Paying to Play
As any voice over artist who has done anything on the internet can tell you, "Pay to Play" sites are numerous. You have the most obvious examples, Voices.com and Voice123. There are others, such as Bodalgo.com. Then there are sites like Voicebunny.com (from the makers of Voice123) which isn't "pay to play" but chooses to collect their fees on the back end using a very opaque system. Finally there are pockets of voice over artists peddling their talent on sites such as Fiverr and the like. (Fiverr in particular seems to be a very divisive subject in the voice over world.)
An argument is often made that all of these sites "cheapen" the cost of what we do as voice over talent. Others argue that some of these sites, or category of sites, are OK and the "future of the business" but other sites are guilty of driving down cost and quality. On the other side of the spectrum are those that feel this is the natural evolution of the business.
Frankly I fall somewhere in between. I feel that the business is changing. I feel there will always be a stark division between the LA and New York talent, and the rest of us. I feel it's entirely possible that someday all voice actors will work from their home without having to go to a studio. Not only possible but probable. Especially with this new VR technology coming out soon. You laugh, but some day it will be a matter of putting on a special visor in your home booth and you will be seeing all the other actors, or at least the director, sitting across from you chatting about the role you are about to read. You are in Toledo and the director is in West Hollywood in his apartment. It is only a matter of time.
What isn't going to change for this "level" of voice over is the way you get the gig. Studios and production companies will not give up the agent system easily. Too much money is on the line to put your faith into a random VO artist you found on Voices.com. Yes, there will always be "those" stories. Where a guy with a voice like melted butter is recorded on his friends YouTube video and all of sudden he's the next Nolan North. But that is very rare.
But for the rest of us, outside of the agent system, we have to make it in the world today outside of that system. The internet has a been a blessing and a curse in this regard. We have access to an almost infinite number of potential clients. But so does everyone else. I feel the types of sites I mentioned above are the natural evolution of the business. What works will continue to work and what doesn't will fall by the wayside.
I would be interested in your thoughts on the matter, especially if you are a VO artist yourself. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Thanks again!