Wednesday, September 17, 2008

'Tis the Season: The Voice123 Political Impersonation Contest!

It is an Election year, of course, so why not have some fun with it? So...

Voice123 is holding a contest to find the best political impersonations, as voted by you, the Voice123 user!

Write your own script, and provide your own political impersonation on the Voice123 Premium Forums! Submit as teams! Submit by yourself! You decide!

All submissions have to be 60 seconds or less!
Voice over talents will be able to post in a special forum category to showcase this contest.

There will be 4 winners of a guaranteed free six months on their subscriptions, 6-months per candidate/impersonation winner, with a chance to win a full year free subscription!

  • Barack Obama
  • John McCain
  • Joe Biden
  • Sarah Palin
The special forum will be locked on October 25th. You can post your impersonation here until that date! We will send you the info on how to vote the week of October 27th to November 2nd!

The winners of the one-year subscription will be announced on November 4th... Election Day!

However, it won't stop there... On Election Day, the winners of the impersonation contest, that have impersonated the newly elected President and Vice President of the United States, will both be awarded another 6-months on their subscription! All contestants will receive free web exposure through the Voice123 Blog and Forum!

Voice123 hopes you will have fun with this contest, and we look forward to hearing from our next Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States of America! :P

Thank you always!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Future of the Voice Over Industry, by Me

Alexander TorrenegraVoice123 just turned five years old and Juan asked me to write about it. Several times before I have written about the history of Voice123. This time, however, I boldly write about the future of the voice over industry as a whole.

Being the president of Voice123 has allowed me to have thousands of conversations with talents, producers, voice seekers, clients, agents, voice over coaches, and union leaders. Each conversation has helped me shape an idea of what I think the future of the voice over industry will be. Some of you will agree with my predictions, some of you won't. Whatever your position may be, please keep in mind that my predictions do not represent my desires. My logic may or may not predict what my heart would like to experience.

Media Fragmentation Will Demand More and More Voice Over Professionals

50 years ago most people in the United States had limited choices to get their information: four nationwide TV networks, a dozen radio stations, and a couple of newspapers in their town. Today, the number of options is almost unlimited for any given person: hundreds of cable networks, millions of online videos, hundreds of radio stations (AM, FM, satellite, HD, Internet), millions of podcasts, and millions of online newspapers and blogs. Each one of those communication channels wants to be unique and have its own content. Many of them require voice overs. This trend is happening all over the world. As the fragmentation continues, more and more voice overs will be required to fulfill those needs.

Home Studios Will Be the Norm

The price of the technology and the equipment required to have a professional-grade recording studio keeps going down. Time, our most important commodity, will be the most important factor when voice overs determine their rates. By recording from their own home, at any time of the day, wearing any clothes they want (if any), voice-over talents will be able to offer more for less. As such, home studios will become the norm for most projects (not all projects, though).

Technology-Savvy Talents Will Prevail

Voice over talents that are tech-savvy will be able to set up better home studios. They will also be better audio engineers, better with editing recordings, better at using online tools as Voice123, etc. In short, they will be able to deliver a better product. Voice over talents that do not know how to properly record and deliver using these new methods are on their way to being extinct relatively soon, and are already facing skilled competition as you read this.

More Jobs at Lower Prices

Voice over talents with home studios will be able to do more recordings per day than talents that have to rely on rented out studios. Less commuting means more productivity, and quicker turn-around time. More productivity means lower prices for the buyers (the voice seekers), but a more steady income for the sellers (the voice over talents). You can think of it as the industrial revolution of the voice over market. From being in an artisan profession, the independent voice over professional will move on to become a service-oriented profession where booking 100% of the working-day time to do jobs will be the objective, and almost a requirement.

Business Skills Will Become More Important than Voice Skills

Having a good voice will always continue to be important, but in a few years a voice over professional will only succeed if they have basic skills in marketing, sales, billing, accounting, most important of all, in how to make their clients fall in love with their service. Given that 'time' is the most important commodity nowadays, voice over talents that help voice seekers save time will be the most successful.

Less Millionaires and a Market of Industrious Professionals

It will be easier to win the lottery than to become a national celebrity doing voice overs. Media fragmentation makes it very difficult for anybody to become a widely-known celebrity. However, on the other hand, media fragmentation has sky-rocketed the demand for voice over professionals. In the past, few voice overs could be full-time professionals. Those that were full-time professionals were making the big bucks. In the future less people will become rich doing voice overs, but many, many more people will be able to have a decent and above-standard style of living by being full-time voice over professionals.

Hourly Rates will Replace "National", "Regional", and "Local" Rates

When the media was not fragmented as it was in the past, it was easy to determine if the recording that a talent was performing was going to be broadcast in a national, regional, or local market. Nowadays, few recordings are meant to be distributed in a specific geographical area. Many recordings are not even broadcast. They are electronically reproduced on-demand. During the next few years, and as the media focuses on delivery-customized experiences to the consumers, almost all voice over talents will be charging for the time it took them to do and deliver the recording, regardless of who will listen to it. This, of course, means that royalties will probably become a thing of the past for almost all voice over projects.

Union Jobs Will Be Less Common

Years ago both screen actors and voice over talents were cast and hired the same way: They had to go somewhere to be cast. If hired, they then had to go somewhere to perform their work. The voice over hiring process of today is very different. Even if screen actors can cast online, we are far, far way from the day when they can record their scenes with their own video-cameras and deliver them online to the producer of the TV show.

Voice over professionals and screen actors rarely have the ability to share focus on both areas, today. Having the existing unions represent voice over talents is as useful as having cab-driver unions represent auto-industry workers. True, they both have to deal with cars and they both want to switch to hybrids as quickly as they can, but their work is performed in significantly different ways. New buyers of voice over services have figured out, how in most cases, dealing contracts under existing unions to hire voice overs professionals doesn't make logistical sense. It won't be long before almost all of the current signatories realize that as well.

Will existing unions adapt to the changes on the voice over industry brought forth by technology? I wish they would, but based on my conversations with them, they know little about the reality of the common, non-celebrity, voice over professional. It will be easier for a new voice over guild to grow than for the existing unions to adapt. On top of that, the relation between voice over professionals and their clients is moving away from being an employee-to-business relation and is becoming more of a business-to-business relation. As a consequence, I think that non-union jobs will dominate most of the voice over market for many years to come.

Voice Over Talents Won't Be Replaced by Automated Text-to-Speech Software

No, at least, during several decades to come. Although advances in this area have been impressive, has a long way to go before voice seekers may consider it a viable alternative. First, current technology still lacks many features that would allow a voice seeker to properly "direct" the computer. Second, if those "direction" tools are ever developed, they will be complex to manipulate. Being a voice over professional is, among many other things, being creative. When a graphic designer is hired to create, the buyer usually wants the designer to add his/her creative touch to it. The same applies to voice seeker. They want a creative person behind the mic delivering something unique. As with graphic designers, technology will continue helping the voice over professionals, rather than diminish them.

I know these are bold predictions and I know that statistically speaking, I may be wrong. Time will tell. What are your predictions? Do your predictions match mine or are widely different? Let us know! Post your comments below!

Happy 5th Birthday Voice123!!!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Alexander Torrenegra
President and Co-founder

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Headshot or Not?

Voice123 knows that many talented professionals in the voiceover industry are also models, actors, sound engineers, etc. A question Voice123 receives quite often is, also mentioned on the Voice123 Premium Forums is, 'Should I upload a headshot or not?'. The answer to this question can only be determined by what you choose to do as a business preference.

Below are just a few reasons for talents uploading headshots (or not), and as everyone is their own business on Voice123, read below, and see if it is the right choice for you:

Uploading headshots:
  • To give the viewer of your page an indication of what voice to expect (e.g. Cathy Faulkner), almost to set the mood for what they are about to hear, or indicate types of work they would like to do.
  • To show that you do work in other areas of the entertainment industry (e.g. Lori Taylor).
  • To remove the anonymous stigma (e.g. Donna Cuddemi) of the online world by showing your face.
  • To display graphic art (e.g. Steven Lowell) that you, or someone you know, has created for your profile.
  • To display artwork or a website (e.g. John Driscoll), descriptive of the type of voice you market.
No headshot? (actual statements made regarding this topic)
  • 'It is a faceless industry. Let my voice paint the picture of my work.'
  • 'If they knew what I looked like, they would not expect that voice to come out of my mouth'.
  • 'I prefer privacy, being that the Internet is public domain'.
We have mentioned only eight reasons, and all of them come from feedback in which Voice123 was told 'what works best for them.'

From the reasoning above, we hope you can think about what may work best for you!

Thank you always!

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace
Steven Lowell
Quality Assurance Manager

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

No Better World Than Don's... From the Heart

Sadly, this morning I came into work, after the last weekend of the summer to find out very sad news that Don LaFontaine had passed away over the weekend.

I must admit...I am somewhat shocked. Last week, on Voice123 Premium Forums, Bobbin Beam was kind enough to post a letter from Don LaFontaine. In this letter, I saw strength and determination to get passed his difficult illness. We at Voice123 are extremely saddened by this loss of an icon to the voice over industry.

To me, Don LaFontaine stood as the first person to really bring the voice over industry into the limelight, and no longer make it a 'faceless industry'. I still remember commercials I had seen him in while taking classes and matter what type of voice I listened to in my voice over class, be it male or female, every student listened to his work and thought, 'I wish I could sound like him.'

In fact, Don LaFontaine taught me the most important lesson about being in this industry in that you have to believe in yourself and be loyal to those you work with. Although he mentions it in the letter, years ago while being interviewed on NBC nightly news, a reporter asked him,
'How can every movie be the blockbuster hit of the summer? Is that possible?'.

Don simply replied, never shaking or doubting, and almost looking as if a friend's integrity had been questioned,

My teacher showing us the interview, paused the tape, looked at all of us and said,
'That it is a very, very smart man.'

We at Voice123 thank Don LaFontaine and will miss his legacy. He gave of himself to an industry, and in the act of opening up about his career to the public made so many people better whether he knew them or not, and changed the face of, or in this case, put a face on an industry.

As a tribute to him, out of admiration and appreciation for all the things he did and how much he contributed with his example to the voice over industry, Voice123 invites those of you who share this feeling today, to record a message expressing your thoughts about him, may our voices reach him and show him how thankful we are. Your message will be published in a tribute web page to Don LaFontaine.

If you would like to participate in our tribute to Don, please click here. (If asked, use the following verification code: 387207).

Our hearts and thoughts of the team at Voice123 go out to the friends and family of Don LaFontaine.

We wish you all the very best,

Steven Lowell
The Voice123 Team

Voice123 - The Voice Marketplace