This is a post about what I believe is going to take place in 2013, when it comes to online voice casting. My expectation from this seat is that websites will get back to business as usual. Normally, I only mention Voice123, but this post requires mentioning other sites.
Look at time periods in history such as “The Summer of Love” or the rise of Internet businesses and social media. These are periods of history involving social experiments in which people try to create alternative life-styles. Society rebelled against something they saw as “unfair”, and joined together as one in a social phenomenon. It was big and beautiful, but then something happened…They all got older and realized that maybe the things they rebelled against…did things the way they did for a good reason. Getting older requires “money”, sad to say, and they had to get back to business as usual. They took their alternative life-styles and made businesses out of them, involving ALL people; not just early adopters of progressive thinking. You simply cannot survive as a business pandering to only 2% of your possible customers, even if they may be trend setters, because “old money” is still the best money. Even the 99% would not have minded being the 1%.
In 2013, Voice123 will turn 10 years old. It is still a year older than one site many find to be its competitor. In website years, that makes them both about 70 years old. Prices to subscriptions on websites have not changed much, but the economy has changed drastically. “Business as usual” means that subscription websites may focus now more on renewing their best voice talent that they know can complete the business cycle of “You pay us, so they pay you, and we find more to pay you”. The open-door-policy they have had for years may now be becoming expensive. The deal is that all websites have learned by now that if one pays to use a voice casting website, there is no guarantee of work. Therefore, you have voice talent who are ready to work, and those who treat it much like a way of learning how to work. Selling “chance” is unattractive to the masses. It always has been. Today, just like 20 years ago, people still say “I got a real job” when they get a 2nd job to fund a voice over career. The majority of society still sees voice overs as “not a real job”, so many try and fail. All that failure builds up to a point where many realize, “Wait, this is work!”. The result….for years, I found myself bothered when people would say, “You watch. The cream will rise to the top!”, but yes…It is happening now.
In 2013, what will become abundantly clear is that working online means “competing against professional talent, just like they did offline, requires massive amounts of practice, networking, and knowledge of the absolute ‘wrongs’ for working in voice overs.” It also means that voice talent new to the industry will face off against those who are already connected. It will take longer to break in, after a lengthy time period of networking. ‘Business as usual’ means those who worked in a traditional market will finally start working online, bringing with them traditional ideals that will create new (yet old) expectations. This spells trouble for “pay-to-play” sites because the more talent pay with the expectation of getting work, they will find out working online comes with accountability. If you are an artist, you had better know what you are doing. Some tell me, “subscriptions are outdated”, which I still find amazing. Given that voice talent who book work on Voice123 do not pay commission, get more customer service, and loads of free info, if they did pay commission, they would notice they are paying much more than $295 USD.
More “business as usual”…No more fascination…just get me friggin’ work already!
As traditional thinkers enter the market, all those new fun and shiny new websites will become less fascinating. Businesses and people are at a point where they have begun to think, “Yeah…great website. But what does it do for me? Does it solve my problems or not?”. I still remember that 4 years ago, I was beta testing Linkedin as some criticized it for not being “social”, but I also saw that the people involved on Linkedin just wanted jobs and career advice. They did not need memes, tweets, or cute sayings. Social media may have lost its fascination in 2012, especially due to the amount of hoaxes; too many cried wolf. Seriously…
- How many times did Morgan Freeman die?
- Doesn’t it seem odd that everyone made those useless Facebook posts last week declaring some form of privacy protection?
- Do you need to know within 2 seconds that a famous actor passed away, and then hear it 1000 times?
- How fascinating is it to know that we all share common thoughts?
- How much time are we spending on this, and is it getting us work?
“Business as usual” will hopefully mean more celebrations of getting work. There is no greater feeling than to call yourself a working voice actor, as a career.
Take a look at the behavior of Google search algorithms in 2012, with the Panda and Penguin updates. For me, it makes complete sense why they did it. Google search results want to be as effective as possible. I do not understand the math, but I certainly understand their theory: If I do a search to find something voice over related, and I end up on some garbage spam-filled website where a link to a voice over article appears, but the website sells shoes, I am going to think, “Why am I here?”. Google is making sure that all content in searches “makes sense” and is “natural”.
Think about this…What is on your Voice123 profile? Does it make sense to the person who wants to hire you? Or are you trying to trick something into being found? Hmmm…an honest talent profile, that looks like a resume…Business as usual. Google is now making its search results more human and about “authorship”. Word of caution on that…Be careful now, more than ever, about exploding with anger at people on blog comments. If you are the true author, it may lead to your worst content appearing first in searches. All I can say, when it comes to online content in 2013… Play it cool. Be a business. Keep it real. Keep it honest. Give props where they are due, and do not try to trick anything. You are not smarter than 165 Google search engine employees.
One more “business as usual”…Getting outside again…The movement to talk again
Working from home is great. It really is wonderful, but it is not perfect. If you have worked online for a while now, talked to lots of people without ever hearing their voices, you sometimes get a case of cabin fever. Human beings in social industries such as voice overs, demand human interaction at some point. In 2012, more than any other year, I have seen voice talent planning events to go and meet people face to face. I also see voice over work being booked on websites, and recorded in studios, via Skype or other methods that move beyond email and social media. As it stands right now, I still see the most powerful way to market is through email marketing, that leads to some other form of personal business interaction. Tweets have a short life-span of mere seconds, and Facebook posts are usually declaring something, but that is not how we “really talk”. We always answer emails, and if it is an invite to a live event to meet important people, we are more likely to do it.
How is this all business as usual…to recap…
- We are back working together with people we separated from for some years, as some committed to online work from home.
- We are finding out quality of business relationships trumps quantity.
- We maybe realized that a job should be a job, and not an exhausting life-style.
- We are realizing that social media will not change the world, but people’s actions will.
- We are finding that getting work takes effort, no matter how simple it is to click a mouse button.
The digital land of new opportunity now has an abundant supply of new opportunists. To handle this, everyone may start relying on some old school, business as usual-style-thinking of filtering out things that cost time and money…including behavior that resembles what an agent does, in an online atmosphere. Ultimately, all casting websites will have to decide if they want to invent the next best shiny new toy that no one understands completely, or something that is drastically needed to just help people get work.
One final thing…the websites that voice talent decide to use will succeed. This is unusual for voice talent, but in an online world, they have complete 100% control over who receives auditions and posts jobs.
Business as usual…apathy and silence can be business killers, and a sign no one is interested. Every business needs vendors and clients. Without one or the other, the business cannot survive.