Entries Tagged as 'voice 123'

never bored with the voiceover boards


I think there are bulletin boards (boards) and interactive forums established for just about every industry and interest on the net and in voiceovers, we have plenty of them. Some of the popular ones dealing with voice over in general (as opposed to animation voice over, etc.) are

• VO-BB.com – Run by my friend and a great female voice talent named DB Cooper, this is (if not THE first) one of the first boards about voice over and likely the best moderated.

• Yahoo Groups Voice Over Board -There are frequently some interesting discussions on this board. It’s certainly time well spent (although I’m not as keen on the graphic format/layout of this board, but its a minor thing).

• Voiceoversavvy.com This is run by the voice talent supported Voice 123 and has more drama in it than a soap opera and more fights than a Rocky movie, more on that in a second

• Voice-overs.com/forum – Voice talent Julie Williams runs this one and it’s fairly new but so far seems to be growing.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of time to spend on forums between work and family, but when I do, it is enjoyable reading…for the most part.

Voice over talents like me don’t work in a building with fellow talents (say, for example, like accountants might or computer technicians might). So these forums are a nice way to chat or communicate or network with fellow pros or the occasional newbie who’s dipping his/her toe into the VO waters. Board participants are usually pretty welcoming, especially if we spot real talent (remember, we’re not competing against our fellow VO’s, we’re competing for the ear…and sometimes against the budget…of the producer.) But if you’re a new voice talent willing to take totally honest criticism and build on it…some boards can be a real learning tool.
But sometimes there is way silly drama in them there posts!

What I try and remind myself when I read some of these voice over board posts is:

• voice talents work alone mostly so they often want/need to have some kind of human contact…even virtual…and thereby can sometimes get a bit too involved in board life

• we are called voice over artists and thereby have our drama built-in…at no extra charge to you the consumer…which may be another reason these posts sometimes get catty or over the top

• people are people and just about any jackass can post on a forum…as I have proven time and time again

But what I have noticed and what has been opined in conversations with my fellow voice over pros is that if you want to the finest in snarky, childish and sometimes boorish voice over forum behavior, head to voiceoversavvy.com.

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of the Voice 123 (V123) system (they own the voiceoversavvy.com board) and had decided not renewed my subscription just before their version 2.0 with SmartCast came out (I just keep the free page). In my opinion, the V123 site is a low ball (cheap price) casting directors’ dream with new “voice talents” (note quotation marks) seemingly willing to work for next to nothing. Other people really like the service and, not that they need it, but I offer God-speed and best wishes.

This board that V123 set up was to include the opportunity not only to participate in discussions about voice over topics but also to share input on the new version 2.0 web site that the company had introduced this summer. As with any beta (new) project, it had trouble at the beginning. Currently there seems to be a great deal of expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s new SmartCast system. It’s only the board’s most recent drama but we”l use it as a point of reference for this blog post.

At first, it seems, the clients (the voice talents who annually pay to be a part of V123) expressed their dissatisfaction (paying clients certainly have that right). But then some voice talents started hurling insults and disparaging the owner and staff to the point where the “Talkback” section of the board had to be shut down. The rest of the board’s forums are open and functioning but the owners had had enough “talkback”.

I don’t blame Voice 123 one bit for closing it down and I am sorry for them for the crap they had to put up with from some bone heads calling themselves VO pros. I am no saint and have been known to hurl a virtual stone or two but some of these posters were making a sport of it and that’s crappy. Not that my opinion counts for anything because based on the customer service I received from V123, they didn’t really like me anyway.

So what does this all mean?

Summary opinion one: The voice talents offering the insults on any boards and within these forums must be forgetting that their name and insulting posts can find their way to casting directors and that they are risking the only brand they have…their name…by coming across as (at best) unprofessional. If I was casting for voice talent and came across the posts of these whiney and carping voice talent posters, I wouldn’t even think of hiring them. Opinions are fine, even impassioned discussion is OK…but whoa on the name calling.

Summary opinion two: while I applaud Voice 123 for trying to adapt to the web 2.0 concept of openness and transparency by having this particular forum on their board, better moderation and even more importantly better customer service to address initial customer complaints would have saved them significant damage to their own brand’s reputation (and make no mistake, the Voice 123 brand IS now damaged). When you are dealing with people who talk for a living as your business’ primary source of revenue, you’d better quickly realize that if you (V123) even appear to screw up…the voice talents ARE going to talk (or post).

Summary opinion three: when the majority (not ALL) of the talents involved in Voice 123 are too willing to work at ANY price and are involved in a service (V123) that is just a costly cattle call, at least a few of your clientele (the voice talents) are likely going to lack a certain maturity both personally and professionally. With some immature clients, Voice 123 was bound to attract immature posters.

voice 123 and their disclaimer


Editor’s Note: In the daily observation of life around him, the author occasionally feels the need to point out ridiculously inane behavior and general thoughtlessness. These are called “Rants” and this is one of those times.

As it’s kind of a quiet Saturday afternoon with folks sleeping or running errands from the house, I took the opportunity to visit Voice 123 and submit some auditions.  As I’ve mentioned before here, my bookings, auditions from agents and production schedule offer me less and less time to fiddle with the cattle call that Voice 123 has really become. But I still have months left on my paid subscription so I figured I better get to it. 

It has been awhile since I sent in some auditions.  I threw out the ones I didn’t think I’d be the right voice for and the ever present low ball audition (especially those folks requesting custom auditions for message on hold…who are they kidding?)  I was reading one audition that had a low price for the amount of work required and the usage of the voice and was about to delete it when I read down a little further and notice an addition to the usually inane Voice 123 disclaimer on price which read: 

“Voice123 Team Note: We recognize that this project may be below Voice123 pricing recommendations. We have become more flexible with budgets as it was brought to our attention that we could be violating United States federal anti-trust laws by limiting the participation of voice seekers in our marketplace when they don’t met our budget recommendations. It seems that, legally speaking, it is up to the providers (the talents and voice producers) and not the marketplace (Voice123) to determine to exclude the voice seekers they don’t want to work with.

Right after the release of the new Voice123, we will be working on several improvements that will help talents and voice producers filter the types of projects they want and better match projects with talent and voice producers depending on the budget and experience of the talent. On (sic) the meantime we are trying to be flexible to keep everybody happy.”

 “It seems that, legally speaking,…” Wow, what impressive attorney filed that hard hitting legal brief? 

As you might guess, I find this disclaimer highly suspect.  But I am also not an attorney. I am however a big David Letterman fan (not the stalking kind, I just like the show) and I thought of a Dave quote when he interviewed Bill O’Reilly from Fox News as I read the Voice 123 disclaimer. To paraphrase, it went along the lines of “I’m probably not as smart as you are but my gut tells me 60% of what comes out of your mouth is crap.” 

If Voice 123 is going to be “filtering” projects and pricing in their “next” version (which it seems they’ve been working on since 1950 and which might be ready by 2010) why can’t they filter now? Likely, they can.  In my opinion, the real answer is Voice 123 will take any voice job that comes through, slap it up on the board and let all the $50 announcers quote that price on a $2000 job just so Voice 123 can jack up the number of leads they provide VO subscribers and thereby justify the company’s existence.  

As always….I could be wrong.

from the voice-over mailbag

“Paul, if these weren’t actually letters from actual viewers, would I be able to do this (flap, flap, flap)” – D. Letterman

“Peter, I’m a voice talent (and) I’m considering becoming a premium member of voice123 (as I see you already are). But, I’m wondering about recovering the 195.00 fee.

Does voice123 really turn into work? I’m capable of my own production work, and would put the time into doing many auditions per week. But, does it really pay? Do you get often stiffed by clients? Do you end up doing endless auditions with few results, or is it really all they say it is? I appreciate your time in answering.

Thanks in advance

Hi Doug:

Voice over job sites are like any investment.

Are you ready to lose $195?

That’s the question you have to ask yourself when you invest in a site like Voices 123 or Voices.com or those like them.

Here’s another question: how much is an hour of your time worth? You’re going to do a lot of custom auditions and hear nothing back. Likely 90% of the time you won’t get the job. When you dollarize your time, that’s a lot of money wasted. Are you ok with that?

Want another question?

Are you ready to bid on often significantly low balled voice projects created by people who often care less about your voice and more about your price?

Are you willing to join a process where an announcer who sounds like crap will get the job because he’ll do a five page narration for $50 and “the experience”?

Whittling it all down to the naked truth as I see it, past the marketing hyperbole, I believe these questions are the questions YOU have to answer for yourself.

The answer for me was ok, I can swim here. If the water’s too cold (a project with a lousy fee, too many bidders, even poorly written) then I don’t swim there on that day.

I’ve made enough money to cover my expenses on these sites and then some. I also have enough other business from other sources (thank you God!) that I don’t have to rely on these sites. And because of that busier schedule, I may look at not joining back up because I don’t have the time to do custom auditions for these voice-over Wal-Marts.

Does that sound a bit jaded? Maybe I’m guilty as charged but everybody who’s ever worked in broadcasting has a dash of that sprinkled on them.

I recently had the good fortune to meet the owners of Voices.com and they are sincere people trying to run a challenging business in an honest manner. So then in fairness I will refer to them as the Target of voice overs (a retailer I visit far too frequently in my accountant’s opinion).

A shorter, even more curt way to answer this might have been “you’ll have to answer that for yourself.” Or as my Mom said on occasion “you won’t know unless you try.”

Good luck.

– Peter