On Monday, I finally took Voices’ inaugural ten dollar offer for their premium lite membership, which affords me the opportunity to bid on gigs and send custom demos to clients. I’ve done a lot of talking to myself in my padded room since then.
Was it worth it?
Hustling for VO Work
In the last three and a half days, I’ve created 40 custom demos for different types of projects. Some of them are characters for video games, some from motivational or promotional online videos, a ton from commercials that want that somewhat raspy, vocal fry heavy sullenness that’s so popular in car commercials and Apple ads these days. I probably won’t get any work from these. Now, since I’ve literally just started building my career as a voiceover artist, I’m trying not to take issue with how much time I’m putting into these custom demos. The way I figure, I need the experience, and it gives me ample opportunity to nail down what I’m really good at and what I need to improve on (i.e. everything).
The Pay-to-Play Model Needs Work
I take issue with the pay to play model. While it strives to operate as an open market forum where talent and client have equal opportunity to meet and find mutual benefit in one another, it assumes that I, the talent, am willing to extend not only my time to produce a unique demo for every single client, but am also unsure of whether I’m even dealing with a real person. Voices seems to be the most widely respected company in this type of business, but I’ve still heard horror stories of clients taking demos wholesale and using them in their commercials without paying for them, or phishing scams designed only to bilk email addresses from talent.
There’s also an oddly translucent quality to the process. Voices.com wants you to know how many people have submitted a proposal (which can include a custom demo, stock demo, or nothing, but these statistics are not displayed), and where you are in line, as it were. There’s a ranking system based on your profile that will place in line depending on what percentage you “fit” the project. So if you’re a teenage girl submitting for a Tom Waits impersonator, you aren’t likely to be high up on the list.
However, it’s been my experience so far that there are so many people using Voices that even though I’m a 95% match, I’m still in the bottom 5% of the line, because the other 105 people are also 95% matches. This may have to do with the ranking system dependence on a small handful of qualities to discern this percentage. This system could definitely use a little more sophistication before it becomes truly useful.
Does the Rubber Meet the VO Road?
Or is it VO rubber on the…road? Anyway, next, you get an icon next to your proposal if a client has listened to your demo (uh, yes, please do that; I took the time to record a demo just for you, the least you could do is listen to it), and if they ‘like’ it. I’m assuming the like function acts as a sort of bookmarking system for the client, and a nice little pat on the head for me. I’ve gotten three likes out of my 40 demos so far (out of 14 listens), so….yeah. I don’t know what I’m supposed to take away from that.
If nothing else, I will have spent ten dollars to practice a good deal on unique scripts that I didn’t have to bother writing, I’ll have tons of fodder for new demos for my website, and I’ll learn not to check this damned board every ten minutes to validate my sense of self worth. I promised myself that if I didn’t book enough work to cover a year’s subscription then I wouldn’t bother renewing the subscription, as I feel my time would be better spent chasing down more tangible leads that, insanely enough, don’t require me to pay for the privilege to maybe talk to an actual human being. I’ll keep this blog updated with how things turn out.