Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Would You Like to Know?

It is coming up on my one-year anniversary with Voice123! I began working here last year on July 2nd. Being a voice over talent, in the past year I have seen many things occur in the online industry that some days left me scratching my head, and other days thinking, 'If people only knew, this would help them with their careers.'

That said, I am aware lately that I have been writing about many of the things I have noticed, and some days I am at a loss for what to write about. I will gladly write about the topics mentioned to me.

So I ask you... What would you like to know about the online industry or Voice123?

Think hard about this one. We are asked questions all the time at Voice123 like, 'How do I get started?' or 'I have a great voice. What do I do next?'. There are plenty of Voice123 Coaches out there to handle that request. Ask me what you would like to hear about, if you think it could assist your career now that you have already started on Voice123, or even help you use Voice123 more effectively.

I really look forward to hearing back from many of you! Just send me your comments by clicking the "Post a Comment" link below.

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager

Friday, June 20, 2008

Red Flags in Project Details

One of the most frequent requests I get from talents is,'I am not sure about this project. What can I do about it?'. Project details sometimes contain what I consider to be 'red flags' that let you know a project may be more trouble than it is worth. From my time as a talent with Voice123, and now being an employee, I feel I should share what I call 'red flags' with you to give you more confidence when looking at each project.

Voice123 SmartCast has indeed made it easier for me to find them. Compared to the old Voice123, the current version 2.5 gives you statistics to make educated choices on what projects may be more trouble than they are worth. Although we screen all voice seekers, there are always those projects posted that raise concern, and require a little more thought before getting involved. Below are possible 'red flags' you can spot, as well as, questions and solutions on how to address them:

Will a voice seeker listen to my demo?

  • Simply go into Project Details.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the link 'Click here to learn more about this voice seeker'.
  • Look at the info behind the seeker and see if they have a history of listening to demos.
  • If you find that the person has a low percentage of opening demos, this maybe someone you are wasting time on. Please note: Even if the seeker deletes demos, the voice seeker interface requires that you must still first open it. They will see your budget quote, profile, and remarks.
  • Voice123 still remains the only voice over casting site, that provides you with the info as to what actually happened to your demo after submission.

Is this an experienced voice seeker?

  • Look at Team Comments at the bottom of each project.
  • See how many projects the person has posted, and again, how many auditions they listen to on average. Note the seeker ID, too, as many re-post projects.
  • Watch for spelling and script Writing!
  • Are there numerous bad spelling errors? Is the script written poorly?
  • Of course, being a creative industry, scripts are written poorly on purpose sometimes, but the way the project description is written can give a clue as to whether it was intended.

Did Voice123 make contact with the voice seeker?

  • Scroll to the bottom of the project details.
  • Indicated there is how we have made contact with the voice seeker.
  • We do have many returning voice seekers, but there are new voice seekers everyday. If you see a first-time user of Voice123, make sure we have contacted them by looking at the 'Team Comments'. We always call a voice seeker and make contact, especially when they first use Voice123.

Bad Gut Feelings?

  • Use the Internet and do your own research!
  • Learn for yourself, do not simply listen to what everyone says because they are running their own business, like you, but different from yours.
  • If you spot anything strange, which creates that nagging gut feeling, remember that gut feelings are formed through your formal education of life experience. A gut feeling comes from sensing something is just not right. Do not ignore it! Research it!
  • If you do your own research, and still think something is wrong, make note of what happened, and pass on it. If you wish to report concerns, before and AFTER the project is complete, at the very top of the project details page there is a link to let us know what has happened, or what if you have found to be inaccurate!

As I was writing this, I began to think, 'Wow, this sounds like a lot to consider!' However, I must never forget that the main purpose of Voice123 is to not only provide job opportunities, but to give voice over talents the unique opportunity to be their own business, finance manager, and self-director, by giving them the tools to make educated decisions from 'knowing the score'.

We certainly hope this helps, and if you have any suggestions on future topics you would like to know more about, please let us know! Do not forget that I do Voice123 trainings every Thursday at 1PM EST! All the details can be found in our Voice123 Resource Center.

Thank you as always!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Voice Seeker Q&A: Larry Maizlish

Hello again!

Voice Seekers play a vital role in the community of Voice123 by bringing job opportunities to the community of Talent-Voice Producers. Recently, I asked one of our most popular Voice Seekers on Voice123, Larry Maizlish from Voicesoncall, if he would give the Voice123 community some feedback on certain questions I have been asked in the past about auditioning.

Q: What are some things you would like to hear more?
A: More variety in read (copy or script) interpretations. This is different from a variety of voices. Many talents seem to read copy in the same style. It is almost like they are imitating a style they have heard on TV or radio. Talents should recognize each person has their own personality and interpretation. It is that unique personality that should be reflected in the read interpretation. As I often tell talents..."Bring your own unique interpretation to the table every time".

This is what sets one audition out from all the others. While the current trend in commercial reads is more of a conversational nature, it is still the unique personality and interpretation of the talent that makes their voice a better fit for a particular script than some other voice. Talents can increase their chances of getting jobs by just being themselves and interpreting the copy in their own unique way.

Q: What is something you feel the online industry could WITHOUT?
A: There are pros and cons to everything. The online voice talent industry is no exception. With the fairly low cost of basic recording equipment, it seems that almost anyone can call themselves a voice talent. While that may be true, talents could do themselves and the overall industry a service by realizing that being a good voice talent requires work. The industry could use less of the talents who are not willing to work on their performance skills.

Everyone has to start somewhere, so there will always be first time voice talents. If those talents can get involved with performance training and coaching early on in their voice career, everyone would benefit as the overall quality of voice performances is increased. Quality talents book more jobs. Clients end up with a better product and are happier with the result. The entire industry benefits and the bar is raised.

Q: What do you find the most positive aspect of casting online?
A: Casting online opens up many possibilities, the best one being the choice of talent voices is very large. With the current advancing online technologies, it is rare that we actually need the talent in front of us, in our studio. Still, we mostly want a variety of choices in order to make a selection. Online casting allows us to put together those different voice choices for review of each project.

Q: Where do you see this online industry in 10 years?
A: The online world is exploding for many industries and the voice business is no exception. This not only gives the clients access to more and more talents, the growth in the online voiceover business give talents more exposure to get their names and demos out in front of clients. The numbers of projects available to online talents is growing and will continue to grow at an increasing rate over the next few years. The key is not the quantity of the jobs, it is really the quality of the talent. The numbers of jobs are increasing, now. The talents who will benefit are those with performance skills and versatility. The people who regularly work on expanding their skills are the ones who will benefit from the increased job growth.

I personally would like to thank Larry Maizlish Voicesoncall for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. Since April of 2007, Larry Maizlish has posted over 150 projects and direct invites. He is also a premium subscriber to Voice123 as a talent-voice producer. Voice123 hopes this insight has provided some new insight or ideas for working online.

Thank you as always!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager

Monday, June 09, 2008

Demo Tagging: UPDATE!


The following is giving you some updates on the recently released Demo Tagging feature, and how well it is going!

It is going great! The response has been overwhelming, over 4350 demos have been tagged in just three days! We are very happy with the results so far, and thank all that have participated.

We have heard some questions over the weekend, and I hope you will read my responses to them, as I know that many of you are curious about this feature.

Q: Where is the demo tagging feature?
A: If you have not found it yet, it is a link/graphic that appears after you submit an audition. IMPORTANT: The tags other people have given to your demos will not appear in your profile page, tags will be used mainly to help voice seekers find you, and you will have full control over what tags truly represent your voice.

Q: What is demo tagging?
A: One or two words describing your demo, therefore making it easier to find in search engines and the upcoming search feature, in the future when someone does a search. It is not a critique to your demo, just a way of describing it.

Q: Am I only helping the competition by demo tagging?
A: NO, not at all. I must emphasize again, the TALENT, will be able to remove anything you dislike once the feature is done with this initial phase. It will only be three keywords anyway.

Q: Can't somebody just leave a whole bunch of words I do not know about or leave me negative tags if they are my competition?
A: NO, not at all. We are monitoring this community experiment. Also, you can only leave three keywords. Second, this is only being offered to Premium subscribers. Third, if someone does leave negative tags, YOU CAN REMOVE THEM BEFORE THE TAGS ARE ACTUALLY USED. Lastly, the process is anonymous.

Q: Will this affect how SmartCast invites me to projects?
A: No.

Q: Who sees this info coming in, and what if I do not want my demo tagged?
A: Right now, only Voice123 sees it. Talents will have control to remove tags soon enough, yet I think you would be missing out on a great opportunity to be found much easier. If you wish to skip the process, you may be putting a restriction on how well you can be found. I do training every Thursday at 1PM EST to explain how Voice123 works, and the people I have helped find work easier because they understand what works. They do it all on their own.

Q: Why even bother?
A: Voice123's tools put all the decisions in YOUR hands, the talents. We strive to make this the best online marketing tool for voice overs, and this stage of the game is somewhat educational, safe, but IN NO WAY has an effect on the current status of your profile.

Q: I still do not like that it is 'anonymous'.
A: Understood, that is why YOU can change any tag you dislike in the future. You never know, someone might tag you something you find brilliant.

Q: Is this something you think you can safely learn from, especially if you can remove the tags?
A: YES!!! Voice seekers wish to contact talents easier and directly many times, and we are in the beginning stages of creating something new for the upcoming search feature release. In the future, one of those voice seekers will be able to find you quickly and easily because of your demo tags... that YOU will control.

We still do have a contest going on to give away five free 1-year subscriptions. We hope you can participate!

Q: Why do all of this, if you know it will create concern?
A: I see no reason for concern because Voice123 hired a talent, speaks with talents all the time, both online and offline, and researches the very best out there to directly assist in making the online experience profitable at Voice123. This experiment will last for a few weeks, we will be announcing the winners, you will be able to remove the tags you don't agree with, and then voice seekers will be able to find you easier with the tags and keywords you do agree with.

Despite what you may hear or read on other websites that may have fumbled their attempts in the past, there has been a large recent increase in the amount of projects posted on Voice123, which means...

The Premium Talents of Voice123 are wanted!

The proof is in the Voice Over Project Directory.

Just last week alone, over 200 SmartCast projects were posted on Voice123... More than 200 projects in nine days for our talents, not to mention direct invites to non-SmartCast projects in Voice123.

No predictions from us. Only truth and direction. Your decisions make Voice123 the best out there, and we thank you as always for supporting us. I am a talent and I believe the company that works weekends and nights to help others get work is the company I will stick with always. I firmly believe in this positive development of Voice123 to assist in talents getting work.

I hope to see all of you soon at a training, if you have any questions! It is my favorite hour of the week!

Thank you for your time and I hope this helps,

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager

Friday, June 06, 2008

New Premium Talent Feature: Demo Tags!

Voice123 is proud to introduce a new Premium Talent feature: Demo Tags!

This is currently a community experiment, giving talents the unique opportunity to anonymously tag a description of another talent's demo, also anonymous.

Why 'tag' someone else's demo?

Plain and simple... 'Tagging a demo' is a very serious and effective online marketing tool used to increase the exposure of a talent's demo on Voice123.

How do you tag a demo?

Don't worry! It is very easy! 'Tagging' is a simple anonymous process in which talent#1 adds a keyword to talent#2's voice over demo. This is currently used on other websites, so anyone familiar with this type of feature knows it is a great way to increase your exposure on a website, in this case Voice123! You will have the opportunity to tag one or more demos right after you upload an audition or reply to a message to someone else in the marketplace. Tagging of demos is completely optional.

Eventually, when the initial tagging is complete, a future update will allow the owners of the tagged demos to remove the tags they do not agree with, yet will not know who actually left the tag originally. The process is safe, anonymous, and helpful in learning how to increase your online exposure.

Voice123 will monitor this new feature, and will determine if it is working, while exploring new ways on how to better improve the Voice123 experience for all users!

Important note!

We will be rewarding free one-year subscriptions to FIVE Voice123 users during this process! We encourage all of you to take full advantage of this opportunity! The more tagging you do, the higher your chances are of winning a FREE one-year subscription!

At Voice123, we strive to provide you the best service and exposure possible for marketing yourself, and this is a very popular tool we believe you can all benefit from.

We are always looking to keep Voice123 above the cutting edge of the online voice over industry.

Thank you so much!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Juan Salcedo
General Manager

Demo Tagging Update: there is a more recent blog posting with some Q&A about this exciting feature, you can check it here: