News – The State of the Industry

Still shaking in your boots from the recent VO news? You’ve heard the cries, fear, and uncertainty from your fellow voice actors about the recent acquisition of Voicebank by Voices dot com – but what does it all mean for the industry?

Anne and Gabby talk about what’s been happening, their thoughts on the merger and where they see the VO industry heading in the near and far future.


Takeaways

Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. When big voiceover news hits, don’t let your emotions take over! Remain calm on social media.

  2. Don’t engage in gossip and speculation when you don’t know the facts or the impacts of voiceover news.

  3. Keep your eye on the merger, but keep working. Keep looking for diverse client leads.

  4. Always have multiple streams of income so changes in website and management will not sink your business.


Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++


The VO Agent Alliance is committed to fair rates and was formed after the merger.
Bodalgo.com is an ethical pay to play that pushes for fair rates!
Voice123.com allows you to directly connect with clients, though limits your auditions unless you are a premium member.

Transcript

VO: Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss. A VO Boss. Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success with your host Anne Ganguzza along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business, like a boss. A VO Boss.

Anne: Welcome everybody to the VO Boss podcast, I’m Anne Ganguzza your host along with my lovely cohost Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.

Gabby: Hi, Anne.

Anne: And today we’re gonna discuss a very important, relevant, current topic, and that is the state of the voiceover industry, Gabby.

Gabby: Indeed.

Anne: Indeed. So there’s been a lot of turbulent things happening.

Gabby: Oh my goodness.

Anne: In our industry lately, and Gabby and I thought it would be a good time to just kind of have a discussion about what’s going on and what we think might be happening in the future. And so I think all of you listeners have heard by now that Voices.com which is a large pay-to-play site, has had a large acquisition of Voicebank, and it really has shook, I guess shooken up, shaken up, is that a word? It has shaken up the industry.

Gabby: I think it crumpled it up into a paper ball and rolled it down a hill, personally.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: I mean, look, everybody’s talkin’ about it. We’ve been through the gamut already. I mean, it’s only been two weeks since this happened and what have we seen? Outrage, shock, villagers with pitchforks.

Anne: Scared.

Gabby: We have seen–

Anne: Scared.

Gabby: Yeah, we’ve seen fear, we’ve seen temporarily there was an industry turndown where things just kind of came to a standstill and a halt. It was like no work was coming from any direction. We’ve seen defending of both sides. We have seen arguments. We’ve seen debates. And now we’re in speculation. What’s gonna happen next?

Anne: Speculation. What will happen, there’s so many people speculating what will happen next. But here’s what I think is important for us, just from the get-go. Guys, one of the reasons why we have this podcast is to teach you to be better, or hopefully to teach you and inspire you to have better businesses and to grow your business and to be successful entrepreneurs. And so that first and foremost should be on your brain. To remember that, that we are entrepreneurs and it is our business and to perhaps mind our own business. And that’s in a good way, right?

Gabby: Well, of course. And part of this, Anne, has a lot to do with the topic of our new webisode about emotional intelligence. Anne:Oh yeah, absolutely.

Gabby: Yeah, and not allowing emotions to play a negative role, and whether it be emotions or thought processes, it’s the understanding that as business owners we have a personal responsibility to ourselves and to the industry that we serve to, yeah to no let emotions become this big heated part of what we do. Right now so many voice actors are coming to me and going, “What do you think?” “What’s gonna happen?” “What’s your thoughts on it?”

Anne: Me too.

Gabby: And yeah, I just you know, I kind of shrug my shoulders and I go, “I don’t know.” I don’t know anymore than anyone else knows right now. And it’s not that I don’t have an opinion. It’s just that I don’t want to engage, A, in a bunch of gossip, and B, in playing a what if game when we don’t know.

Anne: Yeah, I think it’s good to be aware, okay.

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: And once you’re aware, and you just kinda keep your eye on it. Then, but to proceed forward as normal in working to grow your business and working to secure your own contacts and securing your own business. Because I think that you’ve always got that. You should always have that to fall back on, and your business should not be dependent on solely one place for job opportunities.

Gabby: No.

Anne: We have to have a multitude of job opportunities. A lot of times you’re gonna be cultivating that yourself, or you’re gonna be going to different places. And it’s not just going to come from one place, one pay-to-play.

Gabby: Exactly, and you and I have talked about this a lot. The need to diversify. The need to have multiple streams of income and to make sure that you have a well-rounded business model. And what we’re seeing right now is in defense of Voices, a lot of actors who really and truly depend on Voices as a primary source of their income. And that, it’s not, what I’m about to say is not about voices specifically, it’s about that talent. That they’re not running their business well if that’s the case, if they’re depending on one source so completely for their livelihood. Anne: Right, right. I agree, it should not come from just one source. You have to go out and look for multiple sources. It’s kind of like with your clients, if you depend on one client to be your sole bread and butter at one point that client may not need your services anymore. And you’re gonna have to, you’re gonna be like, “Whoa, what just happened?” And so that’s kind of I think what we’re seeing out there. I do think that it’s important that, you know, if we want to talk about long-term affects on the industry. Pay-to-plays are here to stay. Online casting sites, they’re here because the technology has advanced to the point where it makes it convenient for the consumer to purchase voiceover services in a digital format. And I’ve always been, you know, up on my soapbox talking about how you need to be adaptive to the new technologies that are out there. And so I still stand by that.

Gabby: Agreed. So let’s dissect some of these components right now of what’s happening. First and foremost, the situation over Voicebank is hitting a lot of people very personally because of their relationships with their talent agents and the impact that this potentially has on agents as a whole. But something that I’ve been saying since this news broke and since this happened, was ironically, I’m not surprised. And folks looked at me a little funny and I said look, Voicebank has been a highly antiquated behind the times model for a very long time. Voicebank, when they began, super innovative, super new. If anybody knows the history of that company, when it started, completely revolutionary. Here we are 30 years later. It has not changed. It hasn’t moved forward. In fact, it’s simply trying to survive in a market where it really doesn’t belong anymore.

Anne: That’s such a great point, Gabby. Agents in general have been struggling in the past few years since they, you know, since the digital revolution. Even before this acquisition of Voice Bank, they’ve been struggling along with the digital times to have a presence in the online community. I know that they’ve been struggling, and my predictions a couple years ago were that if they, if agents were not online with the times, that they were gonna find it very difficult to survive in the industry, regardless if there was a takeover of Voicebank or not.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: And maybe what this will do is have a positive effect on having agents hustle now for the clients. And I don’t want to say that agents haven’t hustled in the past but some of them really grew to depend on Voicebank as their sole source of networking contacts and job opportunities.

Gabby: Correct.

Anne: And so, going back to the relationship model I think is really a good thing, for all of us.

Gabby: There’s two types of agents in our industry right now. One, are the agents who have rested on their laurels and depended way too heavily upon Voicebank, and the others are the hustlers. And much like I think the economic downturn of 2008 and the housing market crash caused sort of a purge in our industry, for those who remember that. There was literally like a mass exodus of the newbies and the people who had flooded the market a few years before when literally any yahoo with a web mic and an interface thought they could do this. The same is getting ready to happen. The agent scene is going to be purged, and those who are not capable of hustling, building those relationships and moving forward are going to be left behind. And probably yes, we’re going to see some doors close. Then the leaders will emerge. Now, the other thing that I think is really important to understand here too is agents, as a whole, and please understand this is not meant to be derogatory toward the talent agent profession. I love my agents, and I’m huge supporters of theirs.

Anne: Me too, me too.

Gabby: And I have great relationships with them, but as a whole, the agency art form industry unto itself has been very antiquated. And I remember a couple of years back, agents as large as William Morris Endeavor didn’t have a website.

Anne: Right.

Gabby: So that’s how a company like Voicebank, at least in part from the voiceover standpoint, was able to thrive and work for those agents.

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: Adapt to change.

Anne: And that’s how any digital online can, and you know in a way it’s kind of prophesizing what I’ve been saying all along is that I never quite could figure out why voice talent didn’t put enough stock in their own online presence and their own website.

Gabby: Totally.

Anne: It was always seeming to be like the last thing on their minds, or the last thing that they would invest in. And in reality, I think it’s the first thing that you need to invest in because these days if you don’t have a credible online presence, and a presence that people can find easily, can go to. It looks professional, and evokes trust in your potential client, you are sadly going to be left in the dust like a lot of, I’m gonna say, these other companies that haven’t evolved. Now even the union is scrambling to–

Gabby: Mm-hmm.

Anne: Maybe they’re scrambling, we want to think that they’re scrambling to come to the defense of the voice industry, the voiceover industry. Because I believe that there’s some facets of their organization that are also not quite up to digital online marketing standards or casting.

Gabby: It’s true. And so now we have a situation where, okay, for a moment, and this is gonna pain some people, I know, so bear with me, don’t hold your breath. It’ll be all right. Relax, everybody take a deep breath. Put aside your feelings about Voices.com. Shelf the emotions for a minute, the ethics, the morality, the infrastructure of their company. Whatever your feelings are towards that, just shove them in the closet for a quick sec. I’ll let ’em come back out in a sec. Understand that what we have at its core, when we strip all of that away, we have a technologically advanced company that stepped in and acquired a company that, if it had not been acquired, on its own I guarantee you, would have probably faded away in the next five years.

Anne: Yeah, you know what I agree with you there. I agree with you. Unless there was not a, unless there was no further investment in it in terms of developing it and evolving along with the online community. And I’m gonna say that they’re probably on the acquisition trail of any company in our industry that is not digitally forward thinking.

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: Because it’s an easy acquisition for them.

Gabby: Agreed.

Anne: They’re not gonna need a lot of money for that.

Gabby: No.

Anne: But also think about this for a second guys. And I mean again, I think where all the heated and the emotions and all these things get churned up. Hold on, back up, wait a minute. Voicebank was looking for a buyer. Do you know I haven’t heard anyone say that yet? No one has stopped to think about that.

Gabby: Everybody’s looking for a buyer at the right price.

Gabby: Of course, right?

Anne: Everybody’s looking for a buyer at the right price, and that’s something–

Gabby: Isn’t that the crux of business.

Anne: It really is. It really is.

Gabby: And no one’s thinking about that. No one is stopping to real, everybody’s going, oh, Voices acquired Voicebank, they took them. They stole them. It’s a monopoly. And like all this craziness, and I’m like wait a second. You don’t just acquire a company by tapping on the door and going, okay we want to buy you now.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: That’s not how that happens. Clearly, the owners of Voicebank were looking for an exit strategy. And if Voices came to the table with the right dollar amount, and there you go.

Anne: Well, absolutely. Absolutely. We just have to be aware that Voices is out there, they’re a large digital online presence. I’m gonna predict that maybe there’s gonna be other places that they’re going to try to get their feelers into. And just understand that, but all the while, put your head down to the, nose to the grindstone. Get to your business and start finding your opportunities. Start building relationships with your agents. Start building relationships with potential clients and really just start to secure your own business because that is, I think, going to be where we can all become winners. I think we still have to have moral ethics about our industry and command fair rates and all that good stuff, but you also have to really understand what it is that you need to do in order to be successful in your business. Otherwise it will just be a hobby, and you can certainly go off on the emotion of it all and you know, get involved. But it’s going to suck up so much of your valuable time, and–

Gabby: And energy.

Anne: I’m tired of the talk already. To be honest with you, because I’m busy. I’ve got things to do. I can’t talk, I’m sorry. I’ve got jobs to do.

Gabby: But you made time to talk to me. So I love you for that.

Anne: Well, yeah, of course. Always time to talk to you, Gabby. I want you guys to really start focusing on how you can secure opportunities that are outside of this company if that’s what your choice is.

Gabby: Anne, let me ask you a question. Do you believe that we need to choose sides?

Anne: There is a good question. I’m not gonna take sides. I, it really serves me no purpose to take sides to be honest with you. What serves my purpose is focusing on how I’m getting my work. And so I can make a decision whether I choose to work with that entity or that business or not. And I, a long time ago, made my choice that I wasn’t going to do work with that company just because I wasn’t aligned with their business practices. And so, do I need to take a side? No, not really. They exist. They’re doing their thing. They’re running their business, and I certainly can be alert and aware of what’s happening. But for me, of most concern, is my own business. So do I need to take sides? Not necessarily, but what I would like to do is to help educate the voiceover community at large about how they can progress forward and be successful in their business, and how they can command a fair rate. Those are the things that I believe in, and that’s really what I want to impart on the industry.

Gabby: So I think that’s great, and I think it’s funny that you say that your business model did not align with that of Voices.com. Same for me.

Anne: Right.

Gabby: I tried ’em. I worked with them for a very, very, very short period of time, and I went, you know, this isn’t for me. This doesn’t work for what I do, and for the types of bookings that I pursue, and ironically that was t