how NOT to make it

notes from a working actor

The trials and tribulations
of Mike Vaughn

(this guy)

Fellow actors sometimes ask me about the pay-to-play voice-over casting sites, and I think my response to Voice123′s email asking why I don’t upgrade my account, pretty much sums up my feelings about these types of sites.

So, if you’re a voice talent who loves these sites and you’re kicking ass, then hats off to you. It’s just not my thing and this is why.

First up is the email I received:


On Apr 15, 2010, at 4:07 PM, Steven Lowell wrote:

Hello Mike,
Steven here from Voice123. I am contacting you because your subscription on Voice123 is currently a Standard Subscription.

Instead of doing a regular survey, I wanted to write you personally, asking for your honest, no-holds-barred opinion, as to why you have not upgraded to Premium, or why you are still standard.

So… Feel free to let us have it! We can take it, and we promise your answer will remain confidential!

Thank you for your honesty!
Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager, Voice123

Christ, he just thanked me for my honesty. I guess I better give it to him.
Here’s what I wrote back:

Steven, hi.
Not sure how confidential this is, but then I don’t care anyway.
By the way, didn’t even realize I have a “standard subscription” since I don’t use, pay, audition, or book with Voice123 at all.
So, you want to know why I don’t use Voice123?  Well… here goes:

1. Your service isn’t all that helpful for voice talent with agents and managers. We get plenty of auditions, all of which we can trust are legit and will pay when booked.

2. Your service is WAY overpriced. The majority of responses I’ve heard from those using and booking on Voice123 is, “I almost broke even with the jobs I was able to book on Voice123.” Extra auditions and work just to “almost” make the subscription fee with no protection for non-paying clients? Yeah, no thanks.

3. The Voice123 brand is a determent to whatever semblance of a “brand” I might have. And what I mean by that is because of the numerous active entry-level talent with very limited abilities listed within Voice123, combined with clients posting little-to-no pay jobs, including paying jobs that are consistently well below fair market rates, associating my name on your site actually devalues my accomplishments as an actor. Make sense? And yes, I recognize that there are some talented and very qualified voice talent on Voice123, just… not as many in my humble opinion.

4. I’m hearing more and more stories of clients trying out Voice123, not digging the results, and heading back to trusted agents and managers. I could only imagine the headache of filtering thru hundreds of mediocre auditions as a broadcast producer versus the option of calling a few trusted talent agents and getting them filtered a bit more thoroughly.

Now, critique is easy and cheap; it’s the solutions that are difficult, right?
Here are mine:

1. Instead of charging talent, CHARGE the clients looking for voice talent. You listening, Breakdown Services, LA Casting, and Now Casting? This also has the wonderful side-effect of better filtering out the illegitimate clients who have no intention of paying for work anyway. Yes, I’m talking about “clients” who use demos as the final product without pay (don’t pretend like this doesn’t happen).

2. Better yet, don’t charge anything. Just get tons of traffic and make moolah via ad sales and sponsorships. Maybe have your site be the catalyst to some giant yearly event filled with people and services willing to gauge the naive wanna-be voice actor. Oh, wait, that’s already covered.

3. What about pre-screening talent and guaranty a minimum level of quality to clients. Then also, pre-screening clients and guaranty a minimum level of legitimacy and security to voice talent? You listening SAG? AFTRA? No, they aren’t are they?

4. Show Google, Microsoft, or Breakdown Services how awesome you are currently, and see if you can’t enjoy a buy-out. The retire to Baja. I hear the property goes for cheap these days.

You asked for it.
Oh, and you’re welcome.
-Mike

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88 Responses to “Trust me, Voice123, you really don’t want my opinion.”

  1. Hi Mike,
    My favorite thing was noticing that your profile on our site said you are a ‘Child’. Very fitting.

    http://voice123.com/mikevaughn1

    In the other one, you appear drunk by your headshot:

    http://voice123.com/mikevaughn

    If you had the class to write me privately, and keep it private, I never would have replied this way, like I will now.

    I appreciate you blogging my personal attempt to reach out to help you, as I am a voice talent too, but I don’t appreciate you spitting in my face.

    Did you ever think ahead for one simple second…that maybe someone was trying to help you?

    Maybe you lack the emotional barometer to understand this, but the reason why I said I would keep it confidential is because I know how damaging negative web content is, and I know how this is an emotional subject, but hey…You said you didnt care, and I could tell by your demo that you do not care much about what you display as professional work.

    You know what Mike?

    I want to challenge you …

    I challenge you, ‘Mike Vaughn the Blogger’, to do the following:

    1. Start your own website,

    2. Set up the servers,

    3. Run marketing campaigns, SEO campaigns

    4. Invest in pay per click campaigns

    5. Get people to post jobs on your site.

    6. After you have asked these people to post jobs, then ask them to pay you.

    Imagine as owner of a website, you are telling a buyer of your voice that he has to pay to hire you…Given your demo, why would that happen?

    Now do all of that for free…When you grow up, and come to the realization that the world does not revolve around your simple, obsessive, unstable mind, and you realize that what we do here is a job to help people…

    You write me and tell me HOW you did it all without ever accepting a penny, and still managed to run the business from your homeless shelter.

    Mike…Blogs like this illustrate why 99% of the agents wont open their doors to the 90% of talented people out there, because of the 10% of people that ruin it for everyone with their unstable, back-stabbing, needy, egotistical behavior.

    I am busy helping talent today make their money, not taking commission, and accepting that ONE guy… spit in my face for no reason. In fact, you are a waste of my time.

    When you grow up, maybe you will have the backbone to apologize.

    Good luck … not to you…but to those who hire you.

    And if they dont hire you…it is probably because they read your blog, and assume by your words that you are simple, arrogant, self-entitled, and of the belief that you deserve something because you simply exist. If I ever retire to baja…I will hire you as my maid.

    I have never said this to anyone ever in all my time, I will do it once and never again…You are a clueless fool.

    Whatever money you take in at your waiter jobs, I recommend you invest in therapy.

    You dont even have the common sense to spot someone who tried to help you.
    ps- BY the way…We do pre-screen talent before they become premium.

    If you had tried to become premium, we would have refused your money or forced a refund.

    unhappy

  2. Odd… He asked for your “no-holds-barred opinion” and you did… I did not feel it was mean… just Straight.

    WOW, I feel his response was OH a TAD PERSONAL?

    And he did NOT really address your points… Just how hard it is to do what their site does.

    Oh well…

    Keep book’n, as I know you do!

    <3

    Sam Aaron

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Vaughn, Mike Vaughn. Mike Vaughn said: Too harsh? Call me on my crap if it is: http://lnk4.us/rkcC Titled: "Trust me, Voice123, you really don’t want my opinion." [...]

    Tweets that mention how NOT to make it » Blog Archive » Trust me, Voice123, you really don’t want my opinion. -- Topsy.com

  4. Hi Sam,
    Yeah, it is personal; it’s my job. What makes you think you are above not thinking that way?

    To address his pointless, clueless, points:

    1. Your service isn’t all that helpful for voice talent with agents and managers. We get plenty of auditions, all of which we can trust are legit and will pay when booked.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> If you don’t know how to work online to deal with that situation, or what it means to work online, your biggest problem is applying what you do offline to working online. On our site, you deal with clients directly. You dont have an agent to hold your hand. It is not for the faint of heart.

    2. Your service is WAY overpriced. The majority of responses I’ve heard from those using and booking on Voice123 is, “I almost broke even with the jobs I was able to book on Voice123.” Extra auditions and work just to “almost” make the subscription fee with no protection for non-paying clients? Yeah, no thanks.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Clueless, again. Its not true. We do protect people. You just dont know how.

    You’re clueless because you dont even realize that working online is about building business relationships; not playing a game of chance. If you knew someone who worked online, which you stated you dont, they wouldnt tell you because they know its pointless.

    3. The Voice123 brand is a determent to whatever semblance of a “brand” I might have. And what I mean by that is because of the numerous active entry-level talent with very limited abilities listed within Voice123, combined with clients posting little-to-no pay jobs, including paying jobs that are consistently well below fair market rates, associating my name on your site actually devalues my accomplishments as an actor. Make sense? And yes, I recognize that there are some talented and very qualified voice talent on Voice123, just… not as many in my humble opinion.

    >>>>>>>>>> Dont kid yourself. Your opinion is not humble. It is uneducated. Big difference. You dont know the importance of a brand or what one is, simply because you have this blog; unless your brand is to display you are clueless?

    4. I’m hearing more and more stories of clients trying out Voice123, not digging the results, and heading back to trusted agents and managers. I could only imagine the headache of filtering thru hundreds of mediocre auditions as a broadcast producer versus the option of calling a few trusted talent agents and getting them filtered a bit more thoroughly.

    >>>>>>>>> What website are you talking about? It’s not ours! We have had a 1674% project posting growth since 2004 and last month, we had over 1500 jobs posted. Get your facts straight. I think you are talking about people who use a competitor of ours, but not us. But again, how do you know? When were you premium under SmartCast?

    Now, critique is easy and cheap; it’s the solutions that are difficult, right?

    >>>>>>>>> Pal, let me educate you more. Asking yourself ‘Why is it my fault?’ is the difficult question. Critiques are cheap, especially considering the source.

    1. Instead of charging talent, CHARGE the clients looking for voice talent. You listening, Breakdown Services, LA Casting, and Now Casting? This also has the wonderful side-effect of better filtering out the illegitimate clients who have no intention of paying for work anyway. Yes, I’m talking about “clients” who use demos as the final product without pay (don’t pretend like this doesn’t happen).

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Oh wait! You are from LA! That explains it! The state that thinks its a good idea to hire an actor for a governor is going to tell me that ‘LA knows best’. Please.

    If you had a clue, we have had jobs posted by 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., and also major networks and cable stations. Now, were you wise enough to spot these, or did you go after the low paying gigs, which makes you the problem…for thinking you should audition for those?

    By the way, how much work did you get on our site?

    Do you think that’s our fault?

    Or maybe…just maybe…you had no idea what you were doing online?

    By the way, out of 1500 jobs posted a month, I hear of 2 non-payment cases a month, and I am also a former fraud investigator so I do collection for talents on the site when it happens rarely. So again…you are wrong.

    2. Better yet, don’t charge anything. Just get tons of traffic and make moolah via ad sales and sponsorships. Maybe have your site be the catalyst to some giant yearly event filled with people and services willing to gauge the naive wanna-be voice actor. Oh, wait, that’s already covered.

    >>>>>>>>> Are you drunk? What site are you talking about? In fact, what are you talking about? VOICE2010? Voices? We have nothing to do with any of that, and believe me, we stay in business because we have a moral compass, and the maturity level to know we dont make ‘moolah’. We make revenue to keep operations going for voice talent. (I hope the usage of big words there didnt scare you)

    3. What about pre-screening talent and guaranty a minimum level of quality to clients. Then also, pre-screening clients and guaranty a minimum level of legitimacy and security to voice talent? You listening SAG? AFTRA? No, they aren’t are they?

    >>>>>>>>>>> Well, Mr. Clueless, have you seen your profile lately? By the way, if you think ‘being in a union’ qualifies as ‘talented’, did you know that only 2% of the 125,000 union members can afford to do VO work full-time? Funny, we have more full-time working voice talent on our site. Wake up.

    4. Show Google, Microsoft, or Breakdown Services how awesome you are currently, and see if you can’t enjoy a buy-out. The retire to Baja. I hear the property goes for cheap these days.

    >>>>>>>>>>>> That was neither cute, nor funny, and hints of a racist attitude towards people who live in that area. But hey…I expect nothing from people like you, so I am never disappointed.

    You can say I took it personal, and you would be right.

    So congrats…Out of all of your childish, uneducated, ill-informed ranting, because I lived in LA and left…because the people were just as artificial as the boobs, cheek bones, and lips, I had to move back to NYC.

    You see, we actually know how to run a business.

    And for the future…when you a chance to speak to someone who is more successful than you, maybe you should show a little respect. But I dont even think you respect yourself. You just follow people off cliffs because ‘its the thing to do’.

    Congrats on teaching the online world that you know nothing.

    How is that Sam? Direct enough? Did I miss anything? Or should I dumb it down more with crayons and legos?

    unhappy

  5. asking for your honest, no-holds-barred opinion, as to why you have not upgraded to Premium, or why you are still standard.

    So… Feel free to let us have it! We can take it

    andrea

  6. guess not.

    andrea

  7. Wow. Way to class it up, Voice123. When people Googling your service stumble upon this post, they’ll see what a complete, unprofessional ass your PR guy has made of himself on a blog.

    That smacks of a company I’d want something to do with.

    You lose at the Internet.

    Josh

  8. Wow. I think Voice123 blew it here. Be careful what you wish for. You asked for a no holds barred candid take on the service. Then got all pissy when the Mike Vaughn dude didn’t blow sunshine all over you. Hey voice 123, yes you DO look fat in that dress. Too bad you asked for an honest response.

    Kevin Cooke

  9. Hi guys,
    Just a heads up…yesterday from 8am until 10pm EST, I read over 2500 emails with no holds barred opinions.

    I went back and looked and Mike’s was not sent to us.

    What many of you overlook is the reason Mike bothered me.

    I said, ‘Write me privately.’

    Why?

    Because I know the damage ill-informed, negative web content can do to a person trying to get a job.

    I find most who cannot work online, do not realize their own content is working against them, which leads to job loss.

    Oh, out of the 2500 responses, Mike was the only one who decided to go public about the email.

    You see, I do more for voice talent than any of you will ever realize.

    I thought appealing to everyone’s common sense and respect for online content was the way to go, but I guess…

    Congrats Mike. You alone, out of 2500, went public.

    So please dont inform me of what ‘people’ want. Our company knows what voice talent need and how to help them.

    You can say, ‘Oh bad PR! You lose.’…but really….did you address my point?

    Why did you go public with that email?

    Why do you accuse our site of things that never happen?

    I guess you just dont know, do you?

    Well, it’s Saturday, and I am working for voice talent again reading 2000 more replies…and trust me…yours looks like a kid screaming in the sandbox compared some of what I have read.

    And now I know, and what to fix.

    Sorry you will never be a part of it.

    ps – Kevin, re-stating my point…I did ask for honest opinions, but I did it with the respect for the talent so they wouldnt make a fool of themselves in public.

    But hey…listen to Mike…because out of 4500 people now (as I write this) … he went public.

    Good luck to all of you.

    unhappy

  10. Greetings, Fellow VO talent,

    I know Steven Lowell. He truly does more for you folks than you will ever know. He is cursed with an agency where he has all the responsibility and not much of the authority. Not his fault, I assure you. He’s a good-hearted and extremely talented man who loves his talent and wants the best for them.

    Mike, whomever you are, you seem to be crass and abusive, in my opinion. I have been a VO talent agent for over 30 years and I frankly wouldn’t want you as one of my talent, as you are volatile and very much less than professional in your attacking of Steve and the company he represents. Do I agree with everything about V123? No, I do not. But, alas, they have put in their dues and helped a lot of talent and that is worth something. The DO NOT deserve to be abused as you have seen so fit to do.

    Send me your demos, Mike. I’d love to have a stab at critiquing them, as well as your business model and ethics.

    When will all of you learn that you can only create success out of successful thoughts? The only thing you can create from hate and anger and fear is more hate and anger and fear. HOW and WHAT do you want to show up in your life? YOU CHOOSE.

    Donna Summers

    Donna Summers

  11. Perhaps when Ms. Summers finishes evaluating your ethics she may want to reflect back on her own as to when she owned Voice Casting Network (now known as http://www.voplanet.com). Numerous vo talent collaborated threatening to file a class action lawsuit against her for non-payment to talent.

    “Successful Thoughts” don’t pay people’s mortgages but apparently some
    “Successful Voices” paid hers.

    Voice Truly

  12. Just wanted to point out two quick things:

    1. My opinions on Voice123 are widely shared by many other VO talent.
    Proof: http://lnk4.us/fxii

    2. One must question the legitimacy of Donna Summers as a talent agent. I have confirmation from two sources that the lawsuit against her is true, she does charge talent for representation, and the icing on the cake… someone wishing to remain anonymous forwarded me this Spam-esq email from from Donna Summers.
    Screen cap here:
    http://www.mikevaughn.com/hownottomakeit/wp-content/uploads/DonnaSummers-Spamer.jpg

    MikeV

  13. Wow. Just came across this. I’m still thinking of joining Voice123 and Voices.com since it seems to be a great place to get copy and practice but as far as furthering my career, maybe not. Mike’s response was a little strong but for the other guy to go off on him like that…maybe he gets lots of responses like this on Voice123.

    MichaelW

  14. Jenkies.

    I’m a Premium Voice123 subscriber – for what it’s worth, I’m happy with it – and I get Mr. Lowell’s emails all the time, which do have a sincere-desire-to-help vibe. In kind, I’d like to suggest that you (Mr. Lowell) make as public an apology for this as possible before you potentially lose your job over a rash impulse.

    Regardless of whether this guy’s complaints are valid (which they are), or whether they’re worded super harshly (which they are) – you should know better than to retaliate. Ever. Privately, or – dear LORD – publicly.

    His posting of your well-meaning email does nothing to tarnish your brand. His ranting about why he dislikes your service also doesn’t do much, as many people across the Internet wilderness are certainly doing the same, over the same issues. The only brand damage done here was all you – and it’s spreading like wildfire. I heard about this from someone well-established in the industry, who herself heard about it from someone at the top – so it’s not just the bottom-web-trawlers that are having their Voice123 brand image permanently altered.

    If there is a way to contain this PR disaster, it’s by eating it. Just like you eat all the flaming in your inbox, as is your due and duty; you’ve got to eat this one twice over.

    Shocked

  15. Harsh? Aww shucks. I was going for “snarky-sarcasm-with-a-point.”
    But ok, I’ll take super harsh. Heh.

    Thanks for the post Shocked.

    MikeV

  16. A bad experience.

    Years ago I paid the premium subscription for Voice123.com, only to find that every single person on planet earth could audition for anything. If you were trying to get a little extra work on Voice123.com, it was sometimes very hard unless you were the first 10 to 15 auditions. No voice seeker had time to listen to the 300+ that were submitted.

    So, I let my subscription expire.

    Within the last 2 months, I began to inquire about the site again. I had many bad feedback emails from friends. I decided to chat with Voice123.com support to ask some very pointed questions about the service.
    I was assured that the “Smartcast” technology would increase the ability for me to get better exposure on auditions with all of its astounding formulas and calculation. Even on the website, the “Smartcast” information page gives elaborate explanation about its ability to match talent, sift through the voice pool and match the best talent with the seeker.

    This I believe is complete nonsense. Save your money. I have chat logs from Voice123.com that basically confirm at the heart of the “Smartcast” technology, exists nothing more than a rotation wheel for talent. If you audition for material, you get kicked to the back of the pile. Now, of course it is not THAT simple, but that is a big part of it.

    So, I complained. I got the diplomatic answer. I posted the question to the Voice123.com forum… guess what. I got kicked back to a standard member and my paid membership revoked.

    It was like censorship. I inquired, they said I violated the Voice123.com forum policy. I asked where the policy was, I couldn’t find it. Guess what, there wasn’t a posted policy. They couldn’t show me.

    Has anyone else had a bad run with Voice123.com – I am just dumbfounded at this unbelievable turn of events.

    Dave Steele

  17. Great blog! much appreciated.

    Sent from my iPhone 4G

    lost

  18. “I did ask for honest opinions, but I did it with the respect for the talent so they wouldnt make a fool of themselves in public.”

    The only one making a fool of themselves is you.

    Lrn2Internet

    John

  19. >> 6. After you have asked these people to post jobs, then ask them to pay you.

    Worth mentioning that almost every job site outside of entertainment works this way. The people posting jobs pay to list, or if they are working with a recruiter they pay when a person is hired.

    The fact that thousands of job sites for other industries exist and make money disputes your entire argument and proves Mr Vaughn correct.

    James

  20. Motion to remove Steven Lowell from Voice123 as acting PRM on the grounds of best possible example of what PR is not.

    On a side note; spamming company members and asking them to sign up for premium instead of focusing on creating a service with value that allows users to choose a membership option that suits their requirements and allows them to scale with their needs, is a bad move… it taints any company credibility and shows poor businessmanship.

    Blake

  21. Over the months, I have had some time to reflect on what happened here. So, I will just address comments and drop it:

    1. Blake, my email was not spam. It was a personal email I sent because I am a voice talent working for the website trying to make it better for voice talent. I forget sometimes that people will not view me that way.

    2. James, John, Lost…One of the most troubling things I find with voice talent working online is that 98% of them have no idea how it works. Mainly because they do not have the resources to focus on it. They apply an offline ideal to working online, which is the first key to failing while working online.

    3. I would like to note that the efforts we have made here: Last month, 60% of paying subscribers booked at least one job. Our website has grown 17% in the past year. What you read may not make sense to you, but there are underlying factors into why I did what I did.

    I apologize for how I wrote, but cannot apologize for how it made me feel to reach out to help another talent, and then see this blog.

    Such feelings, come from someone who has a big heart and believes mistakenly at times that people will understand.

    Out of the 86,000 emails like this that went out, over 50,000 people replied. Mr.Vaughn was the only one who did something like this. What you read about Voice123 makes up only 2% of all voice talent globally, but the comments sting some days.

    5. Dave Steele was given a full refund of his subscription because he did not understand how the software we use works, and chose to respond by going on an anti-campaign against us, instead of finding out why we do what we do.

    This is fine. He received his money back. That is business. Unfortunately, after the ordeal, Mr.Steele believed he was entitled to a full year subscription for his ‘hardships’. What he does not realize is that the Better Business Bureau sided with our decision, and saw no justification of his actions. Again, just business.

    Dear Shocked,
    I think a problem with people in the United States today is that they believe to survive in business they have to go through life never contradicting other people. My superiors know about this, but they also know what I am trying to do. I am sorry if it offended you. In truth, any business that believes in themselves should feel no fear about defending it, or him/herself when the comment is personally directed.

    My mistake…I took this personally. I did so because I really wanted to know why so many profiles ‘existed’ but no one did anything with them. You do not lose your job for what you do. You lose your job when you cost a company money.

    My efforts here have worked, and I am integrated in the voice over business enough offline as a talent to know why on a face to face level. I meet people personally quite often.

    Andrea, your question: I wanted to know both. Not surprisingly the two main reasons people stay standard, or do not upgrade:

    a. Dont have the money

    b. They get booked from having the profile, given our web exposure. This is something I work hard at all the time.

    I think that is what many misunderstand about working online: It is give and take on a ‘do it yourself’ website, so the answer to the question, ‘Why did I fail?’, rests solely on the shoulders of a talent. That’s a hard question to answer, but if you think asking a buyer to pay to use a site to find a talent is give and take, you simply misunderstand websites.

    Finally, Donna Summers is a good woman, and a great agent. In fact, she works for a competing website to ours, but we talk offline about the experiences of dealing with working for websites in a public forum. She stuck up for me, and had no subversive motive behind it.

    I understand offline, a talent/actor never speaks out of turn because ‘agents blacklist’ ‘you may never get hired again’ etc.

    In truth, I went through that nonsense, and that is why I like working in a do it yourself environment.

    If I seem to speak out of turn, I can remind myself that since starting here, job postings have increased by 1674%, and last month we had 90% customer satisfaction among voice talent and those posting jobs.

    It should make you think, ‘Am I judging my opinion of a site based on the opinions of those who do not understand working online?’.

    To be honest, I was really bothered by this blog, and it is why I only came back to it after seeing something on twitter.

    The chance I take…Will the 98% of voice talent who read this and do NOT comment, understand me and what I do here at this company is better for voice talent than ever before?

    No offense to anyone, but I am not revisiting this blog again. I know things from working here that I spend a great deal of time sharing with the site, and I do much more good there than here. I am actually writing this on a Sunday, when I have time.

    Good luck to all of you with whatever career you pursue.

    Sorry if this offended those, who normally know me not to be offensive, but I cannot apologize for how it feels to be stabbed in the back, and how I react to it after.

    We grow as we learn, and can only do what we know.

    I know better now.

    Steven

  22. Oh Steven.

    I love you for sooo much for adding to today’s laughter quotient. In fact, you’ve added about 1674% more chuckles for me today alone.

    xoxoxo
    -mv

    MikeV

  23. Know what would be a great blog spin-off to “How NOT to make it” ?
    “How NOT to do P.R”, by the Voice123 team.

    F.H

  24. I’m a suit snob from when I managed a Mens Dept.

    mesothelioma

  25. Hi Guy, this good blogs, thanks

    Vandal Dome

  26. Well, Mike V. I would like to hire you for a commercial, radio campaign, I will not pay you until I know the results of that campaign are good for my business, if they are not good, I will not pay you. If you are not ok with this, no problem, I will keep looking, hopefully someone will say yes.
    Would this be working for free? Yes, but since that is what you want from Voice123 then I guess you are ok with it.

    Not a VO artist

  27. Not a VO artist,
    I’m try to understand your analogy here.

    I think what you’re saying is that Voice123 deserves my money for trying to get me work, is that correct? I’m confused because you’ve got the client, and usage in there.

    So, normally, VO/Acting gigs are done like this:
    - client needs a talent.
    - client asks agents for samples of their talent.
    - client picks a talent.
    - agent negotiates the contract for the job.
    - agent gets 10% of that contract.
    - talent gets paid.

    Notice there’s no point where the talent pays the agent, nor does the agent pay the client. See the flow?

    In fairness to Voice123, that’s also how their process works for the most part, except that (and this is where I disagree with their model) before the very first step, talent has paid Voice123 (acting as a pseudo agent) $350+ a year just for the privilege of auditioning.

    Your (somewhat sarcastic) example is easily found on Craig’s List, and is a tactic used often to lure desperate, misguided talent with the promise of paid work that will never be realized.

    I might argue that your point is MUCH more analogous to the practices of parties who charge talent to audition.

    Not a VO artist, indeed, but… oh wait… do we know you from last year’s Futurama contract debacle?

    MikeV

  28. Not even close, but ok, soon you will ask for agents not to take a commission, anyway, if that simple analogy gave you a hard time, no wonder you can’t understand the business model of a market place. People are afraid of what they don’t comprehend, and you are terrified. Do you think having a blog makes you an Internet expert? You can’t even open your mind to new things no wonder you are failing as a Voice over talent.

    Not a VO artist

  29. (Note to readers: I’m fairly certain this is Steven under a different email. Call it a hunch, but regardless, NotaVOartist is right, I’m clearly “failing as a Voice over talent” as I’m sure you’d all agree.)

    Ok, naVOa, sorry, I was just trying to truly understand your point. I guess I’m too terrified to open my simple little mind. BUT… for the record I DO think agents should actually get more than 10% in some/most cases. All my current agents work very hard so I’m always happy when we both get paid. As for my lack of understanding of “the business model of a market place,” I have no one to blame but the fine folks at The University of Northern Colorado. Why they so haphazardly handed me a Marketing degree, I’ll never know. Again, your acumen is spot on. Nice work.

    But, when you ask if I think “having a blog makes [me] an Internet expert,” well… all I have to say is All_Your_Base_Are_Belong_to_Us. Yeah, take that! Bam!

    Expert status? Achieved.

    Now back to my failed VO career.

    Oooohhh, wait! IDEA! I’d love to sit down with you and Steven, face-to-face, and have an intelligent conversation over some nice Rogue Ales, or maybe some Tesstarossa wine (I sometimes have some to share). Hey, maybe we could tape our conversation on-camera, or better yet, via Skype, then use the recorded meeting to share with other VO talent for them to learn and grow from.

    What do you say?

    MikeV

  30. I just got a phone call from a fellow VO actor in Seattle. Apparently, he’s having some difficulty with Voice123 (notice the shocked look on my face).

    He might post his story, but long-story-short Voice123 wouldn’t honor their own free-trial offer.

    Our conversation was fun and entertaining and got me thinking about this poor Steven Lowell fellow. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that’s he’s just a fall guy, a pasty if you will. A couple of google searches later to see what makes Mr. Lowell such an expert on all things VO and Internet marketing related, and I found: 1.) self-proclaimed expert status via the number of posts from Mr. Lowell, and 2.) a surprisingly large number of complaints against clients using Voice123. Apparently there are people out there using Voice123 and not paying the talent.

    AND STEVEN KNOWS WHO THEY ARE, and doesn’t go after them. His advice? “Avoid these people…”

    Here’s his post screen-captured:
    http://www.mikevaughn.com/hownottomakeit/wp-content/uploads/voice123clients.jpg

    Here’s another view of Voice123′s policy:
    http://www.nethervoice.com/nethervoice/tag/pay-to-play/

    And from Steven himself:
    http://www.voiceoverxtra.com/article.htm?id=vnocw6qn

    (I love the “trust your gut” part)

    So, to sum this up for talent wondering about trying out the Voice Pay-to-Play sites…

    It’s great if you are cool with:
    - paying $350+ a year per site to “audition.”
    - no protection if a client decides not to pay you.
    - possible denigration of your image as a VO talent.

    And on the plus side, you too can audition for $50 buyout gigs! Neat.

    And finally,
    some tribute links to Mr. Lowell so you can experience his wonderfull talent and advice:

    http://voice123.com/Steven_Lowell (note the sincere and hip commerical demo)

    http://www.voiceoveruniverse.com/profile/StevenLowell (looks like I’m not the only one with a drunk headshot).

    xoxoxoxox
    -mv

    MikeV

  31. Cool Article! My spouse and i had been simply just debating that there’s a whole lot absolutely wrong details at this matter and also you precisely replaced the belief. Many thanks for a marvelous contribute.

    創業

  32. [...] Trust me, Voice123, you really don’t want my opinion. The Voice123 brand is a determent to whatever semblance of a “brand” I might have. And what I mean by that is because of the numerous active entry-level talent with very limited abilities listed within Voice123, combined with clients posting little-to-no pay jobs, including paying jobs that are consistently well below fair market rates, associating my name on your site actually devalues my accomplishments as an actor. [...]

    Aug 14th, 2010 4:46pm « Mike Cane's Tumblr Evac

  33. Loving http://www.mikevaughn.com by the way, best actor website I’ve found in a long time.

    Howard

  34. thanks

    hmm...?

  35. Maybe the GREATEST blog I read this year?

    anon

  36. Great writing! You may want to follow up on this topic :)

    Kim

    KimtheDouchehole

  37. ghost ride that whip

    car rims

  38. Mikevaughn…

    [...] something about mikevaughn[...]…

    Mikevaughn

  39. I am such a loser! I just spent the past 30 minutes of my life reading this thread. I HAVE NO LIFE!! Ha Ha… but at least I feel pretty damned good about the fact that I did not spend the money on Voice123. ((But what now??)) still confused as to how to start a voice talent career. and YES, i agree, MIKE VAUGHN- you are one talented mother fugger man! LOVED your website! :)

    HoLLie ANNe

  40. Well… It’s easier said than done, but in very general terms it goes like this: 1. Get a good (authentic IMHO) VO demo, which 2. Gets you a good VO agent, who 3. Sends you lots of auditions.

    Sure there’s a TON of other stuff that needs to happen (training, experience, studio tec, marketing, ect.) but that’s the cliff notes version.

    Email me if you have more detailed questions.
    But I am happy to have saved your $350 which can be put to much better use now.

    MikeV

  41. sweet

    david

  42. Love your site man keep up the good work

    Lucienne Hanold

  43. …..they can *handle it*. Oh my, I should say they certainly cannot!

    I was actually going to sign up with them. Now that I have seen such a bitter, childish attack. I think NOT!

    Usually when a company representative is *this* hostile. Well, they’ve done wrong many times before. Why so DEFENSIVE?? Bad Business!

    Romey

  44. Post your profile with us… Free!

    Robert

  45. Geeesh…. someone missed the entire point, huh?
    Way to pay attention Robert.

    MikeV

  46. WOW , I complained about audio quality
    after uploading auditions….little Stephens Reply was So Not from a Pro and removed my premium status because I hurt his New York
    Boy feelings .,,never got a refund … guess
    the BBB is where Stephen thinks refund policy
    is made? Wacko and for what it’s worth they
    Still have my name on their site ! I had the first VO website in 1994 also had one of the only
    ISDN boxes way back in 1993 when you could
    Only lease a 3D2 box from IDB plus a DGS
    beta unit, bottom line it to you Stevey “audio quality “even in an audition has to be clean and distortion free , but somewhere along the path
    your system started garbling audio from
    Mac computers and you even admitted that
    fact , so good luck with your PR …I see I am
    not the only one who was flamed by some
    sawed off hack in a small room with no windows.

    John Driscoll

  47. WOW! This is the response from a Voice123 PR Manager? WTF?!!! Not only do you insult someone who was honest about why he hasn’t upgraded, but you insult Los Angeles and everyone in California.

    By the way, I’m from Los Angeles and if you weren’t busy lashing out, you would realize that Los Angeles stretches beyond your ignorant “Hollywood” perception.

    I was seriously thinking of upgrading until I came across this blog. Given your lashing out in defense answers all my questions.

    Miguel Angel

  48. Just going thru some old stuff and I came across this and looks like i posted something almost a year ago and never followed up. Yes Mike, I was paying attention. But maybe simply got tired reading all this back and forth bickering- (who knows?) anymore so it looks like I posted to what, change the subject maybe? Or direct people somewhere? Anyway, it’s not important now. People will decide for themselves what works for them and what doesn’t.

    Seems to me that although your feedback was sincere, maybe you could have been more diplomatic. I think I would have been offended too (not by the content but by the tone).

    Steven had recently sent me something that looked to be insulting but I could not understand what he was implying. I asked him for clarification and I never received any more fromm him. I think I posted a discussion on Linked In asking for others’ input on p2p and he thought I was criticizing his company- I said nothing about anyone or any company at all.

    BTW, I notice that many of these replies start off with “Wow”; Strange… This leads me to wonder if these are indeed real responses.

    Robert

  49. PS: If anyone is reading this (it’s an old post now) please forgive the couple of errors in my previous post as apparently I cannot correct them. I am definitely NOT taking sides here, just being “honest”, as everyone seems to want that.

    I know how time consuming it is to run even a small website. I ask for feedback all the time. This is the only way we can improve. If someone has anything really negative to say, I ask want to address me personally, not walk out in the middle of the room and “vent” simply to “rally the troops”. I would of course expect the latter to happen if we did nothing to resolve their issue. Thank You!

    Robert

  50. Hey Robert!

    No worries, and no apologies needed.
    1. I actually thought your “post with us for free” comment was a spambot..l good to know you’re a human. Heh. Please feel free to post the link that I deleted thinking it was an email harvester.

    2. There are a lot of Wow comments, but none are fake (that I know of). I don’t know Miguel and John, but Sam Aaron, Josh, and Kevin Cooke are friends of mine. The one I’m sure is fake is “ghost ride that whip” but damn if that just ain’t funny. I think there are a lot of wow’s because… well… Steven’s resonponses are that of a 12 year old. A natural response as it were.

    3. To this day, I still get an occasional email (even a couple of text messages) from strangers thanking me for the info. I even made friends with a voice talent in Sonoma, CA who disagrees with me about Voice123, so I can whole heartedly say that they’re all different people.

    I feel good about my post and I still believe that Voice123 and sites like it who take large amounts of money from aspiring, hopeful, even naive actors are the lowest form of carpetbaggers in the VO biz.

    Think about it: if you are good at the craft of acting/VO work, you will get an agent. Moreover, who is paying for the creative production and media buy for a project? Not the talent. The end client is. So ask yourself once again, if the client can afford thousands if not tens of thousands in media buy costs, why can’t they afford a reasonable rate for talent, and why would they be looking at a site filled with armatures? Well…maybe those clients are new to production and talent, maybe they don’t care if the talent is any good, or maybe they’re just greedy. Don’t know.

    The point is, VO work is an acting career, it’s not just taking into a mic and getting paid. Sites like Voice123 will never really tell you or illustrate this fact because of the high yearly rate they charge desperate talent. If they had any balls, they would charge access to those seeking high-quality talent.

    Mike Vaughn

  51. Thanks for your response Mike! Actually when I saw your comment yesterday I went to see how I can delete my link so you did not think I was spamming but I could not find how to do it and as far as I can see, it is still there. Looking back at how my post appears, I can see how you thought I was “out in space”!

    Yes indeed, VO is just like “regular” acting. Too many go into this thinking that it will be easy and is even as mere stepping stone to something bigger and better. If you looked at my site you will see many like this and many also with the “entitlement” attitude. Those types simply submitted a profile at one time and have never checked back that I can tell. Someday I will go in and “clean house”, deleting dormant members but right now I am just leaving them there for the purpose of sourcing advertisers when I can start that (just like newspapers do with subscribers). After all they still are members and they still receive all correspondence from us.

    While I don’t really have strong opinions on P2P one way or the other, I agree with much of what you said and have also seen other sites that do charge the voice seeker rather than the voice provider. As far as Stephen (V123) is concerned, like I said, he sent me something through Linked In a few months ago that I thought was completely uncalled for. I asked him for clarification and he never replied. I have no respect for that, and that is all I can say about my personal experience with him. You have had far more interaction.

    Members of our site are always posting discussions about P2P also and I guess he took something personally which I have heard he does a lot.

    I am also a member of V123 as well as Voices but have never become a premium member of either nor do I plan to. Therefore I do not have as much info about the inner workings as you and others do. I am an old radio guy who actually did a lot of VO work too but was out of the business for about 15 years. I always thought about getting back into it (VO, not radio anymore) and I quickly saw how different it is now, mostly due to the Internet.

    I started my site because I saw others similar and decided to also create a simple place for others to mingle and exchange ideas and go this route instead of marketing myself as I do enjoy the marketing challenges as well as SEO, etc. The site is free to all and all we ask is if they donate a whopping $25 we will make them a “Featured Member” for a year. There are also a few other perks and I am so thankful for these who donate, especially the ones that did so early on when we first started.

    We have a lot of fine folks, from ambitious / eager newbies to seasoned pros, and I value my working relationship with (almost!) each and every one of them.

    Thanks Mike, and I look forward to hearing (reading) more from you!

    Robert

  52. Mike, Thanks for registering for the site; Hopefully you will see value in it- Please submit any feedback you have too!

    Thanks, Robert

    Robert

  53. Well, I WAS searching for voice123 on google, now not so much.

    Stevensulliedvoice123

  54. This has been so interesting to read and take in. I finished VO lessons last year November…I was given ‘instructions’ from my teacher about V123 ‘will be your bread and butter’……I have been on it since January of this year….out of 46 audtions…I had 5 finalist listings as 1# and not one of these people have ever gotten in touch with me and therefore I feel as if my ‘sh@!’ was stolen and haven’t seen one penny in my paypal account….I’m a newbie and I damn sure didnt sign up for this!!! I was also told that agents get you no where….now after reading this and looking at Mike V’s website ….Let’s say now ‘I know better’…I’m definetly doing my research and homework….Not that voice 123 is bad it has its ‘balancement’ …but still …(crickets churping)……

    JB

  55. You know I loves me some gentle ass-kissing, so thanks for that JB. Heh.

    There is a chance that your auditions were used, but I’ll say, it’s probably not as much as you may be thinking. It depends on how good your auditions sounded, the client, the usage, etc. And this isn’t a unique problem to Voice123, but it just happens to be easier for clients since Voice123 won’t be going after clients who don’t pay.

    So… I’d recommend you search around the web for the projects you auditioned for (google, youtube, fb) and if the projects are live and see if it’s your voice. If it is… lawyer time, because punitive damages put it over small-claim courts.

    I really hope your voice wasn’t used and abused, and I hope you find a good agent to rep you since you seem to be getting callbacks at least.
    Good luck and best wishes.
    Sincerely,
    -mv

    MikeV

  56. Very sad, indeed. If Voice123 has a website designed to ‘allow’ so-called ‘Clients’ to use and abuse Voice Over Talent. This is very unprofessional and sounds like a scam if any of it is true. Money, greed, opportunistic society is destroying us all.

    James

  57. Been in the biz for 30 years. Pays all the bills and then some. PTP is bullshit. Finding an VO agent in every middle to major market nationwide is the only way to go. Once you get one,two or three or twenty call your agency rep 3 times a week at cocktail hour…have a 3 minute conversation about life, no more. Keep banging the phones and sending out your demo to every possible agent in every possible city. Follow up with the call. If you don’t get through, keep calling. Make sure your studio is up to date and clean. Then make some more calls. Sell yourself. Sell, sell, sell. It’s the only way to be in this business…connection…
    connection…connection. After all we’re in the communication business, right! Yeah! Dave.

    Dave Roberts

  58. I went to google to search for Voice123 and stumbled upon this blog. Mike was a bit rough around the edges which I would expect with someone not happy with the service. The reply Voice123 gave was most appalling. Utterly unprofessional, unapologetic, and became sorta childish and foolish. Any possibility of doing business with this company now, would also be foolish.

    Anna

  59. Interesting comments but more important is the fact that there are far too many untrained v/os on this sight.
    It’s very difficult to refuse money when the
    applicant is not trained. You have to pay your rent but it does lower the standards.
    Voplanet sets a high standard.
    Cheers
    Steve

    steve hudson

  60. Mr. Hudson.
    Your message is confusing.
    1. Are you saying there are too many untrained VO talent on Voice123? If “yes,” I agree. And isn’t interesting how much Voice123 charges these naive newbies.

    2. I don’t get the comment “It’s difficult to refuse money when applicant is not trained” at all. Are you saying untrained talent will work for cheap? I also agree if that’s what you’re saying, but just take a look at Celebrities doing commercial work and you need not look far to find examples of everyone doing any gig they can get their hands on regardless of status or pay.

    Lastly, while I have zero experience with VO Planet, 100% of talent I’ve talked to who have dealt with VO Planet, only have negative things to say about Donna and her service. I think the pending lawsuits against her say more about her and any “high standard” that you bring up. The best way for talent to get work is thru trusted agents and thru their own efforts. Paying a website $350+ for access to auditions is silly and unnecessary.

    Thanks for the comment, Steve.
    -mv

    MikeV

  61. Currently I am considering using your service. Customer service is important to me. Recently I found an article online which gave me pause. Could you address the comments made on this page: http://www.mikevaughn.com/hownottomakeit/2010/04/trust-me-voice123-you-really-dont-want-my-opinion/

    I’ll wait to hear from you before I decide.

    Response from Voice123:

    Thank you for contacting Voice123!

    We have received your inquiry and are assigning it to a Casting Ninja. To help track your inquiry we have generated a reference number. Your ticket code is LTK53308541800X. Please use this code in any further communication.

    Please remember that at Voice123 our highest priority is your 100% satisfaction!

    You may also drop us a quick note on Facebook (http://facebook.com/voice123) or Twitter (http://twitter.com/voice123) with your questions, comments or ideas. We will be pleased to hear from you!

    Sincerely,
    The Voice123 Casting Advisory Team

    C.James

  62. Hello!

    Thank you for your interest in Voice123!

    I can see how this article, and the comments folowing would be concerning to you. The employee at the center of that article, Steven Lowell, is no longer with our company and had not been an active customer service team member for quite some time before his departure, though he did have other roles within the company.

    Voice123 takes customer service seriously, and our Casting Advisory Team (which we more commonly call Casting Ninjas) is made up primarily of voice talent to be better able to relate to our customer base. We’re a small Team of six, so we are able to get to know our users pretty well, and we offer customer service via phone, chat, and e-mail seven days a week ( Mon – Friday 9 am – Midnight EST Sat/Sun 11 am – 6 pm EST).

    I hope this addresses your concerns, but if not, or you have any other questions for us, please let us know!

    C.James

  63. Hi Mike,

    I was thinking, very seriously, about signing up to V123 this morning. I’ve been a standard member for a year or so but it’s only been a halfhearted effort till now so I wasn’t really expecting anything. I’m glad that I stumbled across your blog and will most definitely not be upgrading my membership. 

    I’ve seen and heard the examples of your work and to me it is very impressive. At this point, the only difference between us is that you are ‘there’ and I am not. But I would like to be. In all walks of life there really is rarely any substitution for hard work and effort. I suspect that sites like V123 give a lot of false hope to naive wannabes, a lot who think that merely by saying “Yes I’m british, I can also do a scouse accent, a brummie accent, a passable American accent, my characterisation is ………. blah blah blah” will have offers rolling in from all corners. 

    But,  it’s very difficult for me, and no doubt a lot of others, to know where to begin as there  are so many differing opinions. Newbies like me though need to be told, in all honesty, whether we stand a chance, without being charged for that opinion.  

    Most of us new starters are, in a lot of ways, much more fortunate than the old-school artists purely because we have easier access to information and tools to create a half decent demo.  So please, Mike and others, tell me where to begin. What should my voice resume consist of? Who do I contact? I’m based in London, should I include the USA as a target initially? Should I expect a lot of knock-backs as if touting a manuscript for a new book? Where are the forums, if they exist, where other wannabes like me can communicate and exchange ideas and information? I want to be told the bottom line rather than be told “yeah it’s easy, just give us your money and speak into this microphone”

    I’m  enjoying your blog immensley and looking forward to your reply, keep up the good work.

    thanks and regards,

    Gary H.

    Gary H

  64. Gary.
    Thanks for reading and replying. I’ll takle your questions and comments as best I can.

    You state: “Newbies… need to be told whether we stand a chance, without being charged for that opinion.”

    I don’t necessarily agree. There are a lot of so-called experts who have their idea of what will work and what won’t and many of those people don’t even book talent. Of course, charging for an opinion seems silly to me, so there I agree, but I had an agent early on tell me that my teeth weren’t white enough to work on-camera. 4 years later, I’m working and she’s no where to be found. So whether your stand a chance is really up to you and your efforts.

    You state: “Most of us new starters are, in a lot of ways, much more fortunate than the old-school artists purely because we have easier access to information and tools to create a half decent demo.”

    Uh… not here in Los Angeles. Those you might consider old-school are not only jumping aboard and accessing the same tech and info you are, but they also have something far more important: relationships (and experience). Also, take note of all the A-list celebrities now entering the once taboo world of VO, TV, and commercials. There’s more competition than ever and I’m a nobody actor who frequently looses auditions to very well-known talent.

    You ask: “tell me where to begin. What should my voice resume consist of? Who do I contact? I’m based in London, should I include the USA as a target initially? Should I expect a lot of knock-backs as if touting a manuscript for a new book? Where are the forums, if they exist, where other wannabes like me can communicate and exchange ideas and information? I want to be told the bottom line rather than be told “yeah it’s easy, just give us your money and speak into this microphone”

    Uh, google?
    Seriously, that’s a ton of questions that could be answered in often contradicting ways. Everyone has a different story on how they got into this line of work. Also, would you ask a surgeon, plumber, or pro-snowboarder “where to begin?” It’s no different. You train and you do. Bam. Easy to say, hard to actually do. This all takes time.

    That said, begin by doing what you can to be the absolute best actor you can be. Take reputable classes in acting (not necessarily VO focused), and improv classes. Learn all you can about the acting craft, it’s business, and the technical inner workings. Listen to KCRW’s “The Business,” read the trades for your area AND LA/NY. Understand what’s going on. Your voice-resume (I assume you mean demos) should consist of actual work, which you can get by helping out friends, student projects, recording at home, workout groups, etc. Know that the vo resume/demo is really only there to help you get an agent. You can send your demo and work samples to guys like me and ask for an opinion (which is free), but again, we may or may not be of much help. I don’t know the London market, and I don’t pursue it. You targeting the USA? Maybe. Are you up for the late hours? How’s your studio sound? You got ISDN/Source-Connect? Aka: I, personally, wouldn’t pursue an overseas market too much, but I have gotten a handful of gigs in 8 years from Ireland, Germany and France. Knock-backs are the name of the game. For every 100 auditions I send out, if I land ONE I’m considered to be doing well. Forums? Google. They’re everywhere and many are ready to sell you stuff. I like the VO-BB (http://www.vo-bb.com/phpBB2/) and voice talent’s personal blogs you find via google searches. But IMHO, it’s best to train as an actor, learn the craft, learn the biz, work as you train, and find good agents or managers to rep you once you’re ready. Oh, and go to VoiceBank.net, look at the demos and see where you stand with all those working talent.

    Again, you’re welcome to send me demos and I’ll give you my $.002 which is what my opinion is worth. Heh.
    Good luck mate.
    -mv

    MikeV

  65. Thanks Mike,

    It’s refreshing to receive honest, non-patronising, practical advice. Remember me, I’ll be back (sorry!) When I get my first gig in the states, I’ll drop by and buy you a beer.

    Keep on keepin’ on mate.

    Gary H.

    Gary H

  66. Hilarious! Just the best beat-down of a clown I’ve ever read. I’ve been a “standard” member of Voice123 for 3 or 4 years and it’s been a complete waste of time. The station where my shows are cleared is being sold this summer so I was thinking of a new plan – going back to Voice123 and checking out their “premium” service in order to maybe do some VO work. Ha! They’ve changed the price to $295, but now there’s an “invitation only” service as well. Typical PTP, reminds me of the people that pay to go to France and pay to harvest grapes for a week. The French farmers must laugh all the way to the bank. MV you are correct – I think I’ll save my money and go back to college and take a couple of acting classes. I know one of the instructors here at our local community college and he’s old school from Hollywood and all around great guy. Anyway thanks for saving me the money. Nice work.

    Scott

  67. Thank you Mike. The response from Steven was so unprofessional and in bad taste (No excuses V123) I would NEVER use V123. It sounds like a ‘Complete Waste of Time and rip-off’. Who pays to give your hard work to a so-called ‘Client’ you’re NOT allowed to know or contact? If you get a #1 Rating you probably will never get the job anyway or get paid. What does #1 mean anyway! lol Get an Agent and get auditions regularly with people you can SEE and talk to or get a job. It’s that simple. It’s the world of Virtual Reality. Like going to Las Vegas. A nightmare if you ask me.computers have changed our reality on planet earth. Some are makng great money ‘using this virtual reality’ to their benefit and selling ‘Hope’. Sad! $$$ Again, V123 response was DISGUSTING! gf

    Giacomo Ferrario

  68. Thanks for the note, Giacomo. I agree that the lack of protection and an arbitrary ranking system really just speaks to Voice123′s true business model which is “take money from naive vo performers.” Typically an easy pool to pluck from.

    But I don’t think this is limited to on-line, or as you put it “virtual reality” operators. There have always been (and still are) those who promise fortunes for a small price regardless of the medium they use. You’ll still find shady agents who tell you (in person) to use their photographer or demo producer so they can get their kickbacks. Voice123 simply taped into a stream of available money. So doesn’t most of the blame belong to the actor who pays them? What about those of us in the industry who don’t speak up against this not-so-great model? And yeah, I’m looking at you SAG-AFTRA. Where’s the education so all talent, new and old, can learn the facts? Huh?

    I’m a huge fan of the computer/web and tech in general. The vast majority of my work is over email with people I rarely, if ever, see in person; Moreover, all this technology puts my acting work in places I never thought of before (I have clients in Ireland, France, even the exotic country of Ohio… ha). What’s the other option? Driving around LA stressing to make it to a dozen auditions and letting some kid out of college direct your audition while hitting record on a reel-to-reel? I’m glad those days are (kinda) disappearing. Yeah, technology has added a ton of competitors to the market, but it’s also added more work (games, web-series, more tv stations). I’ve also found that while there are more “competitors” the actual “competition” isn’t that large. Most audition submissions are crap. So maybe should all embrace technology PLUS good ole’ fashion networking, AND solid actor training?

    Ok, sorry for the rant (I’m just procrastinating some housework). I never expected this post to keep going like this but it seems to be helping few people save $350 a year and work the agent/audition route, so yeeeah!

    Thanks again for the note.
    -mv

    MikeV

  69. Very interesting comments. It just amazes me MikeV that if you are a professional working voice talent, how do you have so much time on your hands to leave so many comments and responses on here? Seeing it takes about 1 minute to write an average 0f 100 words. You have some serious time invested in your “Commenting”

    William

  70. Uhh, 1. Most comments aren’t mine. 2. Most full time actors have a lot of free time (I’m typing this while in line at the bank btw). 3. Most everyone wastes time in a cubicle so you can get off your ‘no-time’ high horse now. 4. This post has helped other actors, so maybe it’s worth the 2-3 hours total I’ve spent on it, don’t you think?

    MikeV

  71. Hey Mike,
    Wow! It has been a long time since this disaster, hasn’t it? :) I never told anyone this, but this blog got me fired, and I had to beg to keep my job. They agreed to take me back because the voice talent support I received was huge. But that’s all done now. If anything, you did get some great SEO exposure out of this. You still do.

    Just an update, I left V123 back in January 2013. I started working as a voice talent agent, and do lots of freelance casting, too, because people find me online and ask to be connected to talent that I know.

    When I look back at everything, I regret this happened, but I can boldly say I have done more for voice talent, and still do, than any “bad day” on this blog ever did. I can measure how much I have helped people in bigger dollars now, and that’s important to me.

    Please take care. It’s a small industry, and given my new work, I am sure we will cross paths soon. :)

    Btw…heard you in Rise of Nightmares. Cool work! :)

    Best to all of you,
    Steven

    Steven L

  72. Wow. This blog seems pretty ridiculous. I’m a 27 year old voice actor. I don’t use Voice123 because Im more than happy at Voices.com, but its the same sort of site. I have MORE than paid for the $300 membership fee by very large multiples. To slam any of these sites seems pretty naive at best. My success with Voices has been so great that I have joined other sites particular to my region and those have lead to even more absolutely insane success. Mind you, this time last year I had never voiced a single spot in my life, but thanks to these sites, you’ve probably heard my voice. Im beginning to consider doing voice work full time as I often make considerably more in an hour than I do as a full time commercial producer. So… theres my take on pay sites.

    Good luck.

    Drew

  73. For those of you that decide to try a p2p site and are worried about people using your submitted demo without paying you. Change the demo. Use a different company name or change the dates, etc. If they are legitimate they won’t care.
    If you are looking for advice on how to start in voice over and you live in a major market look at “meetup.” Here vo artists get together regularly for “free”. Most of the people in VO are really nice and more than willing to talk to you.
    If you meet with other talent ask them for suggestions for finding good honest agents. That’s the trick!

    Jim

  74. Ridiculous? Well, you did respond, no?
    Not to challenge you too much Drew, but you’ve “paid for the $300 membership fee by very large multiples.”
    Fantastic. Congratz. So if that was work you got via an agent, then you should have made either $3000 in union work (10% to agent), or $1,500 in non-union work in one year (at minimum) to cover the $300 fee.

    Did you make at least that?
    Great.

    Now double it for every other P2P site you’ve paid for.
    Remember, these sites are charging you in advance their “agent fee” as it were.

    Did you still make enough to pay everyone 10-20%? I hope so.

    Have I heard your voice?
    Uh, I have no idea since I can’t find a link to your site, demos, imdb page… all we have is an email to Full Sail University.

    I’m stoked that you’re “consider[ing] doing voice work full time as [you] often make considerably more in an hour than [you] do as a full time commercial producer.”

    (Two quick side notes: 1. you probably need to ask for a raise at your producer job, and 2. you do know that we actors don’t get to bill 40 hours a week, right? Yeah, a few hundred (or thousand) a hour is a lot, but it may be the only hour you work for quite some time.)

    Ok, so let’s do this: the minute you are a full-time WORKING actor, let me know, I’ll fly out to your location and buy you a beer or whisky and toast you for becoming a true professional in what I consider the best job in the world. Then you can tell me if you STILL have the same opinion of p2p sites now that your full-time.

    That fair?
    -mv

    MikeV

  75. Hi Jim.
    Good suggestions. Thanks.
    Just one thing tho: the concern is not so much with clients using demos/auditions as finished products as much as it is with BOOKED and completed projects. Jobs booked thru the P2P sites don’t actually guarantee any protection, collection, and not even payment from booked work. They are just the website the client found you on. You are responsible from collecting from the client that booked you. I’d rather have a rep handle that stuff so I can concentrate on my work and not accounts receivable.
    Thanks man.
    -mv

    MikeV

  76. A little research certainly saved a few bucks. Been there and done that and still learning, but love being an Actor and Voice Artist. A great read Mike V.

    Many thanks

    Chris Crash from Downunder

    Chris Crash Carpenter Australia

  77. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the blog post! I have been floundering over whether I should pony up the dough or not for Voice123 again (I did so a few years ago and was not impressed). After reading this exchange, no dice.

    I mean, I didn’t really want to sign up for it, but I want access to auditions. I have a voices.com account and I have been booking pretty consistently, but the good jobs are so scarce. I also have an agent in Texas, but I don’t get much from them. (Just had a callback for PBS promos recently at least.)

    All this rambling aside, I was wondering if you had any advice on reaching agents. (Really want to focus in LA; I live in the area.) I have gotten good feedback about my demos, and when I have read in front of agents in classes as well. I just sent out a round of my demos a couple of months ago, and I am gearing up to do it again, but I feel as if I am shouting to no one.

    I have done the thing before, too, where I essentially pay to get in front of a vo agent or casting director (thinly veiled as a “learning experience”, which granted, it sometimes actually is, but usually is more like $100/10 minutes of exposure). Do you think those kind of events is actually useful or just a waste of money? I also go to networking events and such, but for VO, they are few-and-far between.

    Thanks for any advice. Don’t worry too, I have done my research and spoken to a ton of people, and they always have separate opinions about what is best. (Meaning: I have done my homework.) I appreciate your candor, so I felt the need to ask you as well. (No worries if you can’t reply!)

    I am just so darn tired of being gouged for money every time I turn around. I know, especially in this business, it takes a great investment to make any sort of inroads into a possible career. (With demos, professional equipment, marketing, classes, and a whisperoom later, I am definitely not in the black in this business yet.) I just want to work! Or at least have the opportunity to work. It is so darn frustrating when you know you CAN do it, but don’t have any way TO do it.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. And thank you for your original blog, and any answer to this question as well.

    Thanks!

    Stephanie

    Stephanie

  78. Well, it sounds like you’re doing things that need to be done, Stephanie. And just like any gig, it takes time and constant effort. There’s no magic bullet or email to get you more work/agents/money.

    I’m finding that the best way talent are finding reps that are a good fit for them is two fold: 1. The talent really has all their shit together and is ready to work – good demos, actual work samples, resume, website, listed on actor websites, a functioning home studio, and yes, even the dreaded headhshots. And 2. a referral from another talent within that agency. I will recommend talent who I love and know are professional to my agents if I think there’s a good fit. A lot of times I may love the talent, but they may not be so great at recording from home, so that means they may not be right for my agent. I also can’t refer someone I don’t know since it could diminish my reputation. So, yeah, have your stuff super tight and start looking for talent who are represented by agents who do not have a lot of your type. Voicebank.net and IMDB will clue you in on that agents roster as well.

    Ok, then you bring up the workshop… a hot button issue to say the least.
    I’m not a fan of the concept of actors paying to be seen by agents, managers, and casting directors. BUT… I’ll admit that I do on-camera workshops every now and then and maybe one VO workshop a year (if that). I can’t recommend them to talent who aren’t great at cold reads or just plain new to the industry talent. If you’re not skilled at the workshop, you’re not going to leave a good impression, so I’d say workshops are best left to those who are truly ready to work. BUT you also don’t just go to ANY workshop. You research the hell out of the people attending (see imdb pro) and make sure they 1. book your type, and 2. are WORKING. There are as many legit casting directors doing these workshops as there casting directors who only make a living doing the workshops. It’s not hard to figure out who is who once you look at the credits. Of the 30 workshops I’ve done since 2008, I’ve been called in about 12 times and booked 3 gigs from them. Also, I’ve paid $25-$45 for on-cam workshops and up to $125 for VO workshops. Again, do your research and be a very, very good cold reader. Otherwise, skip ‘em.

    I’m with you on the actor gouging. There’s no shortage of people with little-to-no actual talent or skill willing to take money from the most gullible. Glad to hear to you’re doing the research and figuring it out before spending the bucks. Your post is one good reason why I put this up about Voice123. Since actors don’t seem to have a good advocate for this stuff (uhh-hem.. SAG-AFTRA…cough, cough) we should look out for each other when we can.

    Thanks again, Stephanie.

    MikeV

  79. Gotta tell yah. I’ve never really been a fan of PTP…and I dropped off the Voice 123 radar a year ago…and I still get 15-20 emails a day telling me what audition I missed/passed up. I never received this many emails to audition for from this outfit when I was a premium subscriber, at best it was 2 or 3 a day. And now, because I’m not paying, I’m getting bombarded 20 A DAY with “WHAT I FREAKIN’ MISSED?” EXCUSE ME! Has Voice 123 ever heard of Shakespeare’s quote, “Me thinks thou doth protest too much.”? Voice 123 is just that. “Pushing business for Pushing’s sake.” That’s why Steve (bless his heart) Lovell left. He finally got it. Although he did his best, his employment days were numbered because he’s a stand up guy. And he also got tired of dealing with clients that would only pay a ridiculously low fee for a quality voice over. Hell, those voice seekers that tapped into Voice123 are still in their 20′s slogging out a living working for a creative director (who doesn’t know any better) in an agency (that doesn’t know any better) that set them on their task; “Find me a quality voice-over guy or gal that can deliver our half hour presentation and is really experienced! By the way, our budget is $100.00. Get back to me Sophie when you have our VOICE!” What a joke! (lol!) You see, the younger generation has no clue, no taste, and no training, and no history-nothing to measure it against! Have they watched/listened to the great voices behind the NFL inthe 80′s? No. Have they been subjected to the great voices and journalistic minds behind a great network like CBS? No. Have they been ringside listening to a commentator describing in detail how a worldwide boxing match is going such as the great “Howard Cosell?” No. They’re selfishly and with their entitlement attitude entirely clueless and in the long run they travel the road called the dumb down principle. Same thing happened to the music business. Nowadays, everybody with a studio has a chance to be a 15 minute star. That’s not a career. That’s not a job. And it certainly has “no legs” as we say in the business, meaning you’ll score once, but then it’s over! (“Welcome Oh great one hit wonder!”) Ever heard that phrase? And here’s another phrase that must be remembered; “Keep your day job.” You never know when the wind will change, and a new producer without warning will change your game. I’ve had it happen to me a couple of times after several years of stellar relationships and great work…and then “POOF” it’s gone to someone else, and you must go back to the drawing board and re-invent yourself. Not fun, I can assure you…but that’s the VO life, the actors life, the freelance writers life and a bunch more! You gotta say, “C’est la vie” and get cracking once again! Sorry for going on so long in this diatribe…but that’s okay. If you’re a successful freelancer, you’ve got time to read…and I know you do! All My Best, Dave.

    Dave Roberts

  80. We offer our award winning services in Voice for commercials, Voice for the actor, Voice jobs and Voice over artist.

    Voice For The Actor

  81. Uhhh… so is this a bad attempt at self promotion, Mr. Voice for the Actor (andrewson.garge@gmail.com), or are you mocking Voice123? I’m getting old and maybe I’m missing the hipster humor here.

    MikeV

  82. WOW! Voice123, if I knew nothing else about you but the responses I have just read, I would NEVER in my life deal with you. I am a 30+ year corporate professional and I have run across many individuals and companies who handle matters the way you are currently. Those people/companies NEVER received ANY work from me and were blacklisted VEHEMENTLY! Everything you put out is a reflection on you and what you just put out says that you are NOT someone that is worthy of doing business with. ALL of your ideas and policies are now in question and I WILL NOT do business with questionable people/companies. Your best answer would have been, “Thank you for your feedback. Best of luck”. Instead you show how absolutely unprofessional you are.

    Criticism is something you invite when you put yourself and/or your company out into the main stream. How you handle/respond to criticism is how you will actually be judged. As a non paying member on the fence about joining, I now will NEVER HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR COMPANY. More than that, I JUST BECAME A PROPONENT AGAINST your company and will shout from the roof tops, “STAY AWAY from Voice123″!

    Geoffrey Gilbert

  83. I just tried to cancel my subscription and your website won’t allow me to and no one is answering your phones.

    That says VOLUMES about you! It is obvious from your other bullshit responses that you monitor this. You have my email address. CANCEL MY ACCOUNT NOW!

    Geoffrey Gilbert

  84. Uhm… Geoffrey, I’m not sure voice123 is reading this and if I could cancel your account I would. Heh. Best of luck with them. -mv

    MikeV

  85. MikeV,

    Are you saying that you don’t work for/represent Voice123?

    Geoffrey Gilbert

  86. I don’t, no. I’m Mike Vaughn, voice talent and author of this blog (see the url in your browser? yeah, should start with mikevaughn.com, right).

    It was “Steven L” now name reads “unhappy” for some reason, who worked for Voice123 and provided the responses. But he also later apologizes and notes that he left Voice123. So yeah, no one from Voice123 is reading this as far as I know. You might need to direct your subscription request to the support tab on their site.

    MikeV

  87. Hey there,

    Stumbled across this while on the way to look up other things. I totally agree with you Mike. I was a premium subscriber at V123 (yes I fell for it), and I can honestly say, lesson learned. That said, do you have any recommendations on hooking up with a casting agent? Thanks.

    Tom Belian

  88. Hey Tom.

    So… yes and no on the casting agent thing.

    “Hooking up” with a CD as you put it requires dating skills and finesse (which I don’t have). Ha. Kidding.

    First, relationships are good. Trusted talent always get called in first. So anyone you meet that you like, that you have a connection with is great (personally and professionally, right?)

    In fact, the on-cam acting world has no shortage of places where you can pay to do a cold read, or a prepared scene, in front of a casting director (I’m even doing on this Sat).

    AND the VO world has these “casting workshops” as well, but the difference between on-cam and VO is 1.) price (the vo ones are much more expensive) and 2.) there’s more “we’re here to learn” in the VO ones, wherein, the on-cam, it’s more “I’m here to show you who I am.”

    Which leads to a couple of comments I’ve heard from fellow VO talent and workshop casting directors which were both along the lines of “if you’re in the VO workshop, you’re probably new to the world of VO.” Which is fine if you are, but if you have credits, you can see how this shift may not help because…..

    98% of all my VO work comes from my agents (yes, that’s plural) that we all have to audition for.

    I’ve also had two VO casting directors say, “we don’t want to hear from talent directly, even if we know you. It’s too much. We already have 1800 submissions for each role and we’re just looking for the perfect fit right off the bat.”

    On the other hand, some on-cam casting types like to occasionally hear from talent.

    Keep in mind that it’s soo easy to just email sides and email back a VO audition that this process is what VO has become.

    Last point, those directors, producers, writers, etc. that I’ve worked with in the on-cam world will eventually find out that I do VO and many of them have come back and booked me for VO work directly. Yeeeeeeah relationships!

    But yeah, new VO work and clients? Well, it’s the audition from your agent first, then maybe you’ll form a relationship with those people after a gig or eight.

    So, try some workshops if you can (and if the person “teaching” is legit), but otherwise spend your time getting training and the right agent/reps for you, and make every audition count. Don’t worry about VO casting directors too much, they’ll come to you if your auditions are killer.

    MikeV

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