Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Belonging in the Voice Over Industry?

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

July 13, 2009

Comments (15)

Woman pointing and smilingYou know when you're at a gathering, and all of a sudden a group of people come in and "crash" the party leaving all who are present wondering, "Who invited them?"

Ever been to a wedding where an uninvited guest arrived and you could cut the tension in the air with a knife?

Perhaps you witnessed something of this sort in our industry, whether it be in person, on chat boards, blog postings or around the water hole.

I've seen this happen and am now proposing a new direction for us to go in.

Purpose

When I was at church yesterday, I heard a familiar parable, The Pharisee and The Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14).

As I listened to a new perspective on a two-thousand year-old story, something struck me that I'd like to share concerning the voice over marketplace, and I'll get to that in a moment.

Over the years and in recent months, I've received emails from professional voice talent who insist that Voices.com membership be limited only to those who fit their ideal specifications of who qualifies and is deserving of a listing.

These emails wound my heart because not only are some of these professionals picking on individual talent, the spirit of what they are saying and how it's presented is in direct opposition to what we stand for as a company and as a marketplace.

At Voices.com, we are called to serve. Our mission is to provide our customers with a safe place where they can work, have their professional needs met, help them to find meaning and purpose in their projects, and with regard to artistry, help them to live out their chosen vocation as voice over talent.

This includes, in our own ways, inviting people who have not yet joined the party who wish to be part of this amazing place we find ourselves in.

The Voice Over Party

The party, in this case being professional voice talents, is comprised mainly of people who have taken time to develop their craft, invest in their recording equipment, and market themselves as suitable service providers to those in need of custom voice over recordings.

Everything is going fine at this party for most of the participants until a newcomer arrives who is without training, without a suitable recording studio, without a professionally produced demo, and without a sense of what to charge for their services.

These people are often looked upon as party crashers and are therefore looked down on by some people at the party.

I know that this isn't how everyone behaves, and if you're reading VOX Daily, I know that this likely doesn't pertain to you. There are people in our industry who resent newcomers and want to eliminate them from the business instead of encouraging or educating them so that they can grow to their full potential as voice over artists.

That being said, there is good news...

We All Started Somewhere

In times such as these, it is good to remember that we all have unique experiences, come from different backgrounds, and believe it or not, most of us come from outside of voice over! In the plainest English, we all started somewhere, and just as we've become part of this great community and industry, we must expect that others will join in due course and become part of it, too.

To close, I want to leave you with something else I heard at the service that has to do with the only acceptable time one might look down on another:

"The only reason you should look down on someone is if you are looking down to extend a helping hand to raise them up."

Have You Invited Others to the Voice Over Party?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/webphotographeer

Related Topics: belonging, community, industry, North Park, The Pharisee and the tax collector, voice overs, voice talent


Comments


    Since joining Voices.com, becoming involved in various VO forums, and using the wonderful resources available to us all on the net earlier this year, I feel like I have walked out of the wilderness and really belong to the VO community.

    Thank you to all those who share and support so generously. Thank you for enabling me to belong. A shared, professional outlook will surely make all strong: as individuals, and as a group.

    I'm looking up, and offering my hand. Will you take it and show me the way?

    Posted by:

      Hi Andy,

      Thank you very much for your comment and for sharing your story! I truly appreciate it and am so glad that you have had rich experiences with others in voice over on your journey.

      Best wishes,

      Stephanie

      Posted by:

        I can say it anywhere that my first real experience with voice overs came from voices.com. Some years ago as a green horn, looking for answers, I found voices.com, people who were willing to share and today I'm sought after in my environment because of the immense knowledge I got from those who cared to share.

        People should know that the only way is to be consciously kind and intentionally ready to help a newcomer.

        That new comer could be your BIG client down the line.

        Not to say that is the reason to be kind and help out but people are like water.... we flow.

        Posted by:

          Hi Steph:

          Knowing of your dedication to your company and clients, I understand the frustration of those who ask you to limit a Voices.com membership to those deserving few. It’s kinda like the person who wants to join a country club, gets to join and then immediately jumps on the bandwagon of “there are too many members at our course, stop accepting new members!”

          While not myself a paying member of Voices.com and not one of the folks who’ve asked you to place the aforementioned limit, if these “limiters” you mentioned are focusing on the quality of the talent on your site (or any site for that matter), of setting some standards for voice talents on a pay to play voice over site, then I can see that part of their argument.

          The quality of content on pay to play voiceover sites (the voice talents) ebbs and flows….there are some really great talents (some new talents and some, ahem, more experienced talents, read:old) who gladly subscribe. There are some absolutely talentless hacks in that mix too. Who gets to decide who is who? The site owner, I guess: have fun with that! ;)

          The “limiters: argument I suppose would be that the value a quality voice talent brings to a site is lessened (as is the voice talent’s extremely valuable personal brand) when situated right next to a talentless hack on a pay to play web site.

          A talentless hack, however, loves being associated with the great voice talents on a site as it gives them a sense of greater credibility. Actually, it seems unfair to both sides as the aforementioned web collective gives the talentless hack a false sense of security in their talents and their voiceover future.

          How this all impacts the value of a pay to play voice over web site’s service is up to the owners. Obviously the greater number of paying talents, the greater the profit margin and that’s just good business. It’s an industry conundrum, I’ll grant you.

          The science of voiceover, the technology, makes voice over accessible to everyone.

          The art of voiceover suffers greatly today because the pool of talented voice artists is continually being diluted by those untrained and untalented individuals calling themselves voice talents merely because they have the ability to record a sound wave on a computer.

          There are those, like me, who see and have always seen voice over as a quality over quantity proposition. Pay to play voice over web sites will need to decide (if they haven’t already) if they can or even want to participate in that business model.

          I salute you for having the professionalism and pride to bring this discussion to the fore. From you and your company, both of whom I greatly respect, I would not have expected anything less.

          Best always,
          - Peter

          Posted by:

            Hi Sanjo,

            Thank you very much for chiming in on this post and also for being a helping hand to others in your community where you live! I know that you are writing from half a world away and I'm so thrilled that we can be part of your success.

            Best wishes,

            Stephanie

            Posted by:

              Hi Peter,

              Thank you for sharing your perspective and also for shining a light on the quality over quantity aspect of the limiting argument.

              The beauty of the voice over market, just like other markets, is that there is room for everyone, and those who do not find success or purpose in what they are doing will inevitably drop off and invest their time, energies and gifts in other places.

              I think if someone is on the site and they find that it is really a battle, that they aren't getting any interest, or that an instructor has given them an evaluation and finds that voice over isn't really for them, they are likely to leave. However, if they have found work, regardless of whether or not they are as accomplished as another talent with a longer client list, superior equipment and so forth, it validates their service offering.

              There is a voice for every job, a job for every voice. People have different needs, tastes, objectives and reasons for hiring voice over talent. Are they all looking for the luxury voice, the trailer voice, or the PBS documentary voice archetype? Not necessarily! So long as there is a will, there is a way, and it is far better to be more inclusive and offer clients the most varied selection than to limit what they are able to search for based upon criteria that we or other people have set out for them.

              Thanks Peter :) I know you are always coming from a good place and we are very grateful for your friendship.

              Best wishes,

              Stephanie

              Posted by:

                Andy said..."I'm looking up, and offering my hand. Will you take it and show me the way?"

                There is so much to learn in this business, and each of us gets to our VO destination by different paths, so just holding out your hand and asking someone to show you the way is probably not going to get you where you think you want to go.

                However, being here on this site and using other methods to help yourself learn the basics of the business - and then starting to develop your own talents so that you then know which path (or paths) to follow - may get you to the voiceover destination you want.

                As a reformed producer (now full-time VO talent), I had some very strict guidelines for hiring production assistants. I had no problem hiring someone without experience - IF they showed initiative and only asked a question once - or knew enough to ask answerable questions. There was simply not enough time to hold anyone's hand.

                We make our own way in this world. With so many people today offering such deep and complete resources - freely available (the podcasts and publications here on this site for example) - people with talent, initiative, drive, marketing, business and technological skills WILL make themselves into voiceover artists.

                Posted by:

                  Hi Connie,

                  Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and also for identifying the vast resources available online to those who want to make use of them.

                  I, like you, believe that people have the basic tools, if not amazing tools, to empower themselves and become educated in the field. Studying with a teacher is advised, however, personal study is also very beneficial :)

                  Don LaFontaine once said that everyone has a unique path to finding their way and no one person's story will be the same. What you've shared furthers this point and I thank you for including it. We all come from different paths!

                  Best wishes,

                  Stephanie

                  Posted by:

                    Stephanie,
                    Very very well said. Excellent insight. So glad you posted this.
                    Michelle Falzon

                    Posted by:
                    • Michelle Falzon
                    • July 14, 2009 12:33 PM

                      As always, a great article with sharp commentary...
                      Maybe some of us are threatened by "newcomers" because, after all, this business does have a competitive side and we can't have some stranger muscle in on our territory!
                      I refuse to attack, shut out or discourage someone because of my narrow perception or erroneous judgement. Been there, done that...I once spoke to a man spitefully on the bus, greeting him with a nice/nasty "Good morning" because he never responded to my first greeting. This went on for a week before I found out that the man was deaf and couldn't hear my bile. Lesson learned
                      I WILL, however, encourage anyone who thinks they can carve out a niche for themselves in this 'universe' and I will share everything I know to help them along. Why? Call me crazy, but I'm a firm believer in "Do unto others..." (Yeah the Golden Rule for the li'l Golden Dude!).
                      I know this probably sounds like heresy but I don't think Don La Fontaine was born sayin' "...in a world...". That came later--after experience, trial and error, maybe a couple of bad auditions--and maybe, just maybe, someone gave him a hand, some tips, some encouragement along the way. You know--like HE did. I could live with being the guy that helped the next great voice talent reach their potential!
                      The Bible says that a persons gift will make room for them, but it's up to them to conduct themselves in a manner that allows them to STAY in the room...

                      Posted by:

                        Hi, I just wanted to make a comment. I have been away from the Vo/Broadcasting world for 12+ years. I considered myself a Professional and found success, but I wanted to explore other areas. In Feb 2009 I decided to return to VO. I knew I was way behind, but I talked to as many industry people I could find and started back. So I'm one of the "newcomers", at the very basic level at this time. I really evaluate all auditions, and if the client wants a "sound like this person" request, I do not respond. I'm trying to find me, my niche, what I can do for the industry, not take away from other talents. I signed up with voices.com in April and I have just completed 2 audiobooks and I am started a third soon. Maybe I found where I fit in.

                        Thanks for all you do...becoming a part of voices.com was the best first step in getting my VO career up and running...even if it is on a small scale.

                        Randy

                        Posted by:
                        • Randy Anderson
                        • July 14, 2009 1:23 PM

                          Hey, Stephanie.

                          I'm all for newbies and veteran voices sharing the same web space. Hey, we all had to start somewhere, right? This business holds infinite opportunities for savvy talents who make the commitment to developing their craft and who choose to invest their energies into selling themselves well. I gladly cheer on anybody who has managed to land themselves work in this business regardless of their perceived "skill" level.

                          Veteran talent need not worry about being left in the dust. Unless they choose to forget (ignore?) the very fundamental things that made them successful in the first place.

                          Everybody is unique in that each person brings their own life's experience to the party. Their tone may be what gets them through the door but in the end, it is their professionalism that will inevitably keep it open.

                          Best wishes,
                          Glenn Howard

                          Posted by:
                          • Glenn Howard
                          • July 14, 2009 2:01 PM

                            Dear Stephanie,

                            Thank you so much for this day's Vox Daily. You said things I had been wondering about for years having to do with the voice over industry. I retired from the radio industry after the corporations destroyed that industry. You provide a service that's needed for many individuals to get experience and maybe make some bread besides. As you know, radio experience doesn't necessarily guarantee voice over success. It's been hard, but fun at the same time.

                            Thanks again for all your help and service.

                            Best regards and blessings,

                            Rick Sherwood

                            Posted by:
                            • Rick Sherwood
                            • July 14, 2009 9:02 PM

                              Hi Stephanie,
                              I really appreciated what you wrote here.
                              I've been recording professionally for over 17 years now, and you're right, we all start somewhere.
                              The parable you quoted goes right to the heart.
                              I trust there's room at the table, and those who don't actually belong in this business will come to recognize that at some point.
                              But how much better to be welcoming than to discourage those whose talent may be raw and just needs an environment in which to grow....
                              I've always been thankful for my association with Voices, but am even more so now.
                              Best Regards,
                              Matilda Novak

                              Posted by:
                              • matilda novak
                              • July 14, 2009 10:32 PM

                                Stephanie,

                                Thanks for the great article. Since I am very new to this industry and I appreciate my coach and others who are willing to teach me what I need to know and help me develop the skills necessary to be a good representative of the voice over industry. I'm glad there's a place like Voices.com to help us all along, no matter what our level of training and experience.

                                P. Garner

                                Posted by:
                                • P. Garner
                                • July 15, 2009 9:41 AM

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