I was pinged this morning (and I think we all know painful that can be …ba-dum-bump) by David Ciccarelli who, with his wife Stephanie, own Voices.com. David asked if I would review, post and comment on his annual “Report on The Voice Over Industry 2009”.
OK then, a review with some general perspective and information upfront.
• While I am not a fan of the pay-for-play voice over model upon which Voices.com, Voice 123 and others have built their business, I have stated that if I were to choose one service of that ilk it would be Voices.com because even before I knew the Ciccarellis personally, the customer service and responsiveness their Voices.com offered me when I was an early member was better than any competitor.
• This is at least the second if not third year David has done this report and I give him great credit for seeing an opening for information sharing and promotion of his own business and going for it.
• I also give him credit for daring to ask the opinion of a loud mouth putz like me ‘cause he knows I pull no punches on industry issues or in reviews. He and I must ascribe to the same theory that some publicity is better than none at all.
• Over the years I have become friends with David and Stephanie and know them to be honest people whose opinions and talents I respect. Others in their business, not so much.
So enough preamble, on to the meat-
The 23 page report is more PowerPoint than e-book with each slide offering one or two nuggets of information ranging from various market overviews to drilldowns on pertinent business segments.
• I like that David’s established an annual tome that summarizes the industry. It adds credibility to the business but to be taken seriously it needs some additional info (see dislikes).
• I have seen “state of the industry reports” or prognostications from Voices.com’s competitors and comparably this is the most credible and informative of all of them at this moment in time.
• Information like $4.05 for the ad word voice over on Google is good to know (a stupidly high price to pay when its competitors who do most of the clicking on such ads but let’s not kill the messenger here)
• I like the format for both conveying information and for its readability.
• The content has only a few bits of information that I think are new or enlightening to the industry. To become a must read it has to reveal trends and statistics that offer more insight for voice talents and producers. That requires a great deal more research which this document does not have and it shows rather clearly.
• Some topics struck me as grossly self-serving: a report on Social Networks conveniently notes the growth of a Voice.com sponsored group on Facebook and the Time Spent Online chart had Voices.com’s site crushing Voice 123’s statistically and visually while also noting most industry players spend most of their time on Voices.com. This smacks a bit more like a sales presentation than a industry report.
• The salary statistics chart – probably the most important page for both talent and producers – had no quoted sources for the stated figures (which were much too broad) and was only one page (versus three pages on podcasting). This was a big miss.
• The Touch Graph tool wasn’t simplistic enough or easy enough to immediately digest key information (like a good graph should). As just one (possibly self-serving in keeping here with a developing theme) example this graph had the audio’connell web site listed on the web site graph on “voiceovers” and on the same graph an Oxford biography link to Peter O’Connell who I think is a professor or a Bishop but sure ain’t me (no, I do not believe there are any other Peter O’Connell voice overs but me). The graph was gimmicky and not informative.
In summary, I believe that this report reads more like a sophomore’s term paper rather than a senior thesis. What it can, should and I truly hope will be in the future is a report that has a lot more facts in it, much more pertinent data and more information to help talent and producers manage their businesses. It will take much more time and research from Voices.com to make this annual report a widely respected annual state of the industry. Today, the report is not yet there but there is a foundation of a good idea.
We need that “stuff” as well as the promise of what this report could someday be.