How I Answered Voices.com’s Inquiry
I got a message from Voices.com today about joining forces with them so they could recommend me as a coach.
Here’s how I answered them. I don’t think they were happy, but I doubt I’m the only one.
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Hope this helps!
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hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
I got a piece of email today from
and they wanted to talk to me they were
reaching out to see a fella
let me just read the email to you and
then I’ll tell you what I how I
responded I came from a Joleen Vander
Kolk jolene jolene Joe
hello David my name is Jolene and I work
on establishing partnerships with
voiceover coaches schools and Studios on
mm voices.com and our talent roster
I enjoyed checking out your vo to go go
website and would enjoy learning more
about your coaching offerings and your
team of coaches so we may establish if
there’s an opportunity for us to work
together we are teaming up with coaches
to assist talent in finding the right
coach and making coaching all the more
accessible for our talent roster I
appreciate your time and look forward to
hearing from you thank you Jolene Vander
Kolk coaching partnership Account
Manager at voices.com
when I got this email it didn’t take me
long to craft the single sentence that I
thank you for reaching out but I’m not
available to work with you nor are any
members of my coaching team David took
her an hour or so and then she replied
with one of those Gmail suggested
replies I guess maybe jima they’re using
Google Apps to run their stuff because
this is exactly what Gmail would suggest
as one sentence that says understood I
appreciate you letting me know not
understood period I appreciate you
letting me know new sentence but
understood comma I appreciate you
letting me know it just reeks of a gmail
suggests you see those new things use a
gmail app on your iPhone or and if you
use the Gmail app and on your desktop
they give you a little suggested replies
I don’t know that that actually helps
the discourse in the world but it sure
is convenient yeah and that was that I
checked in with all my coaches as I was
creating that response every single one
of them was like absolutely and if you
don’t know why I responded that way I
urge you to Google the words voices and
then you can do do TCO em rather than
voices comm because that may cause your
browser to search on the voices comm
site for the rest of the search but if
you google voices.com
transparency interview or voices.com
you will read why most of the voice-over
talent in the industry that knows what’s
going on doesn’t want to work with
voices calm anymore voice is calm
legally did a lot of things that ruined
the livelihood of many many voiceover
talent up until about two three years
ago I don’t know when you’re watching
this so could be longer than that there
were two really great sites that the
professional voice over industry relied
on for casting for finding agents for
finding work for being exposed to
producers directors etc and new talent
one was called voice bank net and the
other was called voice registry and
voice bank net was the mothership it was
the place where agencies and casting
directors would go and post projects
that were well-paying mostly Union and
where talent agencies would list their
talent and their talents demos and I
think the agency is paid a certain
amount of money per month when you’d
post a project if you were a casting
person it would cost you a certain
amount of money to do that you could
invite whoever you wanted and every
agency that was legitimate was listed on
the site as was their talent
voice registry was kind of the bridge to
voice bank net because you couldn’t be
on voice bank net as an independent read
that non-represented voice talent and
have an agent
and voice registry allowed you to do a
lot of the things that a lot of the you
know stepping-stone sites like actors
access and and other sites allow you to
do to just gain exposure they had weekly
workouts they had feedback meet and
greets they would bring in guests for
seminars casting directors agents things
like that it was great and then the
people that created voice bank got a
knock on their door one day from
voices.com who had just received a whole
bunch of venture capital money
and they said we want to buy you for
millions and millions of dollars and I
certainly don’t blame Jeff the guy that
created voice bank net invoice registry
says a lot of money it’s hard to say no
to that he sold to them and voice bank
and voice registry were no more once
they were purchased
they were submarined couldn’t find him
anymore couldn’t post anything anymore
you were redirected to their new owner
voice is calm and voice is calm has this
where they want everybody to post on
their site whether they’re legitimate or
not whether they’re Union or not voice
bank net was kind of the breakdown
services of voice over and I think
that’s what voices.com wants to be but
they haven’t succeeded they haven’t
succeeded because of something called
if a voice buyer or somebody who wants
to buy voice services goes to voice bank
net and posts a project say it’s a
commercial for a windshield repair shop
in Fargo North Dakota they’ll post it
and they’ll post you know we’re willing
to pay a thousand dollars for a spot and
we want to find a talent that’s x y&z
the way the process usually works is the
person that posts the project which
might be the guy that runs the store not
really well trained in how to handle
auditions and you know picking talent
and so on
they would be the one who’ll be making
those decisions and kind of running that
little project on voices comm voice
talent would see it post to it
audition for it and hopefully book it
and the voice talent would get there
thousand dollars well what happened was
voices.com decided that they were going
to insert themselves into the process to
help the voice buyer
they said to the voice buyer look you
got a thousand dollar budget we’ll take
care of everything for you keep your
budget the same you’ll pay the same
amount of money we’ll go find the talent
we will audition them we will give you
finalists or we’ll tell you who we think
would be best you can go about you we’ll
and what was found out was that voice is
calm even though the client was willing
to pay a thousand dollars for that spot
and these are just made-up numbers but
they’re kind of typical it could be five
hundred dollars could be two hundred
dollars whatever it is depends on the
level but they had a budget and that
budget was meant for the voice talent
voices.com sees that money and they go
okay we’ll take care of this for you but
it’s not going to be for free
they offer the voice talent $300 because
there’s voice talent that’s Debora nuff
to do that or $200 or $400 and they keep
the rest of that thousand dollars as a
management fee I hate doing air quotes
but I’m trying to trying to let you know
that I have disdain for what’s going on
and it’s why I responded the way I did
in general I don’t think in any any
website has made as many gaffes when it
came to when it comes to professional
voice talent as voices.com
and the husband-and-wife team of David
and Stephanie chick or Ellie who run it
have done they’ve done very well
monetarily they’re they’re a company
that is supported by the Government of
Canada and also by their investors some
of whom have put in tens of millions of
dollars to help them you know facilitate
what they want but we as a professional
industry are left with no mothership
nobody wants to work with voices comm
none that I’ve spoken with there’s no
place that aspiring pro talent can go
and this whole idea of having voice
talent bear the burden in lost income
for them to do maybe half an hour’s
worth of work listening for some talent
and and making a recommendation because
from there the voice buyer the voice
seeker it still has to produce their
project voice is calm isn’t doing that
and today here comes voices.com wanting
to partner with me to get access to
their talent I’m not going to take
advantage of their talent the way they
do she’s not going to do it these are
all my opinions the facts that I’ve
given you are facts that you can look up
you can refer to interviews that the
chick or Elly’s have given you can refer
to analyses by other voc coaches other
voice talent organizations
voices.com is not the place I want to be
now I may easily have given up hundreds
of thousands of dollars in potential
referrals I don’t know what their
programs all about I don’t care maybe it
was if we refer somebody to you
we need a management fee I don’t care
they have a lot of talent that could use
on their site it tends to be people who
are willing to work for a lot less money
then I want you to work for if you’re a
voice talent or an actor and there are a
lot of people that I’d like to educate
about the industry properly
I don’t think I could do that with
voices calm so that’s why I said what I
said if you’re familiar with the
voices.com situation what are your
thoughts go ahead and post in the
what do you think of my response should
I have been more detailed sounds like
with the response I got she’s getting
more than just me responding that way
and I’m sure that they know as a team
why they’re getting those kinds of
responses they may be getting tons of
responses from other voice coaches to
the positive to the affirmative just
can’t do it
let’s can’t do it I’m getting mad right
anyway that’s what I spent my afternoon
doing thinking about this and you know
the response that I gave and all that
sort of thing give me your thoughts in
the comments below I do appreciate you
watching these videos every day we’ve
been putting them out every day and this
is number 61 crazy and I’ve got a whole
bunch more to tell you if you want to
subscribe to my youtube channel go ahead
if there’s my head over there go ahead
and click on it there’s no head look for
a subscribe button somewhere on the page
and subscribe to the channel you want to
see my latest episode that frame right
there click it and YouTube will play it
for you because they do that I’m David H
Lawrence the 17th I sure hope this
helped and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
I understand your response to Voices.com, however, I joined them back in December (2018) and have had good results since then. I DO have representation with 2 talent agents and I get that I am a business and so I run my business as an entrepreneur. I do cold calling, I do follow ups, send out “old school” post cards, set up coffee meetings with local producers. I consider Voices to be just another arrow in my quiver. I try to audition every day and have made several thousand dollars since joining. They aren’t the main focus of my business, but they help. I enjoy your videos and get inspiration from them. Keep up the good work.
Michael, are you happy with the rates they post and compensation you get from them? Your agents take 10% – 15% for their services and don’t charge you to be on their rosters.
Voices Dot Con charges you up to 80% on top of an annual fee. Are you at least able to make connections with new clients there, develop relationships and work with them without an 80% vigorish?
In addition to not giving the voice talent their fair share, the voice talent pays a hefty yearly fee just to be considered to audition. Doesn’t voice123.do this too? I am no longer an active voice actor, but after spending close to 10,000.00 for coaching, equipment and marketing ( website, car magnets business cards, etc). Then I find besides The free Acx.com for audio work, everything else was pay to
Play sites that are just innundated with voice actors competing for the same work! I couldn’t believe that you had to pay to audition! Even regular stage and screen actors don’t have to do that! Do they?!
I don’t have a problem with a yearly subscription fee. But no, Voice123 does not, at this moment, have an option for “managed projects.”
Thank you, David!
B R A V O!, DHLXVII. Bravo. Their shady business practices have been exposed and the truth/your truth is always welcome.
Bravo, David. Thank you for not partnering with VDC. While you may have given up some potential income, I think the affiliation would have actually harmed your business and credibility. Having VDC on your side is like wearing the scarlet letter or having a leper’s curse.
When I need a coach, I ask others in the voice community. And I guarantee you that if a coach partners with VDC, I will not be enlisting their services.
Wow! Thanks for the expose, David. So unfortunate. But I have a question. I look up to you as a master of healthy, efficient assertiveness in business dealings, and have learned so much from you. What stopped you from saying something more directly to the point of “why” you wouldn’t want to partner with them, like, “I would never work with your company, because I disapprove of the business model…etc”?
Yippee, David! Thank you once again for your honesty and fair-mindedness, and for telling it like it is. It boils my blood when I think of that company and all they are trying to do to this industry. Makes me so sad when I do hear of someone who works for them, as a friend of mine does, even though he is aware. I so enjoy your videos, keep ’em coming!
Very informative! I have wondered if I should join one of these websites to gain credit and experience. Do you have any websites which you endorse and support?
The appellation I hear most often for Voices is the appropriate: Voices Dot Con. Because the whole operation is a con; a confidence game. It is a scam.
The ultimate insult for the talent that chooses to use their services is, they are required to pay for the privilege of being abused.
Technically, of course, they are violating the laws of several states, most notably California and New York. However no organization or association of talent has been successful in getting the various states attorneys general to act. It gets complicated in international waters when there are treaties.
It becomes even more treacherous because Voices Dot Con is supported by agencies of the Canadian Provincial and Federal governments, as well as influential investors who want their cut of the money.
So true, Ed; great points.
Whether or not there is work to be booked through VdC is not the point, here. In a continual one step forward two steps back dance of annihilation, VdC seems determined to devour every thing and every person it comes into contact with, in the guise of (I’ll borrow your air quotes, David, which I’m also usually loathe to do) “helping the industry.”
Having been encouraged mid-2018 to “give them one more try,” I am once again drowned out and pulled under by the algorithm ‘undertoad’ (if only I had a photo of that beast that always fails acknowledging my correct stats) to share on social media. I’ve been neither helped nor encouraged by membership on VdC. There’s never been any kind (rarely, any at all) human behind the hundreds of thousands of auditions posted each day; they just want more and more money in their pursuit of vo domination. (Someone please come up with a fabulous character drawing of this hideous monster!)
I thank you very much, David, for simply doing what’ is the ethically right thing. You are another of my vo heroes!
Taking the (way higher) high road once again. Thank you for eschewing the scoundrels. Only by banding together against their car salesman-like tactics will we force them back under the rock whence they cam.
Thank you, David!!
Taking the (way higher) high road once again. Thank you for eschewing the scoundrels. Only by banding together against their car salesman-like tactics will we force them back under the rock whence they came.
Thank you, David!!
Your response makes total sense to me. And I thank you for it.
I think you handled it very well. My anger may have gotten the better of me if I had replied, which probably would have not been the best thing to do. I admire your self-control. Thanks for the video David.
I have become increasingly concerned about Voice.com as I learn more about our industry. In addition to the practices you outline above, they have now announced that they have partnered with an artificial intelligence company to offer synthetic voices to their customers. What voices will they use as a foundation to create these voices? They say it will be the non-union work of voice talent who have uploaded auditions etc to their website. This is a quote from their Terms of Service: “the Talent assigns to [Voices Dot Com] all right, title and interest, absolutely, to the copyright and other intellectual property in or relating to the Talent’s Non-Union Work Product throughout the world, free of all licenses, mortgages, charges or other encumbrances, unless agreed otherwise by the parties in writing.” I didn’t read their terms of service inasmuch as the talent training company I worked with provided me a one years’ free membership with Voices as part of my package with them.
I have terminated my relationship with Voices.com. That is our power as VO talent – to show by our actions what we think of their business practices.
Thank you for your response to them and the history of our industry – I appreciate it!
Like Mike A. I understand your response to Voices.com also; that’s your right to have your opinions. Now, it seems you want those who choose to watch your videos to share your opinions. (or else why would you produce a this video?) Clearly, Mike A. doesn’t agree and neither do I. Yes, you and the world have harshly judged Voices.com for their business practices. (not sure who appointed you judge?)
You run a business, so do they. You are in business to PROFIT, right? So are they. They chose to provide, as a service to the voice seeker, a project management aspect as a convenience. Guess what? They didn’t invent providing “convenience” as a service to the world. Convience Stores do the same thing as opposed to grocery stores, and those who choose to shop at convenience stores usually pay more for that service. No one forces a consumer to shop and pay more at a convenience store. But is anyone harshly judging Convenience stores they way you (and many) have judged Voices.com for providing this service? Isn’t that “shady” of them?? No, it’s called the American free enterprise system and even though Voices is based in Canada, they’re in the same system. They provide employment and compensation for many Project Managers to earn a living…why is that such a crime in your opinions?
Newsflash: The business owner/voice seeker is a very busy person in the day-to-day operations of their respective businesses and SOME need this valuable service of managing and find the right talent because they have little time or experience in casting/choosing/listening to hundreds of auditions for their project. Likewise, SOME business owner types have the time and want to hand-pick their talent and therefore they have that choice. So why do you feel you need express (get angry as you stated) your disdain for the profits that Voices.com and their customer service project managers EARN for their time in providing this CONVENIENCE??
I’m not necessarily defending Voices.com specifically but rather I’m defending their legal right to build their business model and operate within the free enterprise system and I’m doing this as a freedom loving business owner myself. Furthermore, as you know, I’m also a Voice Coach and do have a Coaches relationship with Voices.com (as well as Talent) and can tell you and anyone reading this message that my relationship, like Mike A. has been a blessing not only to me, but to my students as well.
My sincere thanks to you for inviting us to express our opposing opinions and I pray this helps change your heart and anyone else who reads to please stop being so judgemental…that’s God’s job.
I’m glad you posted your opinion. Not being transparent, ruining Voicebank’s ecostructure and taking 50% or more of the budget for “management” (as opposed to a legal and industry standard of 10% or thereabouts) is why I feel the way I do. I’m not demonizing anyone – I am, as you say, asking for their opinion. I do hope people vote with their wallets and their feet.
Valid points on the merits of them using the free enterprise system. Are they free to make a profit? Sure. Can they design and implement a business model that allows them to? Sure.
Do they owe it to the paying subscribers and paying customers to disclose some specifics of how transactions are handled? Well, that is a matter of opinion. And in the opinion of many, they have been dealing unethically with both clients and subscribers.
What have they done that is thought unethical?
Not disclosing the “Professional Services” (PS) fee is being taken from the talent side of the transaction to either the client or the talent. Posts were written about the practice based on the evidence of jobs simultaneously posted on multiple sites with the VDC rate being significantly lower than the other sites, up to 80% in some cases. The actual admission was given by David Ciccarelli during his interview with Graeme Spicer and subsequent interview with Hugh Edwards.
There was then a follow up by a VDC rep at one of the VO conventions where they claimed that they would be more transparent, but admitted that it would only be to the client, not the talent. And they have used the excuse of the rate offered being “within industry standards”. Of course their version of industry standard is their own rate sheet.
When I joined VDC years ago for a short stint, it was published and presented as a fair playing field that allowed all talent to respond and be seen in the order of upload. Turns out in the interviews above, it was admitted that with the PS rep would hand select which auditions are seen and what order they are presented to the client. Now, if you have talent paying $5000 per year to be Platinum, who do you think will be presented first to the client?
At that point, I asked for, and received a refund on my yearly subscription. Though they didn’t follow their own policies and stiffed my $60.
What else? While this is completely within the “Terms of Service”, they have been known to take the audio from a particular job, edit it into another form and re-sell it to the client with no further compensation to the talent. Legal? Yes. Ethical? You tell me. The work of the talent allowed them to make a further profit. Shouldn’t the talent receive a portion for his work?
And now with them being a “distributor” for VOCALiD, item 6 in their terms of service becomes amazingly relevant. They now have millions of files comprising millions of hours of audio files from hundreds of thousands of talent now at their disposal as source material for making millions of dollars selling “bespoke voices” to corporations. And the talent will receive absolutely nothing.
And this at least is for non-union talent.
And just as a bit of theory based on their normal practices, if you are a union talent, I would be very inquisitive as to the rate a client is paying to hire the talent based on their budget. I wouldn’t put it past VDC to receive a job listing which would pay a multiple of scale and then offer it for significantly less, down to scale plus agent fees. Purely conjecture on my part, but a believable scenario and not inconsistent with the PS model they already use.
The judgement comes due to observations of both actions and statements of VDC. They have portrayed themselves as working as partners in the process. Their actions and interview statements show that they really are only interested in world domination of the VO marketplace and are willing to do so by any means necessary.
They want to be the Walmart of VO. And anyone who has dealt with Walmart as a vendor knows that they leave nothing on the table. If a penny can be squeezed out of a transaction and put into the Walmart coffers, it will be sucked up like a Hoover vacuum.
Ron, let’s say minimum wage goes to $15 an hour. A management company corners the market and takes over HR for most major corporations, making it easier on the corporations. Then they hire hard working people to work through them at $4 an hour and they get takers because it seems there is no other game in town. You think that’s fair? Or say your credit’s not up to par but I’ll loan you anything you need at 80% per annum. I totally understand the anger. Legal? Probably. Unethical? Most assuredly.
I was a member of the VoiceBank roster and worked with them for years. Never a problem…but after having a couple of run-ins with VDC and their affiliates, I am done. I began a relationship with Lau Lapides Company outside of Boston to get some help packaging myself for on-camera work, that is until they announced a new “relationship” with VDC late in 2017. Not sure if the Lapides company even still exists, but I was forced to part company with them…and I wish them good luck.
I also understand that VDC not only takes a large portion of the funds the client is willing to pay as a management fee, but they also take ANOTHER commission on what they actually pay the talent/actor?
When the AI robotic voice company(part of VDC) premiers their electronic voice actors, don’t be afraid when you hear something online or on the air that sounds just like your voice…as VDC also claims ownership of every audio audition ever sent to them by anyone. They may even model an AI voice from your submissions and guess what? There won’t be any payment to you for using your sound….EVER! Enough is enough. I dub this company VoiceVampires.com as they are literally sucking the lifeblood out of an otherwise friendly, professional, profitable and fun business. T Varhol
Thanks for summarizing this history so well. I think your response to them was perfect, and I think you are right that they already knew why you responded the way you did. I had a similar choice to make when I cancelled my membership, and again when I realized that although I had cancelled my membership, they’d left my profile up on their site: respond in anger, respond in detail, or respond succinctly. Succinct allows us to move on with our lives more quickly, with more integrity and fewer regrets.
David you are da bomb! I applaud you for embracing your integrity.
I always had a hunch about that “management fee” I find it interesting that having a non premium membership that I hardly ever work but out of the blue I get an email that they have a “$2,000 job in my area that is interested in Me to audition for” For the heck of it I apply and…..nothing!
Horrible what others don’t see.
Great information. Had no idea about the back story. Thanks the daily visit.
Straightforward reply. Though I would have thought it would be a great opportunity to include exactly why, in exactly the same business-like straightforward manner. Seems like an opportunity missed to officially go on record and share the general consensus to a captive audience. Their response to that would have been interesting to see. 😉
I blame you not, for declining their offer. I left Voices.com earlier this year for that very reason — the only jobs I saw were those under $1,000 and most were $100 – $200. You don’t have to be a math genius to figure out that my giving them $399 per year to have them offer such ridiculous amounts is nothing short of ludicrous! My time is worth more than that. I’m so happy that you have shared this information with others — it needed to be said out loud! Good for you!!
David, you didn’t need to say anymore in your reply. They know your reason. Many established talent won’t work with them. They have even been sued by one well known talent for using his name to promote them after he specifically them not to. When all this came to light I told them I didn’t want to be associated with them in any way not even with a free account and had them remove my profile. An agent will take 10-15 % commission on work they find for you. They work for you. Yet VDC charges a yearly fee, takes an undisclosed amount of money off the top, then another percentage for an “escrow fee” and then you’re not even allowed to communicate directly with the client. It doesn’t bother them, there’s enough newbies coming in everyday who don’t know any better that will whip out the credit card. They love it when a coach on mentor recommends someone. Good for you for not being one of them.
I 100% support you in this as it really undervalues the talent in the industry and it is just taking advantage of desperate voice talent and not giving them the full rate they deserve!
I wonder about voiceovers.com since it seems Matt Dubois has copied aspects of the Ciccarellis’ business model. Would love to know what others have learned about that company.
And likewise the question is begged, what is truly so unique about Matt’s new venture, in fundamental terms…
We have yet again, the P2P “model” being validated, rather than Agents stepping up, unifying and modernizing to serve artists interests first. In the case of Voiceovers.Com let’s see… Annual subscription fee to all users? Check.
Exclusive “first-shot at auditions” advantage given a select group of members who Pay substantially more? Check. And for ALL members, “Premium Club” and “General Admission” alike, a 20% Commission on Every Job Off The Top.
The same commoditization and race-to-the-bottom mentality that’s undermined the union’s incentive and initiative to get stronger in flyover states – is swiftly lowering the bar on every level…while countless talents perceive no clear way out of the maze but to buy in, with the notion that this is the new normal and there’s no other way forward. Perhaps.
Thank you for this details of what has been going on there. I bailed on them quite some time ago simply because I saw so few well-paying jobs and none of them came my way. I saw no reason to pay $399/year for a chance to audition for a low paying VO gig. I am giving voice123 a whirl for now (got a nice discount on it), but now I’m wondering if there are other sites that don’t charge hundreds of dollars to slap you into a pool of thousands, some of whom get priority because they paid more. It’s not like any of these sites are free to join!
Thanks for keeping it real!!
Love to know how you feel about them (voices dot com…) partnering with the for profit company VocaliD.
“Through this partnership, customers of Voices.com will now have access to VocaliD’s cutting edge voice AI products and services to address their evolving needs in today’s voice-first ecosystem. Businesses will have the ability to procure their own unique branded synthetic voice so they can be heard in a voice that resonates with their audience.”
Thanks to Mark Chen for calling out VocaliD in his reply. They are publicly reaching out all the time on their site for “voice donations” making no mention of any payment for voice talent… I wont even get into how they market themselves claiming they help those with speechlessness while what, robbing those who give them that speech? sorry…not sorry. But really, call it a donation and leave those who do this for a living out of it.
I think it’s exactly what one might expect from their organization.