I got a message from Voices.com today about joining forces with them so they could recommend me as a coach.
Here’s how I answered them. I don’t think they were happy, but I doubt I’m the only one.
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Hope this helps!
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I understand your response to Voices.com, however, I joined them back in December (2018) and have had good results since then. I DO have representation with 2 talent agents and I get that I am a business and so I run my business as an entrepreneur. I do cold calling, I do follow ups, send out “old school” post cards, set up coffee meetings with local producers. I consider Voices to be just another arrow in my quiver. I try to audition every day and have made several thousand dollars since joining. They aren’t the main focus of my business, but they help. I enjoy your videos and get inspiration from them. Keep up the good work.
Michael, are you happy with the rates they post and compensation you get from them? Your agents take 10% – 15% for their services and don’t charge you to be on their rosters.
Voices Dot Con charges you up to 80% on top of an annual fee. Are you at least able to make connections with new clients there, develop relationships and work with them without an 80% vigorish?
In addition to not giving the voice talent their fair share, the voice talent pays a hefty yearly fee just to be considered to audition. Doesn’t voice123.do this too? I am no longer an active voice actor, but after spending close to 10,000.00 for coaching, equipment and marketing ( website, car magnets business cards, etc). Then I find besides The free Acx.com for audio work, everything else was pay to
Play sites that are just innundated with voice actors competing for the same work! I couldn’t believe that you had to pay to audition! Even regular stage and screen actors don’t have to do that! Do they?!
I don’t have a problem with a yearly subscription fee. But no, Voice123 does not, at this moment, have an option for “managed projects.”
Thank you, David!
B R A V O!, DHLXVII. Bravo. Their shady business practices have been exposed and the truth/your truth is always welcome.
Bravo, David. Thank you for not partnering with VDC. While you may have given up some potential income, I think the affiliation would have actually harmed your business and credibility. Having VDC on your side is like wearing the scarlet letter or having a leper’s curse.
When I need a coach, I ask others in the voice community. And I guarantee you that if a coach partners with VDC, I will not be enlisting their services.
Wow! Thanks for the expose, David. So unfortunate. But I have a question. I look up to you as a master of healthy, efficient assertiveness in business dealings, and have learned so much from you. What stopped you from saying something more directly to the point of “why” you wouldn’t want to partner with them, like, “I would never work with your company, because I disapprove of the business model…etc”?
Yippee, David! Thank you once again for your honesty and fair-mindedness, and for telling it like it is. It boils my blood when I think of that company and all they are trying to do to this industry. Makes me so sad when I do hear of someone who works for them, as a friend of mine does, even though he is aware. I so enjoy your videos, keep ’em coming!
Very informative! I have wondered if I should join one of these websites to gain credit and experience. Do you have any websites which you endorse and support?
The appellation I hear most often for Voices is the appropriate: Voices Dot Con. Because the whole operation is a con; a confidence game. It is a scam.
The ultimate insult for the talent that chooses to use their services is, they are required to pay for the privilege of being abused.
Technically, of course, they are violating the laws of several states, most notably California and New York. However no organization or association of talent has been successful in getting the various states attorneys general to act. It gets complicated in international waters when there are treaties.
It becomes even more treacherous because Voices Dot Con is supported by agencies of the Canadian Provincial and Federal governments, as well as influential investors who want their cut of the money.
So true, Ed; great points.
Whether or not there is work to be booked through VdC is not the point, here. In a continual one step forward two steps back dance of annihilation, VdC seems determined to devour every thing and every person it comes into contact with, in the guise of (I’ll borrow your air quotes, David, which I’m also usually loathe to do) “helping the industry.”
Having been encouraged mid-2018 to “give them one more try,” I am once again drowned out and pulled under by the algorithm ‘undertoad’ (if only I had a photo of that beast that always fails acknowledging my correct stats) to share on social media. I’ve been neither helped nor encouraged by membership on VdC. There’s never been any kind (rarely, any at all) human behind the hundreds of thousands of auditions posted each day; they just want more and more money in their pursuit of vo domination. (Someone please come up with a fabulous character drawing of this hideous monster!)
I thank you very much, David, for simply doing what’ is the ethically right thing. You are another of my vo heroes!
Taking the (way higher) high road once again. Thank you for eschewing the scoundrels. Only by banding together against their car salesman-like tactics will we force them back under the rock whence they cam.
Thank you, David!!
Taking the (way higher) high road once again. Thank you for eschewing the scoundrels. Only by banding together against their car salesman-like tactics will we force them back under the rock whence they came.
Thank you, David!!
Your response makes total sense to me. And I thank you for it.
I think you handled it very well. My anger may have gotten the better of me if I had replied, which probably would have not been the best thing to do. I admire your self-control. Thanks for the video David.
I have become increasingly concerned about Voice.com as I learn more about our industry. In addition to the practices you outline above, they have now announced that they have partnered with an artificial intelligence company to offer synthetic voices to their customers. What voices will they use as a foundation to create these voices? They say it will be the non-union work of voice talent who have uploaded auditions etc to their website. This is a quote from their Terms of Service: “the Talent assigns to [Voices Dot Com] all right, title and interest, absolutely, to the copyright and other intellectual property in or relating to the Talent’s Non-Union Work Product throughout the world, free of all licenses, mortgages, charges or other encumbrances, unless agreed otherwise by the parties in writing.” I didn’t read their terms of service inasmuch as the talent training company I worked with provided me a one years’ free membership with Voices as part of my package with them.
I have terminated my relationship with Voices.com. That is our power as VO talent – to show by our actions what we think of their business practices.
Thank you for your response to them and the history of our industry – I appreciate it!
Like Mike A. I understand your response to Voices.com also; that’s your right to have your opinions. Now, it seems you want those who choose to watch your videos to share your opinions. (or else why would you produce a this video?) Clearly, Mike A. doesn’t agree and neither do I. Yes, you and the world have harshly judged Voices.com for their business practices. (not sure who appointed you judge?)
You run a business, so do they. You are in business to PROFIT, right? So are they. They chose to provide, as a service to the voice seeker, a project management aspect as a convenience. Guess what? They didn’t invent providing “convenience” as a service to the world. Convience Stores do the same thing as opposed to grocery stores, and those who choose to shop at convenience stores usually pay more for that service. No one forces a consumer to shop and pay more at a convenience store. But is anyone harshly judging Convenience stores they way you (and many) have judged Voices.com for providing this service? Isn’t that “shady” of them?? No, it’s called the American free enterprise system and even though Voices is based in Canada, they’re in the same system. They provide employment and compensation for many Project Managers to earn a living…why is that such a crime in your opinions?
Newsflash: The business owner/voice seeker is a very busy person in the day-to-day operations of their respective businesses and SOME need this valuable service of managing and find the right talent because they have little time or experience in casting/choosing/listening to hundreds of auditions for their project. Likewise, SOME business owner types have the time and want to hand-pick their talent and therefore they have that choice. So why do you feel you need express (get angry as you stated) your disdain for the profits that Voices.com and their customer service project managers EARN for their time in providing this CONVENIENCE??
I’m not necessarily defending Voices.com specifically but rather I’m defending their legal right to build their business model and operate within the free enterprise system and I’m doing this as a freedom loving business owner myself. Furthermore, as you know, I’m also a Voice Coach and do have a Coaches relationship with Voices.com (as well as Talent) and can tell you and anyone reading this message that my relationship, like Mike A. has been a blessing not only to me, but to my students as well.
My sincere thanks to you for inviting us to express our opposing opinions and I pray this helps change your heart and anyone else who reads to please stop being so judgemental…that’s God’s job.
I’m glad you posted your opinion. Not being transparent, ruining Voicebank’s ecostructure and taking 50% or more of the budget for “management” (as opposed to a legal and industry standard of 10% or thereabouts) is why I feel the way I do. I’m not demonizing anyone – I am, as you say, asking for their opinion. I do hope people vote with their wallets and their feet.
Valid points on the merits of them using the free enterprise system. Are they free to make a profit? Sure. Can they design and implement a business model that allows them to? Sure.
Do they owe it to the paying subscribers and paying customers to disclose some specifics of how transactions are handled? Well, that is a matter of opinion. And in the opinion of many, they have been dealing unethically with both clients and subscribers.
What have they done that is thought unethical?
Not disclosing the “Professional Services” (PS) fee is being taken from the talent side of the transaction to either the client or the talent. Posts were written about the practice based on the evidence of jobs simultaneously posted on multiple sites with the VDC rate being significantly lower than the other sites, up to 80% in some cases. The actual admission was given by David Ciccarelli during his interview with Graeme Spicer and subsequent interview with Hugh Edwards.
There was then a follow up by a VDC rep at one of the VO conventions where they claimed that they would be more transparent, but admitted that it would only be to the client, not the talent. And they have used the excuse of the rate offered being “within industry standards”. Of course their version of industry standard is their own rate sheet.
When I joined VDC years ago for a short stint, it was published and presented as a fair playing field that allowed all talent to respond and be seen in the order of upload. Turns out in the interviews above, it was admitted that with the PS rep would hand select which auditions are seen and what order they are presented to the client. Now, if you have talent paying $5000 per year to be Platinum, who do you think will be presented first to the client?
At that point, I asked for, and received a refund on my yearly subscription. Though they didn’t follow their own policies and stiffed my $60.
What else? While this is completely within the “Terms of Service”, they have been known to take the audio from a particular job, edit it into another form and re-sell it to the client with no further compensation to the talent. Legal? Yes. Ethical? You tell me. The work of the talent allowed them to make a further profit. Shouldn’t the talent receive a portion for his work?
And now with them being a “distributor” for VOCALiD, item 6 in their terms of service becomes amazingly relevant. They now have millions of files comprising millions of hours of audio files from hundreds of thousands of talent now at their disposal as source material for making millions of dollars selling “bespoke voices” to corporations. And the talent will receive absolutely nothing.
And this at least is for non-union talent.
And just as a bit of theory based on their normal practices, if you are a union talent, I would be very inquisitive as to the rate a client is paying to hire the talent based on their budget. I wouldn’t put it past VDC to receive a job listing which would pay a multiple of scale and then offer it for significantly less, down to scale plus agent fees. Purely conjecture on my part, but a believable scenario and not inconsistent with the PS model they already use.
The judgement comes due to observations of both actions and statements of VDC. They have portrayed themselves as working as partners in the process. Their actions and interview statements show that they really are only interested in world domination of the VO marketplace and are willing to do so by any means necessary.
They want to be the Walmart of VO. And anyone who has dealt with Walmart as a vendor knows that they leave nothing on the table. If a penny can be squeezed out of a transaction and put into the Walmart coffers, it will be sucked up like a Hoover vacuum.
Ron, let’s say minimum wage goes to $15 an hour. A management company corners the market and takes over HR for most major corporations, making it easier on the corporations. Then they hire hard working people to work through them at $4 an hour and they get takers because it seems there is no other game in town. You think that’s fair? Or say your credit’s not up to par but I’ll loan you anything you need at 80% per annum. I totally understand the anger. Legal? Probably. Unethical? Most assuredly.
I was a member of the VoiceBank roster and worked with them for years. Never a problem…but after having a couple of run-ins with VDC and their affiliates, I am done. I began a relationship with Lau Lapides Company outside of Boston to get some help packaging myself for on-camera work, that is until they announced a new “relationship” with VDC late in 2017. Not sure if the Lapides company even still exists, but I was forced to part company with them…and I wish them good luck.
I also understand that VDC not only takes a large portion of the funds the client is willing to pay as a management fee, but they also take ANOTHER commission on what they actually pay the talent/actor?
When the AI robotic voice company(part of VDC) premiers their electronic voice actors, don’t be afraid when you hear something online or on the air that sounds just like your voice…as VDC also claims ownership of every audio audition ever sent to them by anyone. They may even model an AI voice from your submissions and guess what? There won’t be any payment to you for using your sound….EVER! Enough is enough. I dub this company VoiceVampires.com as they are literally sucking the lifeblood out of an otherwise friendly, professional, profitable and fun business. T Varhol
Thanks for summarizing this history so well. I think your response to them was perfect, and I think you are right that they already knew why you responded the way you did. I had a similar choice to make when I cancelled my membership, and again when I realized that although I had cancelled my membership, they’d left my profile up on their site: respond in anger, respond in detail, or respond succinctly. Succinct allows us to move on with our lives more quickly, with more integrity and fewer regrets.
David you are da bomb! I applaud you for embracing your integrity.
I always had a hunch about that “management fee” I find it interesting that having a non premium membership that I hardly ever work but out of the blue I get an email that they have a “$2,000 job in my area that is interested in Me to audition for” For the heck of it I apply and…..nothing!
Horrible what others don’t see.
Great information. Had no idea about the back story. Thanks the daily visit.
Straightforward reply. Though I would have thought it would be a great opportunity to include exactly why, in exactly the same business-like straightforward manner. Seems like an opportunity missed to officially go on record and share the general consensus to a captive audience. Their response to that would have been interesting to see. ;)
I blame you not, for declining their offer. I left Voices.com earlier this year for that very reason — the only jobs I saw were those under $1,000 and most were $100 – $200. You don’t have to be a math genius to figure out that my giving them $399 per year to have them offer such ridiculous amounts is nothing short of ludicrous! My time is worth more than that. I’m so happy that you have shared this information with others — it needed to be said out loud! Good for you!!
David, you didn’t need to say anymore in your reply. They know your reason. Many established talent won’t work with them. They have even been sued by one well known talent for using his name to promote them after he specifically them not to. When all this came to light I told them I didn’t want to be associated with them in any way not even with a free account and had them remove my profile. An agent will take 10-15 % commission on work they find for you. They work for you. Yet VDC charges a yearly fee, takes an undisclosed amount of money off the top, then another percentage for an “escrow fee” and then you’re not even allowed to communicate directly with the client. It doesn’t bother them, there’s enough newbies coming in everyday who don’t know any better that will whip out the credit card. They love it when a coach on mentor recommends someone. Good for you for not being one of them.
I 100% support you in this as it really undervalues the talent in the industry and it is just taking advantage of desperate voice talent and not giving them the full rate they deserve!
I wonder about voiceovers.com since it seems Matt Dubois has copied aspects of the Ciccarellis’ business model. Would love to know what others have learned about that company.
And likewise the question is begged, what is truly so unique about Matt’s new venture, in fundamental terms…
We have yet again, the P2P “model” being validated, rather than Agents stepping up, unifying and modernizing to serve artists interests first. In the case of Voiceovers.Com let’s see… Annual subscription fee to all users? Check.
Exclusive “first-shot at auditions” advantage given a select group of members who Pay substantially more? Check. And for ALL members, “Premium Club” and “General Admission” alike, a 20% Commission on Every Job Off The Top.
The same commoditization and race-to-the-bottom mentality that’s undermined the union’s incentive and initiative to get stronger in flyover states – is swiftly lowering the bar on every level…while countless talents perceive no clear way out of the maze but to buy in, with the notion that this is the new normal and there’s no other way forward. Perhaps.
Thank you for this details of what has been going on there. I bailed on them quite some time ago simply because I saw so few well-paying jobs and none of them came my way. I saw no reason to pay $399/year for a chance to audition for a low paying VO gig. I am giving voice123 a whirl for now (got a nice discount on it), but now I’m wondering if there are other sites that don’t charge hundreds of dollars to slap you into a pool of thousands, some of whom get priority because they paid more. It’s not like any of these sites are free to join!
Thanks for keeping it real!!
Love to know how you feel about them (voices dot com…) partnering with the for profit company VocaliD.
“Through this partnership, customers of Voices.com will now have access to VocaliD’s cutting edge voice AI products and services to address their evolving needs in today’s voice-first ecosystem. Businesses will have the ability to procure their own unique branded synthetic voice so they can be heard in a voice that resonates with their audience.”
Thanks to Mark Chen for calling out VocaliD in his reply. They are publicly reaching out all the time on their site for “voice donations” making no mention of any payment for voice talent… I wont even get into how they market themselves claiming they help those with speechlessness while what, robbing those who give them that speech? sorry…not sorry. But really, call it a donation and leave those who do this for a living out of it.
I think it’s exactly what one might expect from their organization.