I wanted to share a story, a dreaded story suitable for new and seasoned voice actors alike. An idiom about a specific talent agency that shakes voice actors to their very core. And the worst part is, this horror story is 100% true!
But first some context. As most voice actors know, our industry is very competitive with a ton of talent seeking success in the field. There is the concept in many unestablished talent, and layman alike, that in order to be a successful voice actor all you need is the ability to do 'voices' and this results in a ton of people with voices frequently entering the field to try it out. This makes many prime targets for scams and illegitimate practices!
Across my voice over career I have encountered numerous voice over scams and illegitimate practices targeted at voice actors across all experience levels. These scams and practices have a variety of complexity and depth, but in general take advantage of the passion and interest of those seeking success in the industry, while also successfully leveraging the closed door nature of our business.
These scams and practices have a variety of complexity and depth, but in general take advantage of the passion and interest of those seeking success in the industry, while also successfully leveraging the closed door nature of our business.
To name a few prominent ones:
Fake Gig Money Transfer Scams: Individuals target voice actors directly saying they have been selected for a gig, but that to perform the gig they will have to book out a local recording studio which they will be reimbursed for. Thereafter they are sent a cheque to cash and then pay the local studio or contact on behalf of the client. Once the voice actor pays the local studio or contact they realize the cheque sent to them by the hirer was fraudulent leaving the voice actor in the black with no actual gig to complete as the imaginary local studio or contact disappears.
Self Promotional: Groups posting casting calls or seeking roster submissions that upon you as an actor applying target you with promotional materials regarding products they wish to sell you and even asking for you to donate money to fund their projects.
And there are others of course, but all that is present in my mind now is our dreaded story below.
One day not too long ago a voice actor set out to acquire representation in different regions. They scoured the inter-webs and eventually stumbled upon an agency that looked great, and as such applied to the roster. They were immensely happy when they heard back from the agent, especially considering the agent was ecstatic to have them. Upon their acceptance, they were told that to submit auditions to the roster they had to utilize a specific paid casting platform to do so.
Although this was immediately a red flag for the actor, the cost of the casting platform was minuscule in comparison to sites like Voices or Voice123 and the agency ensured the talent that they would be reimbursed on subscription fees for gigs booked.
"Well...." the voice actor thinks keenly "This is a region I haven't worked in and it is a big world with different practices, plus the fees seem extremely reasonable so why not give this unique model a try!" Flash forward months later, the voice actor has submitted over 50 auditions and been short-listed multiple times, yet still no bookings.
With his head held high, the voice actor thinks "50 auditions and no gigs, no problem that's not uncommon. Let's keep grinding it out and get better!" They then make a plan to work with their agent to see how they can improve as an actor, and ascertain if they can hear the auditions of the talent that were booked or the finished work of the gigs to better understand what the market is currently looking for. The actor emails their agent!
A week passes with only silence in response.
They email their agent again!
Another week passes with no response, the silence suddenly seems louder.
They email their agent again...
The voice actor has begun to feel a bit skeptical regarding the agency, after all, every agent they have worked with before has been extremely responsive regarding any occasional requests, at worst taking a week to get back to them.
6 weeks pass from the original email, and they finally get a response from their agent. The agent informs them that they can't provide any examples of work completed or auditions due to conflict of interest and tell them to just keep trucking along. This is a bit suspicious to the voice actor, after all, these finished works would be published publicly and it is not a strange ask of agents to acquire the finished product for reference.
The originally keen voice actor has now invested money into the casting platform required for over 6 months time and is getting a bit more skeptical. Looking at the auditions coming their way with a skeptical eye they start to notice things that seem off... The gigs rates are consistently high, the scripts even from AAA companies have spelling mistakes, and the side references at times feel random or counter productive.
But, ya know what, "Its a tough industry." the voice actor thinks "It would be arrogant of me to judge this situation based on my own experience alone, I should talk to some contacts in the industry that I have." The voice actor then decides to reach out to other actors they know that are on the platform.
And it turns out...
... EVERY other talent has experienced the exact same thing! All professionals, all working in the industry, all with years of experience, none of which have booked a single gig on the website with the agency across all their auditions whilst having similar requests for assistance with their agent being responded to after weeks of time in an odd manner.
The voice actor looks back and reflects on all the strange things they have noticed about the agency and casting platform so far, and they are convinced they have been pirated of days of their time in completing questionable auditions, and the money in which they have spent on the membership. It just doesn't feel real to them, they feel as if they have been taken for a sleigh ride!
The story above is a haunting one and the culprit is the Idiom Talent Agency utilizing the VOCADD casting platform.
Despite these shared experiences I cannot go so far as to conclusively say that the agency and platform has illegitimate practices, but that can't be said largely due to the closed door nature of the casting process in our industry. Essentially, there is no way to 100% tell, just like there is no way to 100% tell that those people contacting you with the money transfer scams are illegitimate! But.... the gut, the instinct, wants to spew it anyway.
Story and sentiment aside, I present to you observations captured by those utilizing the platform. I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself the legitimacy of Idiom and VOCADD on your own.
I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself the legitimacy of Idiom and VOCADD on your own.
The twists and turns of the sleigh ride:
No Successful Bookings: Numerous professional working voice actors submitting auditions to this platform across months weren't booked. In total 300+ auditions submitted across the talent engaged without a single booking!
Required Fees: You pay to be on a platform their roster utilizes. You cannot be represented by the Idiom Talent Agency if you are not on VOCADD.
Talent Acceptance: Talent accepted into the agency were sent the same positive cookie cutter acceptance response: We feel that your vocal style and ability are very much what we are seeking and will become a most welcome addition to our team. It would be our pleasure to work with you, assist you in booking projects, and help to develop your career further.
Auditions are... Strange: Huge industry clients are consistently posting auditions on this platform with spelling mistakes, strange references, and text that seems off brand. These auditions feel a bit unreal as AAA clients don't mess around with this stuff!
Too Good to be True: Gigs posted on this platform have significantly higher rates than industry standards across the board.
Proof of Work: Where is the finished work completed from these gigs? It is quite common that we as voice actors recognize the work we audition for especially when it is big ticket gigs like what is listed on the platform, but the finished work is nowhere to be found.
Delayed Agent Response: When inquiring to your talent representation response time is consistently untimely (weeks+). Commonly with other agents, they get back to their talent quickly as the relationship between actor and representation is a necessarily responsive partnership.
Cancelling: Upon no longer paying the service fee, talent are not contacted by their representation to see what has happened. Wouldn't an agent that was truly partnered with you contact you to let you know their was an issue with your account?
Exclusivity of the Platform: VOCADD the pay to play platform utilized by Idiom seems to be exclusively used by that agency.
Just Google It: Look at the record of the agency and platform via google, the results and assessment are quite consistent.
There you have it, facts to supplement the dreaded story above. Of course, all of the items listed above are not individually enough to raise a red flag regarding the agency and platform, it is instead the totality of them which makes the red flag rise high.
All off the items listed above are not individually enough to raise a red flag for the platform, it is instead the totality of them which makes the red flag rise high.
Scam or fraudulent opportunists damage us not only financially, but also in wasting our extremely valuable time. I share this collected experience story with you all, in hope that this information helps you make your own educated decision regarding the agency and platform. After all who knows, maybe all the professional actors in the story that were utilizing it just weren't bookable across the 300+ auditions they did.... I just really doubt it! 😅
Do let me know about your own experiences, especially if you have been on the platform or working with the agency.
May your voice forever be hydrated!
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