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Bidding For Voice Over Jobs -
A Race To The Bottom?

July 20, 2017

By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor

Should bidding for jobs occupy ANY part of the new voice over reality?

Every part of my being screams "NO!" to that question.

And yet, there it is, a casually intrinsic part of nearly all the pay-to-play (P2P) online casting sites that have shoved aside the union, the agency system, and good ole fashioned marketing.

I got an email recently from a guy who has developed, and is actively promoting a site that has the word "bid" in the name. He wrote: 
As a voice talent, I became a little tired of the whole P2P thing and wanted to change things up. So I created something of my own! XXXXX.com was a personal project of mine that took quite a while to make. It's a platform where you can post projects for voice talent to bid and work on, and it's free to use for both parties. The current challenge is getting ranked higher so that people can see it and post jobs. I'm still learning how all of this works, but I'm having a great time doing it.
He went on to say that he hoped I would check it out and talk about it on my blog. But I don't want to.

NOT LIKE eBAY

Do I have my head in the sand?

The contrarian viewpoint to voice talent bidding for jobs is that it's a race to the bottom.   You know what you would normally charge for the job, but you also know that all things being equal, the client placing the job is probably going to go with the equally good audition that has the lower price.

Talent know this, and they second-guess this "blind bidding" process, which forces the number lower and lower.

It's not like eBay where you can put a "reserve price" on your product. It's not like an open auction where the price usually goes UP, not DOWN, and where the house can call off the bidding if the price doesn't go high enough.

Nope, it just keeps going down, and with it, the client's expectations for what to charge on the NEXT job. Fiverr, UpWork, Thumbtack, 99Designs and all manner of other freelance bidding sites are making this paradigm a mainstream practice, and the effect is killing compensation rates.

HAVE NO CONTROL?

"But Dave," you say, "this is the new global market reality ... it's supply and demand ... we have no control ... I have a mortgage to pay!"

Virtually all highly-regarded Harvard economics experts in the last 10 years have jumped on this bandwagon - and now they're all eating crow. 

The one guy who has ALWAYS been against the concept is now being hailed as prescient all these years. Wanna know more? Take the time to read this article:
Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world
In the meantime, all you can really do (on some sites) is quote the price you're worth and nothing less.

Some talent tell me that the higher bid sometimes wins out when the listing party realizes the best price doesn't always yield the best talent. Sometimes.

Me?  I've always been of the opinion that the best job is the one I find on my own with smart marketing, and a much less crowded field of competition.
--------------------
ABOUT DAVE
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer and voice actor, who on December 15, 2017 will retire as weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology, and is author and publisher of the book, More Than Just A Voice: The Real Secret To VoiceOver Success. He is also current president of the World-Voices Organization, the non-profit association of voice actors.

Email: CourVO@CourVO.com
Web: http://www.courvo.com
Blog: http://www.courvo.biz
More Than Just A Voice: http://courvo.com/more-than-just-a-voice

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Comments (5)
Justin Hibbard
8/10/2017 at 2:56 PM
"I've always been of the opinion that the best job is the one I find on my own with smart marketing, and a much less crowded field of competition."

Couldn't agree with you more, Dave! Direct client contact and relationship building is the BEST way to maintain fair rates and ongoing relationships with clients who appreciate one's work and the value of it.
Rebecca Haugh
8/10/2017 at 10:29 AM
In the new light of Vcom buying VBank, I can see that the fight is on with the new economy and non-union status. We have to fight and know that quality of a certain level, training and working with professionals that aren't asking you to do it for pennies in perpetuity. There have been some great discussions about this on Facebook. Looking for a new insight as well from your end on that. I think the one thing we tend to ignore is the big VO world, inclusive of the union / non-union markets. It appears, correct me if I'm wrong, that the P2P job bidding to the almost zero level is much more impacting non-union. I believe it has impacted union work, but not in the same way. And this new acquisition is probably going to create a greater divide?
Lynn Benson
7/21/2017 at 10:18 AM
All markets change and VO is not exempt from this. I agree that stating your fee and sticking to it, no matter the business, makes a statement of who you are and what you do.
Joe Loesch
7/20/2017 at 9:10 AM
Another good one from Dave. Keep em' coming!
Rebecca Haugh
7/20/2017 at 8:11 AM
Thanks, Dave. I believe you are right to a certain extent. I think we can also reach out to Talent Agents because they are also suffering in this new plight of pay-to-play. I think your article is good, although super long and kind of on the periphery of where we sit in the economy. I suggest that perhaps it's important to look at VO as a part of the 'gig economy'. Although as actors, 'gigs' are a way of life and have been for decades, there were times of contracts and different ways of working. I did a little research just now, and found the following articles almost more specific to our plight. Hope you enjoy them and come up with more good material! Links follow:

http://www.jsonline.com/story/money/business/2017/05/29/gig-economy-describes-environment-temporary-positions-common-organizations-contract-independent-work/349335001/

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/15/is-the-gig-economy-working

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/05/organizing-gig-economy-lessons-latin-america.html

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