Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Competing VS. Choosing

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

May 17, 2006

Comments (19)

Is the best voice for the job that gets the gig, right?

Greetings,

There are two completely different perceptions that are currently observed in the voice-over marketplace about the process of how voices are hired for work.

The auditioning process is either viewed as a competition OR as a client choosing the best voice for their project from the group of applicants who replied to their job posting.

Why are we purposefully highlighting the difference between competing and choosing?

We're focusing on this issue because we care deeply about this industry and want the absolute best for it, including the best for you and our community at Voices.com.

Another reason why we're identifying this issue is because there is a greater need for awareness about how voice talent are 'promoted' in the voice-over industry by specific voice-over websites.

To be honest, the distinctions between the two terms should matter quite a bit to professional talent, because the words being used to promote you are directly related to how you are perceived and are treated by clients at various services.

Let's put it all on the table...

Competing means that you are jockeying for the top position, and that there can only be one winner.

The term "Competing" gives permission to the client to treat voice talent like dirt, and to be frank, abuse you, your time, and your skills. For the client, it's a passive experience. For you, it can be demeaning and stressful.

It doesn't help anyone, clients or talents, to be in the mindset that this is a competition where it is okay to 'let talent compete' for voice-over work...

You apply for jobs - you don't compete for them! There is something fundamentally wrong with that concept.

Bottom line, it's a terrible phrase to sum up how voice talents are selected. "Competing" gives clients the notion that it is perfectly normal to run you through the mill.

Now, for a breath of fresh air:

At Voices.com, clients engage in three distinct activities; searching, auditioning and hiring. None of these include the concept of competition.

True, your fellow colleagues are working toward the same goal - landing the job, but just because you don't land this job, doesn't mean there was no value created by getting your name and voice out there.

Let's stop referring to the audition process as a competition and move towards educating more clients about how to treat voice talent.

We can change the industry, and with your help, it'll change faster. The implementation of your ideas will spark an even better future to look forward to for voice talent everywhere.

Are you looking forward to a brighter future for the online voice-over marketplace? We are!

Together, we can make it happen.

Cheers,

Stephanie, David, Carol and Laurynda

Related Topics: hired, how to, industry


Comments


    Here, Here !!

    I applaud the sentiment entirely and in an effort to "ac--centuate the positive.... e--liminate the negative", the custom demos burgeoning my hard drive represent a wealth of options for the forwarding of generic material when that suits the demand (rare tho' that is)
    The $50 marketplace is alive and well, but we don't have to spend time on these, if everyone boycotted these folk, the realistic fees would soon emerge.

    Some sneaky "building work" has been noted elsewhere than the IV site, where various "partial reads" end up as a total script over a period of days, with the name withheld "by client request".

    I am particularly enamoured with IV due to the vetting which takes place, the fact that scripts are available in all but a very few instances, and there is ALWAYS a contact name to refer to, so we can check the providence of the company and make an informed judgement on the likelihood of a shonky trader.

    In the low end, it is entirely competition ..... for the lowest bid, having nothing to do with quality.
    Time to re-read Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance......should be on every curriculum list...in a throw away world, our best chance for point of difference is simply quality (and a fair price).

    Thank you and goodnight.

    Posted by:
    • Martyn L.
    • June 22, 2006 8:13 AM

      I really could't agree with you more, however, too many "talents" do view it as a competition, and will under-cut any legitimate quote. Some of these people are very talented, but the desire to beat out everyone else at all costs is driving some of us into the ground. It used to be that making a living at VO was a legitimate possibility, now I see $30 for 30-seconds and clients look at the bottom line and conclude that the talent is "good enough".

      I've heard them on the air and in presentations...bad intpretation, mispronounced common words, faulty phrasing, even the name of the client being pronounced differently within the same message.

      When I do a project, I make every effort to do it right and provide a positive, professional image for the client.

      But if the emerging talent base is willing to do the work for next to nothing and clients are willing to take low quality work for the sake of the bottom line, soon all of us will have to settle on getting less than what we are worth.

      Perhaps a standard minimum with a standard talent level is needed outside the union.

      I love this profession, but it is just that...a profession, not "extra" cash or "fun to do"

      Posted by:
      • Anonymous
      • June 22, 2006 8:14 AM

        Well said!

        If you go to this link, you'll find an article I just wrote called "What's the ROI on your voice-overs?" that I think you'd find extremely encouraging. It is written for people hiring voice talent for work.

        http://www.voiceovermarketplace.com/2006/05/whats-roi-on-your-voice-overs.html

        I wrote this article after corresponding with a voice talent about how we could better educate clients regarding the worth of your work.

        Check it out :)

        Stephanie

        Posted by:

          Hi!

          When I apply for a job with IV, I'm glad I don't know that 334 other people have also applied.

          That makes it seem more like a competition, and if you aren't one of the first 30 or so talents to apply, you can pretty much forget about them ever hearing your voice.

          Thanks to IV for getting the word out quickly on the e-mails that jobs are available. I also now have a "mobile studio" with a wonderful mike that I can take with me when I'm on the road. You don't have the quality of the studio, but it sure is great for demos!

          Best to all of you,

          Robin

          Posted by:
          • ramblinrowan
          • June 22, 2006 8:16 AM

            We all have different voices. That's what makes us stand out from each other.

            VO projects are also different every day & require a certain voice print. That is if the client is looking for a quality voice rather than just a low price.

            If you have a good voice & can really read with feeling & emotion, you'll get hired. My point being is....don't sell yourself short as so many of us do.

            If you're afraid of not getting the job because your rate might be too high, then you have to take a look at your self worth. Unfortunely there are some of us that will do a project for $30.00.

            That hurts the rest of us who knows the real value of our profession. Did that make any sense?

            Posted by:
            • Cowboy Dave
            • June 22, 2006 8:18 AM

              Ha! Somebody finally got it right!!! How can anybody compete in the voiceover business? Every voice is unique. Every voice belongs to an individual. There is only one "you".

              Who knows what the client wants? The truth is, clients often don't know what they're looking for. That's better than some who don't even know why their looking, which is better than those who don't know how to look or even how to ask.

              One client asked me to be more "conversational." The engineer finally pointed out she meant "animated and energetic." There's a big difference! Well, to me conversational may not be what a conversational utterance is to her. No wonder she wasn't getting what she wanted. And, that's IN a session I got paid for!!!

              Truth is, many clients are fishing for what will not only ring their bell, but ring the bell of those who will listen to my voice.

              So, thanks for propagating the insight that there really is a difference between competing and selecting. Now, let's go get 'em!

              Posted by:
              • Anonymous
              • June 22, 2006 8:18 AM

                I have to agree with everybody else. It's not the cost of a project, but the quality that goes into it. As a voice talent, I am the direct link between my client and the business he/she represents.

                The final product is a reflection of quality. If I were to wear their shoes, I'd rather spend the few extra bucks to have my business reflected with a professional sound than cut myself short and advertise with dirt on my face.

                If they're looking for a $30 talent, take it. I'd just as soon represent someone who cares about their product the way I care about mine.

                Posted by:
                • Anonymous
                • June 22, 2006 8:19 AM

                  The whole concept of "competing" is leaving me cold these days and as a voice actor for more than 15 years now, I just don't have the energy or the desire to "race" to do an audition.

                  The audition then comes out poor and its not a good representation of my craft.

                  I value the art of voice overs and acting and it is shameful to me that talent will work for such little money, therefore I won't throw my hat in the ring.

                  I boycott the lower than $100 auditions. If a client cannot scrape together the cost of an average monthly cable bill to apply a quality voice from a talent that is a professional at their craft, then why should we bother?

                  This voiceover could be used for YEARS to come! All for a lousy $50 fee? Not worth it in my book.

                  It cheapens our industry and in the long run, we will all pay for it.

                  Lets compete in the sense of becoming better talent! Become a better actor! Become better at your craft!

                  Then the client can truly decide and choose the best talent for the project.

                  Posted by:
                  • Voice Girl
                  • June 22, 2006 8:21 AM

                    Thank you! Thank goodness this site recognizes the value of us, the talent.

                    We are paying to be on this site and we get respect and value added items,like seminars which can help us prosper.

                    --- Kudos to the IV Staff for raising the bar. I WILL be renewing here when it's time.

                    That other v/o site ( I am sure most of you know which one I am referring to )is all about being used & abused.

                    The quality of the jobs lately has plummeted, jobs to which I will not respond, especially those that ask talent to provide rates without a budget posted, and those which need translation, writing, full production and did I include v/o???? ---For $50.00.

                    It's become a free for all and I won't be reupping my membership over there. We pay the site, the abusive clients don't. Someone has to be looking out for US.

                    Nobody can abuse you unless you allow them.

                    I wish more of us talents had more self confidence & pride in our value, not only as performers, but our investment in our business, marketing, demos, studio equipment, etc.

                    Thanks for listening.

                    Bobbin Beam

                    Posted by:
                    • Bobbin Beam
                    • June 22, 2006 8:23 AM

                      I am glad that I took the time to read this. I am an emerging artist who is just surprised at the $50 dollar job postings.

                      It makes absolutely, NO sense to me. It is such an insult. My chest feels heavy just thinking that so many companies that don't know each other - have been smart enough to realize that they can exploit the underdog - the voice actor.

                      Well I haven't received any work yet and you best believe, I am broke and hungry - but I will not be submitting for anything that pays less than $100. Sorry.

                      Posted by:
                      • Anonymous
                      • June 22, 2006 8:24 AM

                        I believe it is ridiculous to always shoot for the bottom dollar.

                        These people need what we have as voice talent or they would be making these performances themselves.

                        Look at it this way...we had to not only develop the talent but also purchase the recording equipment...learn how to not only use it but use it well (there is a big difference).

                        In addition...we are available at the drop of a hat. If you are one that has to schedule studio time in another facility then...then you are spending part of your earnings on your cost just to do the part.

                        Undercutting the budget or going for the bottom dollar is making it harder and harder for all of us to break even.

                        You can't get a tooth pulled for under $100...and none of us want to try and attempt doing that ourselves. We are trained and skilled in our area as well.

                        Posted by:
                        • David Tartar
                        • June 22, 2006 8:25 AM

                          Steph,

                          I agree with your assertion that talented people need to be compensated accordingly and that we should not be treated like dirt.

                          One sure fire method to avoid that is to be honest with yourself as to your capabilities and true talents.

                          For many newcomers to VO, this is difficult, as they have not yet found thier niche. It may take years to reach that level of VO "maturity." When looking over job ads, ask yourself if it is truly in your capability. If you know it is, and you are hired, you have the right to to be compensated accordingly. (It's a function of self -confidence)

                          The auction mentality at other sites is demeaning. However, with the volume of work out there, patience is a true virtue.

                          Keep plugging away. High compensation will come when you are in demand, and that is where becoming a specialist pays off.

                          Dan L.

                          Posted by:

                            I read the posted responses to the 'competition/choice' debate - then clicked on a 'job' opening from IV that appeared in my mail. Someone wanted a talent to read fifty...that 5-0 books about 15 pages in length; edit, mix supplied music, and send masters ASAP...for the princely sum of $75 each-"non-negotiable". Unfortunately, that is the price we pay now that anyyone with a computer, a microphone and the rudimentary ability to speak the language seem to think they are 'voice talents'. If you are a pro, check the union fees for a comparable job and charge accordingly. They are already getting a BUY OUT ; no residuals every 13 weeks, no P&W, no agent fees. If employers are driven by price and not quality...let them get what they pay for...

                            Posted by:
                            • buddhaboy
                            • June 22, 2006 8:31 AM

                              “Competition vs. Choosing,” there is something about the consideration of those two words used in the same thought that causes an old man to sit now and do something that should indeed be unnecessary; comment on the obvious.

                              It was early spring of 1963. A high school marching band instructor suggested to a young boy that he might consider going down to the local radio station to “try out” to see if the voice he had heard make some announcements over the P.A. system should pursue what the kindly old bandleader thought was a voice that might have some potential. The young boy was a member of the band and was in percussion, not a singer by any means. He just happened to be in the right place at the right moment and “someone” needed to announce the following program because it was intermission. The play-by-play announcer was on break. It was a small high school and there may have been seven or eight hundred people in the range of the P.A. system all told.

                              The young boy decided to give it a try and now, over forty-three years later, he sits at a computer keyboard wanting sincerely to add a thought or two about the past forty-three years that have sped by in what seems like less time than it will take to type these words. (or read them maybe)

                              That “try out” consisted of meeting the station owner, visiting with him a short time, and being led to a tiny little room with corkboard walls, a big glass window, something that then looked like the controls of an airplane. A gigantic microphone on an extension arm, a set of headphones slightly larger than the sides of the young boy’s ears and the whole side of his face included, and an Ampex 601 reel-to-reel tape recorder with reels and reels of magnetic tape strewn everywhere loomed larger than life – way back when.

                              As they walked down a short hallway they passed what looked like a disfigured sidewalk mailbox with a stream of yellow paper on the floor in front of it as the origin of all that paper was still dropping down a “click” at a time and the sound of what was surely the fastest “typist” ever heard hidden behind it, only the “mailbox” was doing the typing and it had an almost rhythmic beat to it – something a percussionist would notice.

                              The station owner stopped long enough to rip a portion of something off of it and jammed it at the young boy, lead him into the cork boarded booth, sat him down in front of this slanted “board” filled with one big round knob after another and one single “VU” meter in the center, turned a few things on here and there, the Ampex 601 started to turn, and the instructions were, “when I leave and you’re ready, flip this switch up, pointing to the mic switch, and read what’s on this paper.”

                              That was March of 1963. Now forty-three years and two months later that young boy, now a gray haired old man sits here wishing to do something that in all those years filled with every kind of commercial broadcasting there is, live public events before tens of thousands, and a myriad of what will remain untold stories, and do something he has never done before – place some of his thoughts on a “blog”.

                              If somehow a “time machine” had been where that disfigured sidewalk mailbox was, and from that time machine the young boy could have seen into the future a little over forty-three years later, and would have seen that the time would come when he would be sitting in his very own cork boarded sound studio with “hard ware and soft ware” that back then would have taken ten buildings the size of the entire radio station he was then in to equal, if indeed three-quarters of it could have been remotely duplicated with vacuum tubes and some new fangled things called “transistors”, and all in an area less than the size of the entire “production room” where this young boy for the first time ever heard his own voice recorded and played back was, I am confident the young boy would have fainted dead away from the mere contemplation of it all.

                              You see, I didn’t have to “compete” or be “chosen” to be offered a job as soon as the station owner heard the few paragraphs played back, I had to have something entirely different and in those days, somewhat unique. It was then correctly labeled and known as “talent,” something “different” than others who simply opened their mouths and began to speak. The “talent” was indeed weak and there would have to be a great deal of training before the “station mic” was handed over to this bushy haired lad about to graduate from high school in a few months. Haven’t guessed it yet, have you? Yep, it was me! Surprised aintcha?

                              I had to sit and listen to the “great ones” for hours and hours, trying desperately to mimic as best I could those truly amazing deep and resonant voices. It was all in vain of course because I was still having a battle with something called puberty and my voice sounded more like my sister than Edward R. Murrow. Oh! That I could have had the foresight to seal a few of those reel2reel tapes in something and today have them burned to CD, I could REALLY give you something to laugh at.

                              There is a point in here somewhere I promise. That point I’m quite sure is the fact that had that squeaky voiced young boy, who nevertheless had “something” that others heard and for some reason liked, could have seen in that time machine a fact that as someone famous once said of everyone, paraphrasing here; “everyone will get their 15 minutes of fame”, or something like that, would in fact turn more into, everyone will be heard by everyone else and 15 minutes has nothing to do with it.

                              I am so completely amazed at all of this that my company motto today is: “Voice talent is in the ear of the client.” (That’s copyrighted BTW) What is amazing about that statement is that sitting here with a wall full of awards and diplomas from prestigious broadcast training schools which all testify that this once squeaky voiced young percussionist in high school has had a very long and very fruitful career in commercial broadcasting means absolutely nothing to a potential client looking for a particular voice for a particular project. That potential client has a fat checkbook and a voice is heard and hired simply because the potential client liked what he/she heard from a demo, possibly made on a $250.00 PC with the chat mic that came with it and uploaded on a dial-up modem. It could also be considered amazing that immediately next to the demo sent by this “talent” who was hired is another demo recorded in an SOTA sound studio with top of the line Behringer microphones through hardware that some radio stations would envy and software that many of them have never had, including Adobe-Audition, Cubase 3, Live 5.0, and a dozen other support hardware and software systems and uploaded through a lightning fast internet capability and recorded with all the mixing and matching needed to blow the potential clients sox off and he/she could care less because the voice they chose simply “fit” the needs of the client at that particular moment.

                              Moral: (Finally) Even if I could have seen the future in that disfigured mailbox time machine thing I wouldn’t change a single thing.

                              I sit here now in my very own comfortable wrap around studio where I can do everything from pick apart a symphonic concerto and actually find a flaw in the original recording and surgically correct it by stretching the wavelength out several hundred times and removing or moving around a single “bit” of sound or crank up some Queen with “We will rock you” and watch the siding vibrate on my neighbors home – half a block away, and I neither have to compete or be chosen by anyone for anything!

                              I subscribe to as many websites as I want where my demos are listed and I answer postings when and if I want to and I may or may not hear back from any of them – not because I am not very well qualified in both talent and equipment – but because the world is simply not what it used to be and hey!, I like it!

                              I recently answered a posting for what I thought was a somewhat wacko posting and forgot about it. I was later contacted and proceeded to record a project for that client who has never once before hired a voice talent and didn’t know me from Adam’s housecat, and I then watched my Pay Pal account grow by several hundred dollars for something that took me only a few minutes to set up, record, and send.

                              You may be a well-seasoned veteran in the business of voice production or you may be reading this trying to decide if the couple hundred is really worth joining a site like Interactive Voices because you are the one with the $250.00 PC and the chat mic that came with it and are wondering what chance in the world do you have to be hired for anything. Well to both of you, collectively as it were, take it from a forty-three year veteran who has been there, done that AND got the T-Shirt – YOU ARE BOTH ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD NOW, so by all means, go for it! One can learn a thing or two in all those years and I am telling you from all that wisdom pooled together, you will not find a better site than Interactive Voices.

                              In this age when “PC” could mean one thing or another, it may not be a good idea to talk about discrimination, unless you are objective and the intent is honorable. When it comes to “matching” clients who themselves are discriminating with talent who can best “try out” for any particular job, you will not find a more sincerely “discriminating” site than Interactive Voices.

                              So go ahead and forget “Competing or being Chosen” altogether, just simply “try out” on a level playing field and who knows, maybe forty-three years from now you will be sitting in something none of us can begin to imagine and then reminiscing about the “good old days” – way back when.

                              Ken Jackson
                              Ken Jackson Voice Productions

                              Posted by:
                              • Ken Jackson Voice Productions
                              • June 22, 2006 8:33 AM

                                Yeah, just queried that "50 books for $75 each" and hope I misread the offer....... it may just be for the intro, and I'd do it for that, multiplied by fifty, no problem, the weird part was the fee range in the appropriate page field was $1,000 - 10,000, something of a difference and no word on the audition for the actual book read. I asked the client for clarification and await a response.

                                Posted by:
                                • Martyn L.
                                • June 22, 2006 8:33 AM

                                  I think some of you guys are unrealistic. Not everyone asking for bids is producing a national television commercial. This is internet site, not a union hall.

                                  I bet the $75 dollar books were audio ebooks to be sold for $4.95 or so on ClickBank. The guy can pay union wages for that. If he can't get the job done cheap, it wouldn't be profitable and he'll move on to some other business venture. If the wages are too cheap for you, don't do the job. There's probably someone else who would be thrilled to get the work.

                                  I recently bought a 30 second voice mail message for $30 from another voice-over site. It was for use on my Skype Voice-In account. I don't get many calls on that account, but I wanted someone other than me to record the message.

                                  I wanted it to be of a certain minimum level of quality, but above that I didn't really care. Just as I don't spend money irresponsibly on things beyond my means in other areas of my life, I'm not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a voice mail recording that will probably need to be rerecorded with a different script in a few months.

                                  This kind of site makes it possible for someone like me to purchase voice-over. If it didn't exist, and if low prices were not available, I just wouldn't buy it and make do.

                                  There's a market for all levels of work. If your level is higher, then work for higher level clients. If you can't get work at "your level," and you spend your copious free time complaining about it in blog comments, maybe you need to reassess whether your self-perceived worth is realistic.

                                  Posted by:
                                  • Anonymous
                                  • June 22, 2006 8:34 AM

                                    I am at a loss as to why, after having done at least 30 demo's I have not had even one bite!

                                    I try to get them in immediately after seeing them in my mailbox, I check every day to see if there are any comments, good, or bad and above all try to sound professional. I have yet to see "A" comment, good or bad and really I'm puzzled by a lack of response.

                                    Since I was a professional singer and did many presentations for investor's as a broker. I felt I had the right vocal tones to work professionally. I do read the blogs suggesting what and how to do and still I'm disappointed. Any feedback from anyone????

                                    Posted by:
                                    • Stella
                                    • June 22, 2006 8:35 AM

                                      I book a lot on other sites and through my agent. I have been doing voiceovers for almost 20 years professionally, I work in NYC on the air and I am a national voice talent and I have only booked ONE job through this site in 3 years. I am listed for the exposure b/c I never seem to get any bookings from my submissions here BUT clients have found me and contacted me without auditioning so you never know how you'll get a job! Keep going!

                                      Posted by:
                                      • Voice Girl
                                      • June 22, 2006 8:35 AM

                                        Hi there,

                                        Some good news for those of you looking for assistance:

                                        If you would appreciate a helping hand and an overview of how to use our web service to your full advantage, we have a program available to you free of charge. All you need to do is ask :)

                                        The results and suggestions from each review, if implemented, are always positive and may result in landing more work at our website, either through the auditioning process, or as Voice Girl mentioned, via direct contact at your web pages.

                                        This service is a very popular request, but I want to assure you that each request for a review is honored and addressed.

                                        If you're interested, send an email to me mentioning the Review service and I'll set up an appointment for you.

                                        Cheers,

                                        Stephanie

                                        Posted by:

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