Do you know Bettye Zoller?
I don't want to accentuate her age, but she's been at the business of voice acting for a long time. Long enough to be able to see the forest for the trees.
She's a busy voice actor, and somehow manages to schedule a whole buncha workshops all over the country (and in her native Dallas)…and she's even on the faculty or does guest professorships here 'n' there.
I say all that to preface her comments about pay-to-play sites which I'm copying and pasting below. I gleaned these words from her post on a VO Web forum in answer to a (forever asked) question about V123.
Bettye has given me free rein to repurpose her comments, 'cause she knows I'll be fair, and because her words — always frank and measured — just need to be "retweeted" as we would say on Twitter…which is to say it bears repeating.
Following her comments, there is a very well composed response from another voice actor that offers an excellent caveat to Bettye's comments.
This online list group goes through this cycle constantly with posts
about "should I pay to be included on a pay-to-play online vo booking
site." Hey everybody…
used to it…an online presence is the HEART of your business. No
question. As a friend said recently (he is one of the U.S. biggest male
voice talents grossing about a half million each year from nationals
etc) "It is the cost of doing business, just as a clothing store owner
must buy expensive inventory (clothing etc) to stock in the store,
voice talents must maintain an online presence. It's tax deductible! I
spend approx. $5500 and more per year on internet sites. member fees
My day, every single day, begins with online auditions and online jobs
that come in from pay-to-play sites I belong to and also from my
agents. Get with it cause it's here to stay! Some days I hardly can
leave my computer I'm so busy!! And then, I'm interrupted by the
recording and mixing and editing jobs I get in my studio. It's really a
great business and we're not feeling any? type of so-called "recession"
at all and I hear the same from my colleagues.
In my Business of Voiceover Workshops, I teach it this way: There are?FOUR streams of income today for voiceover talents:
1. The online sites that book us or send auditions plus our own websites
2. Having voiceover agents who book us
3. Selling our own jobs when possible and hopefully getting some repeat business on our own from happy clients
4. Expanding to the world, not just thinking "the U.S." because the
world wants unaccented American voices now! Are you aware there are
online pay to play sites from many other countries who now book us? You
should get known worldwide!
Of course, it's a "given" that a voice talent must own and operate as
an audio engineer a good in-home studio and if you're not able to do
this yet, you have to get capable or forget about voice work. It's just
So truly, everyone, these discussions about "should I join this or that" and crying about $300 joining fee or whatever…it'
a must and it's the cost of doing business. Every business has a cost.
Voiceovers do too!! Plus you spend money (we hope) on self promotion
and getting your recording gear in shape, etc.
Paul Strikwerda answers:
Thanks for your input. You're right: having an online presence is an
absolute must. One might be blessed with the most divine vocal chords
on earth, but if nobody knows where to find you, it's hard to get any
work as a voice-over professional. That's where sites like voice123 and
voices.com come in.
It's also true that not all booking sites are created equal. Some are
absolutely worth paying for, and others are a waste of hard-earned
cash. Beginners in this business can have a challenging time separating
the good from the bad and the ugly. The value of any investment is
ultimately determined by the result. That's why I appreciate the honest
feedback from colleagues. Their comments are based on experience and
not on claims made by marketing managers who work for these sites.
Although I have been in broadcasting for many years, I recently decided
to increase my focus on voice-overs. Unfortunately, I'm not yet at a
point where I gross half a million each year. That's why I'd like to
stretch my dollars as much as I can. I have to distinguish between what
I would like to have, and what I can't live without. So, my plans to
get a Neumann47 are temporarily on hold…
Ideally, I'd like to sign up for as many reputable booking sites as
possible. However, I don't think it's wise to spend money on a site
that doesn't understand the concept of customer service and does very
little to promote their talent. It doesn't matter whether they'd charge
$299 or $2.99. They don't deserve my business, tax deductible or not.