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.

 

2 Responses to “Disagreeing with the One Voice Awards”

  1. Good post.

    I’m a nominee and I’m reading this a week after the awards and this is the first time I’ve heard that those who submitted could vote.

    It certainly wasn’t mentioned in the dashboard or either of the two emails I received.

    Would have been good to know.

  2. Hi Rob,

    Not sure how One Voice handled the communication of the category with the public or nominees.

    I was just surprised and significantly disappointed by One Voice’s INTENTIONAL ADDITION of (in my opinion) a disreputable company. The response I received back from the owner on the topic did not clarify for anyone the logic of what I believe to be a blatantly insulting action against professional voice actors.

    But the events took place, with my observations and opinions changing very little except for my perception of the producing organization.

    I will add that the recognition you and so many other received for your work was worthy of recognition. The quality of your work was no doubt terrific. Congrats!

    I simply feel the reputation of the production organization is a bit suspect after this revelation. But that’s just me.

    Best always,
    -Peter

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