard, respected, and hired on a regular enough basis to make a living."
By accepting low paying jobs, you may "get work" but you're devaluing the business as a whole. You're not only hurting "the business", in the long term you're hurting yourself. Get training. Get good equipment. Be professional. But don't undersell your value. Your pocketbook and the rest of us in the industry will thank you in the future.
Too bad only the 841 members of this group will see this and not the screaming hordes clamoring to become famous as a $49 narrator.
Dan, I often tell newcomers to the business to invest in a P2P site and work their butt off doing the auditions and learning what works. But if after 3 years they aren't more than paying for their annual commitment to the P2P site, something is terribly wrong, and they need to reassess their future in this business.