Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Policy Development - Get in now!

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

November 3, 2006

Comments (9)

policy making at Voices.comI've been chatting with a number of voice talent in the VoiceOverTimes forum, working to develop a policy regarding audition submissions, watermarks and talent rights.

We're working on a new policy regarding custom demos, watermarking, and other aspects of the auditioning experience. Be sure to voice your opinion!

Starting from the Ground Up

So far, it is proposed that talent as a whole should not submit clean (or complete) demos, that is to say, a custom demo of the clients script without watermarks or slight script alteration.

While that practice may be commonsense, it may take some convincing throughout the voice community.

There's a percentage of talent who have acquired work through auditions where they submitted clean demos and a significant number of aspiring talent who may feel as though they are 'not following directions' if they stray from what they assume to be the clients wishes.

While that's half of the equation...

As this is a two way street, we will also be providing those who post jobs with the knowledge that talent are not required to submit clean or complete demos (demos that do not have watermarks) until an agreement is formalized between the interested party and the voice professional.

To say it plainly, whether you submit a custom sample with watermarks or a generic sample that is related but not identical to the clients script, either of those types of submissions should qualify for consideration.

I'm pleased to say that a number of professionals have taken it upon themselves to discourage talent new to the industry from recording and submitting clean demos, reinforcing the fact that it doesn't pay to do so.

The efforts of professional talent to educate others will be an immense help to us when we implement our new policy and other policies in the future.

Why the policy?

It was pointed out that if clients are not paying for job postings, they should not be entitled / expect to receive custom samples of their script. Instead, the submission of custom recordings would be at the discretion of the voice talent, provided appropriately with watermarks.

Professionals also wanted to ensure that their time and talent were respected. At times, some people feel like their efforts are in vain, particularly if they submit custom work that is not acknowledged.

What else are we doing to help?

Voices.com has a number of sound effects and music beds that you can use as watermarks to protect your work. We are also building a bank of watermarks from voice talent and audio professionals that will be comprehensive and free to use.

Finally, we're working on getting more of those vital artistic direction details to you. You may have noticed recently that there has been some very detailed voice direction for a number of jobs posted at Voices.com.

You know that we're passionate about making your experience at Voices.com extraordinary, right?

OK, so that's what we've discussed so far. Now it's time for you to let us know what you think.

Jump in, the water's fine!

Cheers,

Stephanie and the Voices.com Team

Related Topics: industry, watermark


Comments


    I have found there to be a difference in "online" audition submissions and those that come through one of my agents. When I get an audition through my agent I follow directions explicitly with no watermark, as I have found the networks to tow the line when it comes to unauthorized use of voice talent audio.

    Now, on the other hand, when auditioning through an online service, such as Voices.com, I never deviate from the use of a watermark of some kind...it is simple wisdom and good business sense. That's right, "business" sense as this is indeed a business and we must keenly evaluate the potential risk of loss and exploitation by way of stolen recordings (those recordings that are used by someone without proper compensation to the talent). Anyone on the planet can post a lead on a voiceover talent site. Most of the time we have never heard of the company/individual, thus the need to be aware of the potential risk.

    I think, perhaps, those who are beginning their venture into voiceover have a bit of trepidation when it comes to watermarks as they are concerned they will be passed over for the job.

    Well, I am of the opinion that any production company/potential client I come in contact with over the internet that does not respect the reasonable business practice of a watermark of some kind is simply not sensitive to the realities faced by voice actors today...thus, I gladly pass on the opportunity to partner with them on the project.

    The internet is awesome, simply amazing and it has opened doors for me that were just not possible many years ago, however with that comes a responsibility to protect our product.

    Here's an example of a well known SFX/Royalty Free Music business that practices reasonable watermarking to protect their product:

    Sound-Ideas.com: They also have demos online that they want you to hear and hopefully it will move you to purchase their product...you will notice either a "hiss" or "beep" in their demo as they are protecting their product from those who would want to download and use it without payment. That is exactly what voice talent should do with their demos...it really is a no-brainer! Their watermark does not make me say "I'm not buying that stuff", on the contrary, I applaud them for thinking highly enough about their product that they lay a watermark over it!

    The watermark is not there to be a hindrance to your performance, it's there to protect it!

    Brian in Charlotte
    www.VoiceOverforyou.com

    Posted by:

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your insight and good advice!

      In June, we blogged about watermarks, what they were and why talent use them on the Casting Voices blog.

      I agree, it is a different world online and talent need to protect their work appropriately.

      Any other thoughts or ideas?

      Stephanie

      Posted by:

        Stephanie,

        I think Brian's comments above are thoughtful and well considered.

        Regarding this subject in general, there have been comments posted here and elsewhere about doing custom demos, pros and cons regarding the amount of time needed and the risk of being "ripped off." Maybe I'm a fool, but here is how I approach these matters.

        If a lead comes from Voices.com or any other Internet casting service, and the budget is enough to be worth my time (generally that would be above $500); and a custom demo is requested, I do a custom demo. While I do not use watermarks, I also don't read the entire script. Indeed, if the audition requires the entire script, it doesn't matter what the budget is, I don't do the audition.

        There is so much work available, and so much of it with professional budgets, that I just don't worry about auditions that don't match my standards. When the client and I are right for one another, we get together. When we're not, for any number of reasons, we don't.

        My post is not intended to be anti-watermark. I encourage anyone who believes it's prudent business to use them, to do so. And I encourage anyone who isn't using watermarks to be careful not to record entire scripts for the same reason watermarks are used: to avoid being ripped off. But, at the end of the day, if you and a client are going to work together, you have to establish some level of trust.

        Be well,
        Bob

        Posted by:

          Bob's point of recording only a portion of the script is something I do as well (whether I use a watermark or not). I have yet to record an entire script and, like Bob Souer, if they require it I simply do not submit and move on.

          Posted by:

            Great comments from Brian and Bob! Like these guys, I record only part of the script usually cutting off or fading out where the client name or some other piece of pertinent info is. In my opinion, it's best to record a piece from the middle of the script, not the beginning or the end. There are still times though where I use an audio watermark and still only record part of the script.

            Posted by:

              Great comments and concerns all.

              I am glad people are speaking out and taking the initiative to "do something" about potential theft of auditions.

              As mentioned before, I use watermarks in my custom demos (not wanting to offend) and hope they will be respected.

              As far as where to place demos? Usually about every 5 or 6 seconds apart - depending on the length.

              Fading in and out and using partial scripts is a good idea too if you want my opinion.

              I think a "policy" along with a heads up to the potential clients seeking our talents, is a good idea.

              I agree Stephanie, the water is fine, I'm just watching out for the waves.

              Peace.

              Blair

              Posted by:
              • Blair Wilson
              • November 5, 2006 9:17 AM

                I agree totally with what is mentioned here. My personal standards:

                1. I watermark every custom demo. 0.5s 400hz tone every 5 seconds at about -20dB.
                2. I never record more than about 60s of a custom demo. This is similar to the "one-page resume" idea. Clients will likely make a decision within the first minute.
                3. My demos posted online are full-produced with music and sound effects. In addition, they only include small snippets of my best production.

                I believe the idea in custom demos is so the potential client can hear your voice and the particular character you'll put on the reading. Demo readings of any kind shouldn't be considered the final product. Surely, clients realize there will be some emails back and forth on pronunciations, inflections, etc. even after you've made the connection and committed to a job.

                Posted by:

                  I just sent this letter to David- CEO of this site... I figure these concerns belong in this blog as well.

                  I have a growing concern about the percentage of posted job auditions that actually get any kind of response. I'm not particularly thrilled by the fact that I've only gotten one job since I subscribed to the site, but I can manage to write that off to the need for certain improvements on my part (the learning curves involved with my software and equipment; and with doing on line auditions, my own personal pitfalls, etc.) My bigger concern, though, is the fact that out of the 90+ auditions I've taken part in, only 23 of them have chosen anyone at all. The rest sit there with deadline dates as old as mid May. I can't shake the sinking feeling that many of the auditions are just being taken at will by the posting clientele. I do understand that watermarking and partial reading of scripts are one safeguard but, with the type of material many clients post for, taking excerpts from a lot of different auditions would certainly suit many of these jobs. I also understand that not everyone who posts on the site will end up using it, but 75% un-answered seems quite disproportionate. A recent client who has several postings with no answered deadlines is a perfect example. After a bit of research I have found that most of what they offer to their customers is frantic, stitched together, sound effects laden radio clips (for overseas in store radio) that may well be past auditions(just an example, I have no proof that they are doing anything unethical)

                  I guess my question is: Is there no way to require potential clients to pick from a list of generic scripts that offers enough different scenarios to account for their particular needs?

                  Or any other solution at all? I'm open to any ideas.

                  Posted by:

                    Hi David,

                    Thank you for commenting and joining the discussion. There is always room for improvement and I welcome your suggestions.

                    The main reason why so many jobs appear as though they have not been completed (or that someone has not been selected) is because in order to achieve that status, a transaction has to occur through the Voices.com website using our SurePay escrow service.

                    If a client and talent opt to work and conduct business off the site, they do not technically follow through with the steps after the "award job" phase of the process. This decision to work off Voices.com results in what you are seeing as incomplete in your audition archives. Only projects that go through SurePay are ones technically completed at Voices.com because they are the only ones we can fully track from start to finish to confirm completion.

                    What I can suggest to the developers is that a box be included for clients who hire Voices.com talent yet choose to work outside of our safe payment service that indicates they have indeed picked and hired a talent from Voices.com, however, they decided not to use SurePay.

                    I trust with something like that in place you would see a dramatic increase in the number of jobs that indicate a voice talent has been selected.

                    To put you at ease, you are welcome to submit a generic demo instead of a custom read, and of course, it is beneficial to watermark all files submitted should you feel it is necessary where custom auditions are concerned. A rule of thumb is to not send more than 1 or 2 sentences or lines. Commonsense dictates that a voice talent should never record a client's entire script.

                    I hope my answer has been helpful to you!

                    Best wishes,

                    Stephanie

                    Posted by:

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