Entries Tagged as 'voice 123'


#voicestrongBefore I talk about #voicestrong and it’s impact on the voiceover industry, two quick observations.

You know the great thing about life? Everything is always changing.

You know the problem with life? Everything is always changing.

Three examples.

When audio technology improved to allowed more affordable, professional audio recording into people’s homes, it was a revelation. For the voiceover industry, it helped voice talents build better, very professional home studios. But it hurt recording studios who had to find new streams of revenue lost since voice talents were not recording in the studios’ booths.

With that audio technology update, more people could live their dreams of being a professional voice talent. But many of those folks were only dreaming, because they had neither the training nor the talent (or even business savvy) to operate a voiceover business. These less knowledgeable new voice talents also negatively impacted the economics of the voiceover industry.

Advances in Internet technology also allowed companies to create on-line casting sites (known now as Pay 2 Play sites ((P2P)) for voice talents that allowed voice seekers to get hundreds of voiceover auditions with only a few mouse clicks and no in-person meetings. But voiceover agents, who for decades had managed those auditions and booked those castings, now have to work especially harder to secure those auditions and castings. Oh and the P2P model has also negatively impacted the economics of the voiceover industry.

retail onlineThese examples are business realities in the voiceover industries. Change happens in every business. The old General Store lost to the local department store, who lost to Macy’s, who lost to Wal-Mart, who seems to be currently battling with Amazon.

Ones personal reaction to change in business is usually based on whether you’re being eaten or you’re doing the eating. So change, while not always pleasant, is always present.

But in the voiceover industry, there have been a few of these P2P players who have grown to be the biggest in their business category and, because of that scope, naturally have an impact on the industry.

I had been a member on both of these bigger P2P sites and have long ago since resigned and pulled my profiles from them.

In their infancy, both sites offered opportunities. But then their business models changed, adding elements of control to money transaction and job management that were at the least questionable and, in many states, likely illegal when it came to requirements of imposed by actual professional agents and managers – which is the category these new P2P business models put these P2P companies into (although they have denied such assertions).

I found their practices improper and unethical (to BOTH voice talents and the hiring companies) and I left the P2P sites I’m referencing. But their models still exist and thrive to the detriment of novice and (strangely, to my way of thinking) more experienced voice talents.

One has to respect that every voice talent has the right and even the obligation to run their business as they see fit. If they have a financial need to try and make money via Pay 2 Play voiceover sites, then the discussion is over for them.

Voiceover P2P Ethical Business audioconnell

They will not consider the downsides of Pay 2 Plays because they cannot do so…to do so would mean they would have to either drastically change their own business plans or even cease working in voiceover. I understand the financial imperative to them personally and I respect the argument.

And it also needs to be said that there is at least one other, smaller Pay 2 Play voiceover web site, run in Europe, that I believe is ethical and is not having as negative an impact on the voiceover industry, save for some projects with ridiculously bad fees that I personally noticed.

So if change is a constant in business and change has created large P2P companies who are negatively impacting the voiceover industry, what options do the rest of us have in what historically should be just another cycle of change, albeit what I and many others consider unethical change?

A simple answer is to publicly and repeatedly expose the unethical business practices of these large Pay 2 Play sites. Doing so will help new voice talents better understand the P2P playing field (and let them make their own decisions). It might also allow established talents to understand what their business relationship with these unethical P2P companies really mean to their business and the industry they hope to thrive within. They too will make their own decision.

My friend, Erik Shepard, who is also one of my longtime agents, has recently resurrected #voicestrong . The purpose of this campaign is to foster discussion about, and even put pressure on, the unethical business practices among Pay 2 Play voiceover sites. Erik made a video about his opinions (many of which I share – not all).

I believe the history of this particular hash tag in the VO industry came about after a rather unprecedented interview that voice talent Graeme Spicer of Edge Studio held with the CEO of possibly the most questionable and unethical of all the Pay 2 Play voiceover sites.

The interview, pretty infamous among those of us in the voiceover world, was a total public relations #fail for the CEO, who offered inconsistent and embarrassingly thoughtless answers to direct and reasonable questions about his own company’s documented and dubious business practices. A later presentation by the same P2P company at VO Atlanta in 2016 confirmed the company’s complete lack of respect for the voiceover industry and those who work in it.

Full disclosure – at one time, early in its creation, I was friendly with the CEO and his spouse who also works as an executive at this company. As their business methods changed, so did our interactions. There’s that change again.

If #voicestrong can help bring to light the unethical corporate business practices of those who I believe take certain advantage of people in my industry who might not know better, then I too am #voicestrong.

a recent review of the voice over business

David Ciccarelli from Voices.com sent along to me a summary of his company’s past year in business, including how many voice over jobs were awarded, average payments, highest payments and total voice over earnings for voice talent who secured business all through Voices.com.

A couple of disclaimers here: I consider David and his wife Stephanie to be my friends and that both are highly ethical in their company’s operations. I trust what they say to be true and I think they run an above board operation. I have said in the past that if I subscribed to any pay to play (P2P) service, I would immediately subscribe to Voices.com based on their credibility alone. I respect the owners and their company.

I am not a paying member of Voices.com. I do have a free profile page. There is another service in the P2P industry where I had a free listing but I had it removed because I believed that group’s credibility to be so suspect that I didn’t want my name or brand associated with them in any manner. And there are other companies in this category whose reputation also precedes them and also not in a good way.

In short, the “pay to play” voice over business model does not work for me. I don’t believe or financially support any service in which voice talent “pays to play” i.e. pays a subscription to receive auditions. I believe such services lower the rate expectations of potential clients because so many voice talents who swim in the pay to play pool low ball their rates out of what I feel is a kind of sad desperation for revenue of any kind.

The pay to play model negatively impacts the voice over business and its practitioners, in my opinion.

While each individual has the right to run their business has they see fit (even or especially in desperate times), that low balling adversely affects my business and is degrading to my industry. I choose to play elsewhere.

The results of the Voices.com survey are:

  • $39,290,580 in Total Earnings by Voice Talent at Voices.com
  • 155,915 Voice Over Jobs – This figure represents the total number of public, private and direct message job opportunities that have been awarded to voice talent at Voices.com.
  • The Highest Paying Voice Over Job awarded via Voices.com that the company is aware of was $37,000
  • $252.97 Average Payment for a Voice Over Job (among all possible VO job categories): David noted that projects posted at Voices.com range between $100 and $500, thus resulting in average payments of $252.97.

This last figure illustrates my point better than anything else I might say regarding how ALL pay to play services lower the rate expectations of potential clients. I also have a sense that at other services, that average fee might even be lower.

Taking the Voices.com figure ($252.97) though, as a P2P industry average – that figure, I believe, doesn’t reflect what the voice over customer market “dictates”.

I believe it reflects what the voice over customer market “can get away with” with the help of the pay to play (P2P) business model.

There is no filter of voice over quality or talent abilities within the P2P model – legally I don’t think there can be and as a business model I don’t know why the P2P owners would want there to be. Anyone can sign up, pay the subscription fee and audition with P2P companies. It’s assumed that if someone has no talent, that fact will be reflected in their audition submissions and therefore the talentless won’t get the work (survival of the fittest).

But the nasty truth is, regardless of any supposed audition filter or cut off limit a P2P service may ascribe to, the sheer volume of auditions combined with lower average quality of the combined auditioners (note: they ARE talented and highly compensated voice talents in the P2P mix…somewhere…I guess) means that all the power is in the client’s hands – they can smell the desperation in the auditioning herd and they capitalize on it…to the detriment of the voice over industry as a whole.

Think about not just the local or regional radio commercialsâ…but the 10-20 minute narrations, e-learning projects, sales and marketing videos. These long form pieces are a vital part of the industry. Take a minute to do some average calculations on what those fees should be in addition to the local and regional spots.

Then add national commercials, TV promos, radio imaging fees, bigger message on hold projects.

By my calculations, $252.97 is well below what I would expect an overall average fee to be. And for those who would say that’s on par with “my” fee structure or that “I’d” be lucky to get that for a fee, I guess I’d ask you to take a long hard look at your business model. And even dare to say – self worth as a voice over talent.

To mis-quote the old hair commercial, I’d say, “You’re ‘not’ worth it. You’re worth more.”

And for those who’d say it’s none of my damn business – I’d say on that count, you’re probably right. We all have to choose our own paths and mine may not be right for you.

taji’s at it again

Mahmoud Taji pinged me to say he’s got a new voice over directory started (this seems to be a trend) called the The Voiceover Pavilion.

It’s a pay-to-play directory (you won’t be sent leads ala V123 but you pay to have a listing). He also advised he’s going to be spending some of these proceeds on advertising to end users who do the hiring.

voice 123 is now 3, 2, 1, gone!


My business resolution in 2009 was/is actually only one word: execute.

Too often in a business day, I’ll get started in six different directions and lucky if I find the finish line on two of those starts. Same thing the next day to the point where (if you follow the math) lots of stuff didn’t get done.

Well on day to day business, that’s going to happen sometimes but this year (he said with vigor and emphasis!) not on projects or important tasks – not related to clients (their stuff always gets done…money first!)

But like every business person, I’m always studying my business’ trends, activity in the industry etc.

While doing that, a thought occurred to me…should I keep my listings on the pay to play (P2P) voice over web sites?

I do not have a paid listing on the pay to play web sites like Voice 123 because I think these sites qualitatively, quantitatively and financially devalue the voiceover profession. I could rant forever on that but will spare you unless you ask in the comments.

I did keep a free page for SEO/SEM considerations. But the thought had occurred to me on more than one occasion: am I hurting my brand through even a free association with such sites?

Further, by being listed even in a free listing, am I offering an implied endorsement of these types of sites?

Today I got my answer.

On the VO-BB, there was yet another debate about the P2P sites. In the thread I brought up my conundrum. A voice talent friend of mine offered this observation:

“The way I see it, if people in the biz that I look up to are on them (and there are a few folks that are… and do gigs from them) then it’s good enough for me.”

I highly doubt that this person was referring to me in the quote but after reading it I did not doubt that one could see my participation on a P2P site as an endorsement. It was time to execute (I love when the signs are crystal clear).

Voice 123 was very helpful in their (possibly third-world based) on-line chat room with the deletion of my account. In fact, in my history of dealings with the company, this may have been their most impressive display of customer service. For that only, I thank them.

a voice over year in review


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.

are you one of my 315?


During my morning Reader reading (remember when we used to read something called a newspaper? Ha! How passé) I came across (Oh, well, yes I still do read a newspaper too. Anyway…) a blog post on Linked In allowing new applications to be integrated on to someone’s Linked In page. Very tight restrictions, as is the LinkedIn way but I went and saw a video about the apps to see if I wanted to add one or two.

There was a Word Press app that I kinda understood and since my blog is a Word Press blog, I added it. Or I think I did, I’m not sure. Nothing really happened when I added it so you may see it on my profile or you may not. Sometimes my button pushing on computers is less than stellar. In real life I can be an excellent button pusher but that’s not always seen as a good thing.

Any way, goodness such rambling today….the point I was trying to get to before these tangents in my head kept over taking my fingers on the keyboard was that I was surprised to see I now have 315 connections on LinkedIn. I didn’t think it was up that high but I also wasn’t following its growth like a tote board at a telethon either.

I’m a pretty open connector / networker on LinkedIn, I guess a Lion or LION (their emphasis) is a group nickname for it. Yet I am not really aiming for the 500+ moniker, the magic number where LinkedIn stops tallying one’s connection count (I guess that makes me a bit of a remedial Lion, possibly the runt of the litter). Once you learn some tricks its really not hard to get heavily connected. I think its fine if somebody WANTS to do that but for me I always come back to one question.


Why not grow somewhat naturally, organically to use the search term, with people you have a connection with in real life, already have a connection with on-line or have a reasonable or likely opportunity to develop a business relationship in the future? Occasionally I feel like I might be connecting with someone just to be polite. Damn you, Emily Post! 😉

Strictly for purposes of example, I’m connected with a couple of LIONS who are Human Resource Managers (lots of those professionals live on LinkedIn it seems to me) who may want a shot at connecting with my contacts but I’m not going to likely do business with any of the HR folks. I sometimes wonder if I’ve made a (very minor with no disrespect intended) mistake simply accepting that kind of connection. Or maybe they’ll offer me a million dollar job that will change my life.

Granted, LinkedIn allows you to use your database to communicate via email outside of LinkedIn in a professional way. I let people know in my profile that I will communicate with them in this way (although one person long ago evidently couldn’t read and accused me of spam; it was no one of any consequence anyway) and I do update these folks on my businesses.

My goal though is to have my business communication mean something to them, to have it seem logical (i.e. “Oh, I have a video production company and this voice talent just sent me his newsletter and since we use voice talent on occasion, receiving this newsletter makes sense!”) Worse than being accused of spam, I would hate to be accused to wasting someone’s time.

If LinkedIn is to have professional value to all of us (and certainly it can also have personal value as well) quality should be the prime directive not quantity. But if I get to 500+ contacts….be assured it will only be because quality begot quantity.

And if you actually read through this entire blog post, especially if you didn’t feel like commenting, just type in the word “finished”. Then I’ll have to think of some prize to give you for muddling your way all the way down here. I’ll start with saying thanks! And of course I want to connect with YOU.