What’s the story behind Voices.com?
STEPHANIE CICCARELLI / VOICES.COM: Thanks for having us on Reel Designer! We need to start at the beginning…with a love story. Producer meets singer, they work together, fall in love, get married and have four kids.
My husband David has a gift for audio production. My gift is music. At one point, we operated a professional recording studio and provided audio production and voice-over services to clients locally and around the world. In addition to industry knowledge and skill, we also share a passion for helping other people reach their potential and succeed in business. In 2004, we made a decision to shine the spotlight on others, and in the process, help them achieve their goal of obtaining work and putting food on their tables. There is dignity in work. Serving other people is what we’ve been called to do and we’re grateful to be entrusted with this awesome responsibility.
What are your services, and what is your claim to fame?
VOICES.COM: As our slogan denotes, at Voices.com, we say it for you. Some people say it with flowers and others with voice-overs. Voices.com is the voice of countless brands and serves hundreds of thousands worldwide. Earlier this year (2012), we were recognized by the London Chamber of Commerce as Business of the Year (medium-sized) at the Business Achievement Awards.
Voices.com has been recognized on a national level for innovation and growth, three times being listed in as one of Canada’s fasting growing companies in PROFIT Magazine. We're also quite proud of the awards we've won. Due greatly to our dedication to investing in people and technological innovation, our online marketplace for sourcing voice-over talent has demonstrated an ability to grow in times of want as well as times of plenty .
What kind of projects are Voices from Voices.com hired out for?
VOICES.COM: Companies around the world use Voices.com to source voice-overs for everything from television commercials to movie trailers to talking toys to audiobooks. Just think of the many voice-overs you hear each day. You’re likely hearing hundreds of them depending on what you encounter on a daily basis. If you interact with any kind of electronic media, you’re bound to hear voice-overs. They are part of the fabric of everyday life in our culture. Some examples of work completed at Voices.com include:
Virtual Calgary Stampede – Rotary Dream Home
Onto our title topic, how does one go about choosing and working with voice talent online?
VOICES.COM: Finding the perfect voice for your next project is as easy as posting a job on our site. Doing so gives you the opportunity to hear from a variety of talent, receive custom demos and price quotes for consideration. When you’ve heard someone you want to work with, simply award the job and make payment using Voices.com’s proprietary safe payment service, SurePay, to begin the recording process.
Once the voice-over has been recorded, the voice talent uploads the file(s) to their client’s account for review. Upon approval, payment is released to the talent and both parties have the opportunity to share their experiences working together by leaving a feedback rating and review.
Alternatively, you can enlist the help of one of our dedicated Project Managers, all of whom are trained in the A.R.T. Methodology. This methodology gives structure to the audition, recording and file transfer phases of the project, allowing the client to save time and money while casting their favourite voice.
- Here is a Step by Step Guide for using the Voices.com site:
- Post your job – It's free!
- Review customized auditions.
- Award your job. Click the “Award Job” button.
- Make payment safely using our SurePay escrow service.
- Voice talent records your job.
- Release payment to the talent.
- You can request a quote from one of our dedicated Project Managers.
Our Project Managers have helped clients successfully complete over 50,000 projects using what we call the A.R.T. Methodology. This methodology gives structure to the audition, recording and file transfer phases of the project and allows the client to save time and money while casting their favorite voice.
Is demand for voices increasing? What’s contributing the surge in demand – is it consumers demanding more content? Or advertisers seeing results and pushing to create more content?
VOICES.COM: We are seeing an increase in a number of different areas. Technology is making it easier for people to consume information and from that we have seen a significant increase in audiobooks, web videos and presentations. We’ve also noticed an increase in eLearning content creation and product information and demo pieces. One of the most frequent requests now is the translation of existing content into different languages to broaden a brand’s reach. To illustrate, companies with videos in English are now looking to translate their videos into other languages such as Spanish and French so they can increase their distribution and audience size.
How do voices over’s make a video product more successful – why does it ‘work’?
VOICES.COM: It works for a number of different reasons. For most videos the voice is what’s going to keep people engaged. A good voice with the right tone and inflection also helps consumers retain information. A professional voice actor has a way of bringing a character to life or making you feel something.
One of the most popular ways people love consuming content is through what are commonly referred to as ‘explainer videos’ the majority of which are freely available online. People love to hear a good story and enjoy good storytelling. Audiences expect that videos, whether online or otherwise, will include narration to some degree and rely on the narrator to provide depth and insight through their storytelling.
Despite the abundance of inexpensive production gear and sites like Fiverr.com, why should an organization avoid voice over DIY (do-it-yourself) and instead opt for a professional voice over actor?
VOICES.COM: Reiterating what a wise someone once said, the proof is in the pudding.
Working with a professional voice actor is better than relying on someone in your company who happens to have a nice or pleasant voice. If you’ve ever done the latter, you know what I’m talking about! I’ve heard it said that really getting it right as an actor working in voice-over can take an average of 15 years.
That’s quite the investment of time, money and resources. Working in voice-over today requires talent to be gifted as actors, gifted in business and gifted in technical know-how. Most professional voice actors work from their home recording studio and need to be skilled in myriad ways given they now serve as voice actor, audio engineer, producer, voice director and so on.
In the past, finance was a barrier to entry for aspiring voice actors and audio producers. To outfit a professional recording studio, even a decade ago, you were looking at spending tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to get going. With inexpensive equipment out there, almost anyone can set up shop and say that they are a voice actor. We’ve seen this again and again. Many people who jump into voice-over have been told that they have a great voice or have seen something on TV that inspires them. At first glance, voice-over can be perceived as simply talking, which is just the tip of the iceberg. What reality TV doesn’t highlight is that creative endeavours such as voice-over are art forms and that it takes years of dedication and hard work to produce an “overnight success.”
What are some suggestions you have for an business looking to incorporate to hire and use their first voice over actor?
VOICES.COM: Picking the right voice is very important for the success of your project as that voice will brand your company and depending on your project will likely be the first point of contact for many of your customers.
1 – Prepare
When you are writing the script, you will likely have a character in mind and possibly even be able to hear what the voice talent should sound like in your head before you start listening to sample voices. Getting your thoughts on paper and spending time thinking about what’s best for you project is key to staying on message, positioning your brand and providing artistic direction to voice-over professionals.
2 – Know Your Audience
You will need to think about voice ages, accents, and styles when selecting a voice. Write down what you know about your customers and select a voice that best reflects their demographic. If you are selling skateboards you probably aren’t going to select a senior or mature voice. You are better off picking a voice age, in this case young adult or teen, that will relate best to your demographic and inspire them.
3 – Give the Voice Talent Direction
Describe a character that you are trying to use for the voice so the voice actor will be able to get into that role while recording your script. If you are selling the latest in cleaning supplies you may want someone like this: “Stay at home mom who is very proud of her 3 children. She enjoys collecting coupons and is always looking for a good deal. She loves to cook and is very particular about how tidy her house is.”
[editor's note: Also make sure you write properly for the script to be read as you intended – read more about script writing for narration here.]
4 – Get Custom Auditions
When auditioning voice talent make sure that you provide a sample script. This will make it easier for you to compare auditions and make your final selection. There’s nothing like hearing someone read from your script to know that they are the right person for the job.
5 – Keep an Open Mind
We always give our clients a few samples of exactly what they are looking for but our project managers will usually mix it up with some out of the box auditions. In our business, many of our customers are of the “I’ll know it when I hear it” mindset when selecting a voice talent. Casting (selecting a talent) is more of an art than a science, I think you’ll agree. When you keep an open mind, you’re willing to consider talent who took risks with creative direction. From personal experience, I have hired voice talent who auditioned with a completely different interpretation of my script than was expected. The result? A refreshing twist on what we thought was already perfect!
What’s are a few common misconceptions that you’ve observed with regards to using voice overs?
VOICES.COM: One of the biggest misconceptions of either using or doing voice-overs is that all someone needs to do is be able to talk. Many people see performing a voice-over as merely reading well and don’t consider the effort or skill that it takes to warm the voice, interpret a script or breathe life into the text. Being able to take a piece of copy, understand it and infuse life into it takes a great amount of skill and intention. A good actor knows what they are doing and is deliberate with their choices whereas an aspiring actor may be grasping for the wind, voicing haphazardly without much thought to what is being done.
Virtual Calgary Stampede – Rotary Dream Home, Phase 2
Any predictions for the future voice overs for marketing and informational products?
VOICES.COM: More voice-over is work going online because managing voice-over projects online saves time, energy, resources and money. More than $72,000,000 in voice-over work has been produced through Voices.com over the past several years. Also, more business will be conducted on mobile devices. Mobile apps on Androids, iPhones and Blackberrys are used for job hunting and audition alerts.
With so many people using mobile devices to access the site we decided that an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch app would give our customers access to the most important parts of their account and was absolutely necessary.
Thanks for the interview Stephanie – what's the best way for readers to get in touch with Voices.com?
VOICES.COM: The best ways to get a hold of us are by calling toll free: 1-888-359-3472 / 1-519-858-5660, or e-mail: email@example.com or, live chat on our site with one of our friendly representatives! We are also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and of course, YouTube!
It’s also an exciting way for us to grow – thanks for having us on!