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Responding To Change: As Individuals And
A Community, You Have Voice And Choice
August 17, 2017
See Part 1: Voices(dot)com Rocks Voice Over Industry With Voicebank Buyout
See Part 2: Integrating Voicebank and Voices: Speculation Abounds
See Part 4: Voicebank CEO Jeff Hixon: 'Projects Remain Safe, Secure'
See Part 5: Agents - Union - Voices' Letters

By John Florian

If you're succeeding in voice over by performing and marketing in the same way as always, congratulations!

But that's not a strategy that will lead to success for most of your colleagues.

Change is the norm in this biz:
  • Voicing fads, trends and "hot" genres come and go.
  • How you obtain jobs depends on how job seekers want to reach you - and that increasingly flows in the winds of social media - and how they do business via the internet.
Change can squeeze your income (hopefully, temporarily), yet also open the door to opportunities.

So, how might the recent purchase of Voicebank(dot)net by Voices(dot)com - two online casting powerhouses - affect your career and income? And what can you do to cope with possible change?


"Consolidations are ubiquitous, and we have no choice but to adjust and hope that they're helpful to consumers," observes longtime voice actor/coach Marc Cashman. "But my cynical side sees this merger as solely looking out for those companies' bottom line."

And talk about adapting to change: Larry Hudson (pictured) segued from a 25-year business career to voice over - going full time in just two years.

"The news of VDC acquiring Voicebank is of great concern to me and my voice over business," he tells VoiceOverXtra, but "not because I fear change.

"I know change is imminent, and as one who has been in multiple businesses over the course of my life, I have learned to stay loose, be ready to change course at a moment's notice, and keep creating from nothing."

Hudson's concern with the merger is whether the Voices business model of extracting fees from matching voice seekers to voice talents might now migrate to Voicebank transactions, which currently involve work through agents.


You can respond to change as a individual. And as part of the voice over community.

"On the positive side (of the merger), this is a huge wake-up call for everyone in all sectors of this industry - especially those that have been ignoring this 800-pound P2P (pay-to-play) gorilla," adds Hudson.

"The full impact has yet to be revealed. I plan on staying vigilant and ready to modify my business as necessary to continue to be successful."

Hudson severed all business ties with Voices in November 2015.

The World-Voices Organization (WoVO) on Tuesday recommended to it's 800+ voice talent members that they "withdraw from any service owned or operated by Voices."

A number of voice actors have echoed that call. And even some voice over agents - in the sector that's key to the success of Voicebank's future - have balked and walked from Voicebank. (See Part 1 of this series.)

"From what I see and hear, a plethora of agencies and VO talents will disassociate themselves from the merged companies - and rightly so," says Rick Gordon, CEO of online casting operations CommercialVoices(dot)com and E-LearningVoices(dot)com.


Longtime VO pro Paul Strikwerda (pictured) has frequently criticized the Voices business model and now urges voice actors to approach their agents with concern about Voicebank.

"The value of Voicebank lies in the agencies and their rosters," Strikwerda explains. "Take away the agencies, and you take away the value of the acquisition.

"Tell them (agents) you don't want to have anything to do with the new and deteriorated Voicebank. Ask them to pull out, and move on."

In a new blog today, Strikwerda acknowledges that it's a tough decision to drop an income source. Yet he says voice actors have a shared responsibility of "standing up for common interests and having each other's backs.

"As far as I'm concerned," he adds, "we have a common goal: To deliver the best service, to increase our standards, and to ensure that we're getting paid a fair rate."


David Kaplan (pictured) is one of many, many voice talents caught between a rock and a hard place on this issue. He thrives on jobs obtained through online casting.

"I know the VO world is up in arms with regard to Voices(dot)com and other online casting sites, but this is the way it is going to be, like it or not," he says.

"I started out as a full-time VO talent six years ago, and thanks to online casting I can provide for my three kids and one wife, as well as my dog, in fine style.

"I hope that for talents like me this purchase will equal more work, but the reality is that we have no way of knowing what the outcome will be."

So, what to do?

"You can go with the flow or fight it. But at the end of the day, it's about making a living," Kaplan says.

"I have seen many changes over the years and I freak out for a while till the dust settles.

"But I still have work to do and a family to provide for, so I cannot worry about what I have no power to change. This is a wait-and-see for talents." See David Kaplan's full comment.


Nevertheless, Kate McClanaghan (pictured) - voice actor, coach and head of SOUND ADVICE - has encouraging words for voice talent:

"It's high drama - and finance, apparently - when talent are hoodwinked into thinking there's more competition than work. The fact is, it's the other way around! There's far more work than talent, and than doesn't appear to be easing up any time soon."

The problem, she adds, is "this inaccurate, insecure perception" about available jobs.

Yet as online casting opens the biz to more and more people, McClanaghan cites an additional problem:

"Where's the demand for quality over quantity? Perhaps that's in part what defines each of us individually as professionals, regardless of experience level." See Kate McClanaghan's full comment.


"VO is a huge industry, and it was just a matter of time before a big biz armed with digital platforms sought to take another chunk of us," observes Celia Siegel (pictured), voice talent manager and owner of Celia Siegel Management.

But she argues that success in the new global economy is a bigger topic than the Voices-Voicebank deal: "You are being called upon to be excellent and to stand out."

"Remember how to differentiate yourself," she says. And suggests this:
  • "Reinvent. Adapt. Be entrepreneurial.
  • "Hone your skillsets and top it off with human connection and innovation.
  • "You are not a commodity. You are a uniquely talented voice talent, agent or VO industry worker, who can solve someone else's problem.
  • "Connect. Be modern. Do not get complacent."
See Celia Siegel's full comment.


Still, concern about declining voice over rates won't go away.

Voice over pro and "VO Strategist" coach Tom Dheere (pictured), says "How much of this drop in rates has to do with pay-to-play sites, no one can say for sure. Whether the acquisition will further lower rates, who knows?

"Regardless, you and only you are responsible for your career - specifically, your rate sheet. It is your job to screen casting notices effectively, audition professionally, and bid ethically.

"If you cannot reconcile industry-supporting values with the rates you accept to sustain your voice over business, then this may not be the profession for you."


Well, there is one final way to cope with the roiled online casting world: follow the career track of longtime pro Paul Payton. He's stayed offline.

"I have not used online services because I haven't felt the need to engage in pay-to-play," he says.

"That decision is amplified by my desire not to be chained to my computer, waiting for an appropriate piece of copy to show up, and hoping that I'm among the first few to send it in, so that someone will actually listen.

"I have always been lucky enough to do well in person-to-person interactions," Payton concludes.

And for most of us, long-term VO business success does indeed depend on person-to-person relationships.

See Part 1: Voices(dot)com Rocks Voice Over Industry With Voicebank Buyout
See Part 2: Integrating Voicebank and Voices: Speculation Abounds
See Part 4: Voicebank CEO Jeff Hixon: 'Projects Remain Safe, Secure'
John Florian is the founder/publisher of VoiceOverXtra, the voice over industry's award-winning online news, education and resource center, offering thousands of resource links, how-to articles, calendar of industry events, industry directory, webinar training and more. A former magazine editorial director/publisher, John is also a voice talent who merged those two career passions to create VoiceOverXtra in 2007.


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