With so many opportunities to put your voice over work “out there,” it’s easy to think, “That’s just great,” but with so much opportunity comes so much competition. You have many more chances to be heard than, say, 15 years ago. So, what’s a great VO talent to do? You want to work, and to do that, you must put in the work. Lots of it, whether you choose a voice over agent or pay-to-play.
Pay-to-Play Is Crowded
Maybe you want to dip your VO toe into pay-to-play, meaning you pay a company to allow you to audition with many other VO talents for paid jobs. The biggest players are Voice123, now owned by Backstage, and Voices. More boutique sites include Bodalgo, CastVoices, and VOPlanet.
Not everyone loves them totally—maybe partially? “People have long complained that online casting platforms make commodities of voice actors,” says voice over guru J. Michael Collins.
And voice artist Gabrielle Nistico says, “There’s really very little to anything that I actually like about the pay-to-play model, and I can tell you it is awful for one’s self-esteem, and it is really, really bad when you find yourself questioning what’s wrong with you. It’s not what’s wrong with you. The question is, what’s wrong with the system?”
The Rhythm of the Algorithm
If you’re determined, and of course you are, you know you’ll actually be connecting with potential clients in ways that you couldn’t do otherwise. Once you subscribe, you’ll have lots of voice over auditions, whose quantity and quality will be determined by “the algorithm.” Friend or foe to you, it’s in control of your fate here, and it can be cruel.
Remember the TV show “The Match Game?” Pay-to-play is that concept on speed. Many say “optimizing your profile” on the site is the key to success. To learn how to do that on Voice123, I highly recommend the awesomeness of the V123 Pros, Natasha and Katherine. They’re highly successful on the platform and have taught many aspiring VO stars how to make the most of Voice123.
If you’re new to Voice 123, which started in 2003, please do take the ladies’ course called “Optimizing Your Experience on V123,” and prepare to spend a day or so going through 15 well organized lessons. You can be successful on Voice123 without this, but hint: It will take A LOT longer without Natasha and Katherine. As Natasha told me, “Voice123 isn’t for the faint of heart,” and I would add, no pay-to-play site is, either.
You can spend $199 a year, $395, $600, $888, $2,200, or by invitation only, $4,950—the first category finds you competing against 3,582 other talents, while the top tire for very seasoned money-earners is only 84 talents. In the more crowded tiers, be prepared to get up early, so you’re not auditioning as number 51 when 50 auditions were requested—the usual number. I found Voice123 ready and willing to assess my auditions and offer positive feedback to me. I haven’t yet put myself on Voices.com, but many successful VO artists love it.
Be a Voice on Voice.com
At Voice.com, founded in 2003, you can be free as a Guest, Premium at $499 a year, or Platinum at $2,999 a year, an invite-only level. One website says the platform hosts more than 5,000 jobs each month for more than 100 languages. Users explain that you’ll pay 20 percent of earnings to Voice.com, no matter the level.
One VO blogger shared a comment from a Platinum member: “I have auditioned over 700 times in the past 12 months and have been hired about 16 times. Of those 700+ auditions, around 270 remained ‘closed’ with no action taken.”
I suppose she had to ask herself, “Is this worth my time?”
Reasons to Go With a Voice Over Agent or Pay-to-Play
If all of the above sounds just too much for you, maybe you think that having an agent will be the answer to your prayers and problems. It’s easy to think, “That agent will just email me with auditions, and I’ll do them, and I’ll get work.”
Hmmm. It’s not quite that simple. True, they can be a part of your VO career, but odds are, you’ll do more for yourself with your targeted marketing. You can find regional and national agents, and top talent may have several. Agents don’t have much time, so when you apply, follow directions completely and accurately. Otherwise, you can eliminate yourself right off the bat.
It goes without saying, but I will: Don’t reach out to agents until you have sufficient experience and great demos. There’s no place for a beginner when a top advertising agency wants you on a live session on SourceConnect. Your agent will take a percentage of your work—it’s how they make money. It’s usually between 10 and 20 percent of the job fee.
Don’t wait for an agent to jump-start your VO career. True, they find clients, interface, and negotiate with them, but you can do that, too. Don’t wait for an agent to reach out to you with auditions. Maximize your time marketing yourself in other productive ways to keep working and sustaining an income you can rely on.