Voiceovers, Voicebank, and Voices Dot Com – The Not Silent Blog 8/15/17

Voices Dot Com has acquired Voicebank.

How does this affect you as a voice talent? How does this affect the voiceover industry?

For those of you who don’t know of Voicebank, for the purpose of this conversation it’s an online repository of casting notices for voiceover projects that some talent agents send to members of their roster. Here’s their About page.

For those of you who don’t know about Voices Dot Com, VDC is known as a “Pay To Play” service that also posts casting notices. Voice talents who pay a fee may audition for these projects. Here’s their About page.

These links expand upon VDC’s business model and notable moments in the company’s history:

Here are some links announcing the acquisition:

Here are some reactions from the voiceover community:

The World Voices Organization (WoVO):

Voices.com’s acquisition of VoiceBank/Voice Registry is a troubling development for the VO community at large. David Cicarelli has consistently proven in word and deed that he cares not for an ethical, transparent approach to the matching of talent with client. This purchase upsets the apple-cart as it applies to the agent/talent relationship, and makes apparent Voices.com’s desire to own a bigger piece of the voiceover marketplace. World-Voices Organization is hoping this will help the more reticent elements of our community (not the least of which is SAG-AFTRA) to coalesce towards a common goal of taking the high road for maintaining equitable compensation rates for our business.

Erik Sheppard, talent agent and owner of Voice Talent Productions:

This is the opening salvo against the agents they have promised to try to put out of business.  They have been very clear about their plans for total voiceover domination.  Sadly, their business model consists of ripping talent and clients off blind.  If these are the “industry leaders” then we are in trouble as a profession and craft.  Make no mistake, if you support them in any way you are in collusion.

Jeffery Umberger, talent agent and owner of Umberger Agency:

The immediacy to which I suspended my company’s relationship with VB after it was acquired by VDC speaks volumes as to my opinion of and feelings toward the unexpected acquisition. For me, after 12 years of working in harmony with VB to suddenly and unceremoniously be thrust into a business relationship involuntarily with a company like VDC, which in my opinion became a viable entity by taking from talent, made my decision to sever a very swift one. I simply couldn’t allow my next monthly VB fee to be handed over to VDC in good conscience.

Peter O’Connell, respected voice talent:

It’s Day 1 folks. Gather your wits, stay away from FB for a few days (plenty of Cat videos on YouTube, if you must). Then consider these questions: if both Voicebank and Voices dot com and every other P2P company out there suddenly went belly up today, how would I run my voiceover business? Could my VO business survive? If no, shut the lights off and apply as a Wal-Mart greeter.

But if you WANT your VO business to survive, what would that NEW VO business look like? Focus on THAT today, a new business plan, new marketing ideas, better communication with existing clients. I think if you do, the hand wringing, while perfectly natural and understandable, soon won’t seem so necessary. You are more talented, creative and valuable than you give yourselves credit for. But you are the owner and today it’s time to start acting like one. I hope this helps.

This is an incomplete, unofficial list of agents that left Voicebank as a result of the acquisition:

TIP OF THE WEEK

DISCLAIMER: I had a VDC account but deleted it a few years ago. I think I paid month-to-month for a little while but never booked anything.  I was a paying member of Voicebank maybe 4-5 years ago (they have a script-reading critique service) but stopped using it. I am represented by multiple agents who use (or have used) Voicebank, including Voice Talent Productions and Umberger Agency.

With that in mind, as a voice talent whose representation accounts for a very small percentage of my revenue I don’t think I will be directly affected by the acquisition. What I am actually concerned about is the disturbing trend of declining rates over the past few years, particularly the rate nosedive of agent-generated casting notices. I wrote a recent blog entry about it. How much of this has to do with Pay-To-Play sites or services like Voicebank no one can say for sure (if you do have hard data, please share). Whether the acquisition will further lower rates, no one knows that either.

Regardless, as a voice talent you and only you are responsible for your career, specifically your Rate Sheet. It is your job to screen casting notices effectively, audition professionally, bid ethically, and turn down gigs that are not commensurate with the industry standard.

Be sure to educate your agents, current clients, potential clients, fellow voice talents about charging proper rates for voiceover projects. Share SAG-AFTRA Numbers, the Global Voice Acting Academy Rate Guide, and the Edge Studio Voice Over Rate Card with them.

If you cannot reconcile industry-supporting values with the rates you accept to sustain your voiceover business, this may not be the profession for you.

NEWS AND NOTES

Reminder! Thursday August 31st: my August Edge Studio “Marketing 201” topic will be: 4 Words That Will Kill Your MarketingClick here to register.

HAPPY HAPPYS

Happy World Bratwurst Day and Serendipity Day!

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

If you can’t be a muse, at least be amusing! Anonymous

From my village to yours; this is Tom Dheere, The H is Silent, but I’m Not.

Tom Dheere is a 20-year veteran of the voice over industry who has narrated thousands of projects for clients in over a dozen countries. He is also a coach at Edge Studio, voiceover business consultant known as the Voice Over Strategist, and is currently producing the comic book “Agent 1.22”.

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