Entries Tagged as 'commentary'

Disagreeing with the One Voice Awards

This week the U.S. nominations for the One Voice Awards were released. The company Gravy for the Brain produces the One Voice Conference and One Voice Awards. The conference and awards programs have both a US and UK version. The award show describes itself as “an awards ceremony which celebrates talent in the industry at all levels.”

One Voice Awards 2021 Voice Job Site of the Year

A few days ago, while happily reviewing the list of 2021 US nominees, many of whom are my personal friends (congrats!!), I noted that at the end of the list is an award for “Best Voice Job Site of the Year”. The nominees for this award are selected and nominated by One Voice itself and is open to a public vote from those participants in this year’s One Voice program (I believe that means that those outside the conference cannot just randomly vote on the category).

Included in the nominees chosen by One Voice for a possible award (depending on the voting) for “Best Voice Job Site of the Year” was a notorious voiceover pay-to-play (P2P) services from Canada, voices (dot) com.

Some background for those unaware or new to the voiceover industry.

Some years ago it was publicly uncovered and proven that this specific Canadian P2P voiceover web site – that charges voice talent a sliding scale of fees for access to auditions (the more you pay, the better the access) – intentionally redirects hiring client fees (originally meant for voice talents) into that specific Canadian P2P company’s own corporate pockets. In short, the Canadian P2P company has intentionally taken money meant for voice talents AWAY from voice talents.

This Canadian P2P voiceover company calculatedly works to provide its paying voiceover talents with SMALLER fees so that this same Canadian P2P voiceover company can enjoy greater profits. At best, this is an egregious double dip by this Canadian P2P company against the voiceover talents who pay them access fees. That’s how I see it.

Some voice actors, even knowing this truth but seemingly anxious for any revenue, work with the P2P company anyway. For those seeking my professional advice, stay far away from this Canadian P2P voiceover company.

The Canadian P2P company can run their company as they wish and voice talent can engage any vendor they want…in spite of the ill effects both inflict on the entire voiceover industry.

Back to the One Voice Awards and how they tie in with this Canadian P2P voiceover company.

Because the One Voice Awards DIRECTLY CHOOSES the nominees for “Best Voice Job Site of the Year”, I was gobsmacked that One Voice willingly wanted (not “needed” nor was in some way “mandated” or “obliged”) to positively and publicly recognize this Canadian P2P company whose identified business practice hurts the very industry and practitioners the One Voice’s awards program seems to want to honor.

It seems extremely clear to me that to choose to offer such a public recognition of a dishonorable P2P company by One Voice is a very poor reflection on the Awards program, it’s producers and sponsors. How can you build up an industry by honoring and possibly awarding a company whose policies and actions HURT that industry.

And should the Canadian P2P company win the vote, in my opinion that would severely damage the brand and credibility of the One Voice Awards, the One Voice Conference,  Gravy for The Brain and all associated with them. I feel quite sure this Canadian P2P will promote the heck out of such a win, leaving other award winners not affiliated with the Canadian P2P forever and inextricably linked and as similar tarnished (in my opinion) to the Canadian P2P as the One Voice brand would be.

facebook iconAnd I said as much in a Facebook post on my personal page.

As with anything P2P related on Facebook, it got lots of attention. Including from Hugh Edwards, the CEO of the conference.

His opinion on my post should be shared in fairness, so I will offer my initial Facebook post, Hugh’s response and finally my response (all as of 7/14/21).

None of the content herein is likely change the opinions of the posters (or maybe your opinion either) but at least opinions were shared.

O’CONNELL: Was happy for many of my friends who were nominated today for a One Voice award —-but the award took a big credibility hit with me when I saw One Voice and it’s sponsors would allow a disreputable company like v dot com receive any sort of recognition.

That specific P2P company has been proven to intentionally reduce fees intended for voice talents and line their own company pockets. This illicit practice is well known in the voiceover industry and the operators of One Voice know this fact too. Yet there sits the nomination.

The excuses on behalf of this corrupt P2P service may fly from those voice talents who claim success from it. Their paid membership to that dishonorable P2P is an individual and associational choice – a risk to their reputation that they are free to take.

It’s also desperate justification, in my opinion.

Further, such excuses allow and encourage bad corporate behavior.

As does this nomination.

EDWARDS: Hey Everyone.

OK, this was always going to be an inflammatory topic and I apologise if it upsets people, but everything has been thought through and nothing done on a whim. I’ll deal with this in three sections. Firstly, the public vote mechanics, secondly the moralistic/ethical issue, and lastly why we need awards at all.

The One Voice Awards are a brand new way of doing awards in the USA in our industry, and it’s not surprising that you are used to what you are used to, and so don’t understand our ethical and moralistic standpoints.

I should also say just to preface this that at the actual awards ceremony, we have an intro video that shows the process end-to-end and illustrates exactly the approach we take – which everyone in the UK knows, but clearly the USA doesn’t so it is relevant that I comment now due to the confusion involved.

Firstly then, the public vote mechanics. If you make the votes for this kind of award *actually* public then what happens is the companies go to their databases and ask for votes. This isn’t fair as the size of the database is clearly the important thing. What you want is the people who work in the industry, who are likely to be using the services, actually being the only voters. So the mechanics are that it’s the people who are submitting awards who are allowed to vote – i.e., the voice artists themselves. You sign up for a free submission account and before you upload your own submissions, you vote on the two public categories. We also automatically check for any accounts created that do not have submissions attached so that this can’t be faked, and these discounted (not that we’ve ever had any). This means that the companies involved cannot game the system and it’s the people who use the services who are voting – which again is anonymous, so they can vote genuinely how they feel. I can tell you that in the UK this has been won for the past three years by bodalgo. People vote with their feet.

Secondly then, the ethical or moral dilemma.

– Do you include companies who are not popular or who seemingly make bad choices, or shareholder-style decisions regardless of the people who use the service? Should we then not recognise Apple as a tech giant (who take 33% of every piece of music sold from any source), or Uber as an international player (who have decimated the taxi industry and are now doing the same to the catering industries)? The answer of course has to be no we don’t do that. Not recognising such companies in their industries would be stupid.

– Should we make a choice about who we like and who we don’t like, and then only let the people that we do like into our event? No – I’m afraid that is the cornerstone of bigotry and even racism and I’m afraid our company doesn’t stand for that. Not withstanding the fact that organisations like the Competitions and Markets Authority would not look kindly on it as influencing markets anyway.

Now: Before you get too carried away with slamming us for allowing these companies in, consider this:

It’s extremely easy as a voiceover artist to take what you think is the moral high-ground and slate the P2P’s…..

But it’s a much more difficult thing to take a step back and ask what is truly fair, industry-wide, and then let people vote with their feet.

So many VO’s joined the bandwagon of hate in the early days – and don’t forget, I was the second person to interview David Ciccerelli [sic] live, and didn’t let him get away with anything in the interview – but there is also a huge and growing swathe of VO’s who hate the fact that they are chastised about where they choose to work, by people in the industry. I personally know many VO’s who are popular in the industry who work on fiverr under pseudonyms – Because they *choose* to.

Should we discount their opinions, or all those people who choose to use and make a living from their services because we don’t agree with them? Of course not! Should we not allow republicans or democrats on, because we disagree with some of the heavy political ads they do, and hate what they stand for? No? Is there any difference here? Of course not!

You have to draw the line somewhere.

The final point on the ethics then, and actually this is the one that means we have made our choice as a company:

*****It is a literal dichotomy to claim fairness and impartiality – which is what we do at the One Voice Awards as you will see in the ceremony – and intentionally exclude any parties, regardless of how ‘popular’ some may see them. ******

The voiceover artists have voted – anonymously – and these are the results. To the person who said “Shame on them” meaning me for allowing this – I sleep very well at night knowing that I am being fair to everyone in the industry. And by way of example, The Voice Realm were also included as was *every single other P2P site* and the public did not vote for them. They did vote for Fiverr and they did vote for VDC – and now the industry will need to choose what it does with that information.

Lastly then, as to why we need awards at all. I am not a huge fan of awards in general. I think they are so easily corrupted, money making machines that favour their friends, and exist solely to aid the people who are putting them on. And that’s precisely why Peter and I started the One Voice Awards – to fix what is broken. FYI we have never made a profit on the awards during the last 3 years, but do at GFTB – and so it’s our way of giving back and helping the industry. The process is absolutely locked down, and aside from being free, the entries are anonymous, the judges are not revealed, the judges do not know who the other judges are, the judges scores are always hidden from each other and so all judging is done purely on the merit of the clip and that it can’t be corrupted. Hell, we even hide the names of demo producers on the demo category so that people can’t be swayed. Because of this, in the UK it’s gained a reputation for actually meaning something and genuinely helps careers – because everyone knows it’s not just another lie – it’s actually been earned.

Anyway, I hope that helps and clears matters up as to why we have made these choices. I guarantee you that none of these decisions haven’t been taken lightly and….

….just because no one has been brave enough to stand up for fairness and equality before in this way – even if it might not be popular with everyone – does not mean that it’s not the right thing to do.

Happy to speak to anyone individually if you’d like more info. ?

O’CONNELL: Hugh, Thanks for taking the time to offer your explanation for why you and your company would choose to include v dot com as a chosen nominee in your awards program.

First and foremost, it IS your awards program and that decision is yours.

You get to choose who you want to consider to honor. That’s an important point.

No one NEEDS to have these companies possibly recognized. You WANT to honor them and you WANT to include v dot com as a nominee and possible winner. You have the right to do that.

You would evidently be fine with that specific P2P brand likely promoting its association with your organization if it won — in what you have outlined as a fair, just and anonymous voting process.

It IS your awards program and that decision is yours.

And while the P2P industry is not a category I choose to work, I don’t begrudge those who do. It’s an individual choice. The industry category is not what I find problematic in this instance.

Rather, I find it astounding that your organization would, by your choice, promote and possibly honor a specific P2P company whose business practices included (and may still include) intentionally redirecting client fees – originally meant for voice talents — into that specific P2P company’s own corporate pockets. In short, taking money meant for voice talents AWAY from voice talents.

Is that “truly fair”? I say no, regardless of how anyone may try to justify it.

In my opinion One Voice is recognizing, with its choice of award nominee, a P2P company whose business practice hurts the very industry and practitioners One Voice’s awards program seems to want to honor.

Why would you or anyone want to positively recognizing a company – in any industry – for doing a wrong thing?

What this P2P company has done IS wrong and everyone knows it.

Does the fact that some voice talents know this ugly truth and still do business with this P2P company mean that it should be OK to act like the company is a worthy nominee or honoree for an industry award? I say no.

People know cigarettes are deadly but they justify away their reasons for smoking…they have the right to do so. But the honors for the cigarette companies aren’t pouring in either, as far as I know.

I’m not sure how I or anyone else who opposes such an unethical business practice – like those this P2P company has employed – has a corner on any ‘moral high ground’ by opposing such a practice and calling it out as bad…rather than honoring it. While there is plenty of gray in the world, some things ARE right and wrong…the business practice of this specific P2P company is wrong.

As for your efforts in your explanation to tie any of this voiceover nomination discussion into the modern day insanity of Republican vs. Democrats or the horrible problems of bigotry and racism…the most polite thing I can say about such pandering analogies is that they are wrong and completely out of place among this specific content.

As I said at the beginning, it IS your awards program.

Who you nominate and what you honor is your decision, whether I or anyone else like it or not.
Opinions were exchanged here but likely none were changed…social media at its finest?

And the industry moves ahead, with or without us.

Thanks Hugh.

 

People, Voiceover People Who Need People – Post-COVID Edition

Chief Engineer Cameron Fitzpatrick At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Soundtrax Chief Engineer Cameron Fitzpatrick overseeing another successful voiceover recording session in Raleigh, NC (July 2021)

What a great treat recently to get back into SOMEONE ELSE’S voiceover studio with other real voiceover people.

Look, it’s always nice to be cast in any voiceover project because….money.

But this recording session was even MORE fun because it involved not just going to somebody else’s studio but it was a GROUP session with anywhere from 2 to 5 people safely recording TOGETHER in the studio!!!

Voice Actors Peter K. O'Connell, Bonnie Marie Williams & Asif Samad At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Voice Actors Peter K. O’Connell, Bonnie Marie Williams & Asif Samad at Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Now, if you’re reading this and not very familiar with voiceover, all this excitement may seem rather silly. I get that.

But if you’ll remember back some weeks and months ago…when maybe you went back to work or celebrated a holiday with people you hadn’t seen IN PERSON in months or a year…you were excited and happy.

It’s like that.

Voice Actor and Soundtrax General Manager Becket McGough

Voice Actor and Soundtrax General Manager Becket McGough in session

It was great to see my VO pals again, in person.

Even better, I didn’t know all the voice talents I was working with. Some of them were new to me. New friends, yay!

One of them I had worked with remotely….they were in one studio and I was Source-Connected in from my voiceover studio. When I heard her voice today in person right next to me, I thought “where have I heard that voice?” 🙂

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell And Male Voice Talent Chadd Pierce At Soundtrax In Raleigh NC

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell and Male Voice Talent Chadd Pierce At Soundtrax Recording Studio In Raleigh NC

Look, whether pre-COVID or post-COVID, often there are not that many group voiceover sessions outside of NY and LA (and those are becoming less frequent too). It was great fun to see, visit with and work with my voice acting peers again  – in person!!!

Voiceover people are FAR from normal under the best of circumstances 😉 but this voiceover session was a taste of normalcy for us.

The way life used to be.

I’m thankful.

Learning from Kim Handysides

Learning from Kim HandysidesIn spite of my vast voiceover knowledge, expertise in all things broadcasting, immense superiority in marketing and tremendous humility (tongue firmly implanted in cheek) there ARE other people who know some stuff about the business of voiceover besides me.

You’re shocked, I know. 😉

Truth be told, in spite of my actual experience I am always learning from other voiceover talents, most of whom are brighter than I am.

So while it was a pleasant discovery, it was not a surprise to come across some very concise yet encompassing voiceover advice and helpful links in two blog posts by Canadian voiceover artist Kim Handysides.

I agree with most all of the suggestions and references she offers* and think the read would be worth your time.

*I disagreed with the note that said short, fat, Irish voiceover talents are less useful than poutine…I happen to know we have a value EQUAL to poutine. How dare she!!! 😉

From a blogging perspective, I will also compliment her on her smart links to her own past blog posts about the topics she is advising readers about. That’s just SEO goodness right there. Well done.

Oh…you probably want the links, don’t you. Man, you are demanding!

35 Ways to Really Help You Crush It As A Voiceover Actor

37 More Ways to Really Help You Crush It As A Voiceover Actor

 

Senseless Marketing Is Occasionally Worthwhile

T-shirt Advertising Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover TalentEvery micro-business owner (like me) will tell you that you need to have an expectation of a return on investment (ROI) for the marketing dollars you invest.

Why?

Because while many micro-businesses don’t have unlimited marketing dollars, most have barely ANY marketing dollars…we have to make them count.

Which of course is why I just dumped multi-hundred o’dollars into my neighborhood swim team’s sponsorship program from which I am sure will lead to almost zero ROI.

Yup, no ROI and no charitable write off

Ain’t I a marketing and business genius? 🙂

Let me explain.

I’ve written so many marketing posts over all these years I’m guessing I must have mentioned Gut Marketing. It’s a highly technical business term which means marketing that may not make business sense but feels right.

Whether you as a business owner mean to support or straight out donate to an event or group, it’s your gut that tells you that you CAN make this one community investment…you have confidence in your other targeted, ROI-focused, customer-centric marketing programs that WILL build your customer base and your branding efforts.

When you know, you know.

Don’t go crazy BUT trust your gut.

Writing a useful Voiceover Profile for Source-Connect

Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover Source-Connect Profile 2021With so many more voiceover talents jumping on the Source-Connect bandwagon in the midst of COVID-19, some voice talent may ignore a key marketing tool included with their Source-Connect membership.

The Source-Connect user profile.

As with almost all things internet, every Source-Connect member can (and should) fill out their profile. There’s the basic form to fill out (name, rank, serial number….that was a joke, don’t try to search for rank and serial number).

But the important part, in my opinion, is the biography information below the form.

This is where I think thoughtful voice talents have the opportunity to stand out successfully.

There will always be a few producers who blow past the Source-Connect bio opportunity and not read it because…whatever.  Some voice talents may feel the same way. That’s fine.

There are a few more producers who may be torn between picking from some Source-Connect voice talents whose sound is similar, who both obviously have Source-Connect but whose profiles say and convey different things.

Those conveyed differences could be the distinction between you getting and losing the gig. Those same million variables exists on every voiceover job, I know. My point here is: with a little work now, do it right, set and forget it and you’ll have a better shot of getting the job.

You want that possible advantage, don’t you?

Here are the things I think you should make sure you include in your Source-Connect profile biography.

OVERALL
This biography is absolutely NOT like the biography (the “About”) page on your web site. This should be informative, concise, easy to read and extremely focused on the needs and wants of the studio producer reading it. Lots of meat, very little warm and fuzzy.

THE STUDIO
Many but not all people hiring you will own their own recording studio, your Source-Connect session will be recorded in their recording studio. To the people who do the hiring, studio information can make a difference. Be as detailed and yet as matter of fact as you can be. Those recording in closets, do your best to describe your custom built or custom designed recording space. You need not feel shame as long as your recording space SOUNDS professional…no doubt most Source-Connect using producers have recorded more than one voice talent who voices from a good sounding closet.

THE TOOLS
Especially with (but not exclusively to) recording studios, engineers will look with a keen eye at your list of mics, audio interfaces and software. They do not have many ways to ensure for themselves they are going to be receiving quality sounding audio BEFORE they actually hear it in the session so reading about your gear IS important to them. That said, don’t get into a “brand-panic” or fall into an inferior mic complex or some such thing. Just make sure you consult with an audio engineer (the George Whittham’s of the world) to make sure your studio tools give you a quality, broadcast-ready sound BEFORE you try selling yourself ANYWHERE, let alone via Source-Connect.

THE CREDITS
The word credits is born of word credibility. While your entire Source-Connect biography is about establishing your recording credibility (studio and performance) – listing your professional voiceover credits is a way to assure producers that whatever project they have you in mind for…their session with you will NOT be your first voiceover recording rodeo (this is true for any professional voiceover biography). Your list of voiceover credits allow the media producer to know other producers and specifically other brands (hopefully, well known, easily identifiable and respected brands) have trusted your professional voice talent and/or recording abilities and so can they. Anywhere from 7-10 featured brand credits (across multiple industries) should assure them you are an experienced, professional voiceover talent.

Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover Source-Connect IconTHE YOU
Probably the biggest difference between your “ABOUT” biography on your personal web site and your biography on your Source-Connect web site is “The You”. On your web site, you can talk about your likes and family and unicorns and rainbows. All fine.

Not on your Source-Connect biography…at least that’s my opinion.

Producers are usually rushed for time when hiring a talent and if…IF…they take the time to read this part of your Source-Connect profile (and again there are no guarantees they will) give them ‘just then facts, ma’am’.

If you want to tie in a few words about your personal brand (very few) and location, that’s fine. Keep it short. For example, in my Source-Connect profile, I mention I used to live in Buffalo, NY and now live in Raleigh, NC. Some producers from years ago may remember me from Buffalo, not realize I moved to Raleigh and thus may not be sure I am the same guy. That location detail has professional, business relevance to my profile. Otherwise I wouldn’t include it.

Why so much info on a profile that is supposed to be so brief? Because to be concise, you have to be fairly thoughtful about those few, right words…about sharing the most valuable content. I hope this blog has offered you some helpful guidance and ideas.

local saturday is more important than ever in 2020

Everyone seems pretty up to speed with how badly almost every American small retail business has fared during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Don’t even get me started on the small Mom & Pop restaurants impacted by the pandemic…too often, that news is like reading the obituaries.

The chain stores are doing OK and the on-line stores are through the roof with amazing sales. I am sincerely pleased for all of them.

But the small retail stores, those that have remained open in our communities thus far (and many have closed up forever) they are about to have something amazing happen to them.

Something amazingly good or amazingly bad. The decision is up to you and me.

I fully respect that many national chains have had sales dry up and they have closed – leaving landlords and employees scrambling for new tenants and new jobs. Those situations certainly negatively impact a local economy. Such closures hurt people and communities.

But situated in an even more precarious position as we head into the critical holiday shopping period are America’s small retail businesses.

You know who they are in your city and towns and suburbs. Maybe you’ve driven by them and always wanted to go in a look around.

I am asking you to please do that and do one more thing. Buy something at that store.

Black Friday, which will also change in 2020, led to a new inititaive some years ago called #localsaturday where shoppers are encouraged to buy from LOCAL merchants the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I’m asking you to please to this…and more

Buy ALL your gifts for your family and friends this holiday season 2020 from your local small businesses.

Online will thrive for all the chains…the local stores NEED YOUR HELP TO STAY OPEN.

Think of your local purchase as being a life giving blood donation to a local neighbor deathly in need of blood.

This holiday, don’t only think of others who you want to buy a gift for…think of the business itself, the LOCAL business where you buy that gift.

Help that local business stay open and help your truly local community THRIVE.

Thanks.