P2P or Not 2P? That is the Question.
Whether it is nobler in the mind To suffer the slings and arrows of the Every day fortunes and perils of people in the flesh Or take arms against a sea of online casting sites And by opposing end them?; To lose out, to not book.
It’s been a great New Year so far! I feel extremely fortunate and lucky. A lot of this has been made possible by my own diligence on the pay-to-play sites and consciously giving all of them my best efforts without giving up. Lately, I’ve scored some great connections, clients and repeat work from these sites, and contrary to some of the negative effects P2P sites have on the overall vo industry, I’ve had quite a different experience (with some, not all) and am here to shed some light on the skeptic ready to ditch them for good.
Last month I thought about giving up on voice over altogether. I’m glad I didn’t. This premature decision was mainly the result of a very slow month. Before or during the holidays, this is bound to happen, only I wasn’t prepared for it, nor could I get my mind off the fact that no auditions, bookings or potential prospects were rolling in. I freaked out, posted some disparaging comments on Facebook (bad move), and later processed the regret and anger I was feeling. Luckily, I had the support of some wonderful colleagues and friends who offered me words of encouragement and support. Another talent recommended me for a job, which I booked and I slowly started to get my confidence back.
Being a professional voice over talent can be a very demanding job. No, it IS a very demanding job, no matter what level you’re at. You have to be creative every day- finding new ways to market yourself or get your reels in the hands of the right people. If you’re just starting, treading these waters can be particularly nerve-racking, especially when trying to establish yourself and gain some footing. Several hundreds if not thousands are in the same boat. The unanimous sentiment has been rehashed over and over again; Everyone who is being told they “have a good voice” is buying cheap mics, creating their own demos and competing against professionals for the same jobs in a highly competitive and over-saturated arena. It is fierce, over-whelming, and, sometimes, insanely frustrating. But it comes with the job.
And no one said it was easy.
As the markets evolve, voice actors are finding new ways to obtain work, outside of mere representation and traditional means of advertising. The influx of these online casting and P2P sites, social media, has been enormously helpful to VOs and production companies alike (we’ll call them Voice Seekers). Love ‘em or hate 'em, they have evolved, become more user-friendly and taken the industry by storm, and kept guys like yours truly, gainfully employed. I began my VO career right around the time the business was in the midst of this dramatic shift. However, there are plenty of naysayers and unflinching non-tech savvy veterans of the industry with a more traditional and outdated approach, who will balk at these methods. Some casting directors- because it puts them out of work and some coaches because it, well, increases the competition for them as well. I can understand that. A VO coach who I greatly admire and respect, once told me something to the effect of:
“You shouldn’t be home doing all your work. You should be running around the city interacting with casting directors on a daily basis, seeing who is on the other side of the booth. Recording from home is futile and counterproductive to your success."
That's a bold statement for the times we’re in for sure - especially that last one. In a sense this person is correct. We all can agree that this career is isolating enough to crave actual human interaction. It’s somewhat limiting. We’re sending out auditions into this abyss, not getting feedback and crossing our fingers. In another sense though, he isn’t. The paradigm shift has enabled us to find new ways to become proactive and increase our SEO. The more sites we’re on, the better…right?! We have become our own casting directors to some extent. I have been able to build a cost-effective home studio, without hiring an expensive one in Manhattan or buying a $5K whisper room, and can get my materials out to the appropriate parties faster than ever before. I’ve become more selective in my reading and not over-directing myself. The disadvantage is that I don’t get feedback from someone who has been doing this longer than me - another professional who sees hundreds of people a day. So I take it with a grain of salt. They may not all work but we must have certain expectations of each. Undeniably though, it’s a transformation we are all getting used to by now. It is strengthening each and every one of us.
So the question is, if you can’t beat 'em, do you join 'em? Absolutely. As a voiceover talent it is crucial to have a palette of options available to you. It’s like having an investment portfolio of mixed stocks, bonds, money market and tax-free funds. Some of your money is short-term, the rest is long term. It’s a balancing act. If one avenue of generating income isn’t working, you have other options. You don’t always rely on the P2P sites- some days you’ll have more auditions in the city (or town), or two friends referred you for different jobs. And over the span of my short, though successful voiceover career, I do urge you to explore the options and GIVE THEM A CHANCE. Of course you’ll need to be persistent with auditioning. And be prepared to sometimes never hear back from a voice seeker. As I mentioned in my last post, rejection only makes you stronger. Whenever I get a message on voice123 saying "You received the same feedback as 36, 56 or 100 other talents” I feel my stomach churn a little. 36 seems like a more humbling number than 1000 but then I remember that this business is about acceptance and rejection. If you can find equilibrium between the two, more power to you.