voices[dot]gone

I’m a fairly outspoken fellow when it comes to online casting. In fact, my some of my past blogs have resulted in me being removed from two different castings sites. The thing is, I truly believe that if we want to protect our industry, that means sometimes we’re going to have to stand up to businesses that are causing it harm. There are two sites in particular that I believe are guilty of this.

For all I’ve had to say against casting sites, however, there’s one that I’ve supported from the start and will continue to do so. That site is bodalgo. The genius behind bodalgo was the first casting site operator to ever listen to voice actors and actually take action to implement features we wanted to see. That’s why Armin Hierstetter is a Rockstar in my books… and he’s got the t-shirt to prove it!

Online casting is not going away, and that’s why I invited Armin to participate in the 12 Voice Over Tips of Christmas. I knew he’d have great advice for anyone still using casting sites as a tool in their voice over toolbox.

VOICES.GONE
By: Armin Hierstetter

Armin HierstetterThere is a lot of excellent advice out there how to improve your skills, your gear, your career. But there have been changes to the voice over world, and none of those tricks will help you to cope with them. The shift needed starts with …you.

When Marc asked me to write a feature for his “12 Voice Over Tips of Christmas” feature series, I first thought this would be a no-brainer: Just a few days shy of bodalgo.com‘s tenth anniversary, there are lots of tips regarding online casting that I could have quickly bashed out.

But: How boring would that be?

Making you read just another version of “Three best boosters for your career,” “The seven sins of sound” or “The ten audition amplifiers you need to know now” more and more looked like wasting your time to me.

So forgive me when I say: I can’t do that.

Instead, I want to share a vision with you of which I am sure not every talent will approve, in fact, some of you might say: “Boy, this guy is bonkers. He is not a rock star; he’s just … insane.” Whatever your take on what I have to say might be – I am grateful for any feedback you might want to share.

I am, of course, a firm believer that online casting is here to stay. In many cases, online casting gives both clients and talents valuable tools at hand to find excellent talent on the one hand while creating job opportunities on the other. It is essential, though, for this ecosystem to work for both sides, that providers of online casting websites understand that their services need to feature fair conditions for talents and clients. In my book, this is achieved best when staying out of the audition, the booking process and the financials included as much as possible.

Online casting should bring clients and talents together and do its best to help them create the best result possible. Other than that, it should mind its own business. Projects that need more care are handled wonderfully by agents and casting directors. It’s what they do best, and I have not come across a website that can replace them. But quite a few that think they do.

As we all have learned over the last months (if not years), not all market players seem to share the opinion of “getting out of the way as much as possible”: vcom funnels as much money as possible into their own pockets. Money that their clients budgeted for the talent. Another company I don’t even grace with naming is probably more known for their infamous “Have sex with a voice talent today” campaign rather than for their professionalism. And Fiverr, well, let’s not even get into them…

But these websites, especially the first and the last mentioned above, have extraordinary success with clients, mainly for two reasons:

1. Bottomless pockets to fund advertising campaigns that silence smaller competitors when it comes to the main online advertising channels.

2.  Many of their clients are not experienced (enough) to understand or even question where their budgets go to and what they get for the rest that is left for the talent. In fact, many times they do not even know at all that they pay somebody else than the talent. With Fiverr, on the other hand, many people end up re-recording the same script with several “talents” until they finally get some semi-proessional result and are fed up or out of time for more trial and error. In some cases, they have spent more money along this frustrating way than they would have to if they had come to the right spot in the first place. And more time. Much more time.

I think that both, Fiverr and vcom are a vital threat: to proper budgets, to professional quality, to the voiceover community in its whole.

I want to change this, but I can not do it alone.

What if… clients that are using vcom/Fiverr right now found out about a place with no hordes of amateurs wasting their time listening to dozens and dozens of subprime auditions?

What if… those clients knew about a place that lets them hear all auditions and not only ones the website thinks are best?

What if… those clients learned about a place where no “managed service” fees eat away significant chunks of the budget that should have better been used to pay a fantastic talent?

What if… those clients finally found a place that enables them to do business one on one rather than forcing them into an expensive 20 percent escrow fee that helps nobody but instead prohibits direct talent-client contact?

What if… you told them about … bodalgo?

And here comes the point where some of you might think: “Okay, this guy must be crazy if he thinks that I will tell my clients about another pay2play website. I am not stupid. I would lose my clients!”

I don’t think so. Because: Those clients are already using pay2plays. Telling them about an online casting website that embraces quality, professionalism and transparency would not damage your relationship with them at all. To be honest, I would assume they appreciate the favor because you helped to save them a lot of time and hassle.

I believe the more clients learn about the advantages of alternatives to vcom and Fiverr (bodalgo is not the only platform that does things the right way), the better for the voiceover community: It helps to create more work with fewer fees returning the money skimmed using unethical methods back to the hands it belongs to: Yours.

Every single client that learns about alternatives means better jobs opportunities posted in the future. Not only for the English speaking vo community but all vo colleagues speaking other languages this client might need at a later stage. And vice versa, of course.

Online casting is here to stay. I genuinely believe that done with the best interest in mind for clients and talents alike, it is a valuable resource helping the professional vo market to flourish. But I can not do it alone. I need your help. You can start by sharing and discussing this feature with other talents. And clients.

I wish all of you and your families Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Armin is one of the coolest people in our business. He’s the genius behind bodalgo, which is one of, if not the most talent-friendly casting site currently in operation. I’ve also heard he’s quite the gifted karaoke singer – which makes sense given his Rockstar status! (Armin didn’t write this bio.)

Visit bodalgo.com to check out my vote for Best Casting Site.

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