Let's continue the series of blogs on 'Getting Started In Voiceovers'. Today I'll talk about the 'Pay to Play' sites.
This is, often, a big topic of discussion within the voiceover community.
Voices.com, Voice123, VOPlanet, Bodalgo, The Voice Realm, Elance, VoiceJockeys...etc...are all referred to as 'Pay to Play' sites (often referred to as P2P). Many argue that, these sites, are nothing more than 'sweat shops' for the voiceover community; often, because of the rates (or budgets) that are associated with the postings for voice recordings that are well below the 'standard' for recorded material.
The best way that I can describe the 'Pay to Play' site is: An online talent agency, whereby, you pay a membership fee to be listed on their site and that membership buys you opportunites to audition for voiceover projects- it doesn't guarantee you'll get any work; although...some have better luck than others. There's no screening process to determine your experience level or qualification; they do have categories that voice talent can be placed in. When you fill out your profile you'll check certain boxes that you feel best suited for; like...accents, dialects, languages, male/female as well as the category of work you'd be interested in...commercials, on-hold messages, narratives...etc. Most of them do carry free memberships but the only way you can audition for a project is if you're personally invited; and that invite would be based on how your demo sounds. If you're new to the business it's not a bad way to broaden your web presence, to get your demos posted and your info listed (until your own site is up and running).
To audition for the P2P sites...You have to learn the "rip 'n read" process. If you're not familiar with the term, it goes like this: Back in the early days when radio and tv was LIVE, announcers and news people had to 'rip' the copy from the teletype and 'read' it on the air. There was no time to rehearse what you were about to read- it had to be read, NOW. This is basically the same with auditions, time is of the essence; because, your're competing for a job with 100 other people (more if the job is not gender specific). You have to open the script, scan the first few lines, record them and send 'em out. If you open an audition notice and see that 15 or 20 people have already submitted their auditions, you're wasting your time; because by the time you get your recording done and submitted that number could be up to 30 or more; and the chances of your audition being heard? Well...they ain't good. For me, that number is 20. If I see 20 auditions submitted- DELETE. Often, I'll get an audition notice- to see that 50, 60 or 70 people have already responded to it- DELETE.
What's your time worth?
Think about this for a second:
-You get an audition notice (via email) and you see what it's budgetted for (they average between $100-$500); you feel it's a job you could do well with (maybe you have experience on the subject), so you want to give a good read.
-You notice that 10 people have already replied to this audition.
-You see the script...practice it a few times...
-Record about 45-60 seconds of the script (maybe record a couple of takes); prep it and upload it.
-You write your proposal: turnaround time, fee...etc.
-SENT. How long did that take; a couple of minutes? Maybe a little longer?
-So, you go back to notice that the number of responses is up to 50, or more. So you say to yourself...WOW.
-What are the chances that your audition will be heard? SLIM. However, if you do get your audition in relatively quick, it's likely that it WILL be heard. In fact, some of the P2P sites have indicators saying that not only was your audition heard...but that it was LIKED; and that's a good thing, too.
-That's why you need to be fast with these sites....because it doesn't matter WHO auditions...but HOW MANY audition; it doesn't even matter if those auditions are even worthy of being listened to; if you get your clean audition submitted faster than most, it's likely to be heard...and maybe LIKED...which might turn into a PAYING job. You could've recorded a world-class audition but if 75 people submitted their audition ahead of you, it's not likely you'll get heard.
Let's take a look from the clients perspective: If you submit for voiceovers and get 75 responses how many clips could you listen to before you start pulling your hair out? Consider that when you want to submit your audition after 50, 60 or even 70 people have already submitted their audition.
Every once in awhile I'll see a job posting with a budget of over $1000...lol (yeah....they do pop up every now and then). Those are fun to watch; because if you don't submit your audition within 30 seconds, you're wasting your time. lol. I laugh when I see 200+ responses to those jobs. Talk about CRAZY!
Voices.com (for me) has proven better than the others (your results may vary); I maintain a free listing on Voice123; here's why. I joined Voice123 a long time ago (I think it was the first P2P site) and I did alot of auditions. Then they introduced their 'SmartCast' system, I was leery right from the start. Their claim was that it's intended to 'keep the playing field even'. It works like this:
Based upon the info in your profile you'll be grouped with other voice talent, with similar profile attributes. When a voice seeker submits for a project, they'll indicate what catergories they're looking for: male/female, type of voice, style of delivery...etc. Over the course of a certain period of time if 1 (or more) voice talent(s) has more auditions than the others (in your grouping), their audition notices will be 'scaled back'; this is done in order for the others (in that group) to 'catch up'. I had a problem with that; if I'm paying for a premium membership- why am I being limited to the number of auditions I can submit? Granted...back then, I did alot of auditions. So after alot of back 'n forth with them, I gave up my premium membership.
Voices.com has a similar system, although there are no restrictions to the number of auditions you can submit. When a voice seeker posts for a voiceover you'll be given a compatibility percentage rating for that job. When I get an audition notice it'll tell me how compatible I am with that job. Anything below 90% I won't audition for. If there's a 95% or better compatibilty, I'll consider an audition (again...that's based on how many people have already submitted their auditions). Voices.com claims that if you're at 95% (or better), your audition will be pushed towards the 'front of the line' of those folks who submitted with a lower percentage compatibility.
The other P2P sites: VOPlanet.com, Bodalgo, The Voice Realm, Elance, VoiceJockey and a few others.
VOPlanet- Not 1 paying job over the 2-3 yrs I had my paid membership.
Bodalgo- is a European P2P site (paying attention to the currency conversion rate is important there)
The Voice Realm- is a generic site (I think it's an American site).
Elance- (in my opinon) is a 'No-Frills' site. The rates that are offered there are really, REALLY LOW.
When you're awarded a job there's, often, a process to follow until the recording is completed and the client accepts the voiceover. When comes to getting paid- 1 site will charge as much as a 50% commission fee; 1 will only send out payments on the 15th or 30th of the month (with a 10% fee taken out); 1 site has a 15% fee while another charges 20%. So, aside from having to pay for a membership voice talents have to pay...to get paid.
Having a listing on the P2P sites is not a necessarily bad thing; it increases your web presence and it gives you some practice when it comes time to auditioning. After you've submitted your audition....forget about it and move on to the next thing; if you get a call on it...great, if not? Move on to the next one. Don't attempt to make contact with the voice seeker on your own, it's not professional. If the client wants to contact you, they will; just make sure that all your profiles have some (if not all) of your contact info on them.
Pick and choose which project to audition for, at times you'll audition for a bunch where, at other times, you might not audition for a day or two. Use your time wisely, don't rely on the P2P sites for your work; work on making contacts, advertising and marketing.
by Rich Brennan