VOICES-VOICEBANK MERGER - PART 5
Voice Over Agents Form Alliance ... SAG-AFTRA
Sees 'Concern' About Sale ... Voices' Open Letters
August 24, 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 3: Responding to Change: You Have Voice and Choice
See Part 4: Jeff Hixon Responds: 'Projects Secure & Private'
By John Florian
As summer rushes into September, many in the voice over industry remain in a boil over what might happen to the online casting business following the purchase of Voicebank by Voices(dot)com.
The two online casting powerhouses announced the deal on August 9, and VoiceOverXtra's series about it continues today with news that:
Voices and Voicebank receive voice over job notices and tell their online subscribers about auditions for those jobs.
The chief difference between the two has been that Voices sends auditions directly to voice actors, while Voicebank caters to agents who pass the auditions to voice actors on their rosters.
Voices has been criticized in recent years by voice talents for taking management fees for handling the transactions.
And voice talent now fear that fees will be subtracted from payments they receive for jobs done through the Voicebank system. In fact, the World-Voices Organization - a trade group with 800+ voice talent members - on August 15 advised members to "withdraw from any service owned or operated by Voices."
Many voice over agents are also riled about potential changes from the merger.
AGENTS FORM ALLIANCE
A segment of the voice over industry in which individual companies typically don't bond and band together is starting to do just that.
On August 23, a small group of independent voice over agents announced formation of the VO Agent Alliance.
"We are in many ways at a crossroads at this very moment, and it is our hope that the path we take will be for the betterment of all involved in our industry and craft," said Erik Sheppard of Voice Talent Productions, who is president of the new organization.
Was the group created specifically in response to the Voices-Voicebank merger?
No, says Sheppard.
"While the Voicebank takeover is of deep concern to us, as it is to all agents and talent, we first began talking among the founding agency owners beforehand. We're concerned about the industry as a whole."
The organization's website says that members pledge fairness and integrity: "Transparency is our priority .... No member agency will knowingly undercut talent budgets."
Agents are invited to join, and current members are:
SAG-AFTRA NOTES 'CONCERN'
Earlier comments in the VoiceOverXtra series were often directed at SAG-AFTRA, the union to which many voice actors belong. Would SAG-AFTRA take a stand on the merger, they wondered?
For the moment, SAG-AFTRA reports that it is "in contact with Voices(dot)com and Voicebank, along with many talent agencies and casting directors" about the newly combined online casting companies.
"Many members, talent agents and casting directors have expressed concern," the union notes at its website.
"This new consolidation is of interest to SAG-AFTRA considering it could potentially impact members in the future."
VOICES' CEO STARTS 'OPEN LETTERS'
VoiceOverXtra invited Voices and Voicebank to address industry concerns, and to amplify on their plans.
Last week, Voicebank CEO Jeff Hixon replied that the Voicebank operation will not change - yet Hixon did not mention what might happen - if anything - to fees.
To date, Voices CEO David Ciccarelli (pictured), is equally silent about Voicebank fees.
Ciccarelli thanks VoiceOverXtra for covering the Voicebank acquisition:
"You've certainly been able to capture the sentiment of so many points of view. That's journalism!" he writes.
And in response to that industry sentiment, Ciccarelli has initiated a series of what he calls "open letters" to the voice over industry about the acquisition.
In letter number 1, Ciccarelli says Voices reached "critical mass" in 2015 and that voice seeker clients "were beginning to specifically ask for union voice actors ... It was clear we needed to speak with the talent agencies about how best we could all deliver on these client requests."
Exploring its options led Voices to purchase Voicebank for that side of the business.
In letter number two, Ciccarelli focuses on union jobs, and says that "Whether a particular client or voice over actor prefers union or non-union is entirely up to them; Voices(dot)com has no position or interest in that."
And he sees "union voice actors and talent agents as inseparable ... We are excited to welcome them as new customers and members in our community."
The full texts and on-going series of Ciccarelli's letters are available here.
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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