Summer Thoughts on Pay to Play & Catch 22s

20 Aug

I haven’t been blogging much this summer. Like most people, I’d much rather enjoy the summer weather in ways that don’t involve looking at a screen! Now that we’ve been in triple-digit temperatures for a while, it’s a good time to catch up and take advantage of the AC!

Pay to Play on The Saga Continues

I’ve continued my subscription to, a pay to play service which continues to amaze and annoy me (see my previous post about here: The percent of job listings that never become a completed project astounds me! I understand if an agent listens to 200 custom auditions and still fails to find *that* voice, the ONE that will speak for their special, unique message or product—but is that really the norm and not the exception?

Also confusing is when my own custom auditions are marked as “liked” by a client (noted by a cutesy thumbs-up sign), but the job is never completed!  By *any* VO talent! Perhaps the agent “likes” several auditions, and ultimately settles on someone other than me. Yes, that would suck! But I have yet to see that happen.

And of course, my complaint about pay to play sites from the beginning: There are so many custom auditions I submit that are never reviewed—even when they are submitted early and within the client’s budget. Of course, if I submit the 50th audition, I know that the job might be awarded to one of the 49 people who submitted something before me. But SO many listings on do not become completed *and* they have not listened to my audition. What does this mean? Was the “client” really looking to hire anyone in the first place?

I have two theories.

  1. The majority of voiceover jobs on take place outside of the service. In other words, agents listen to auditions and find talent on the site, but once they want to hire someone and get things moving, they do not use the system. Instead, agents make arrangements to work with and pay the talent directly (e.g., PayPal, invoice, etc.) to lower costs by removing the 10% fee. This would explain why so many job listings close on, but the projects never moved to completed status.

In fact, two VO actors have told me confidentially that they have done this. I could never do this, because I would be too paranoid about not getting paid by someone I had never worked with before! On the other hand, I’ve never been offered to work outside the system.

  1. Because agents or potential clients can list jobs for free on (and any p2p site), there is no barrier to entry. Anyone could register and create a phony job listing on a p2p just for the hell of it, even with the staff review prior to posting. A more serious prospective client could list the same job on multiple sites at once in order to cast as wide a net as possible. While in particular presents itself as an all-in-one solution (recruit, work, pay), perhaps very few agents are interested in committing to a single VO source. As I posted previously, there is also the possibility that VO job listings on any p2p site are fake, and are posted only to boost sales of VO talent subscriptions.

This past month, I’ve been attempting to circumvent these issues by only submitting auditions to potential clients who have used the payment system already and have received favorable feedback from VO talent. This has very much limited the amount of jobs I’ve been auditioning for, but I do think it will prevent a lot of wasted time.

The Catch 22

Another voiceover issue I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the nature of recording from home. When I began studying voiceover, it was in a studio in Burbank with a small handful of other newbies and a fun instructor. I really enjoyed the studio vibe as well as the work itself. Now that I’ve been doing auditions and booking jobs all from my home studio, the reality has set in: It’s a very different experience.  Given the choice, I think I would prefer auditioning and working from a professional studio across town than from my home. When I record from home, both reading and audio mixing are my responsibility—and for pretty low rates compared to union employees who only read. Unfortunately, this seems to be the only way to get non-union work.  I would need to build up my non-union portfolio a lot more before ever hoping to join the union and get an agent– who would then send me on in-person auditions. Which I’m sure I would nail. 😉


2 Responses to “Summer Thoughts on Pay to Play & Catch 22s”

  1. Jill Tarnoff August 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    Hi Wendy,
    I enjoy your blog. Thanks for investigating this subject. One aspect of you might want to consider and investigate is something a employee told me last year. He mentioned that most of the jobs rewarded are not through the audition process. He said most are hired directly by the clients. This would be a market we don’t see on their site. I made him repeat it a few times because I found it hard to believe. It made me more lax about auditioning. I’ve had a couple jobs that were a direct hire. I keep my subscription so my hat is still in the ring, but I don’t audition as often.
    Have you ever heard this fact?

  2. Wendy Algranati August 27, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    Hi Jill,
    Thanks for commenting. By “most are hired directly by the clients,” I take it you meant that most talent are hired outside of the system? If so, I have heard that. My own experience with this site has been working through the system. My bigger beef is when jobs are closed and my custom audition is never listened to in the first place, especially when the matching system says the gig is a 95% match to my voice!
    🙂 Wendy

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