Graeme Spicer, Voice Actor & VO Advocate:
Need 'United Front With Realistic Demands'
August 16, 2017
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By Graeme Spicer
Voice Actor, Industry Advocate
Former Managing Director, Edge Studio
Graeme answers two questions:
1. How might the purchase of Voicebank by Voices(dot)com affect the way voice actors obtain jobs, and how might it affect pay for those jobs?
I don't think we know how the acquisition could impact voice actors, or the rates realized for voice acting jobs.
The announcement has certainly been received by established voice actors and agents with strong skepticism and some degree of alarm.
Both David Ciccarelli and Jeff Hixon have declared in their respective announcements that it will be business as usual at Voicebank for the foreseeable future. We'll see.
I suspect that shortly we'll see a transition of voicebank's services to an improved online platform driven by Voices's well-established technology, which would be a good thing for the industry ... everyone acknowledges that Voicebank's technology was dated and inadequate.
THE REVENUE MODEL
The bigger question is: how will the voicebank revenue model be altered during or subsequent to the technology transition?
It's not a secret that Ciccarelli feels he has the resources to completely transform the voice over marketplace. However, I anticipate that some of the alarm expressed by the community will be proven unfounded. Talent agents, casting directors, clients and yes, hopefully SAG-AFTRA, will have considerable leverage so long as a united front with realistic demands is presented.
2. Do you see this deal as a continuation of industry consolidation and making voice over a product or commodity? Or is it more of a giant leap into that direction?
I'm not convinced that the characterization of industry consolidation is supported by the facts.
Other than this announced acquisition of Voicebank by Voices(dot)com, I can't recall any other meaningful takeover of one business involved in voice over by another.
However, there is without question a trend toward the hollowing out of the middle of the voice over business.
The high-end (largely union jurisdiction) projects continue to be cast, and actors remunerated, in the same way as they have been for decades. And low-end jobs will always be low-end jobs.
However, there has been an unrelenting erosion of rates for the middle of the marketplace - those jobs that for years have been the livelihood of many journeymen (journeypeople?) voice actors.
A certain amount of this rate erosion was inevitable. Technological advances have tightened supply chains and driven out "inefficiencies" in almost every industry over the past 30 years. Ask graphic designers, photographers and even the men and women who assemble automobiles how their businesses have changed.
The laws of supply and demand are unbendable, and America was founded on the principles of free enterprise. So long as reasonably competent voice actors are willing to record projects that would have cost $2,500 10 years ago for $250, then clients will opt for the lower cost providers.
It is up to us as a community to continually educate voice actors of all levels about fair pricing for the work we do.
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