Interactive Voices was cool. I signed up as a newbie voice actor, and thought I was on the vanguard of the developing internet age of voice-acting.
In short order, they managed to obtain the domain name Voices.com, and became the #1 online casting site for voice-actors. Most everyone embraced their business model: pay a yearly subscription fee, and receive daily leads in your mailbox from voice-seekers. The owners seemed supportive and encouraging of the VO community. I’d often run into one of the husband/wife team at conferences. I contributed to their online resources, did video interviews extolling their importance in the industry, and quoted their annual industry surveys in my blog.
But somewhere along the way, the worm turned. More and more of the jobs being presented were being “managed” (what did THAT mean?). The operating model seemed to prove that their business practices allowed double or triple-dipping the profits out of each job. Opportunities that appeared in their notices would show up in other online casting sites at two, three, or even four times the compensation rates.
When questioned, the company’s answers seemed hollow, disingenuous, dismissive, or misleading. In the last year, there was a growing body of evidence that Voices.com did not have the best interests of the voice acting community at heart. Calls for more transparency were ignored. Despite dropouts in their subscribers, their actions blithely continued or got worse. Public proclamations spun a fantastic story of growth and expansion, but the faithful were leaving in droves.
Of late, several revelations confirm suspicions. No longer would they guarantee a choice at the lion’s choice of jobs to the top-paying tier of talent….and refunds were not forthcoming for talent who felt their contract/trust in the company was broken. Rumors of layoffs ran counter to glowing reports of hires. See Glassdoor.com for stories from people who used to work there: “…do not work here, senior management is flying by the seat of their pants…”.
But finally, in the last couple of days, the announcement that they were doubling the cost of their SurePay escrow fee from 10 to 20%…was the final straw that prompted even some of their defenders to throw in the towel and announce they were leaving.
A naive and eager flow of newcomers may keep Voices.com in business. Those who don’t pay attention…who don’t do their due diligence in researching this company, may soon find they’re more a victim of a ruse rather than a part of an honest business process.
I suppose every industry has its pariah. Many of us never suspected it would come from this corner.
Forewarned is forearmed.