Paying It Forward
Is the voiceover industry of today all about just paying it forward?
The concept of paying it forward is a baffling one to me, insomuch as it applies to the creative industry as a whole, freelancing specifically and the voiceover community. It's not that I don't believe in doing good things for people or being the nice guy that I am. Of course I'm willing to refer a fellow talent for a job - be it someone I've worked with before, or even a recent newbie who shows real promise. It's just that I don't see the value in sharing every trick, tip or success story with every one of my colleagues, or often a complete stranger stepping onto the scene. No one in this vast talent pool actually needs to know the intimate details of my voiceover story and why I'm so appreciative of every gig I've ever booked. I like sharing, don't get me wrong (here I am blogging after all) but I am also protective of my business and what makes it work. I carry a guard against its success and strategies. And honestly, I don't get off being around any and every talent simply because "we're in this together." Yes, we're in the same business, but don't we still deserve the right to connect naturally, over our interests and ideas?
Not very altruistic of me, some might say, but I'm a practitioner of moderation. There's a growing sentiment that appears to pervade the VO community that giving back is a requirement. Give to everyone who asks for help. You were there. You should understand. It almost appears imperative to your marketing plan. I'm sure there are hundreds, perhaps a few thousand voice talents who aren't referring other voice talent or helping countless people break into the business each week.
Does this make them cold, heartless bastards? Does it make me?
Surrounding yourself with people you know and trust, people who inspire you to do good work, who challenge you is never a bad thing. Much can be gained from having a positive support system of colleagues. Of course the concern comes when this turns into a popularity contest, as we are all artists, aren't we? When your only support system is the people you're competing against. In the golden age of voiceover, as I understand it, pre- social media, pre-internet, pre-total connectedness and an economy of true sharing, the work was done by an elite group of talent. No one shared their bookings with one another at every opportunity, and each artist in the business was respected for his or her unique work. But everyone’s close with everyone now. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? I feel like voice talents keep other competitors close out of a deep insecurity. As though we're saying, "We know we're all competing for this job, but let's compete with love and by each other's side." Does this make it easier? Better? Safer?
Damned if I know.
What are YOUR thoughts?