Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What is Voice123 doing to help talents get better pay? What can you do?

Many would argue that supply and demand should drive the rates of the market. Unions help as well, significantly, by making sure rates are fair. So, why should Voice123 get involved? Voice123 started because of a dream Tania Isabel, my wife, and I had. She was a voice over and she wanted to make a better living. As a result, we consider one of our goals to work hard to help all voice over talents receive better pay. We try to achieve that on several fronts:

Finding Voice Seekers. Along with our goal of seeking higher pay on each job, it’s necessary to have a large market to drive up the rates and in turn get more jobs! We work hard at finding more and more voice seekers to use Voice123 so that talents bill more hours per day and at a higher rate than ever before.

Voice Seeker Screening. Every project posted on Voice123 gets approved after a tight screening process. We try to make sure the voice seeker is a legitimate and serious business. Every day we discard dozens of projects that do not meet our basic requirements.

Voice Seeker Education. We split our Customer Service Team so that one group of people focuses specifically on voice seekers. This group has now developed techniques to make sure voice seekers understand how rates work and what a fair price may be. For example: we attempt to call every new voice seeker registered in Voice123 and, if needed, we work at increasing the budget they have for their projects. We have also extended our customer service hours so that we can make direct contact with all new voice seekers.

A New Voice123. We are working on a new version of Voice123 that will improve the experience of both the talent and the voice seeker. Voice seekers will have more information on hand to determine what a proper budget is.

Voice123 SmartCast. The new Voice123 will feature Voice123 SmartCast. It will help drive rates higher by intelligently reducing the amount of auditions each project gets, thus reducing competition, and increasing the rates talents and voice producers can charge.

Project Rating. The new Voice123 will allow talents to rate several areas of a project, including its budget. In the near future, when you rate a project, you will teach Voice123 and the rest of the community how you feel about the budget for each project. We will be able to use that information to teach new voice overs and new voice seekers if their rates are good or not. Those who are now undercharging and driving down rates will hopefully learn to work for the proper amount of pay, and voice seekers will not find it so easy to hire talent for less than the standard rate.

More Information. In some instances, the name of the voice seeker is not displayed when they post a project because, unfortunately, some talents used to take the voice seeker’s name, Google it, and then do direct solicitation. Voice seekers value their privacy, and by allowing them to protect their contact information, they come back to Voice123. The new Voice123 will provide more detailed information about the rating record that each voice seeker has earned within Voice123. Talents and voice producers will get to know details about the voice seeker like when it registered, how many projects he/she has posted, percentage of auditions listened to, etc. Talents and voice producers will be able to use this information to determine how serious a voice seeker may be,and adjust their rates and payment agreements accordingly. This, of course, goes hand in hand with our screening process.

Better Matching. The new Voice123 will be able to track if a talent or voice producer submits proposals with high or low prices when compared to other proposals. Eventually, Voice123 SmartCast will be able to match higher paying jobs with talents that charge higher rates. This will motivate talents to charge more, instead of less.

Special Categories. Some of the low budgets we get are for non-profit organizations, student projects, etc. A few months after the new Voice123 is released, we will create special categories for these projects so that only talents that want to help these voice seekers get matched by Voice123 SmartCast.

Working with the Unions. We are working with unions such as SAG and AFTRA, to help voice over talents take advantage of the many benefits unions offer. We know that the more talents join the unions, the higher the overall rates of the market. We are ALL for that!

A New Rate Guide. We are working on a new rate guide for non-union projects. The rate guide will showcase recommended minimums, and will be determined by surveying all premium talents in Voice123. You, the talent, will decide how much fair pay is.

Voice123 Talkback. Voice123 screens dozens of projects every day. Sometimes we make mistakes, and a few get through that are not what we want on our site soliciting the help of our talents. We are working to alleviate this problem. We would also like to hear your ideas to keep this from happening and to better our service to you. That is why we have created a section in the forums to get feedback from the community.

And Much More! We are also working on some other areas that will help, you, the talents to increase your income. Stay tuned!

What Can You Do?

You can do a lot! It is ultimately in your hands to drive the prices higher:

• Don’t submit auditions to projects that you consider are below budget; that will teach voice seekers they will have to pay more if they want to get good talents or voice producers. If you get invited by Voice123 to participate in a project that is below your desired rate, you can simply disregard the invitation. This will actually help you get more invitations in the near future (when Voice123 SmartCast is released), as the system will know that you are selective when submitting auditions. If, in the other hand, you get invited by a voice seeker directly, and you consider his/her budget to be low, you should reply explaining your rate requirements to the voice seeker. By doing this, you can help teach voice seekers what fair prices are.

• Answer the rate guide survey whenever you get it (we are planning to send it periodically).

• Support the unions and help make them better. You have more power within the unions than you may think. Speak out and make them what you want

• If you find Voice123 made a mistake screening the budget of a project, please let us know in Voice123 Talkback, at the forums.

• Spread the word and teach other talents that their support is needed.

• And finally, please have some patience – We are working very hard to get the
new Voice123 online. Your kind words motivate our development team. Your harsh words hurt them. We are humans trying to do our best, and we’re here to serve your needs.


Jane said...

Hi V123

Yes I had this experience. I had a Private Lead which I thought was only to me. I was asked if I could do a huge projectfor a very very low budget. I replied that it was too low and suggested a FAIR price. The Client came back and said that he had many other offers to do the Voice over for the budget asked.
What!! how can that be they are driving down the prices and also I thought it was my Private Lead.

Jane Latto 123 voice-over artist

Voice123 Team said...

Thank you for your comment Jane. This is one of the reasons why Voice123 is very interested in helping drive the standards of the industry (online) a little higher.

Our commitment is to you, we believe in improvement and always are trying to bring a much better service to all.

Connie Terwilliger said...

You have done so much work on this - much appreciated. Responding now to this sentence:

"We know that the more talents join the unions, the higher the overall rates of the market. We are ALL for that!"

Slight flaw in this logic given the current state of AFTRA. If more people join the union without the union getting more signatories, it will mean fewer jobs - not higher rates. There are lots of people in the unions right now who are not working at all because there are so few signatories in some parts of the country. So before we encourage to many more people to join the unions, the unions have to get the producers on board.

marcus said...

I stopped paying for Voice123 after a year because I thought some of the rates being offered were insulting. I have a long involvement with the British Actors Union Equity and at the time that I left Voice123 I felt that Voice123 - and services like it - was rapidly undermining years of hard work done by unions to achieve reasonable rates of pay. I am glad to see that Voice123 are getting round to putting safeguards in place. I'll need convincing though. Can Voice123 guarantee that the days of 5000 words for $75.00 postings have ended? Or the global TV ad buy outs for $750.00 ? I, like many others I know who have left Voice123, make my living from voicing. It's not a hobby. Show us that this is true and I'm sure a lot will come back.

mark o'brien said...

Yes, This is all great stuff and very needed. I'm happy to hear it. As a veteran VO talent I did try V123 as a premium member for a year. I think I booked 4 jobs and did over 150-200 auditions! NOT a good ratio of time, talent and income. Several pros I know have had the same thing to say about V123, that is that the jobs booked were way too few and far between and the rates way too low on most jobs. It seems like someone is paying attention at V123 and putting the TALENT first.

Walt Marsicano said...

What happened to Jane has happened to many of us, I suspect. I also have received "private leads" that upon responding, found out that I was actually in competition with several other talents. I wonder if there is a way for Voice123's software to block identical "private leads" to multiple talents. Or let us, the voice talents, know in advance if the lead indeed went to other members. It certainly would make our negotiating decisions stronger, as well as possibly our response time.

JM2211 said...

Hi. I appreciate the efforts made by the Voice 123 team. I know the folks there are sincere in wanting to improve the rates.

I now rarely submit because the rates are too low or the clients are really clueless about the business.

I recommend a minimum rate of $150 for anyone to list on the Voice 123 site.

I just saw a listing this week which had no fee listed but they just wanted to know our hourly rate. Well, this is an important point that all clients should understand and be notified of in writing by Voice 123 as a condition of listing on the site:
1. The artists are not paid by the hour, they are paid by the job. The job includes not only the talent aspect, but also the production of the spot. These production costs (e.g., studio equipment costs) are amortized by the talent over a period of time, and such costs are built into the rates quoted.
2. The talent is LICENSING the use of their voice on a buy-out basis. The client is not paying for just the intial labor for the production, the client is licensing the use of the talent's voice to help sell or promote their product over a period of time. So, the talent's voice is continuing to work for them each and every time one of their customers hears the talent's voice.

That's why license fees should not be equated with hourly employee wages, and why it is important for the clients to understand what they are really paying for. This low-balling has to stop. It's not good for anyone on the talent side. It demeans our whole profession.

Rick Lance said...

Stick to your guns about your rates, Jane. This voice seeker may have settled for less on that project. I'm suprised he even came back to tell you that. Maybe he KNOWS you were really worth the rate you said you could do the project for!

You're not alone! Keep on pushin'!
Rick Lance, Nashville, TN

Anonymous said...

I have raised this issue numerous times so I am so thrilled to see that you are being pro-active about this! About time!! Hooray!

To add to your existing post, (and you may have mentioned this but I didn't understand it clearly) it would be extremely helpful for talents to know whether a client has listened to the audition they submitted or not. I'm not sure how you would track this but if I knew that my auditions past 40 submissions were never listened to (just an arbitrary figure for sake of example) I wouldn't waste my time creating custom demos for people who are never going to bother listening to them! I'd delete the leads that had 50+ or more submissions and move on. On the other hand, if I discovered that many were listened to even when I was in the 100+ that submitted then I'd submit an audition and take my chances! Now I know you just never know who will listen, but it's a numbers game and I value my time too much to waste it. I could be doing something far more productive with it.

adios said...

Right!It's very important to have a market fair rate, especially to the new voice talents. They don't know how much they should quote and eagerly to get projects. One of competitor of V123 once published a rate and I think it is very useful to me but I love V123 more and I hope you can help us to regular the market.

Rev. Steve Barnett said...

I too, have had the same experience as Jane. I also find that most of these "private" leads tend to be little more than a "call-back"....'Narrowing the field, so to speak. I was under the impression that a "private lead" meant I was hired to do the job if I was available. That, apparently, is not so. I take particular offense to the practice of some of these voice seekers. Can Voice123 do something about this?

Loretta said...

As a new voice talent eager to break into the industry it is really difficult to know what a fair rate is, especially as I will be considered inexperienced, rightly so. Perhaps you can help guide us newbies so that we don't bring down the rates. I can't imagine anyone would want that to happen. said...

Thank you all for your comments!

> Connie: I will be meeting with AFTRA executives on Wednesday to discuss several topics. I will remind them your (and now ours) concerns.

> Jane, Walt, Rev Steve: the new Voice123 will allow you to know the activity of the voice seeker, including how many private messages he/she has sent. A new messaging system will be in place as well. It will allow you to easily differentiate when is that you have been invited to participate in a project and when you have been selected to do the job.

> Mark: we hope you will enjoy the improved audition-to-booking ratio of the soon to come New Voice123

> JM2211, Adios, Loreta: Next week we will publish the result of the most recent rate survey for non-union projects. We will refer new voice seekers and talents to it. Watch out the blog for news on that topic!

Alex Torrenegra

J.S. Gilbert said...

Hmmmm. I've been hanging out on, feeling like the loan boat on some choppy V123 seas. Nice to get some other perspectives here.

I appreciate that V123 has quite a challenge on their hands and while I am growing impatient, I am hopeful that a nice evolution will take place here, resulting in better conditions.

One thing I wonder, to those of you who audition regularly via Voice123; I have heard that some of you read for hundreds or thoudsands of projects and book none or one or a handful. Given the time and energy involved, why do you keep bothering? There isn't a single profession aside from voice acting right now that would seem to attract more unprepared and undercommitted individuals. Does it not become clear that this is a difficult profession and one not meant for everyone to partake in? What acccounts for persistence beyond reason?

Todd Busteed said...

I want to heartily second the suggestion that there be a $150 Dollar (US) minimum to post a lead. I do production for charities and non-profits as well as corporations and that is our talent minimum regardless of the client - when we're using our facilities. When a talent is providing their gear, in essence negating studio costs, $150 is actually too low. Never the less, that should be a minimum to submit.

It's also been encouraging to see less responses for projects priced below that. Hit the delete key folks.

larry wayne said...

I am excited about everything the new Voice123 will have! Thanks for all your efforts to make 123 more professional, for professionals!Frequently I receive auditions for "african american" or "latino accent", etc. I know none of these were checked by me when I set up my account, but somehow they are showing up! Keep up the good work!

larry wayne said...

Thank you all, your comments and feedback are very valuable to us.

The New Voice123 (soon to be released) will address a few of these concerns like the amount of talents replying to a single lead.
Also issues like mismatching of leads will decrease greatly.

Regarding the minimum budget, a few weeks after the release of the new version, a new tool will be available for talents to filter and specify minimum budgets for leads accepted.

Our main commitment is to you, our talents. Very soon we’ll be able to present the best online auditioning tool, bringing new services and redesigned interfaces that are focused on making Voice123 a more professionally oriented site.

Freddie Molina