#voicestrong courage

#voicestrong for voice agents

History has taught us that it is NOT easy.

Experience has taught us that it is rare.

Life has taught us that it is within each of us in large and small ways…but it IS in there.

The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

– The definition of courage


History books and movies are great at depicting amazing and even dramatic acts of courage.

But the truth is, in comparatively smaller, even daily acts, courage can be just as profound.

Profound because showing courage in almost any situation is hard.

One example.

To wake up one morning and find that, completely outside of your control, a key profit center of your business has been significantly altered in a way that is antithetical to your core business beliefs is a situation no small business in any industry wants to face.

But that’s what happened this week to hundreds of voiceover talent agencies and casting directors when a Los Angeles-based, central voiceover casting web site announced it had agreed to be acquired by a generally disrespected Pay 2 Play voiceover web site based in Canada. This Canadian company is known for and has admitted siphoning money budgeted for voiceover talent into their own corporate coffers under the guise of project management, unbeknownst to their paying clients.

Putting aside for a moment the ethical dilemma faced by agencies having to consider having business dealings with a disreputable company like that who now controls a key lead generation tool used daily by agencies, for these small business owners there is an important and hard financial decision to be made.

If agencies stay in partnership with this new ownership, they risk working for even lower commissions based on lower fees likely to be offered to voice talents on project posted by the Canadian company that now owns this popular casting site  (which is something the Canadian company, as a P2P, has been documented to do for some years now). But if the agencies drop the relationship with the new company, they will get commissioned on 100% on nothing. A key revenue source will be gone. How will they replace that lost revenue?

An ethical and financial quandary at the doorstep of voice talent agencies around the globe, all before breakfast.

These voiceover agents are small business owners just like you and me. Some are bigger than others and each has their other lead sources and contacts. Nonetheless, a decision either way impacts their bottom line.

A very hard decision, with unknown and unforeseen consequences, was before them. Take less of something or 100% of nothing.

I would like to introduce you to some people.

Erik Sheppard of Voice Talent Productions

Jeffrey Umberger of The Umberger Agency 

Tanya Buchanan of Ta-Da! Voiceworks

These are three of my voiceover agents.

Liz Atherton of TAG Talent

Stacey Stahl of In Both Ears

Carol Rathe of Go Voices

Susie DeSantiago of deSanti 

These four folks are not my voiceover agents but like Erik, Jeffrey & Tanya, each faced a very tough business decision following the Canadian company’s purchase. And decide they did.

Each has notified the casting website that they are leaving and will no longer be a paying member. Their collective lack of respect for the new ownership and it’s reputation for depreciating voice talents, agents and their services seems to have helped them make their individual decisions.

There may still be more to add to the exit list, but right there are seven (7) examples of small business owners who individually faced a business problem head on, individually had a tough decision to make and individually made the decision to walk away from a table with money still on it (less though it will likely turn out to be).

The chance for them to lose significant income is very real. So are their mortgage, car and school payments. Doing the right thing can be very difficult on many different levels.

Everyday courage doesn’t often make it to the big screen. But that doesn’t make these specific acts any less courageous.

And courage like that, from people voice talents have trusted as partners in our careers, deserves our unwavering support. #voicestrong

5 Responses to “#voicestrong courage”

  1. Great blog post, Peter!

    The root of the word courage is “cor” – the Latin word for heart. All the people you mentioned above, put their heart (and soul) into their business. To them, it’s more than a business.

    When you run a business from the heart, it’s not about making an insane amount of money. It’s about ethics, integrity, and about the desire to see people shine and thrive.

    Thank you for acknowledging their chutzpah and guts. Now it is our job as voice talent to be the best we can be, and make our agents look good!

  2. THAT’S the word that was missing from this post: chutzpah! Perfect!

    Thank you for your kind words Paul. #voicestrong #voiceoverchutzpah

    Best always,

  3. You can add us the list

  4. As a very small minnow in the pool of voiceover and still learning. I am so relieved and glad to read all of the above.
    I really hope that many others stand up to these greedy power hungry people. They’re going to be on a roll with that recent Morgan Stanley investment, no doubt their mantra is “disrupt the market”.
    It would be a travesty if they could succeed in controlling it through other greedy people selling out for a quick buck.
    I don’t understand why so many talent patronise Voices and can’t see or don’t listen to the warnings of others.
    In hope!

  5. There is an oh so secret world inhabited by the majority of people using the title “Voice Over”. They feel compelled to run with both Hare and Hounds and cry publicly for justice whereas behind closed doors will do and say anything to get a paying Voice Over job. Why would they do that? Because they struggle to make any money at all! As a result, any hope, any slight hope, any false hope is HOPE.

    This specific situation demands of Voice Over Business Commentators words on what individuals should do to rescue their businesses not #TshirtSlogans. Those who sit at the top table need to share stories on how to get a seat at that table. My income is derived from voice over work, I have no other source of income. Income for lat week? Five figures. Bragging? No. Just a number, but it’s my number.

    What next?

    If anyone wants a “what to do” list then contact me via Skype for a chat and I will tell you what to do. No charge.

    Feel lucky?