“Rejoice, and make a joyful noise.” I remember sitting in a Presbyterian church at around nine years old and hearing the pastor use that phrase. He was talking about how much we have to be grateful for, despite all of the problems we may face in our lives. He said that we should never forget our blessings.
How easily this could also apply to the voiceover industry today. We read messages of doom and gloom on a daily basis in blogs and on social media, and even have to endure articles in mainstream media celebrating gig economy hackers trying to sell our industry short. We hear about the demo mills, and predatory coaches, and online sites that don’t have our best interests at heart…..and it is easy to think the sky is falling.
All of these concerns and issues are valid, but I think we should also stop and count our blessings.
When it comes to jobs, there have never been more out there. I’m beginning to lose track of the number of talent I’ve seen go from zero to a full time income over the past few years. If there was an oversupply of talent and a limited amount of demand, this wouldn’t be happening so often. We live in a time of abundance like the voiceover industry has never seen, with more Explainer/Corporate/Industrial work out there than ever before. The kind of blue-collar work that creates steady income streams and keeps the lights on. Rates for this sort of work have stayed steady, and if anything the continuing rate education of talent is pushing them higher. I’m seeing much less pushback on getting $500 for a 2-3 minute corporate piece today than I did five years ago, and many clients are open to the idea of negotiating limited use licenses and residuals even on non-union projects.
E-Learning is exploding. In an industry that will soon have as big of an annual budget as the Department of Defense, even P2P sites are offering E-Learning rates that amount to as much as $3,000 per finished hour. There is TONS of this work out there, and the amazing part is that the vast majority is not controlled by gatekeepers, but rather found through direct marketing to E-Learning companies, developers, and direct buyers. I know numerous talent making virtually their entire living, and filling their days, with E-Learning work.
Videogames and animation are also growing exponentially, with more titles than ever before and more opportunities to make your character come alive! While animation is still largely an LA market, videogame VO can be done from anywhere, and there are numerous ways to access the market.
New media has created an entirely new category of commercial VO that didn’t exist even ten years ago, and while we are still working to define fair rates for web ads and pre-roll, the future is bright in terms of both quantity and quality of work.
Agents, threatened by the encroachment of corporate players into their space are pushing back by raising standards, coming together to maintain norms, and getting back to the old fashioned pre-Voicebank way of doing business, actually hitting the hustings and generating leads on their own. We can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, but many of our agents are showing us that old-fashioned relationship-based business is still relevant to VO.
New, ethical casting alternatives like Voice Casting Hub, Cast Voices/A360 and others are getting in to the game to offer services that the industry has relied upon for years in a more transparent manner. Voice123, bodalgo, and now VO Planet under the new leadership of Kevin West are showing the industry that Pay to Play doesn’t have to mean low rates and big commissions. Almost one year after the news that shook our industry, these sites remain strong and are adding new and better jobs every day.
In a sea of demo mills are islands of ethical producers like Chuck Duran, Marc Graue, Anne Ganguzza, Joe Cipriano, Cliff Zellman, Dave Walsh, Uncle Roy, Jordan Reynolds, Gabby Nistico, David Rosenthal, and numerous others who hopefully won’t be too irritated that I didn’t keep listing people.
Where predatory coaches and companies roam so do honest players like the GVAA, Gravy for the Brain, Everett Oliver, Nancy Wolfson, Thom Pinto, and dozens more.
Talent has more options to get proper training and quality demos from people who care about their careers than at any time in our industry’s history. Just as importantly, aspiring talent have an abundance of options to tell them not to quit their day jobs if VO isn’t right for them, as opposed to just smiling and running their credit cards.
Folks, we have a lot of challenges in our industry today. Broadcast rates are being pushed lower by new technology and changing consumer behavior, and like any performance industry we have our fair share of slimeballs exploiting the uninitiated, while big companies hover around our industry like wolves looking for a meal……but let’s stop for a moment to count our blessings. They are many. They are bountiful. And we should all take a moment to rejoice and make a joyful noise.