Future of Voice Overs

In this writer’s point of view, as a voice talent sitting behind the scenes watching all the changes in technology (and trying to keep up at times), the future looks sunny for online casting. I say this confidently because voice talent speak to me often about how online casting changed the way they get work, and opened up doors to new opportunity. The future of online casting looks to shape up in this way for as far ahead as I can predict:

  • I see the end of anonymity for anyone in the voice over industry. If you work online, someone will know your face, and they will have to in order to work with you. Such tools like Skype have not yet been incorporated into social media tools, but the tool is so useful, as is Facebook, for connecting people that they are destined to end anonymity in the online marketplace.
  • I see that voice casting sites will become agents working on commission basis and will become key players in getting work online. This may be happening already. The traditional method of casting will make a comeback with union support online, with technology to enforce regulations they have set forth. Why? The personality of the business dictates it because voice talent are passionate, which requires face-to-face reassurance, and working with ‘people’ at some point. In addition, some of the most talented artists simply like to have certain business aspects handled for them.
  • Unions will have to adjust their business model to make sure that more than just 5% of people in a union will work full-time. The foundation of all union-theory is to protect people from unfair business practices. In the past ten years, many have come to see that unions quite often serve a small percentage of its members. When unions were started, there was a great need for it in the 1930’s due to business greed. Technology has been helping people take care of themselves, weakening the ideal of a union. As it stands now, voice talent are all business entities unto themselves, making it very difficult for a union to sustain power. That said, there will always be unions as long as people feel they are being treated unfairly, but they just may not have the strength of purpose they once did.
  • I see that voice talent, through technology, will be able to work on the road doing full jobs through mobile devices, without the use of expensive studio booths, either at home or portable. In addition, voice over coaches will have to expand on what they teach, including being able to teach voice talent how to use technology.
  • Online casting will involve more agents transitioning into voice talent, when they discover the ease of use with working online; combined with their own connections.
  • There will be a great change in the type of content in jobs, as the current ‘MTV Generation’ begins hiring and maturing into their own businesses.  The generation coming up now will tend to be more crass, and uninhibited, with the expectation of artists to be the same.
  • There will be API’s for all online casting sites making the usage of FTP sites obsolete.  Entertainment will completely go online, and ‘broadcast’ networks will have to solely focus on the current 40% of viewers, who only watch programming online.
  • The demand for ‘quality entertainment’ will increase greater than it ever has before, which will lead to voice over work eventually cycling into a new generation of ‘web icons’, much like a parallel of savants and announcers of the 1950’s. This will happen before 2025, easily.
  • There will be hundreds and thousands of ‘next best things’ that stay popular for a total of 3-months or less, and voice talent will become incredibly tech savvy in the process, as they are forced to change business tools at a rapid pace.

Regardless of what happens, everyone in this industry should be prepared for rapid, positive changes, because everyone always needs a voice talent! :)

NEXT: CHAPTER 10 – HELPFUL RESOURCES

4 Comments

  • Holly

    June 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm Reply

    I’m afraid unless voice websites start applying some regulations to check
    A) fee on offer
    B) real professionalism of self proclaimed voice over talents
    the future of VO would a global fight for extremely low paid jobs. I’ve been registered with all the main vo websites for years, and I’m outraged at the number of requests I’ve been getting in the past twelve months for recordings paid a pittance. And I’m not talking small local companies needing an answering machine, but tv adverts for huge international brands. I won’t name names but the past month only I was contacted for a national tv advert offering €170 all inclusive, a national radio advert offering $40 and 20 minutes of finished audio for $150 translation included. These are ridiculous fees that no client would have even dreamed to offer five years go. But now when I say no, and I always do, they say ok I’ll go online and find 10 people happy to do it. And they do. We need regulation or nobody will be able to make a living anymore

    • holly

      June 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm Reply

      Dear Stephen,
      Yes times have changed and I’m young and techno-enthusiastic enough to appreciate the positive aspects but change doesn’t necessarily means a change for the better.
      I don’t feel I have any control, I’m afraid. I feel that my professionalism is now valued nothing.
      I’m very worried. My concern comes from the fact that if three years ago I used to get 7 requests per week, 4 of which worth considering, now I get 20 requests a week, but 19 of them are so badly paid I don’t bother considering them.
      I work more and I earn much much less than before because nobody wants to pay decent fees anymore. And I’m one of those lucky one who keeps working A LOT because I’m pro-active and I spend hours promoting myself. But the situation is depressing. It’s a worldwide rush to the low, and it’s ruining people, from translators to voice artists to actors to engineers… Because of how easy it is to find cheap talent online.

      To answer your comment, I actually don’t bother replying to requests for very low paid jobs. Ever. The replies I did give were to studios I’d worked with in the past and that now all of a sudden asked me to record national adverts for EUR170…. And they did go on voice123 in the end and they did find a voice who recorded for 170 euros… The advert was broadcast on national TV and it’s honestly so bad it’s embarrassing but apparently the client – a HUGE brand – doesn’t care.

      I keep saying no, but there’s always somebody out there who says yes.

      And I do blame the lack of regulation on the internet. Either a website is aimed at professionals or its aimed at amateurs. In the first case, it should guarantee professionalism. From both sides. Voices should be good enough and clients should be made aware of what a professional fee is. There should be some guidelines.
      Ten years ago, when voice artists could mainly get work through agents, agents followed Union regulations, and there was never a problem getting paid the right amount. Clients knew you were a professional because you had an agent and respected that. Then voice over websites arrived, and to begin with it was great, because it was mainly professionals registering. But the rumor spread, and every one and their cat started creating profiles as voice over talents, even people with no experience whatsoever. And since nobody checks these talents’ credentials, they’re out there, ruining the market and making us, professionals, look like some sort of strange greedy animals.
      And, as you rightly say, trying to explain to such clients that there’s actually a difference, that quality has a price and professionalism isn’t developed overnight is a waste of time. Lots of clients don’t even speak the language you’re recording in, how can they tell if somebody has a terrible accent, or a weird pronunciation…

      Yes, certain people still go for quality, but not as many as we would hope.
      So, Stephen, I’m afraid I can’t share your enthusiasm for the magical future of voice overs. I sincerely hope you’ll prove me wrong.

      • Grey

        March 3, 2016 at 5:41 am Reply

        Your last last three paragraphs are my new mantra and may have possibly stopped me from digging further down, being a creative artist first before my understanding of sound and discovering this new medium. Your response in this converse sounded like me and many other artist I have known. Thank you! Being self employed for years in other services makes one believe( if your confident in what you provide) that cream WILL And DOES rise to the top!!! Looking for more education and wondering which direction to go in this VAST (deep breath) industry, you gave some great positive feed back on different positions and where to start from at going IN & UP! Thank you.

  • simonmbrooks

    September 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm Reply

    I am a professional storyteller and I know many other artists in different fields, and we are ALL feeling this ‘work harder to get the same income’. I am having to drop my rates, not because people are offering less, it is because people are not offering anything! I was a professional photographer in the UK in the eighties and the same thing happened then. It was once that the assistant would get the lower paid jobs that would lead to your own studio and higher paying work, and the boss photographer got the big bucks! Then it all tanked and assistants found there was no work – not even in the labs (in days of chemicals, pre-digital) and the high paid photographers were doing the work assistants used to do for bugger all.

    In response to the comment about people wanting everything for free is also true. I used to get $15 for one of my CDs of stories at a gig. Now I can get $10, but I also give a way a fair few. They are now like business cards that pay for themselves! A musician friend of mine does not ‘sell’ his CDs but asks folks for a donation. People don’t have money these days and want everything for free.

    I bet those crap paying jobs have always been there, Holly, but because of the economy, you are seeing more of them. We have to work smarter. And things, I hope, will change. And I still will not shop at Walmart!

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