a voice over year in review

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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.

My likes:
• 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.

My dislikes:
• 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.

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6 Responses to “a voice over year in review”

  1. The harder you look the less you’ll find in this report.

    Our voices are 82% up in terms of income. From what to what? $1 to $1.82?

  2. Hi Philip:

    There are some definite short comings but there is still a foundation of an idea that David has created that has real merit.

    To do it right will take more time, research and a bit of money BUT I also think there are people who will pay for that kind of research.

    Aren’t there serious industry questions that you’d like answered in a report like this that would help your business?

    Best always (and congrats on being the first commentator for this blog in 2009!),
    – Peter

  3. Aren’t there serious industry questions that you’d like answered in a report like this that would help your business?

    Serious answer to this question, no.

    People get wrapped up in statistics, the market, the industry and how the combination of global economic forces impact them.

    Here’s a piece of information. Voices.com is driving down standards in the Voice Over business and driving down prices. Depending on the person you ask you’ll either get an “I agree” or “I disagree” but in the the cut and thrust, business every day Voice Over world it is more likely you’ll get “never heard of them” as your response. Voices.com is over subscribed with Voice talent, based on his report is David going to cull membership so the business can support subscribers? Based on his report what is Voices,com going to do in 2009.

    Here’s what I know. If I get one job per day I make a living, 2 jobs per day I make a good living, 3 jobs per day I make more than anyone on this planet really needs. As a direct results of all the information given in the report nothing has changed for my business.

    Please understand, this is not about David or Voices.com, my comments are motivated by wanting people to take two steps back and see things as they are, the report contains lots of information which is largely useless at best and at worse distracting.

    If anyone reading this gets paid for reading and processing information, do it and keep doing it. If anyone reading this gets paid for Voice Over work then your time would be better spent asking people with Voice jobs to give some of them to you.

  4. Hmmm.

    Excellent points some of which I believe to have no merit 😉 but most of which are well taken.

    Statistics can absolutely paralyze business people because they either cannot interpret them or they haven’t the foresight to see the forest for the trees.

    But many business people can analyze data. The voice performance industry (unlike the acting or music performance industries) has none of this data that I am aware of which is why I see an opportunity for someone with the passion to search like David and his team may have (or they may not, that would be up to them).

    As for the primary business of Voices.com, Voice 123 and their impact on the VO business you and I remain closely aligned in our unified opinion.

    As for the report being able to change your business, it may not and good on you for that. But I believe the majority of existing, long-term professional voice talents in our industry would benefit from a business review with more meat on it regarding INDUSTRY sales and marketing figures (versus the rather light reading provided currently in the Voices.com report) that would VO’s some perspective on where the industry stands and how they could make improvements.

    It might also give the VO wanna bees pause to consider what an ill fated attempt they might be making on a variety of fronts.

    It just seems to me that in ADDITION to working on getting new business, people need to have some thoughtful statistical information about the business they’re in.

    Right now, that information is not there. And I know that I am not the man for that job.

    Terrific points you’ve made here and I welcome any counter because you’re opinions on industry matters do matter in this forum. Thanks Philip!

    Best always,
    – Peter

  5. Hello Peter and Philip,

    Thanks for highlighting the report on voxmarketising. I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to assess what you liked and disliked.

    By doing so, you’re giving me some ideas for the type of information that pros like the both of you would appreciate seeing.

    Philip, the average payment is in the hundreds of dollars — surprisingly close to union scale. I’m personally signing the cheques for SurePay transactions so I’ll put my name on the line here. And this isn’t some ball-park guess either. I have calculated the average based upon the previous 12 months. Yes, they are internal numbers, so disclosing specific numbers on a month by month basis serves no one, with the exception of a competitor.

    I’ve taken the time to discuss your likes and dislikes on my blog The Biz here:

    http://blogs.voices.com/thebiz/2009/01/industry_report_will_go_deeper_next_year.html

    Be well,

    David

  6. […] voxmarketising, Peter O’Connell has some praise as well as shared some dislikes that I’d like to […]

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