a voice-over white paper in the making

Say you are a voice-over pay to play site and you’ve got a pretty good reputation as far this particular business segment goes…those that like P2P sites use you and believe you treatment them fairly; those that don’t like P2P sites are never going to be won over so why bother with them. A reasonable strategy.

So say one day you decide that you want to change your Terms of Service (TOS) – the rules that you as the P2P site owner operate under and that users of your site must abide by if they want to use your site. Most every interactive site has them and there are updates made on all of them as business dictates.

But imagine you are a voice-over P2P site with this good reputation and you want to change your terms of service in what might be considered a controversial way…a way that might dismay or upset you primary revenue source – your voice talents who pay a membership fee.

For example let’s say via your revised TOS you’re going to:

1. Change your P2P site from a relatively open format where a VO can list his/her contact information on the site for prospects to view to, under the TOS revision, a site that bans that VO talent contact information from being posted on the talent’s paid page (as part of their membership fee) on the P2P site.

2. Change the P2P voice-over web site in such a way that any links to outside web sites would be removed on any communication between VO and client (for example, in a template proposal available within the P2P site and used to communicate to the client).

3. Finally, in this scenario, let’s also imagine that all financial transactions between the client and the voice talent on this site must now use the P2P web site’s proprietary payment system that pays the P2P site a 10% fee on the value of the transaction (previously service this was optional). This is in addition to, not in replacement of, the voice talent’s yearly membership fee paid to the site. The P2P site gets paid twice if there is a business transaction on the site.

All of this is legal. It all falls under legitimate business practices. There is open notification to all parties that this change is coming.

The questions always are:

What will the the customers (in this case the voice talents) say?

What will the customers do?

How will this all turn out?

And so the business study (the White Paper) begins.

3 Responses to “a voice-over white paper in the making”

  1. Hi Peter,

    Thank you for sharing this interesting post about how we’ve changed our Terms of Service at Voices.com 🙂

    There is one clarification I’d like to make pertaining to your third point. Voices.com does not get paid twice. To clarify, no voice talent has ever paid a SurePay transaction fee. The client has always paid the fee. The amount the voice talent receives for work completed through the website is exactly what they quote.

    Another tidbit in support of that is that we even pay the PayPal fee when sending voice talent their money. Lastly, we’ve even sped up the process from making payments once a month to making payments to voice talent each week. This is a huge improvement and has been well received.

    Thanks again for your article.

    Best wishes,

    Stephanie Ciccarelli
    Co-founder of Voices.com

  2. I beg to differ, Stephanie. In the end, the voice actors are the ones paying twice. Let’s say a producer’s budget is $500, flat, and it’s a good rate for whatever it is. In order to meet this rate, the voice talent is going to have to take $450 instead of what we should be paid since the client obviously does not have the additional 10% in his budget. I have had this happen to me on your website and in the past, I was able to say well if you’d prefer not to have the safety of escrow and would like to do PayPal or check instead, I can stick to your allotted budget. Now, I’ll just lose that job or take the hit.

    Sure you process the PayPal fee, but that fee is not 10%. Our agents process our payments too, but they also don’t charge us that up front fee plus the 10%. They take their profits from the 10%.

    Again, it boils down to what you want your business to be. In the end, I think this is really going to hurt you and that stinks because I think you’re a wonderful person and up until now, voices.com has been my favorite leads website on the net. I’ve been an avid promoter of how awesome your site was and I’ve had good success. However, the success has been from clients getting my contact info in my e-mails, being able to immediately reach me and being able to NOT use escrow if they didn’t want the added production. Now that you’re restricting your talents AND your producers? I think the business I’ll see is going to DRAMATICALLY reduce.

    I appreciate your pitch that you’ve mentioned on FB that you’re trying to protect us, but we don’t need your protection. We all run our own businesses and are able to obtain our own payments. I always offer the escrow to my clients (even ones that found me on their own!) because I think it’s a lovely service that you guys offer, but I do NOT appreciate being bullied into using it.

  3. Stephanie, your contention that the talent doe snot pay the escrow fee is disingenuous at best. I call it BS. I cannot believe how badly you are shooting yourselves in the foot over these changes. You’ve got to reconsider! You need to do major damage control! You are ruining your reputation!

    I tell you flat out that if these changes stick, I will quit Voices.com for good and demand a pro-rated portion of my membership fee be refunded.

    You are making the execs at Netflix look good by comparison.