Online casting explained!
Tell me the truth! It can be hard when you first start out in voice over. Most of us who have started within the last 5 years know that. The internet has changed things drastically. Gone are the days when agents were the gate keeper to all commercial work. The days that used to be spent in studios making connections with the audio engineers. When you could rely on your roster list to give you a steady flow of work. In some respects, this is sad. There are some who still make things work the old way. And good for them. But the inevitable truth is that the voice over landscape has changed. How you got started in 1990 is vastly different to how you get started in 2020 and beyond.
My opinion. Online casting is essential to get started in voice over these days. When you start out, you don’t know what you don’t know. Yes, it is essential that you get training from a professional coach. But you need to practice, and you need to start finding out if you are bookable. The voiceover community is incredibly supportive – sometimes overly supportive. No-one wants to tell someone that they don’t have what it takes. Nobody wants to be told this. I understand. Yet, the market is brutally honest. It will weed out the wheat from the chaff and you have to find out if you have the chops sooner or later.
Navigating the online casting sites. There is a huge amount of information regarding the online casting sites. Everyday there is at least one post in a Facebook group that mentions them in some form or another. Each post gets a plethora of comments and answers that makes it difficult to find out the truth about these sites. Today, I am going to give you a honest, unbiased overview of the online sites that I have worked with. So, here goes.
Voices.com. By far the biggest player in the online casting market. It is a Canadian based casting site run by David Ciccarelli. The site was started in 2005 and now boasts that it has posted over 400,000 jobs. That works out to around 70 jobs a day. There is no evidence to back up that they eventually book all these jobs – just that the jobs are posted. At this time, the site has 12K members signed up as North American voices although the site states that it has 1M members.
Voices made some serious missteps around 2015 where it was proven that for some jobs, Voices were taking nearly 80% of the budget that the client thought was going to the talent. Mr. Ciccarelli was interviewed by Graeme Spicer on the subject and did not fare well. Mr. Ciccarelli later claimed that the issue was down to an incentive program that the company had for its sales team. The unwanted outcome was that some unscrupulous salespeople could rack up big commissions by converting an open audition to a “managed” job, post the managed job at a lower rate to the talent and then earn a bonus on the increased profit margin. This practice was stopped and in 2020, Voices introduced a more transparent service called “professional service” where they are upfront about the charges to the client and talent.
Voices had an $18M injection of private equity funds from Morgan Stanley in 2018. Since then, there seems to have been an improvement in transparency.
In Jan of 2021 the moved from a 20% commission on the talent budget to a 20% commission on the overall budget. The simple math means they moved from a 20% to a 25% commission with regard to the talent earnings (don’t ask – it’s a little complicated!).
There are three levels of membership to the site.
1. Free. You can’t audition for public jobs. You can upload demos to your profile and can be privately invited and found in search results.
2. Premium. $499 per year. You get access to the public jobs based on your voice match settings. Voices do have an algorithm where it shares all the auditions out between everyone fairly. You do not get access to all auditions, but you will get the same number of opportunities as all other premium members.
3. Platinum $2999 per year. Everything that premium has to offer. It also means you will appear at the top of any search queries that match your profile. In 2021 they also made it that platinum talent are no longer restricted by the algorithm that shares out auditions. Platinum talent now receive all auditions that match their voice match profile. They do not get them earlier or have any kind of advantage on those auditions.
The minimum job price is $100 and they do have a rate guide on the site.
There are no entry barriers or quality checks for prospective voice actors for the Premium membership. If you pay the membership fee you will be accepted.
This site is where you will get the most audition opportunities, but the competitive pool of talent makes it extremely difficult for most to book. The highest earning talent book 1 in 16 auditions and the site says the strongest talent book 1 in 33 auditions. New talent can expect to book 1 in 200 auditions.
Expect more than 10 auditions per day at the premium level
Rates are close to industry standards.
V123. Counted as the 2nd largest online casting site. Alexander Torrenegra and Tania Zapata started the site in 2003 and claim to be the first online casting platform. Their CEO now is Rolf Veldman. Rolf presented at VO Atlanta in 2019 after V123 released an update to the platform in December 2018. This roll-out was overwhelmingly thought of in a bad light by the voice actors on the site. The consensus of Rolf’s performance at VO Atlanta was very underwhelming. It was thought that the site didn’t put the voice actor first.
At this time, V123 claims to have 200,000 registered voice actors worldwide.
V123 has always had a weird, proprietary algorithm that assigns auditions to talent in a staggered way. This means that some selected talent will receive some auditions first, then others a few hours later and so on. This is based on numerous things but the most important is where you are ranked compared to others and what membership level you have. Your ranking is based on the percentage of liked auditions compared to amount of submitted auditions. The theory is that you should only audition at what you are good at and therefore you should get more likes.
The search function for clients assigns ranking to voice actors and is determined by several factors such as sample availability, response rate, the percentage of clients contacting the voice actor after playing at least one sample, as well as the membership level.
The membership levels at V123 are extremely complex. Here are the details from the site:
There are even higher tier levels that are not listed here. It has been confirmed that there are membership levels that cost upwards of $15K.
V123 do not have a minimum budget and do accept zero budget jobs. The presentation at VO Atlanta stated that V123 does not set rates and doesn’t think it is their role to install restrictions on rates. They believe that it is a free marketplace. It is up to the voice actor to negotiate on their own behalf.
It should be noted that V123 do not take an additional commission on any job posted. Their entire business model is based on membership fees alone.
There are no entry barriers or quality checks for prospective voice actors for the most membership levels. If you pay the membership fee you will be accepted. The higher levels do have waiting lists.
This site can offer a substantial number of auditions for talent. The algorithm that chooses the jobs you will see is confusing.
Expect less than 10 auditions per day at the recommended $333 level.
Rates seem to be dropping over time. V123 used to be a good place to find work but since the changes in December 2019, rates have dropped, and audition numbers have dropped.
bodalgo. Considered the “gold standard” of online casting. It was founded by Armin Hierstetter in 2007 in Germany. Armin is a huge supporter of the voice over community and is widely recognized as someone who is on the side of the voice actor. So much so, bodalgo has won numerous awards including the One Voice award for best online casting site the past two years in a row.
At this time, bodalgo has 10,330 voice over talents in more than 80 languages. To date, 45,127 projects have been posted by bodalgo's clients. This works out to around 10 projects per day.
bodalgo does not use an algorithm to assign jobs to talent. If your chosen language matches the posted job then you will receive the audition at the same time as everyone. The jobs are shown to the client in a last submitted, top of list format. That means that each time the client checks for auditions, the last audition submitted will be at the top of the list.
bodalgo is a one man show. Armin performs every function required to keep the site running. This includes coding the site from scratch to marketing and everything in between.
There are only two levels of membership.
1. Free. A free basic membership, which includes your public profile and full database exposure. Your public profile includes a contact form so that potential customers can contact you and engage you. You cannot audition on a free membership.
2. Premium. 269.90Euro annually (although there are monthly and semi-annual payment plans). You will receive all auditions that match your profile settings.
bodalgo does not impose any other fees or commissions on the client or talent. If you win a job, it is your responsibility to set your terms and conditions and payment requirements.
Every membership application is personally vetted by Armin to make sure the quality of the audio and performances meet a “professional” standard.
The only downside with bodalgo is the number of opportunities compared to the other “big two”. This is to be expected as it is a one man show.
Expect around 10 auditions per week.
Rates are very good. Armin does a good job of vetting every job that is put on the site to make sure it meets his high standards.
The Voice Realm. This is a very secretive site and there are no public details that show who own the site. It was started in 2011 and is registered in New York.
A press release in 2017 says that clients have access to over 100,000 voice over demos.
It does not say how many voice actors are on the site. The same press release states that they booked $2M worth of jobs on the site that year making it the best year yet.
The general perception of the Voice Realm within the VO community tends to be negative. The rates on the site are classed as being on the lower end of the scale. Although there is a very transparent rate guide on the site. Some of their marketing tactics have raised many eyebrows and have been accused of being sexist and derogatory.
There is only one level of membership on the site.
1. $130 annual membership (99GBP). This gives you access to all auditions that match your profile.
The Voice Realm also charge a 15% commission on all jobs that you book.
You must submit an application to the Voice Realm and be accepted on to their site.
They will check your audio and performance quality before accepting you.
You can get numerous audition opportunities on this site. No where near as many as Voices or V123.
Expect around 10 auditions per week.
Rates are lower than average but you know what you are getting on the site due to the transparent rate sheet.
Voiceovers.com. Released at VO Atlanta in 2019 this was a company started my Matt Dubois. Matt endeared himself to the voiceover community over the next 6 months and made many promises. None of the promises were fulfilled and the site never took off. Auditions were very few and far between and most voice talent had no chance of seeing an ROI on their membership investment. It was recently discovered that Matt sold the company to a private equity firm late in 2020. He made no announcement to his community that this was happening. This was a complete reversal compared to his huge communication drive when he was launching the site. Most of the voiceover community did not renew their subscription which ran out for the first time at the end of 2020.
There has been little to no communication from the new owners to this date.
There a two membership tiers.
1. Standard Membership $399 annually. When the site was launched, they stated that this membership level would be limited to 1000 talent. They would add to this if the demand increased.
2. Gold Membership ($5000 I have been told). This was limited to 60 people when the site was launched. Gold gave members better SEO for their own website, better search results on voiceovers.com and earlier access to auditions.
On top of the annual membership, the site took a 20% commission on all jobs. This was scrapped in an email that was sent out in January of 2021 which stated the site would be commission free for 2021.
You must apply to be accepted to the site. There is a vetting process, but it is not clear what that process is.
I have no idea of the expectations of this site. In the year I was a member I saw around 20 auditions total.
Voicesuk.co.uk/Voicesus.com This is a smaller online casting site ran by Joe Wakefield in 2013. Joe is a fellow voice actor who created the site with some other VO’s in Guildford, UK. It was primarily a UK only service which then branched out into the US market. Joe makes it clear that this is not what most people perceive to be an online casting site. They take a one-time fee for membership and if approved you are on the site for life. Therefore, there is only one membership level that costs 99.99GBP (approximately $132).
You do need to apply and be accepted. They accept talent that have a professionally produced demo.
They state that they have 500 talent worldwide at present.
They also take a 10-20% project administration fee for any audition-based job.
Direct contact from clients is allowed and does not occur a project fee.
Expect around 1 audition per week.
Rates are set by the talent, but work seems to follow industry standards.
Feel free to reach out to me via email if you have any other questions you would like answered. I hope this was helpful.