THE BLOG
12/19/2014 03:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Pros and Cons of Pay-to-Play Voice-Over Sites

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With the introduction of various Pay-to-Play (P2P) sites, such as voices.com and voice123.com, nonunion talent now have greater opportunities than ever before. These casting sites are devoted to posting voice-over auditions from across the country and around the world for a broad range of productions. And they often offer free introductory opportunities, but are most effective when you register for a yearly subscription (usually for about $395).

While there are various pros and cons to utilizing these sites, we do suggest that, once you have your voice-over demos, you register with one or more of these sites and complete the profile describing your greatest assets and abilities -- in order to increase your rate of return on your demos and auditions.

Here is a list of the pros and cons of utilizing P2P sites:

PROS:
  • These sites offer an average of 10 to 20 auditions a week, varying in value between 75 to 2,500 per job if booked.
  • The average booking ratio from auditions is 1 out of 100 from these sites, which is substantially greater than the standard 1 in 200 or more auditions you can expect under any other circumstances.
  • The likelihood of booking jobs directly off your demo is better than 50% of the time from these sites (provided your demo is professionally produced).
  • These sites offer you opportunities from across the country and around the world that you normally would not have access to.
  • Landing even a few low-paying projects when you're first starting out helps to instill confidence to continue in this field, while offering you the opportunity to see a return on your initial investment sooner rather than later.
  • Allows you the opportunity to build repeat business with various clients as you become their vocal brand.
  • CONS:

  • These sites force talent, who typically aren't accustomed to determining the value of their performance or the media it may be reused in, to come up with a rate. Talent agents, producers, and casting directors typically determine (and legitimize) what talent are paid.
  • These sites often offer sub-basement level rates on projects that would pay far more and ultimately degrade the actual value of the work by setting a poor precedent with production clients who could (and should) pay up to 20 times more for the talent.
  • The occasional unscrupulous payment practices (i.e. not getting paid) which the site cannot (and will not) be held responsible for.
  • These sites offer rate sheets to "assist talent in determining their rate" with options that often don't apply to voice-over, don't correctly apply to the project or job posed, or are below standard rates you would typically earn had you gone through a reputable nonunion talent agent.
  • Pay-to-Play sites are basically eHarmony/Match.com-style sites for voice talent, connecting clients with voice talent. How well you suit a client's needs is dependent on how well you complete the profile that suits the specific logarithm created per each site. Problem is: most talent will complete their initial profile and neglect to update or revisit this key attribute once a month or so. This may effect the talent in a negative manner if it's not properly maintained, considering the P2P site logarithm will continually modify according to industry and Internet trends, which may leave your profile in its dust by doing so.
  • Talent come to rely solely on these sites rather than using them as a tool to first establish their small business as working voice talent without graduating to union projects or securing effective representation with union-franchised talent agents.
  • Some P2P sites place arbitrary demands and restrictions on talent for "auditioning too much" and randomly rate each talent, which implies "servicing" potential talent buyers who use the site for free, while undermining skillful talent who are paying to utilize the benefits of the site.
  • Some of the information offered from various blogs and promotions on these sites impart inaccurate or outdated industry information.
  • Talent tend to promise more than they are able to deliver production-wise with various jobs offered on P2P sites, and get in over their heads by ultimately over-promising and under-delivering; in most cases talent are simply required to record and upload the raw recorded files to the client's designated site rather than supply a finished production.
  • Talent rarely have the experience or expertise to determine appropriate practices and agreements talent agents understand and offer. P2P sites often post projects that ask for more than the talent can honestly deliver. Eager to please and land work, talent often find themselves out of their depth agreement-wise. They end up agreeing to rates that are well below budget-basement for the voice talent's skills, let alone agreeing to all the "extras" many small budgets might require. (These are a few of the chief reasons you WANT a talent agent.)

After all that food for thought, it's important to point out that I do encourage talent to pursue voice-over projects by making P2P sites part of establishing yourself in this field. They are a fact of life, if you intend to work in this field. Besides, it's imperative your demo be included on as many sites as possible where numerous voice talent are cast, not simply through your talent agent on their sites or through voicebank.net. Knowing some of the various demands and obstacles in advance should only make your ability to manage your own voice-over career far easier.