By now, most people in voice-over have an awareness of the controversy involving the Pay To Play web site Voices.com.
How the company has done everything from limiting communication of their paying voice talents with the clients who’ve hired them, to escrowing money from voice talent jobs (and taking a 10% commission – like an agent though not being held to those industry standards), to the introduction of a Project Management service where up to 50% or more of a client’s voice-over budget is taken by voices.com for “production” services (the same services provided by recognized and accredited talent agents for an industry standard average 10% commission).
It’s a fiasco.
Voices.com makes no apologies for their practices and certainly little concession for these practices to their paying voices talent. It seems that the company has enough wanna-be voice talents and existing voice talents who are tolerant of the company’s practices that they can still be profitable from membership fees, Canadian government business grants and monies secured from Venture Capitalists (who care little about bad publicity, evidently).
For myself, I dropped the service years ago and have moved on.
From the sidelines, I certainly feel badly for those whose income has been lessened because of Voices.com’s practices, which I personally consider shady (I’m not a legal expert, just a business executive). Further, I have seen good people on both sides caught in the middle of this whole thing and be pretty torn up by it. That’s hard to watch. Adults behaving badly. Again.
I’ll let the courts settle it all should the State Attorneys General in New York and California suddenly recognize that Voices.com is operating and profiting as an agency in those highly regulated states with without honoring the rules and standards in place in those states for the operation of a talent agency. Until such time as the courts or the majority of their clients (voice talents and media producers) say otherwise, Voices.com is free operate in anyway it sees fit.
But now a ray of light, a glimmer of hope. Humor.
I got pinged by Twitter the other day that a new account has been set up there called @NotVoicesDotCom. No, I do not know who owns it and no, I am not affiliated with it in anyway (well, except I’m following the account on Twitter now).
It’s a parody account poking fun at the Voices.com situation by tweeting about “what goes on behind the scenes at @voices, the #1 marketplace for taking money from voice actors and their clients.”
I’m not sure if it’s the kind of fame Voices.com and its venture capitalist investors wanted from their business practices, but they’ve got it now anyway. Hey, what’s the old axiom “any publicity is good publicity”?
I think that was written before the internet was invented.