Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Voice Over Websites - What would you change?

Recently, I've received email from voice over talent regarding their performance on the largest voice over talent websites. The voice talent have been both experienced and unexperienced. In answering their concerns and questions I began thinking about the features that would make the ideal voice over website. I'm just talking about the mass listing websites for voice over talent rather than an individual's website for now. Those of us listed on one or more of these sites probably have a list of pros and cons, and I've just been musing about what would make a site really work for the professional voice talent out there. I've had many voice over friends who have tried some of these sites and finally given up because they don't get any work. Keep in mind, these are top notch working professionals! Are the websites running off the pros by trying to even the playing field too much in favor of the beginners? Are beginners lost in the shuffle because they can't compete with the pros?

Who is actually getting the jobs posted on these voice talent websites? Would it be helpful for the sites to post the winning audition, remarks/proposal, and bid? Now, THAT would be interesting! Maybe they could do that without actually listing the talent's name if that is a concern. It would just be really interesting and useful to see how the winning audition, remarks/proposal, and bid compared with what you sent, wouldn't it? You could listen to the winning audition and hear if you just really weren't right for the job - by the way, a great reason for these sites to require the clients to get really specific about what they're looking for rather than just "female middle age" or worse yet, "both" and not even an age range let alone any real description of voice tone and style! You could compare the technical quality of your audition to see if you're up to par, too. You could see the kinds of things written in the remarks or proposal sections of the audition response to see if it really makes any difference what you say. And the bid? Need I say more? Is the lowest bid getting the job? Are people bidding under the bid range the client is posting? Are you overbidding or are you underbidding! No kidding, that can sometimes be a factor!

Wouldn't it be interesting if the mass listing websites for voice talent would actually give this useful information? If listing the talent's name would be a problem, then leave that out. Or the talent listed on the site could agree to allow their winning audition, proposal, and/or bid to be posted. The audition is already won, and it could give some recognition to the winner! There are actually some sites who do this.

Let me know what you think.



Anonymous said...

I once read on one of the boards that it would be "unprofessional" to post the winning audition on the board, even if the winner put the post up him/herself. I've also come across people who think posting auditions, demos, etc. on the boards and asking for feedback is wrong. I disagree with both takes. I think it's extremely helpful to listen to other people's demos and the comments they generate to build your ear. I think critiquing people's work is acceptable as long as it is sought by the person and the critique is given in a constructive and positive manner.

When I was in acting classes we were always told that you learn from each other and I believe that's true for voiceover as well as stage work. So one must wonder why some of these people think it's "unprofessional" to post the winning audition.

Voice Over Studio said...

I appreciate your comments. Those of us who have worked in acting and voice over workshops either as teachers or students realize the value in learning from each other. It also goes to "transparency", a term that is used often in business today. Why not list the winners?

In the spirit of learning and continued growth, I can't imagine why one would consider it unprofessional to know who won a job! Posting that information, even including the winning audition, does not open it up for public critique. By the way, I was thinking more in terms of listing the winners rather than a blog post where others might comment or critique the audition - just general information. During my 28 years in this business, I've worked with agencies who have both ignored or refused to say who won a job and others who have actually emailed the winning auditions and given kudos to the winners!

To give a little history as to why I even broached the subject - which, by the way, I didn't see as a particularly volatile one - let me say that I've been contacted directly by numerous voice talents both inexperienced and pros who agonize over the fact that they audition and audition and don't book jobs on the large voice talent web sites. I try to put things in perspective for them with the odds of hundreds of people auditioning for one job and all the other variables, and it occurred to me that if they could hear the winning auditions and see the proposals they would have something to compare themselves to and/or aspire to. Is their audio quality up to par? Do they need more volume? Are they missing the mark, direction-wise? Were they just not the right age, type, voice style for this job? The list goes on.

While my general advice is to do your best and forget it because the process is so subjective, there would seem to be some value in hearing the quality and type of work that IS winning the job. You might either hear it and think to yourself, ok, I'm in the ballpark, but just not what they were looking for. Or, you might think, wow, I totally missed the mark! Or, you might think, gee, this audio sounds so professional, I really need to upgrade my audio equipment, soundproof my studio, edit my auditions better, etc.

As far as posting your auditions to a blog dedicated to review and critique, I feel it is a personal decision. If you feel those who frequent the space can give you top quality feedback and advice, it's up to you. It's not something I have personally participated in, but I certainly wouldn't knock it and certainly wouldn't categorize it as "wrong"!

To my mind, posing a question about a policy or practice is not a negative thing nor an attack, but a chance to think, evaluate, and possibly integrate changes that might uplift performers and their work to a higher level.