Looking at why offline voiceover work still matters
If you ask a voice actor, specifically one who started within the last 10 years, about the voiceover industry you may get a response that talks a great deal about casting websites that show up on page 1 of Google search results. Yet, through all the online content surrounding online industries and the phobias, concerns, or success stories that come with it, the offline voiceover world still remains relevant. Here are 10 reasons as to why.
5. The offline experienced market backed out of working online 10 years ago
If you had a job that paid well, offered great connections, and felt no need to work elsewhere, would you suddenly change everything you did in your life just to seem “with the times”. Very few people do and such people are indeed risk-takers and innovators.
Those who backed out of working online mainly did so by “holding down the fort”. Online casting exploded in 2004 at a time when a large number of disgruntled voice actors chose to become “DIY”, upset at such things as a failed merger between SAG and AFTRA, or the difficulty of breaking in to a very competitive market. These two loose bricks in the foundation were enough for something else to come along and supply a solution.
Even still, the number of people who went “DIY” was not large enough to make the offline industry irrelevant, just maybe call some business practices in question with the “boo corporation/yay rebellion” attitude that comes with working online.
a. A voiceover heard during a Super Bowl halftime commercial
b. A voiceover for that same company that appears on the companies website
It is great to say, “I did a voiceover for Samsung!”, but right now there is more impact on a voice talent’s career knowing his/her voice was part of a big advertising budget, and not some niche product required for a web development team. Online work is still in its infancy compared to offline work, even though reports show TV and online advertising will merge by 2020.
Well-known jobs and higher pay are just as important today as they were 10 or 20 years ago. You would have an easier time finding a voice actor turning down online work to get voiceover work on TV, more than the opposite.
3. “Trust issues”
It can take the smallest mistake in web design to lead a person to completely lose trust in an online business. It may be a typo, some info you left out, or a broken link. As users of websites, be it producers or voice actors, we are provided the freedom to be highly judgmental. A person with pure intentions can be seen as “suspicious”, while a person with negative intentions can be viewed as “trustworthy” because the website offered a great user experience.
What this ultimately boils down to is that the voiceover industry is a very human industry. Working with great producers feels great and working with experienced voice actors has a “cool factor” to it. There are those who like to work with people offline. They do not feel behind the times because they are offered the social reassurance that they spoke with or were directed by a person they can see, hear, and eventually…trust.
There are those who stayed away from working online because they associated “working online” with “something they heard they could not trust”. This is no doubt a reflection of how far working online still has to go before it is viewed as relevant to those who work offline.
2. The counter-intuitive: Paying to audition
If you asked me, “Why do voice actors have to pay to audition?”, I would probably explain to you for an hour as to why you should not complain too loudly about it, or someone will change it. The belief that paying to audition is “bad” comes from the fear surrounding scams in which lesser-human-so-called-agent types would try to charge a fee on top of commission for fabricated services that never truly existed.
However, with paying to use casting websites there is this agreement, which a voice actor should think about before scoffing at the idea based on 20th-century principle. It simply goes like this:
- Voice talent pays website >>>next>>>
- Website promises to market the talent on the website, work to have jobs posted, providing customer service, assistance, and whatever voice talent request, with no commission taken on jobs booked. The fee also pays for server hosting and web development/upgrades/fixes >>>next>>>
- Producers hiring pay voice talent, which hopefully inspires the voice talent to pay for #2…>>>next>>>
…The cycle repeats while some obstacles that stand in the way of such a process working well for ALL parties. Obstacles such as:
- Not booking work
- Voice talent growing out of a website
- Not enough jobs being posted
- Technical requirements for running operating website (because websites answer to a higher power that forces changes voice talent may not like)
- Or the website just offering no real “value” in terms of making connections.
If you are wondering, “But why do I have to pay to audition?”, keep in mind this is not all you are paying for and your fee is how you maintain control over what happens with the website. Is that an argument for Realtime Casting working the way it does? Sure, but Realtime Casting has a brick and mortar location with a voiceover studio in it. We offer only SAG/AFTRA work and invite producers to post for free. Why? So they feel better about paying voice talent…so voice talent feel ok paying us…so we keep our end of the bargain above. It is a good deal, but you can see through tireless explanation how there is still some proving ground to be made up.
1. Lack of emotional connection between successful entrepreneurial-run websites and the successful established offline voiceover industry
This is left for #1 because it is the greatest reason why the offline voiceover industry still matters. We already know a voice actor is an artist and that agents work with artists. We know SAG/AFTRA is a union of artists. But are you aware that web developers and entrepreneurs are very much artists themselves?
You may not think about such things because the voice actor’s “canvas” is not the same as a web developer’s. The artist who works with a voiceover mic may not understand the artist who works with HTML5. True to form, as with all artists, if you do not “get their art form” they will not waste their time trying to explain it. If a successful web developing entrepreneur says to a successful offline voice actor, “If you do the math, you will see I will get you paid more online.”, the emotional connection is lost immediately. Math is not the language of a voice actor. If a voice actor says to a web developer, “You never know! It may just work!”, the web developer will start explaining how to do away with improbabilities, which involves technology and removing doubts with data, not scripts. No connection.
Years back when casting websites were starting to take off, the two types of artists did attempt to work with each other. Unfortunately, it failed the minute one artist had suggestions for the other artist that did not fit within their own community. Both types of artists realized quickly, “The way you think makes no sense to me.” These established artists went back to their own familiar territories, where they are openly accepted. Now, despite both being artists, they often fire online random salvos of insults at each others’ ways of working, neither informing nor educating new voice actors on how both markets are still relevant for getting work.
And the end result is that the offline market still matters to many, pays better, and will start to make its way online, but in the manner “the voice actor sees fit” to protect their own offline industry and the rates they are paid. In the process all agents, unions, and offline casting processes will remain relevant even when drafted into new website processes.