Voice Actors: Time to get with the times now!

In this blog, I candidly speak to voice actors working on Realtime Casting

Real-time voiceover castingI speak largely to those who have had the majority of their career experience or success WITHOUT the Internet, and are choosing to do so now.

Preface
My wife often accuses me (rightfully so) of being too blunt with people, both face-to-face and when writing to large groups of people. The argument we usually have goes like this:

Wife: “Steven! You cannot just tell people what they are doing is wrong. You have to show them and not be so abrasive.”

 

Me: “That is insane! Do you mean, if I see someone putting themselves in harm’s way, I should consider their feelings BEFORE I consider how they will hurt themselves or their career?”

 

Wife: “Well, yes. Because people like to discover things on their own, and do not like to be told, “You are wrong”.

 

Me: “No, I don’t buy it. That is copping out and that is the problem with the world today. We don’t even try to be good people anymore. We cannot see people’s intentions because we are obsessed with our own feelings, making sure we do not get offended. I love having people tell me I am wrong. I do not mind debating. It is the only way to grow and learn faster, or get an understanding of what the other person thinks. Besides, if I see someone crossing a street, and a car is coming, I am going to push them out of the way first and worry about their feelings later.”

 

Wife: “Physical harm and career harm are two different things and as usual you take this to an extreme that does not apply.”

 

Me: “Depends who you talk to… (wife storms out of the room saying something about me sounding like an arrogant fool with a death wish)

I preface with this because what I am about to say may come across as extreme to some and while others may think like my wife, I am still convinced what I am about to say has to be said. You may reply with, “Wow. I did not know this was happening.” or “How dare he speak to me this way!”.

Special promotion from this weekend
Over the weekend, I posted a marketing promotion on Realtime Casting. The purpose was to display specific talent for a specific criteria, while showing off the Playlist Feature for voice-over producers. This is a way to show people, “Hey, the website works well and the talent are even better.” It is one of the more fun things to do, actually. Regardless, here’s the Criteria I posted in order to build a playlist of voice talent:

  • Language:English (US)
    Age Range:26 to 35, 36 to 45
    Union Affiliation:SAG-AFTRA
    Production Capability:Home Studio, ipDTL, Professional Studio

Here was the resulting playlist, all great audio and good looking people!  Now, that seems simple enough: Promote the website, the voice talent, and its features, to producers and agents.

The problems exist in what you do NOT see
Over the weekend, I had people ask me questions I have not heard in over 5 years:

  • “If I am not SAG-AFTRA, should I submit?”
  • “You said you accept non-union talent, why are you posting this?”
  • “Is it safe for me to use Realtime Casting? I am not union.”
  • “Aren’t you alienating people?”
  • “If I submit, will I get in trouble?”

I also want to be crystal clear about the fact these questions were asked by experienced voice actors with little to no online experience. Voice actors who started online never would have asked me such questions, mainly because they started out online and the fact the posting appeared online does not change their behavior, if they suddenly worked offline. This makes a difference and I now explain why. Much against my wife’s advice, this is me “telling you how to avoid putting your career in harm’s way”.

Get with the times, and here is why…
The Internet has come full-circle. It is a legit business tool. It is time to start treating it that way.

  • You should not lie to anyone, not in real-life and ESPECIALLY not online.
  • Attempts to deceive are amplified by the fact it is well-known how people try to hide what they are doing.
  • Yes, there was a time when people could hide easily online, but you should know NOW…There is no such thing as hiding online.
  • Someone always knows, be it people like myself or others who may not have yet seen a reason to state the dangers, who is doing what. Websites do not “guess” when they market. They have tools to track who does what and who says what and when. Regardless, this does not mean there is some form of “police” out there stopping people before they do well…anything.
  • Websites are neither “police states” nor do they share accountability for what people’s career decisions, nor the thoughts that run their subconscious when wondering, “How can I get a leg up on the competition.” There is no website or business that has solved the problem of “negative guile” and that is a good thing.
  • Websites care about quality just as much as voice actors say they care about quality; a bi-product of the Internet becoming a legit casting tool.
  • Websites used to be all about, “Everyone is welcome! ps- We will shut the door to maintain our policies, later”.
  • Now, websites put their policies upfront because they have to care about quality due to the competitive nature of online business. Websites may be more discerning than they were years ago.
  • Now more than ever your email behavior is seen as a reflection of your personality, intentions, skill-set, and your ability to communicate or work in today’s environment. (If SONY did not prove this, I am not sure what will)
  • Now more than ever, if you feel like you are working with people who wish to not work online at all, you should measure “When their careers will end vs. When you plan for yours to end”. In five years, all connectivity between clients will involve working online in some aspect. If someone important to you has stepped away from technology, they may be pulling your career with it.
  • If you think “people get in trouble” for doing things online, you need to change what you qualify as “getting in trouble” because no one gets in trouble online.

If you sense a bit of hypocrisy…Welcome to the Internet!
You see above I said a whole bunch of things “to do”, and then finished it with, “No one gets in trouble online.”

How can this be? For years, you were told a set of rules about when you should and should not do something. You know of the history of the voice-over industry, and how being in a union is a level of achievement some shoot for and others do not.

Why did business get so complicated? The Internet leveraged the playing field. In a leveraged playing field there is no such thing as “getting in trouble”. There is only your choices, holding yourself accountable, and picking and choosing who you wish to work with. And if you ask me, that is just fine. If you do break some code of ethics you agreed to follow, expect a “cease and desist” type of letter, which is not “getting in trouble”. NO ONE has the right to say to anyone online that they are “in trouble”.

But if you hate the sound of this…
If you hate the sound of an industry where the imposed hierarchy must see themselves as “colleagues to the little people”, prestige is earned, where people’s “talent”, “business choices”, and “personality” determine if they get work or not, you will forever hate working online. What I personally realized about 10 years ago is that all people prefer being treated with respect; not a respect qualified as “sucking up”, but more so respect for people’s lives, businesses, and boundaries.

I also realize that 98% of the world would rather be:

  • Plucked from a crowd
  • Told where to go to work
  • Given direction
  • Then be given large sums of money

But to get with the times today, one must do the following in an online environment

  • Be accountable for all choices made and consequences following for better or worse
  • Be confident in decisions
  • Be truthful to a personal belief system
  • Be relentlessly creative
  • Be ethical
  • Respect people’s business choices regardless of personal feelings
  • Control emotions in business dealings
  • Never assume or accuse without all facts
  • Never be afraid to take educated risks
  • Never lose a sense of humor
  • Never forget you are working with people
  • Never believe you are bigger than the Internet
  • Always apologize for ticking someone off
  • Always follow what your heart tells you in cooperation with what your mind is telling you

Above all…Get back to the love…
Get back to the love, which inspired you to become a voice actor. To be honest, I know my wife is right, but I also know that today’s online generation could NOT have handled the cut-throat behavior of a casting office in the 20th century. Therefore, working online has to always “be nice”.

If you have to ask a question, you probably already know the answer, but if you do not you can find answers through Google searches.

In conclusion…
The Internet, more than anything, gave people something they said they always wanted:

  • Truth or the open ability to voice “interpretations of truth”

Perhaps, maybe just a little more than people expected. The downside is that being truthful with oneself takes hard work and thought, especially to wield through the maze of mob rule/troll opinions online. But in five years, when your character is called into question at the height of your career or business success, you can proudly reply, “I believe in what I do NOW, always have in the past, and will be flexible for the future.”

In five years you will be happier you did not let time get away from you.

One thought on “Voice Actors: Time to get with the times now!

  1. Thanks for your article Steven, enjoyed the family story…Also appreciated the reminder about the content of one’s character always.

    Like

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