What's next for the VO Industry?
With the stunning news that US investment firm Morgan Stanley has taken an $18 million stake in Voices.com and David Ciccarelli's stated goal of buying up the smaller P2Ps, where is the industry heading?
On social media the fury was unleashed, with most voice actors condemning what seems to have amounted to a “bailing out” of Voices.com. Oh, for those of you not playing the home game, Voices.com has a bad rep in the industry.
Others however, feel the influx of cash and the oversight from such a prominent and well regarded investment firm will mean a more professional and “compliant” Voices.com. After all, Morgan Stanley won't put up with the shenanigans we have seen from Voices.com these past few years. Right?
I don't know about you, but the thought of wall street getting involved in our industry is a little tough to swallow. The comments about “buying up smaller P2Ps” just doesn't sit well with me either. I don't have much skin in the P2P game, but I can see this turning into something, I just don't know what that “something” is.
Voices.com has always considered itself a “disruptor,” so in that regard, the comments David Ciccarelli makes about buying up small P2P sites isn't off the mark. But how will this affect the buying and selling of voice over? I remember when there were just two casting sites. Now, I think we are up to ten or more. If we do in fact get back to two or three major players, it would mean a much larger and stronger Voices.com, and perhaps a Voice123 and maybe one other site. Will that be a good thing or a bad thing?
Most professional voice actors who are not subscribed to Voices.com or any P2P site will tell you none of this matters to them.
Oh really? Doesn't it?
What they don't tell you is that the breakdowns coming from agents outside of NY/LA these days are getting fewer and fewer. There has been a steady shift over the last five years of auditions going from agents to P2P. And if Voices.com can somehow get more of that business, that puts many voice actors into a new reality they may not like. And agents have decided to expand their rosters. Many of them are glorified P2P sites themselves, with some agents retaining up to 150 men on their roster representing one category of voice over, which I never understood. But that's a different blog topic altogether.
It is also well known that union folks have been known to adopt aliases and sign up on P2P sites because a lot of the work that was union has also gone to the non-union/P2P playground.
I think in 2-5 years it will be harder to compete for voice over jobs online if Voices.com gets its way. If you are complaining about your audition not being listened to, reducing the number of casting sites will make it even harder to get heard. But with that, a smaller P2P pie will only mean a higher cost to play, because a greedy Voices.com will increase its market share and raise prices, which may eliminate the opportunity for many in this case. And let's not forget they gotta pay that $18 million back somehow, which creates a whole lot of other questions.
What do you think? Will this development help or hurt the voice over industry?
Here is the announcement from the two C's of Voices.com
Here is a story from their hometown newspaper.