Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Changes to Voices.com Terms of Service

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

August 2, 2012

Comments (17)

Two hands (female) framing a field of yellow flowers on a bright sunny day. Perspective, progress, growth, safety, assurance.UPDATE: New post outlining changes to the Voices.com Terms of Service. Please read this as things have changed based upon customer feedback. Thank you - Stephanie Ciccarelli - August 3, 2012.

Ever wondered what happens to many of the jobs that appear not to progress at Voices.com? We have too. After following up with clients whose jobs were not completed on the site, we discovered that the work, although procured at Voices.com, was successfully completed offline.

While it is unreasonable to expect that we can account for every job posted at the site, we realize there are areas that we can improve upon that will help us to be more accountable to our customers and better serve those using the Voices.com.

After significant deliberation, we have made some changes to our Terms of Service. This article serves as our 30-days notice before the changes outlined in this post are implemented. The changes will go into effect on September 1st, 2012.

Be sure you read this post in its entirety because we have included some recommended next steps that will help you succeed!

Learn more in today's VOX Daily.

What's Changed?

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, the only constant is change. Recently, we made some changes to our Terms of Service at Voices.com. Key changes pertain to the following areas, being Voices.com's:

• Payment service
• Warranty
• Amendments to the Terms of Service

As noted earlier, be sure to read this post in its entirety so that you will have all of the information you need to best use the site.

The Why

Like any good business, we at Voices.com continuously seek ways to improve our service and thereby provide greater value to our customers. Our primary responsibility is to bring business to the website that results in jobs that can be auditioned for and completed at Voices.com.

As you may know, not all the jobs that are posted on the site are completed on the site. This has been a reality since we started and is an area that we recognize needs to be addressed more proactively on our part. With the knowledge that we can only do so much, we are determined to wisely do what we can and to do it well.

This being said, Voices.com will be enforcing our Terms of Service more effectively with the goal of keeping more business at the site. One of the ways we will be doing this is discouraging outbound links from the Voices.com site on voice talent profiles and in proposal templates. The same will also apply to telephone numbers and email addresses. In doing so, more jobs will be completed at Voices.com resulting in greater accountability for our customers.

Additionally, these measures will provide an even safer environment for voice talent members who desire guaranteed payment for their work by using Voices.com's payment service, SurePay.

UPDATE (August 2, several hours after initial post): We are reconsidering contact information being available on voice talent profiles.

Changes In Greater Detail

Payment Service

Previously, Voices.com's payment service, known as SurePay, was optional, meaning that clients could choose whether they hired you through the Voices.com website or via another method of payment.

Now, we require that clients using Voices.com pay for services rendered using the payment service built into the website. We require this so that we can better track the progress of jobs, better monitor the overall activity at the website and be more accountable to our customers.

Warranty

Simply put, Voices.com has the right to remove links that do not align with our objectives or core values. So far as links go, any third party sites that are linked to the Voices.com website are not under Voices.com's control. We are not responsible for anything on the linked sites, including without limitation, any content, links to other sites, any changes to those sites, or any policies those sites may have. Voices.com provides outbound links as a convenience only and such links do not imply any endorsement by Voices.com of those sites or their owners. Voices.com has the right to remove such links at its sole discretion.

Amendments to the Agreement

When changes are made to the website, we have been consistent in disclosing those changes. Our preferred channel to communicate these changes, whether big or small, is the through blog, and if critical to the use of the site, included in an email newsletter. We strive to maintain new communication through the blog, and while most changes are covered there, note that the Terms of Service now says that Voices.com can make changes to the agreement from time to time without prior notice so we encourage you to check back often for updates.

A Gradual Transition

If you've been auditioning and have included contact information or a URL linking outside of Voices.com in your proposal, you will have been seeing a message that discourages you from including those details. Some concern has been raised over this message with many talent assuming that the changes were already in effect. Just so you know, you can still actually submit these details for the time being.

This will be a gradual transition (re: 30-day notice, changes to be implemented on September 1st) and it is our belief that our members will be better served by this decision and experience greater success at Voices.com.

Good News

Something that hasn't been revealed as of yet, but it seems to be the best time to bring it up, is that in the future you will be able to modify your auditions after the fact.

The most common complaint we've received about the future removal of contact details revolves around communication. Some talent submit stock demos as auditions and their contact information with the request that if a client likes what they hear, they'll cut a custom demo when they have more time (i.e. you are on vacation, you are sick, etc.) upon request. If these requests are made, they generally occur by email or over the phone.

Voice talent members will soon be able to modify their quotes, proposals and even swap out demos. These new features will empower you to easily make changes to audition submissions based upon new information and even substitute a voice sample (audition) if you've recorded a better take.

Next Steps

We know how important communication is and have provided some additional ways that you can express yourself in a professional manner when using Voices.com.

Update Proposal Templates

You may wish to update your proposal templates in your Voices.com account and remove any contact information or external links. This will help you to avoid seeing the warning message every time you audition with that template.

Add More Demos To Your Profile

Another reason talent feel that they need to link outside of Voices.com is because there is material on their websites that they feel makes an even greater case for hiring them. If you have voice samples on your own website that aren't at Voices.com, add them to your Voices.com profile! You will be able to include links to those particular demos if you so wish from within your proposals.

Similarly, if you have information that you feel would help, include that too! If you have testimonials or the like, feel free to add those details as well.

Your Thoughts?

As always, we are open to hearing your thoughts and are happy to engage in an open dialogue about changes made to the Terms of Service. Thank you for reading this.

Sincerely,
Stephanie, David and the Voices.com Team

iStockphoto.com©kryczka

Related Topics: hired, reading, SAG


Comments


    This really does not sit well with me, you guys. I think you need to decide - are you an agency or a lead generation service for voice actors? I don't pay my agent an upfront fee AND 10%. In fact, that's actor 101 - never pay a fee and then also have someone take commission. I think this is really going to discourage your paying client base (voice actors) as well as your producers. I have had many producer a) not want to pay the extra 10% which is why he didn't go to an agency in the first place and b) not want to deal w/ the hassle of escrow..having to release payment, hit approve, etc. In this day, any extra "clicking" is a major nono. Everything should be as simple as possible and quite frankly, this bogs down the system. They can no longer just call me and say "Hey, I'd like this back within the hour. Let me send you a PayPal deposit right now." and be done with it. Now they have to offer me the job in your system, I have to approve it, then I can upload it via your site, then they approve it, release the payment, etc.

    I have been a loyal customer for MANY years and a MAJOR promoter of your website. I loved how flexible you guys were and how you provided me with good leads and the ability to make contact with clients by providing my contact info and directing them to my demos... even if I was person 115 to audition. It's gotten me work and it's what I loved about you. However, this really makes me unhappy. You have had an edge in the past over your major competitor because you allow us all to access all leads available to us... you are now severely limiting the amount of work that is going to be coming through your system. Most of us have been around the block and are quite capable of protecting ourselves from bad clients. While I loved having the escrow option, I do not feel it should be a requirement and I want my potential clients to be able to have immediate access to me and not have to go through multiple clicks in a escrow setting or using a website messaging system.

    Posted by:
    • Michelle Ann Dunphy
    • August 2, 2012 5:39 PM

      Hey guys,

      Quick question before I get into what is sure to be the bigger discussion... Now that talent can revise auditions after the fact, I find the most important reason to do that is that the job poster changes or adds information to the job posting after I've already submitted for the job. When we've auditioned for a job that then is changed (perhaps a script is uploaded or word count changes) can we be notified that the job posting has changed? We're never going to know otherwise - as much as we *could* go into Answered jobs and scrutinize every posting for changes and then revamp our auditions or quotes, working VO talent do not have the time to do this, and as a courtesy it'd be a great function of your site to send us an email when changes occur to something we've answered.

      So, on to the bigger topic at hand. I'm sure this is done in the best interest of your company and as you said, in wanting to provide a guarantee for job posters as well as VO talent. It's been nice to have the option of Escrow there, although I'm disappointed that this rule dictates how I am required to accept payment for all work I do through Voices.com. If I wanna play ball on this website, well, it's your website and you can make the rules, so I don't see there being much room to argue over this change. :) So, I won't, but I'm just going to ask 2 logistical questions:

      First, now that all jobs posted to the site will have to be paid and hired through the site, can you elaborate on how that will be enforced? I'm not sure how you'd find out, but would job seekers (or talent?!) be penalized if you somehow found out that they completed a job off-site?

      My other question is about taxes (US). Now that this requirement is in place, seekers will exclusively be paying you (through Escrow) in order for talent to be paid (by you, from Escrow). Do you see this change as having any impact on your liability to American VO talent with regard to providing an annual 1099 for income? Do you see yourselves also as a Paymaster or some other category of business/bank, now that it's required for you to hold 3rd party money for another 3rd party on every job? I'm pretty sure that I've received 1099's from US-based Paymasters in the past and it sounds like perhaps you are now in this role if you weren't already. Or, maybe not, since I'm neither an accountant nor a lawyer, although I sometimes do play the role of one...

      I appreciate this blog update about the TOS and that it's open to comments speaks highly of your commitment to keeping a dialogue with the VO community. I look forward to your answers!

      Thanks!
      Arielle DeLisle

      Posted by:

        Hi Michelle and Arielle,

        After reading through your comments and speaking with David (the chief executive officer), we are reconsidering contact information on voice talent profile pages at Voices.com and making some changes to what was changed in the terms of service.

        @Arielle, thank you for asking your questions. I will answer them in another comment so that it is easier to see as your questions as they are related to a couple topics. It may take me a bit to get back to you with answers to your specific questions and I ask that you be patient with me.

        To recap, our company provided the 30 day notice regarding changes to our terms of service on the Vox Daily blog, our official means of communication as it's a public record posted to the Web. The changes, while introduced today, are in effect September 1st.

        One of the most common misconceptions I've seen here and other places is the belief that Voices.com is getting paid twice from the voice talent. This is not the case. While it's true that talent subscribe to the site, the clients have always paid the SurePay fees.

        @Michelle SurePay is there to protect talent and clients. I can appreciate your comment about protecting yourself from bad clients but not everyone has been so fortunate.

        Let's look at the big picture.

        Consider this: when a voice talent gets work through the site because a client has contacted them directly from information included in an audition, that bodes well for the voice talent who books. Sometimes we learn of this from the client, sometimes not. When it comes to explaining to talent who did not book about jobs we cannot account for, confidence issues may arise because no one can prove for certain if the work was completed. This is another reason why SurePay and our feedback ratings and reviews exist...they help build confidence and foster community.

        Although we would prefer that people abide by our terms of service, we know that it is unrealistic to expect that everyone will. The choice is yours.

        Thank you for reading this.

        With warm regards,

        Stephanie Ciccarelli
        Co-founder of Voices.com

        Posted by:

          I'm very disappointed in the proposed changes. And judging from the comments I've seen on other forums, many others are disappointed as well.

          I don't see requiring SurePay as a reliable method of ensuring that transactions are handled through Voices.com. It will only make it more difficult for the talent and seekers to transact in other ways - not impossible.

          SurePay is a good convenience as an option, and I find it especially useful for new clients. That being said, once I've established a relationship with a client, it is often easier to work without SurePay and the extra fees. Requiring SurePay, rather than offering it as a value-added option, will only encourage seekers to go elsewhere, IMHO.

          When I buy a product or service, I like to have options, not requirements. Options draw customers in - requirements will drive them away.

          As for removing contact information, it's just another requirement/restriction that makes things less convenient for all parties.

          I really hope you'll reconsider these changes, in the same manner that you reconsidered the "Voice Match" issue.

          Joe

          Posted by:

            Hi Joe,

            Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You're right, we do have a history of receiving feedback and reconsidering decisions or how certain features work. Thank you for pointing that out. David and I have been discussing all of what we have read and have in fact reversed a couple of items that were recently changed in the terms of service. This will take further contemplation on our end and we appreciate your patience and the patience of others in the voice-over community.

            The issue of contact information being allowed on profiles has been resolved. Our members will still be able to include those details on their profiles. I'm not sure if everyone reading this comment knows but once someone has been awarded a job at Voices.com and the funds are in escrow, talent are at liberty to communicate with their clients directly. This opens up opportunity for phone calls, emails and the like.

            Thank you again for your patience and for sharing your thoughts. We want to do what is best for our customers and are always ready to listen.

            Best wishes,
            Stephanie

            Posted by:

              Hello Stephanie and David. You are very likely aware of the relevant thread developing on the Voice Over Professionals group at LinkedIn. It's a mix of well-deserved approval for how you generally run your company, inevitable querying of motives, and practical points about not creating obstacles to communication with producers.

              Please keep thinking about that one: for example it often happens that a quick pickup needs to be done, maybe to a different email target, or we find that a video/audio embedded pdf file won't play our end and must take a different path, or we need to file-share to sort out copy and cues, or meet on Skype for live direction.

              Unfortunately, those customers who don't care to play a straight bat, either side of the relationship, can in any case hop outside courtesy of Google. It would be a pity to dent your golden track record of customer relations because of them.

              Posted by:

                Hello Howard,

                Thank you for writing and for sharing your thoughts. We are considering everything that has been shared with us and appreciate the time you took to post here on the blog. Thank you again for providing your perspective.

                With warm regards,
                Stephanie

                Posted by:

                  Smart move!

                  Many thanks,

                  Ross Huguet

                  Posted by:

                    I am really frustrated by this.

                    Not being allowed to post contact information, in my opinion, is just wrong.

                    I (we) spend a good deal of money just to be in a position to audition. Additionally, regardless of the amount proposed by the client, 10% goes back to voices.com. Even if it is $10 from the hundreds of $100 budgets set by clients, or a $200 fee for a $2000 budget. There are talent here that annually pay the membership fee, but also get enough business that the resulting income via sure pay fees provides a lot of money back to voices.com.

                    If it is required that talent working for voices.com are require to post no outside contact from prospective clients for voices.com then the fee and percentage base system needs to be revamped.

                    While you are looking to restrict the talent from posting contact information on auditions or their profile, there are probably some restrictions that need to be set forth on people posting jobs. I have voiced my opinion before about job postings with a firm budget of $100 or $125 demanding that 'demo reels' will not be reviewed. I see this line over and over - "Custom Auditions Only."

                    It is (and should be) the goal of voices.com to make money. I see no fault on voices.com having the mindset of - 'If you are going to post a job, you have only $100 in the budget, fine." But, I do believe if you are the consistent job poster that always, every time, only has $100 to offer (90 after sure pay) these clients should be restricted to selecting from "demo reels only." If you really want the talent to submit auditions, you need to get into the $250+ range.

                    While I realize from a voices.com standpoint that this may be crazy. After all, they are the client. They are the ones coming to voices.com to spend the money. Voices.com needs to make sure the client is happy. I get that.

                    Don't forget that the talent has also spent money to be here. Talent did not sign up on voices.com to enter into an exclusivity clause. Even after the fees have been paid.

                    Again, if exclusivity is required, shorten the talent roster, waive the membership fee and work with clients who have the budget to make exclusivity worth while.

                    I don't know who I may offend by this post, if any, I apologize. These are my personal thoughts after reading today's email.

                    Posted by:

                      Hi. I have found Voices.com to be a great tool for me as a VO artist. I appreciate everything you do. The proposed changes (as first stated in your blog) did not sound all that great. I understand that some of those are being reconsidered...and I'm sure we will all be updated in a future blog before everything becomes final, right?

                      We're all pretty much grown ups here and while you framed the SurePay requirement to be about security and accountability...I think pretty much everyone is seeing that as an effort to grow your income stream. Enforcing that will be an effort to generate more money for SurePay/Voices.com. Plain and simple, Paypal is highly trustworthy, less expensive to use and faster....but your company does not get "a cut." It's a business thing, and I think we all get it, and for me at least, it's not a deal-breaker. Especially since you escalated the pay release turn around.

                      The contact info ban was more troubling. Without the option of direct contact between producers and talent, many of these jobs would not happen. I find that producers/clients often feel the need to have a phone conversation or the option of directing a talent. No contact info would also greatly hamper building new ongoing relationships with clients, which has proven one of the greatest values of Voices.com. As this issue is being re-thought, I will end my input on this for now.

                      My question is this: Although your blog spelled out the proposed changes for the voice talent, what are the job posters being told, and how? If they will be allowed access to contact information at some stage of the hiring process, is that being made abundantly clear to each and every potential job poster...new or prior?

                      I'm sure the last thing you want is to become less appealing to either bookers or talent. Thanks for the opportunity for feedback.

                      Posted by:

                        Hello Alan,

                        Thank you for sharing your thoughts and also for your understanding. There is a new post that is online now. You can read it here:

                        http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/2012/08/voices-com_terms_of_service_revisited.html

                        I'd also like to thank you for acknowledging how we have made improvements in the past. We make decisions with the best interest of our customers in mind. As you've noted, we also make prudent decisions for our business.

                        With regard to clients, they have always been encouraged to use SurePay and are made aware of the service before posting their jobs. Once a client awards a job to a voice talent, contact details may be exchanged and communications outside of the site can take place. We know how important it is that you are able to speak before getting started on a job. If a client wants to reach out before that point, they can also "Ask A Question" of you before awarding the job. This feature allows for them to send you an email through the site to clarify anything or learn more about working together.

                        I hope that my answers have been helpful.

                        Best wishes,
                        Stephanie

                        Posted by:

                          Hi Dave,

                          Thank you for writing. I'm glad to hear from you! Since the writing of this article, we have made some changes to the Terms of Service.

                          Regarding your point about the SurePay fee (10%), please note that much of that fee covers processing credit cards and the like. By the time Voices.com sees any revenue from that fee, it's more like 3% give or take. I hope this illustrates a bit better how little of the SurePay fee we are able to keep in the business.

                          I like your idea about clients not being able to request sample reads for jobs with lower budgets. That sounds like something that warrants further discussion, so thank you.

                          To address your last point, although we require that clients posting jobs complete their jobs on the website, we know that it is unreasonable to expect that every client will do this. The post from today goes into more detail and provides ways for talent to be engaged for work through their presence on Voices.com without having to use SurePay. Here's a link:

                          http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/2012/08/voices-com_terms_of_service_revisited.html

                          Thank you again Dave for sharing your thoughts. I feel that I know where your heart is in all this and am grateful that you took the time to join the conversation.

                          With warm regards,
                          Stephanie

                          Posted by:

                            LOVE the requirement to use SurePay now and I'm sure the ability to amend proposals and auditions may come in handy in the future.

                            I'm hoping this will also include the ability to contact clients when a Private Audition cannot be responded to immediately (illness, etc.) I am not able to use an iPhone or iPad at this time and from past experience, placing a "temporarily unavailable" note on my home page has not been helpful.

                            Thanks!
                            Mellonee

                            Posted by:
                            • Mellonee Pauley
                            • August 3, 2012 4:12 PM

                              I don't have an issue with your decision regarding contact information. My question involves amended proposals. Suppose you were among the first ten talents to submit an audition for a particular job. When you submit an amended proposal, will your place in line change to reflect more accurately when you actually submitted your audition, or will you still be among the first ten?

                              Posted by:

                                Hi Joe,

                                Thank you for your comment and your question. When you audition for a job, your audition will show up in relation to your VoiceMatch score. If your VoiceMatch score for a given job is higher, you will show up higher on the list of submitted auditions. Just so you know, clients do not see your score. In effect, you could audition several hours after the job has been approved and still show up higher on the list despite not being among the first people to answer.

                                I hope that helps.

                                Best wishes,
                                Stephanie

                                Posted by:

                                  The client should be able to communicate with the talent in any way they want to, and the talent on payment of the fee should be able to do the same. I really cannot see apart from making money through SurePay why you would want to keep more control of transactions on site. We are all big boys and girls who can decide on who we trade with online either through Surepay or not.

                                  This has always been a fantastic site so please reconsider your decision

                                  Posted by:
                                  • Brian Darrah
                                  • August 5, 2012 8:17 PM

                                    Hi Brian et al,

                                    I hope my reply finds you well.

                                    I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

                                    Given the comments shared, it may be helpful to provide more information for consideration.

                                    Voices.com is an online marketplace.

                                    What many people do not acknowledge though is that we have two distinct groups of customers, the voice talent and the clients who need voice-overs recorded. Both are our customers. Talent desiring to use our service fully can subscribe to the membership level of their choice and clients who successfully complete their jobs at Voices.com pay us once they have achieved their goals. Talent are paying for guaranteed opportunity and clients are paying for guaranteed success concerning the completion of their voice-over jobs.

                                    Let's take a look at similar marketplaces on the web. Elance.com, Guru.com, Odesk and others employ the same business model. Service providers (freelance voice talent) pay a fee of some kind to receive the marketplace's full service. Those posting jobs to receive proposals and price quotes from freelancers (talent) pay once their jobs have been completed using the site. Buyers only pay for services rendered by the marketplace once they have completed their jobs. Online marketplaces have built-in safe payment services and hold funds in trust from buyers to release to freelancers. A transaction fee is not the same as a commission.

                                    As was said in the posting I made on Friday (http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/2012/08/voices-com_terms_of_service_revisited.html), we recognize that not all business that comes to the site will be completed on the site. There are at least three ways highlighted in the article that clients can choose to work with talent outside of Voices.com. We know that this is the reality of being a marketplace.

                                    All we are asking is that talent do not intentionally attempt to direct work away from Voices.com that clients have chosen to post at our website. The work I am referring to includes jobs that a client posts to receive auditions. If a client chooses to contact you from your profile, by using the "Ask A Question" feature or by Googling your name, that is their choice.

                                    I hope you found this information helpful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

                                    Best wishes,
                                    Stephanie

                                    Posted by:

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