P2P: Voices.com, part 4 in a series

24 May

If you are non-union voiceover talent looking for work online, you are likely familiar with the P2P (“pay to play”) websites that offer access to job listings for a fee. Being somewhat new to the VO industry, I decided to try several different P2P sites before committing to one or the other (or several) for the long haul. In my previous posts, I wrote about my experience on Elance.com (https://algranatiw.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/p2p-vo-work-on-generic-freelancer-websites-part-2-in-a-series-2/) and Voice123 (https://algranatiw.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/p2p-voice123-part-3-in-a-series/). What follows is an account of my test drive of Voices.com.

Getting Started

The membership for voiceover talent on Voices.com is $299/year or $39.95/month. In comparison, Voice123 has a similar annual fee ($295) but no monthly option. Clients list their jobs for free. New members have the opportunity to try Voices.com for one month at the discounted rate of $9.95, which is the route I took.

As I mentioned in my previous P2P posts, signing up and creating one’s online voiceover profile is a fairly standard procedure on each of these sites: head shot, demos, text descriptions, check boxes, contact info, done! Because Voices.com manages the payment process (see below), talent also need to provide PayPal account info.

When I first signed up with Voices.com for free (non-paying members can post their profiles and demos, but can’t audition for anything, same as Voice123), I was contacted about the $9.95 introductory offer via email. I arranged to have my cheapie test month postponed until I returned from vacation, and had an inbox full of audition invites when I returned home.

You WILL Get Invitations to Audition. Lots!

Voices.com does not let users peruse and audition for just any job listing. Voiceover talent must be invited to audition for specific gigs, either directly by a client, or by the site’s automated casting system. This will sound familiar if you are a paying member of Voice123.

The difference between Voices.com and Voice123, and it’s a BIG difference, is that Voices.com does not limit the number of auditions to which members are invited. Voice123, as previous discussed and often criticized across the web, “punishes” its members for auditioning too frequently by sending them less audition invitations. Voices.com does not do this. The site invites its paying members to audition for any jobs that match their profile at least 80% (I only received one invite that matched only 80%, the remainder were 85% or higher). This is a huge advantage Voices.com has over Voice123.

I received invitations to audition on Voices.com frequently during my test, often a dozen or so every 2 or 3 days.  Approximately 97% of all the invitations I received did indeed match the information in my profile. The 3% that were not appropriate for me appeared to be the fault of the client or Voices.com staff that checked the wrong box regarding which gender was desired. In one instance, I had already recorded my audition before noticing that the client wanted a voice “similar to Alec Baldwin.” That was my bad for not reading the description and extra information more carefully.

Service & Process

The Voices.com process is different from Voice123 in several ways. In addition to not limiting invitations, Voices.com semi-shepherds the process of connecting client with talent and oversees payment. Voices.com is also transparent about the status of jobs it lists on its site and allows clients to provide some limited audition feedback.

The Voices.com website indicates if a submitted audition has been listened to with a green check mark next to the job listing. The site will also show a “thumbs up” icon if the client “liked” what he or she heard (which Voices.com compares to the “like” function on Facebook). This is less helpful than the various ratings provided by Voice123 –when clients opt to use them– that indicate how likely a client is to hire each talent. But any feedback is welcome feedback. As someone still new to VO, and as I mentioned in a previous post, it’s helpful to look at feedback in the aggregate in order to identify patterns. For example, the types of jobs for which I most often received “thumbs up” ratings are the two areas I have been focusing on in my search for voiceover work.

Clients post a job to Voices.com in the usual manner, with a project fee (often a range) and closing date. Voices.com does not allow project fees of less than $100, but does not prevent clients from asking for massive amounts of work for those hundred dollars. VO talent include a proposed project fee with their audition and proposal, to which an “escrow fee” of 10% is added and passed on to the client. This fee is collected by Voices.com upon job completion. In other words, Voices.com does not collect this fee unless the project runs through to completion. Unlike Voice123, which functions solely as a match-making service between client and talent, Voices.com has a financial stake in both the match-making and project aspects of their business. The actual work of exchanging files and other communication between client and talent happens outside of the Voices.com site.

Voices.com’s vested interest in project completion is evident in how they share with members what I’ll call “job status labels.” A job status is always presented alongside each job listing for which a member has been invited to audition:

OPEN- Accepting auditions

CLOSED- No more auditions being accepted.

FINALIZING- Client has selected a talent, is in negotiations, etc.

WORKING- Talent and client have agreed to terms and are working on project.

COMPLETED – Job is complete; money has been released by the client to pay the talent.

I found this to be incredibly helpful, if not fascinating. Unlike Voice123, talent using Voices.com are able to track if the job they didn’t get (yet?) was awarded to someone else or just hasn’t been awarded yet at all. Based on my experience, job listings on Voices.com are often open only for a few days (not a few hours like Voice123, and not two weeks like Elance), but rarely changed from the CLOSED status quickly.

In fact, as of May 23rd, I have 14 jobs for which I auditioned that closed in April for that are still in CLOSED status. Of these, only three of my auditions have been listened to. And those are just the jobs I auditioned for! Add to that all the jobs I was invited to in April but declined and all the other jobs in April that didn’t match my profile, and that’s a LOT of projects on Voices.com going nowhere.

Ashley Davidson, the Social Media Manager from Voices.com, assured me that, “Voices.com staff follows up with all jobs that have been posted on the website, regardless of status.” I have to wonder just how long they wait to make contact with clients who never hire someone. I can’t imagine why Voices.com would want to write-off their potential 10% profit of so many incomplete jobs. This makes me wonder, as I did in my review of Voice123, if some of the job listings are Voices.com and maybe P2P sites in general are not genuine and only serve the purpose of drumming up the business of paying members.

Ashley also shared with me that Voices.com “has a global network of over 25,000 voice actors” and creates “6,911 job opportunities on average each month.” Based on my experience with the site, I am still left wondering how many of those “job opportunities” actually come to fruition, and after how much time? Even if each of those monthly 6,911 jobs were booked and completed by a different Voices.com member each month, that still leaves 18,089 members paying a subscription fee but not booking any work that month. It was not clear from Ashley’s email what percent of the 25,000 membership is nonpaying “members” who have a needle’s chance in a haystack of being “discovered” and offered work without an invitation to audition, though I would double down on the likelihood that 99% of the 6,911 jobs that DO get completed are awarded to paying Voices.com members.

By the way, the page layout of job listings on Voices.com is very easy to use.  Members can sort by close dates, by the job, or by project fee. With so many invitations to audition, being able to sort and prioritize each recording session was very useful. (When I was testing Voice123 I emailed them the recommendation to sort job listings by close date to no avail.) If Voices.com added a feature to also sort by the heard/liked icons, that would be very cool. Nothing like a bunch of “thumbs up” icons en masse to brighten your day!

Feeding, but not quite a Frenzy

During my 30 day trial of Voice123, I found that audition invitations were limited and often maxed-out within the hour. Jobs on Voices.com do not have limits on the number of auditions, so it is up to the talent to decide if he or she really wants to audition for a job that already has 80 or more proposals. Like all sites, auditions sometimes close early on Voices.com—a huge bummer to see the CLOSED status has changed to WORKING before you even had a chance!—but this does not happen so often as to be discouraging.

Also similar to other sites, sometimes jobs are awarded to others before your audition is ever reviewed. One approach is to be an early bird about submitting one’s audition. This doesn’t always work, though, because many clients will wait until the close date and listen to all auditions at once, in who knows what order. Another approach is to bid low if a budget range is provided. I tried both.

So, How Did I Do on Voices.com?

Time for numbers!

My test period on Voices.com was 46 days instead of the 30 days I tested Voice123, and for two reasons:

  1. I realized there was a lengthy lag between the job close date and when clients actually begin work on their project.
  2. Voices.com has a monthly fee option that allowed me to expand my test without signing up for an entire year.

I.E., My test on Voices.com was approximately 50% longer than my test on Voice123. If you are a math nerd like me and really want to compare apples to apples, multiply the below Voices.com stats by 50% and then compare them to the stats in my Voice123 post. 

Here are my approximate stats for 46 days on Voices.com.

Auditions invited to: 291

This is an average of 6.34 invitations to audition per day, which was my Voice123 weekly average, if I were lucky that week. As previously stated, all but one invitation I received was at least an 85% match to my profile. A few weeks into my test I revised my Voices.com profile a bit, but this had no obvious effect on the number of invites I received.

Voices.com does not tell members which auditions they are*not* invited to (Voice123 does this), which is fine with me. There was plenty of work to consider!

The quality of these jobs were generally good or very good, with a few “Huh?!?” gigs thrown in here and there. Yes, I said this exact same thing about the jobs on Voice123. Voices.com has a statement after each listing confirming that someone on staff has personally been in touch with the client and has approved the job for posting, though it’s not clear what the standard is for approval.

Auditions submitted: 56

With no fear of being retaliated against for “over-auditioning,” I was selective but aggressive in my audition submissions on Voices. Auditions include a cover note, proposal fee, and one audio track—you can’t submit both your reel and your custom audition. 56 out of 291 is a submission rate of 19.2%. This is actually lower than my submission rate on Voice123, which was 23.4%. In other words, just because I was given more opportunity to audition does not mean I became less selective about which jobs to pursue.

Auditions listened to: 25 out of 56 (44.6%)

As I mentioned, I eventually realized that clients using Voices.com are slower to review auditions and start projects than those on Voice123. Of the 31 auditions not heard, all are for jobs still marked as CLOSED, which probably means no auditions for that job have been listened to yet.

With new batches of invites coming in every few days, I conducted a few experiments to see if I could manipulate the system to my advantage and increase the likelihood of my audition being opened.

Batch #1: Fast and Furious. I recorded and submitted auditions for this batch as soon as I was notified of the job.

Batch #2: Cheap Cheap Like a Birdie. I never bid below the listed project fee, but whenever a budget range was provided, I bid the lowest amount. Even though I knew this could result in my doing a very large job for a very tiny paycheck, I was willing to make this sacrifice in the name of research. I hope you appreciate my sacrifices!

Batch #3: The Demo Ditch. Being low on mojo (see https://algranatiw.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/where-did-you-go-mojo/) and feeling a bit discouraged about submitting so many auditions on Voices.com with little to show for it, I responded to a batch of invites with my demo reel instead of a custom audition. Of course, I didn’t do this for listings that specifically said, “Send us a custom demo or we won’t consider you.”

So which approach do you think worked?

(Drumroll, please…)

Fast and Furious did not work. There was no increase in the percent of auditions listened to when my auditions were among the first few submitted. This confirms for me that the Feeding Frenzy model of Voice123 is not something that needs to be accepted as a way of life for non-union VO talent.

I can’t say if the Demo Ditch worked or not, as it was the last approached I tested. As of day 46, 45.5% of the demo ditch “auditions” were listened to, almost the exact same rate of review as the custom demos I had been submitting. My cover note made it clear that it was my demo reel, not a custom recording, I was submitting for review. This result makes me wonder if I have been needlessly wasting my time on custom auditions when really they have not been necessary.  

First prize goes to CHEAP CHEAP LIKE A LITTLE BIRDIE! I submitted eight auditions in one sitting for which I bid at the lowest end of the client’s project range. All eight were reviewed within 24 hours.

This clear interest in acquiring the cheapest talent possible contradicts the last statement made in the Voices.com document, “12 Trends for 2012,” which was emailed to members by Kayla Moore on May 19th. This document states:

Rates Hold Firm… Something we’ve noticed is that clients are not always going with talent who quotes the least… in fact, most clients opt to hire in the middle of a range or closer to the top!

I’m not sure how this can be true when auditions that accompany proposal fees in the mid-range or at the high end of the clients range have a lower listen-to rate than those submitted at the lowest rate. If the client doesn’t listen to your audition, the chance of them hiring you seems pretty low, dontcha think?

One of the eight clients contacted me, asking for a second take in a different tone, because she felt my voice was a great match for the project (and that project is still in CLOSED status, so nothing has happened since then).

A second of the eight clients contacted me after hearing my storybook demo requesting a custom recording of just a single line. I submitted the recording and was awarded the job when the posting status switched to CLOSED. In the interest of research, I completed a 400+ word project for just $100. You’re welcome, Internet.

Jobs booked (so far): 1

I enjoyed doing the job I booked on Voices.com, despite the project fee what we can all agree was mighty small. I recorded text for a children’s story book, plus recorded a long list of individual words for use in the interactive parts of an eBook. The client knew what he wanted and was fun to work with. Once we agreed to terms, the client and I communicated via email and I sent file via the Internet. When the project was complete, I received payment directly from Voices.com.

With so many of the jobs I auditioned for still OPEN or CLOSED but not yet in progress (55 as of this writing, with enough “thumbs up” icons to keep me hopeful), I wonder if I could continue to book more work on Voices.com even if I don’t send another audition during my remaining 15 days or so left on the site.

Now What?

Like Voice123, I have mixed feelings about my experience on Voices.com. As I mentioned, my number one question to be answered in doing this research remains focused on the membership fee and the value of that membership to the VO talent. Is paying $299/year to be a member on Voices.com worth it?

The hurry-up-and-wait nature of Voices.com in particular has me stumped. I suggested in my post about Voice123 that their lack of fiscal interest in completed VO projects could lead to abuse of their system for the sole purpose of driving membership fees. Voices.com does have a financial stake in project completion (in addition to membership fees), but does not seem to close the loop on projects that are posted on their site and never complete. I wonder if clients and talent “meet” on the Voices.com site but work outside of it to avoid that pesky 10% “escrow fee”?  Does Voices.com attract a different kind client than Voice123? Do clients go to Voice123 when in a hurry, (or worse, to Voicebunny.com, a sister company of Voice123 reviewed by A.T. Chandler here: http://chandlervoice.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/a-review-of-voicebunny-com-beta-testing-their-beta-test/) and Voices.com when they’re still brainstorming ideas and less likely to actually pull the trigger?

I was only a little surprised that my cheap Voices.com proposals were all listened to so quickly, and eventually landed me a job (and hopefully that second one—at least that job was for a non-profit organization!). Having hired plenty of contractors in my time, I get it. Why not start with the bids that are the most affordable?  All things being equal, clients like to save money. Who doesn’t?

This has bigger implications for the voiceover industry: Non-union voiceover fees continue to fall steeply and quickly. The prices on Voices.com and Voice123 are similar, and those on Elance (which serves a larger, global market) are even lower. Given the choice, I don’t imagine that small agencies and companies would hire union actors when the non-union work is of the same quality but perhaps 20% the cost of union talent.

Both Voices.com and Voice123 emphasize that their service helps voiceover talent create relationships with clients that will lead to more work. I don’t buy into this, I’m sorry. Unless someone hires you, sending them audition after audition is not the beginning of a relationship; it’s stalking. I could send my resume to the same Human Resources director at IBM every week, for every position I think I am qualified for, but that does not constitute a relationship with that person.

Back to my original question: Is paying $299 a year worth it, for either Voice123 or Voices.com?

From my current vantage point, I think a year-long study would be needed to really answer that question. Voices.com provides many more opportunities to audition, but Voice123 may provide more audition opportunities that are likely to actually lead to a paying gig.

Perhaps I’ve been approaching this all wrong. Maybe I need to do a ton of work for free (should be easy enough to find work without paying any membership fees!), and then pursue union membership and an agent based on a robust portfolio. Or, perhaps I should just start my own voiceover job listing service, because that’s clearly where the money is to be found in this business.

Wouldn’t you like to give me $300/year to send you voiceover job listings?

I’ll just need your credit card information and your email address…

🙂 Wendy



Elance website

Voices.com website

Voice123 website

Email exchange with Ashley Davidson of Voices.com, May 2, 2012

“12 Trends for 2012” presentation from Kayla Moore of Voices.com, received May 19, 2012.


Follow me on Twitter @AlgranatiW

Website & demos at www.wendyalgranati.com

7 Responses to “P2P: Voices.com, part 4 in a series”

  1. Marc Scott May 24, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    I’ve had a lot of success with Voice123. I’ve tried Voices.com twice over the years. I found that I submitted a ton of auditions for little to no return on investment. Both times I think I just earned back enough in 12 months to cover my membership fee.

    I wanted to see what your review would have to say because I’ve been thinking of trying Voices.com again. Great job on the review. I’ll be sharing it… and giving my own membership decision some more thought.

  2. Wendy Algranati May 25, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    Day 47 Update: Received a positive response to one of the jobs for which I sent my demo, requesting a custom audition. Going with the flow on this approach, I just sent my demo in lieu of a custom audition to another eight or nine jobs. Have I cracked the code?! Time will tell. I’ll keep updating! 🙂

  3. Wendy Algranati May 26, 2012 at 4:25 am #

    Day 48 Update: Received this very lovely and unusual email on Voices.com
    > Hi Wendy,> > Thank you for choosing to audition for my job posting.
    > Although we won’t be working together on this project
    > specifically, I am keeping you in mind for future opportunities.
    > I really like your voice and can already think of upcoming work
    > that might call for your particular voice.> > Best
    > regards,> > (Client)

  4. credit card processing September 24, 2013 at 4:12 am #

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post!
    It’s the little changes that make the biggest changes.

    Thanks for sharing!


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