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AGENTS
Many Types Of Voice Over Agents:
What Serves Your Needs Best?


VOXtra Note: What type - or types - of voice over agents serve your needs the best? Most likely, you've got several agents for a variety of reasons - to represent you online and/or in your local, regional or worldwide markets. Please share your thoughts in the COMMENTS below.

For starters, here's the view from agent Roger King about his service in Toronto ...

By Roger King
Voice Over Talent Agent
January 22, 2012

This February 1st, it will be 10 years since I took over PN Agency from the previous owner.  

It has been a great ride so far and it has me thinking about the different business models that now exist for talent agencies and/or voice over websites like the pay-to-plays, et al.

Our approach at PN Agency to this point has been to represent Toronto-based talent only and have a decent sized but manageable roster. 

We know all the people we represent Ė we even have cocktails from time to time.

Despite technology allowing a talent to do a voice over from anywhere, the majority of our clients are still Toronto-based and prefer to work with talents in person at a Toronto studio (some sessions are even catered!).

DIFFERENT BIZ MODELS

We are one of three non-union voice agencies in Toronto and all of us have different business models.

One agency is much larger than PN Agency, with both a Toronto-based roster and also a separate home studio roster from all over the country. They donít put the focus on getting to know their talents personally, but rather on providing a large roster of voices to their clients, at predetermined rates posted on their website. 

The other non-union voice agency in town (you donít expect me to name our competitors, do you?!) focuses on managing a much smaller roster, but while they have Toronto clients, they also manage some of their talents on the pay-to-play sites. 

So, itís a real mix of local and online.

CULTIVATES CITY

Far be it for me to judge our competitors Ė we all seem to be doing fine.

But Iím committed to the idea that a good approach for an agent is to have a solid roster of people in one city and use that to cultivate a consistent and well-paying client base in that city. 

It may seem counter-intuitive in this day and age of pay-to-play sites and "middle man agentsĒ connecting talents and clients all over the world, but we have been able to attract quality voice talents who are looking for more of a personal relationship with their agent (strictly platonic of course), and to work with good clients in their own city.

Not that we donít work with and seek out clients all over the world, but our bread and butter is still the Toronto production companies, recording studios, TV networks and ad agencies. 

It has worked very well for us in Toronto and we are considering expanding to other cities with the same approach. 

ABOUT ROGER ...  

Roger King is the president of Peformance Network (PN) Agency, which provides voice over talent to the radio, television, film, multi-media and animation industries. In 2004, he launched a sister agency, Ethnic Voice Talent (EVT), and now represents over 100 voice over talents and translators in more than 15 different languages.

PN Agency: www.pnagency.com
Ethnic Voice Talent: www.ethnicvoicetalent.com 
Email: pnagency@pnagency.com 
Blog: www.voiceovercanada.ca
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/voiceovercanada

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Comments (3)
Roger KIng
1/23/2012 at 9:59 PM
Hi Don:

Thanks for the comment. I think the difference is the fact you are union. I should have emphasized in my article the fact that in a number of cities, there are no non-union voice agencies. So the business model can be creating an agency (or division of) as a means or organizing local talent in a given city.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that the quality of auditions has gone down coinciding with the numbers going up. Which is another reason I feel the business model I've described works. Clients want quality over quantity AND in this day and age of shrinking budgets and full office plates, many clients don't have the time to sift through 600 auditions. This is provided there's an option made available to them of a reasonable size roster of quality local non-union talent.

As far as cutting myself off from other talent not in Toronto...well, this is the point of the piece. I want to explore the potential of repping talent in other markets but in their cities. I am not interested in just sending a bunch of MP3's back and forth or setting up home studio sessions in 10 different cities or countries. And the clients I seek out are not the ones who are looking for cheap home studio talent, but rather prefer in person direction on quality projects that pay well.

Don Leslie
1/23/2012 at 2:56 PM
Hi Roger,

I've been a voice over talent for over two decades albeit in the States, not Canada. And I am union as well, so we frequently exist in separate but parallel universes.

Your business model is the way it all worked before digitalization, before Voicebank.net, before the appearance of the independent casting agencies. It worked quite well then, but only because the number of voice over talent was much, much smaller.

Yet today, it is not inconceivable that upwards of six hundred to over a thousand people will audition for the same spot. And the quality of reads has unfortunately decreased drastically. (Just last Thurs I heard Jeff Bridges finish his Hyundai track, and the local dealer ten second tag popped up and Anncr #2 actually said 'Honday', not 'Hunday'. No exaggeration. Need I say more.

So agents, through no fault of their own, have in essence become 'bookers' having little or no time to market an individual talent, only the talent agency as a whole. Ergo, in today's incredibly competitive market I don't want to intrude on my agents' valuable work time with chats, silly questions, complaints, stroking, positive reinforcement, etc. After all, they didn't sign me to become a drinking buddy or confidant, they want me to generate income for the agency. Which is exactly what I want to do as well.

And why cut yourself off from out-of-Toronto talent? I've done hundreds of phone patches that easily worked as well as sessions with the producer, client, creative head, copywriter, whatever, on the other side of the glass.

So I do admire your approach and I did get a terrific but abbreviated taste of that by-gone era, but I question both it's efficacy and wisdom in today's market place.

Cheers,
Don Leslie
Roy Wells
1/23/2012 at 7:50 AM
I currently have a home studio in southern New Mexico (USA), and originally from NYC. I would like to find good representation for vo work, but not sure of which geographic area I should concentrate my search efforts?
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