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Worried About Growing Voice Over
Competition? Get BETTER, Not Angry

 
By Doug Turkel
Voice Actor
 
It’s becoming a common refrain in all sorts of creative endeavors: some established, experienced talent are complaining about the vast numbers of newcomers to their field.
 
I’ve heard it from web designers, graphic designers, copywriters, and yes, voice over talent.
 
In a blog post titled True Professionals Don’t Fear Amateurs, entrepreneur, marketer and author Seth Godin wrote something that resonates deeply within the world of professional voiceover talent:
Gifted college professors don’t fear online courses. Talented web designers don’t fear cloud services. Bring them on! When you need something worth paying for, they say, we’ll be here. And what we’ll sell you will be worth more than we charge you.  – Seth Godin  
SO GOES VO ...
 
He didn’t specifically mention voice over talent in the post, but he might as well have.
 
In recent years, I’ve heard scores of fellow talent complain about the influx of so-called wannabes.
 
They’ll bitterly say, "These days, anyone with a laptop and a USB microphone thinks they can call themselves professional talent.” (The technical barriers to building your own studio and recording broadcast quality sound have been lowered significantly in recent years.)
The professionals, though - those with real talent - used the technological shift to move up the food chain. It was easy to encourage amateurs to go ahead and explore and experiment … professionals bring more than just good tools to their work as professionals.  –  Seth Godin  
Or they’ll whine, "All they have to do is pay a few hundred dollars to join one of the online voice-casting sites, and they can compete for jobs that I used to book.” (There are now a few sites boasting thousands of paying members who essentially bid for the job of voicing your next project.)
 
YEAH, BUT ...
 
While many of these statements seem reasonable, correlation does not equal causation.
 
Just because someone builds a home recording studio, it doesn’t mean that they are instantly qualified to voice national commercials or network television promos.
 
Heck, I could fill my garage with some of the best woodworking tools available, and I’d still never be able to properly build even the most basic bookcase.
 
WHO WINS AUDITIONS?
 
And just because someone ponies up the cash to join one of the online voice-casting sites – often called "Pay-to-Play” sites or P2Ps – they don’t magically become your competition.
 
Auditioning for gigs and being good enough to actually book those gigs are two very different things.
 
Oh, and if the jobs that you used to book are now being posted on the P2P sites, congratulations! It’s time to start ramping up your own marketing and providing your services to clients who want to hire "you,” and not the ones who want to hire "someone with a voice.” There’s a huge difference.
 
If you need motivation to up your game, consider how Seth ended his post:
If you’re upset that the hoi polloi are busy doing what you used to do, get better instead of getting angry.  – Seth Godin
-----------------------
 ABOUT DOUG
 Doug Turkel has more than 20 years of experience as a professional voice talent. Branding himself as the "UNnouncer” - as opposed to the brash "Monster Truck” guy - he has "quietly" become the voice behind more than 10,000 spots and several TV networks. His strong roster of clients includes MasterCard, NBC/Telemundo, McDonald’s, The Travel Channel and The Discovery Channel. He is currently the promo voice of the Home Shopping Network. Working from a home studio, he notes that "voice talent who learn to use the tools that the Internet offers can find work anywhere and everywhere."
 
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Comments (8)
Dve Courvoisier
2/20/2013 at 9:19 PM
Doug,

I see we chose to tackle similar subjects today. :)

My argument in support of your position has to do with three words: longevity, passion, immersion. You won't likely succeed at anything unless you play it like a marathon, see through the frustration, and show everyone that you're here to stay. Voice acting is more than a job, it's a lifestyle.

Nice going!

Dave Courvosier

Chuck Davis
2/20/2013 at 8:04 AM
Well said as always, Doug.

There's a new crop of newbies every month. A minimal investment and a whole bunch of misinformed enthusiasm. Some will survive, most will not. The roadside is littered with cheap USB mics and unused V123 subscriptions.

As long as we continue to learn, grow and develop our skills and our craft...we'll be just fine.
Lee
2/19/2013 at 4:52 PM
I agree with what Doug is saying, but there is another side to it.

I have to say that some professionals forget about the road they travelled. Some are probably also jealous that someone can start up at a fraction of the cost they shelled out.

I think that the professionals who complain about so called 'wannabe' voice actors, need to stop and think back to the day when they thought, "I'd love to do that," and how they got into the business. I am sure many studied at drama schools, learned about audio engineering and the like, but there'll also be many that didn't.

Acting of any kind is not an academic subject, and no one can be stopped from trying, and as such, anyone with talent can do it as a vocation, and through experience become a professional.

If someone can provide broadcast quality audio signal via a USB mic, then why not? If the producer has a voice talent, then it is going to be wave for wave pretty much the same quality.

In agreement with Doug again, it is quality that will win the spot. Clients know what they want.
Lisa Rice
2/19/2013 at 2:41 PM
Thanks, Doug, for a great synopsis of what's important.
Persistence.
Getting better at every aspect of the business of voice over and the actual doing of voice over.
Elizabeth Holmes
2/19/2013 at 11:58 AM
GREAT article on several levels, Doug!

First, "Dog eat dog" isn't the only correct interpretation of social Darwinism. "Find a niche and fill it" is also true. Second, it's more empowering to let lost opportunities motivate positive change than be overwhelmed by frustration.

The "Getting Better" graph is a wavy line moving steadily upward, and part of that is the dips. I'd say there's hope for those of us who are serious about this profession. Voice actors are better than most at wavy lines. We look at them all day long. ;)
Randye Kaye
2/19/2013 at 10:24 AM
Doug - awesome post! and so true. I think I'll post it near the computer as I do my marketing reach-out work...and remember that the last gig I got was from a P2P site where the "competition" made mistakes like mis-pronouncing "Phi Beta Kappa" --
There is room for everyone. Abundance thinking - and quality wins out with the clients we most want to keep!
Jim Conlan
2/19/2013 at 10:06 AM
I think the critical point here is, what's "good enough"? For many projects these days commodity thinking applies. It's not who's better, but who's cheaper... assuming that the "talent" has a minimum level of skill. In Doug's case marketing himself to the right people has been key: forget the hoi polloi on both sides of the transaction and go for the projects that pay. They'll know if you're good enough and they'll pay accordingly. Of course, talent just starting out will probably need to cut their teeth for a while on lesser paying projects... but the sooner you move on, the better your rewards will be.
Bobbin Beam
2/19/2013 at 8:11 AM
I agree, Doug. This reminds me of something also stated by one of my mentors, Jim Rohn, who basically said, "Don't wish things were easier, wish you were better." Amen!
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