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


Anonymous said...

I would love to get back with subscription service with Voice 123 but I just can't afford it right now, it used to be like 100 dollars
that I can do, but now 300 in one big chunk, I could even do 300 in 3 month installments, but again with the ecconomy right now, I just can't.

Rusty Barton said...

Hello Steven,

My name is Rusty. I am trying to get to the point where I can subscribe to the membership to get auditions. One question I did have is when I get to that point and start getting auditions. Is necessary to be an LLC or anything like that or can I just do my taxes quarterly with a 1099?

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if those who work for Voice 123 are given priority to cast for jobs before subscriber members are shown the posting?

MaryLynn said...

In the past year I've earned only about $1500 on voice over work through this service -- but mostly because I've been busy writing, hosting, and co-producing a television program. What I wish existed on this site was some sort of real feedback mechanism so that a voice seeker could make a comment on the voice over talent's submission. Even if it were just a sentence or a few words. It would help to know if one is going in the right direction or was it the quality of the recording or what...

- MaryLynn Schiavi

Bob Knowles said...

I would like to know why you didn't bother checking to see that I've been in the buisness for 30 years before sending me this novice stuff. I suspect The biggest problem with voice 123 is that there are too many people with"good voices" and cheap equipmnet who think that's all it takes.
My most burning question for 123 is how to avoid wasting time with the low budget jobs.

Bob Knowles.

Shane Phebus said...

How do most people come up with the money for their careers? I know a lot of talent that say "Don't let money stand in your way of your dreams." That sounds good and all but the last time I checked, money doesn't grow on trees. I have a job and I'm trying to work towards that goal but I have bills to pay and alot of people are just getting by with their current job. That's why I have to hold off on my website and auditions. I would love to afford coaching and revamping my demos but money is tight.
Shane Phebus

The Voice123 Team said...

I completely understand where you are coming from. I do.

Although, the lower the price, the higher the risk of attracting people who may easily pay without being ready to begin a career online.

This is still a business investment in getting new opportunity. In the past, people paid when they were not ready. You have to know you can make the $295 back before you begin. My first year at Voice123, I was not ready to work online, but had the money. I wasted it.

Celia Lynn said...

Hi Steven,

I'd like to know 2 things:
1) How do you communicate with a vo buyer (who has posted a lead) to ask for more info re their project, without actually submitting? There seems to be only one chance to respond and if I'm not clear what the work entails, I don't like to quote or give a turnaround time, nor do I even sometimes know which demo to include (when generic requested). Is there a way to just ask a question of them without submitting yet?
2) How do you "watermark" an audition that requires you to write the ad or do other "idea" type activities, which, even if they don't use your version, they can then just use your idea without paying you?
Will appreciate your feedback.
Celia Lynn

Robin Brooke-Burry said...

Hi Steven,

I balked at the 300 dollars and then attended one of your classes on Voice 123. It motivated me into "going premium" and I ended up earning half of that back within the first few weeks (from a job on Voice 123!) so I am a believer. My question is...I often come up with technical questions or glitches (I'm an actress and radio person often still in need of tech studio answers) do you have any folk that can coach in a tech capacity like you have in a talent/business/marketing capacity?

Ted David said...

I am at a loss. After 150+ auditions, not a single job. And I am not a beginner, I have 40 years of experience, I do not send noisy demos and the ratio of "audition to hire" is far from the 1 to 10 that one encounters in live cattle calls in NYC.

To be frank, I and another Voice123talent have begun to think this system is rigged. or not legit or that there is just something fishy here.

The system that pushes one to the back of the line because he or she responds to many invitations is absurd! This whole business is predicated on survival of the fittest. He who gets the audition in first SHOULD have an edge.

I have a Blackberry so I can see these invitations wherever I am and respond as soon as I get home.
And I am being penalized for this?

I don't expect to get every job; I don't expect to get every ten jobs, but to get none? Something is not Kosher.

And what is it with the demos that get a 4 star rating even though the average is 2+ stars and yet, I hear nothing.

I truly hope that your operation is legit, because very ounce of my old consumer reporter background is twitching to have you investigated.



The Voice123 Team said...

Thank you Bob,
Actually, the current Voice123 is set up to assist people like yourself, which is why we have budget filters.

Many think that the website should determine the budget, but the truth is that the talent determines the budget. I joined Voice123 for that reason. So I could be my own businessman, and make my own dough without giving it away to people who do nothing for me. We are not an agency.

As for users of Voice123, in the past year, 30 day refunds and the ratings system, weeded out many of the talents who were not ready to do this full-time. That is quite ok.

Being a talent I prefer to give healthy encouragement to do things the right way for new talents. I remember what it was like to start out, and working online is just like starting over.

For now, commit on your profile to not accepting low budgets. Just because someone puts a price, does not mean you cannot negotiate higher. Quote your worth.

Rodney Stenborg said...

Soon it will be time for me to renew. Considering that I have made "diddly-squat", I find that it is financial not feasible for me to continue. As one of the members mentioned that there is simply too good talent out there and if I might add, there are obviously some voice seeker hoaxes. I think another survey is due as to our feelings concerning job offers or no job offers. I still maintain that my senior status age wise is a detrement. My impression is that the voice seekers are looking for younger talent.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if it would be possible to get more direction from the clients how they want their copy read. Maybe, provide them with some questions when they are posting a job. Sometimes clients are very vague. Coming from radio, my salespeople always provided us with details on the read they wanted. And what is your suggestion if clients are vague, should you go with a straight read?

The Voice123 Team said...

Thank you Ted,
Back after my first year at Voice123, and I am from NYC too, I said the same exact thing. "This must be rigged. I have been in the business for so many years. Why didnt I work?!" Well lets just say I worked with a lot of lawyers on Wall St. and probably didnt have the focus. When I complained, they always told me to weigh in both sides of the responsibility behind each party involved.

One thing is forever true about this business...You can do everything right, and still not be what they want to hear. Truth is, taking a positive step towards finding an answer as to how it all really goes down, takes a lot more work than ever expected. Assuming the negative, calling a lawyer, takes no effort whatsoever.

I started working here because I was not going to accept what was being given to me, and I worked hard at it until this job came along, and I went for it.

In my first year here, I ate a whole lot of cake. I knew so little, which is why I am extremely sympathetic to anyone working online with any website. It was so easy to quit because there is enough negativity to inspire it. When anyone quits, no one works. So why do it?

Voice123 is not rigged. It has the best talents I have ever heard before. I have learned from them. We play no favorites, and I work longer hours than I have at any other job in my life, including when I was a fraud investigator. For me, placing blame is dismissing the real issue. Asking if I have done all I could...that's what separates those who work from those who dont. That's just me.

The Voice123 Team said...

Hi Celia!
At this current time, we are updating the voice seeker form to include more parameters that will better assist talents in the description. See for yourself. We have been adding text changes, new parameters, and new links, as well as, new developments coming this summer. As for asking questions before the audition, that is something Voice123 is striving to never have that be a concern of yours, to save you time. There will be other updates to their project form, that we hope will bring some former seekers back to a new and fresh comprehensive system.

For watermarking, there are ways around that now. Things such as...not reading a full script, password protecting documents, fading out and fading in. Watermarking, if not done professionally, can distract from the read.

If you are concerned about people taking your work, I suggest you read Caryn Clark's article in our resource center. It does not happen as much as people think. Sadly it does sometimes. If you get that feeling it may happen. Save the seeker ID and info, and write us. We can help.

The Voice123 Team said...

Hi Rusty,

Becoming an LLC is something I have no experience with but I am sure is easy to look up.

Personally, I do the 1099 thing quarterly.

The Voice123 Team said...

Hi Anonymous re: wanting more info!

I know how you feel. Being directed is much more fun, than guessing.

We are working on that. Check out my reply to Celia Lynn!

Anonymous said...

HI there. Can you address union jurisdiction issues and your site? I often see seekers say they will use union or non-union but is its scabbing if a union person takes the job? I know commercials are union and industrials and promos and websites can be. How does a union vo discern whether a job is within union jurisdictions or not?

-Amy Landecker

The Voice123 Team said...

HI Robin!

Thank you for the kind words! We do have something many pass over. Our Industry Directory has plenty of coaches in it, and any search engine looking for the phrase 'voiceover home studio', can give you some great ideas.

Unknown to many, there are tons of tech forums out there offering that type of advice. Actually, our does assist with such a thing if you need any questions asked. Our customer service team undergoes voiceover industry training weekly, and that includes learning about studio equipment.

Again, thank you for coming to my training. I do my best!!!

JordanMSU said...

Hello Steven,

I would like to know why Voice123 does not have a system in place whereby talents who audition for a project can listen to the final product that the client decides to go with. Since talents cannot see which talent the client went with, a client can easily use an audition as a finished product and get away with a free Voiceover.

I have personally been burned this way on Voice123 and the client still has not paid to this day. I do not believe in watermarks because it comes right out and shows the client you do not trust them.

Thank you for reading,

The Voice123 Team said...

Hi Amy,

The way our site is currently set up, talents can address if they are union or not, as well as, when a union job is posted, the voice seeker must immediately agree to union rates. If a talent is in a union, they must fully be aware of what they are entitled to, and make any decision necessary while working with a client. Regretfully, although we have a union database, union projects are somewhat rare on Voice123, which we are working on changing. If you are union, and have doubts, consult any union website for info.

The Voice123 Team said...

Hi Rodney,

I tend to disagree a bit there. The voiceover industry is not for youth's only. In fact, being a former on-camera actor, I love voiceovers because its all about the sound you portray, not the image. It is a faceless industry.

Speed and recording quality for auditions, as well as, marketing online, are key factors in getting consistent work.

The Voice123 Team said...

Hi Jordan!

There are links on Voice123 that will explain how to avoid getting burned.

I just posted a blog about it last week.

Also, it does not happen as much as people think it does. In the rare occurrences, Voice123 has assisted in helping people get paid.

The first step to avoiding any problems is to research how to avoid it. See our resource center for more details.

The Voice123 Team said...

Hello Anonymous Person,

I LOVE when people ask me this question:

I would like to know if those who work for Voice 123 are given priority to cast for jobs before subscriber members are shown the posting?

The answer:
If you are a talent, and you work here. You serve the Voice123 community, not yourself, and many times unselfishly and thanklessly.

Alex must have interviewed me 7 or 8 times before starting here. He had to know, and I knew I was like this, that the person he hired would not cherry-pick auditions, scheme, or do anything else unfitting to other talents. The same goes for everyone else at Voice123.

Aside from it, when you serve others, you have no time for yourself, and your main mission is to assist others in getting work. People have approached me about that but any teacher or student I know in NYC knows I would never do anything scheming. It's why I work here. These are good folks.

In the end, top priority goes to the voice talent who works his/her butt off on being the best out there. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Hello, this is a somewhat minor question but since I am a new subscriber to Voice123 it might be worthwhile to ask: any tips on how to compose the letter that goes into the "remark" box when we send in our audition proposal? I just stick to the basics, thanking the client for considering my proposal and stating the easiest way to contact me. There is a tip given by Voice123 that suggests we should write why we think we'd be great for the job. But often it's hard to make a clear case for that since we don't know exactly what they're looking for. And it also seems redundant to just repeat everything about your experience in the industry (presumably that's on your profile page anyway). Any tips?

Dean said...

June 26, 2008 5:35pm PDT

Dear Steven,

What would be your suggestion(s) in regard to getting into the Seattle region voice talent market?
Would you have a list of contacts in this part of the country?

As you can see, from my website and information at Voice123, I have great expertise in doing voice talent projects.

I will be looking forward to be hearing from you, soon.

Best regards,
Dean Stewart

Anonymous said...

In regards to those who say their submissions don't get picked often (or never), and decide Voice123 isn't worth the time investment, I'd like to offer a different point of view that may help you get more bang for your buck.

In support of my brother, a marketing exec who recently posted a VO gig on 123 for a commercial, I logged on as him (at his behest)to take a first pass through the submissions. Of the 9 VO artists who had posted recordings of lines from the script, 9 of them were a complete waste of time. Yes, all nine.

In some cases, it was because of poor quality performance (not technical - just a bad reading: flat, emotionless, unnatural). But the main reason was that none of the 9 were even close to what was described by the submitting company. They needed (and clearly described the need for) a teen girl voice. But not a single one of the nine initial submitters sounded like a teenager. Most couldnt have passed for a 20-yr-old voice, much less teen. It gets worse: one wasn’t even female!

Not only did this create client frustration, but -- to the point of my post -- it wasted the time of the auditioning talent. I don’t get it ... why would you waste your precious time and energy auditioning for VO roles that you have no hope of getting picked for?? No wonder you’re frustrated.

And -- it's awkward to say this, but someone probably should -- if you post for dozens of gigs and never getting selected, it could be more than just “you weren’t right for the role.” It could also be that you need re-evaluate whether or not you’ve got what it takes to be a VO artist. Or maybe you need to get some professional training/coaching to become competitive. But, please, at the very least, be selective in what you audition for; if they want a rock, it doesn’t matter how great you are as a bird; you’re still not a rock.

Give me a moment here while I climb back down from my soapbox . . .

Happily, some 20 more artists submitted for that project. A good five were appropriate candidates, and one was hired. So, although it took a lot of weeding through the chaff, the business model worked; the client successfully located the right talent and within their short deadline. So Voice123 gets a new happy customer that will likely be hiring again several more times a year. And one talented, appropriate artist got another gig.

Summary: get more from your investment by carefully selecting which gigs to submit to, making your time investment count.


Liz Terry said...

I've been frustrated lately trying to catch the "Introductory Training session" but it's only on Thursdays at 10am PST. Is there another time that I can catch it or something else I can do to get started and learn how to do things the way I need to on Voice123?

John said...

Hi Steve,
How much does it cost to be a premium subscriber to Voice123? Is that just a one off payment? How do I get prospective producers or employers to hear my demo CD?
John A.

Rob.Bartolotta said...

For the last 5years, I have mesmerized about whether or not to become a full-scale member. Sure it's an investment. Just like having a car or a computer. I have been getting jobs here and there. Does having a fast internet connection really make a difference? I have dial-up right now because I am unemployed. I know cable is extremely fast and, I saw the letter from the guy from New York(home town), who said that even with a blackberry; he had not landed one single job. I have over 40years experience and am at a threshold of what to do so, what about the speed?
Best Regards, Rob

The Voice123 Team said...

Dear Rob Bartolotta,
I tell people this often. If you have to ask if you are ready, then you need to research this a bit more. The best talents on this site are skilled at reading copy, can do business online, and are technically savvy. I do not think that dial-up is what you want to have if you want your auditions to get in quicker. Speed is a factor. You do have to be quick about when you reply.

Having a blackberry is great, yes, but how was the script reading? How quickly did the person reply? As I have experienced and read myself in Word of Mouth, even when right for a job sometimes you do not get it for all the wrong reasons you have no control over. That is also why one can be rated 4 or 5 and not book that job. There could have been others rated the same.

Dear 'What about the remarks?',
Part of being online savvy, means understanding that communication online is very delicate. The remarks section, as someone mentioned, is written to explain that we should all be quick, sweet, to the point, and gone. When all you have is a demo and someone's words, to judge whether they can work online, it has to be quick and perfect. Writing too much can actually be seen as a way of not understanding someone else's time is important. For example...the last blog I did was long. How long did it take before you were bored by me? ha!

Deborah Bonner said...

I have to admit that my luck with auditioning here has been hit or miss.

My big question is how do I make my audition stand out from the 100 to 200 other auditions. Obviously voice and skill are a big part of it, but after a seeker has listened to 20 or 30 auditions, everything is going to start to blend. So what in your experiance has helped you cut through the "noise."

Also, it would be nice with feed back if we could know a rating for talent and a rating for the proposal. I think this would help me get a better idea of where I stand.

The Voice123 Team said...

Dear Liz Terry,

I have not forgotten about the Thursday Training. I am so sorry!

I am working on getting one of my sessions online, to share with everyone.

Sorry for the delay!

The Voice123 Team said...

Hi Deborah Bonner!

You would be surprised. I personally was one talent with the old Voice123 that thought 'after 20 they stop listening'. It is not true anymore, for the majority. Does it happen? Yes,but rarely. SmartCast did change that by using filters and not allowing more than 200 to submit, and no less than 10. If they request it, most likely they listen.

Best case example, last week there was a large budgeted project. All 200 requested auditions were listened to and rated.

You can tell by looking at the seeker details at the bottom of project details, if they are listening.

One thing I did learn AFTER starting here...if you apply a theory to the internet that you heard somewhere and have no proof of, you may be restricting yourself from getting jobs online in the future. I know now. Which is why I share that with you. :)

Peter G said...

Hi Steve, First love 123 I think you guys, and gals, are doing a great job. I DO use the ranking systems to my benefit. Having just finished my 1st year as a premium member, I have an 83% and am always in the top 15% of feedback.
I'd like to know if there is going to be a system in place that notifies you when the job, or voice, is chosen. At this moment I am 1st out of 30, Likely Hire, and a good gig, but that's where it ends. How do you know when it's time to stop wishing.
Thanks Peter