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:
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!
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:
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.