My Year with Pay-to-Play VO

When COVID brought everything to a screeching halt last year, I decided to venture into the wild west of pay to play sites for voice over. I was mostly looking for more experience, learning more about the industry, and just seeing if there was more consistent work somewhere.

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Pay to play sites are exactly what they sound like: you pay a membership fee to be able to access the auditions listed on that particular site. Membership fees vary based on the site, and some have different membership levels. Some take commissions on the jobs you book. There are a lot of mixed feelings about P2P. Some people hate them, some people love them, and apparently, they’re illegal in certain states? So DO YOUR RESEARCH PEOPLE. I’m going to break down the pros and cons of the four sites I tried out over the last year. I was fortunate that I booked at least one job on each of them, making back the money I originally put into the memberships.

It should be noted that most of the jobs I do on P2P sites require a home studio and for me to engineer the projects myself, which is also sort of a con, as I am not a big fan of engineering. But with a little research and practice, you too can enjoy worrying about whether your levels are going to peak when you raise your voice the tiniest bit, or if the lawn mower next door will be audible on your recording.

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Just kidding. It’s really not that bad, especially if you can get good equipment, and once you do it enough, you won’t think about it too much. But it is an added thing you’ll have to think about. (Big shoutout to the engineers out there. You guys are rockstars).

My overall impression of pay-to-play: I greatly prefer working through my agents. Partly because I hate negotiating fees. I like the reassurance that someone who really knows the industry is making sure my jobs are legit, safe, etc. The rates are almost always much better through my agents. Fortunately, I haven’t had any bad experiences with P2P (pay-to-play). I’ve been paid for every job, and the people/companies I’ve worked for have been professional and pleasant.

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Me when someone asks for my rate for a project.

Voice123.com

I’ve had the most success with V123. They definitely send the most auditions every day (sometimes I get up to 20-25 auditions from them. Average is probably between 5-10 daily). They are also the easiest to register on. If you can pay, you can play. You don’t need a professional demo to be a member like you do for the other sites I’m on. They do not take commissions on jobs. But they do have many different membership levels (aka the more you pay the better chance you have of getting “good” auditions).

Pros of V123

  • High quantity of auditions
  • No commissions
  • Wide range of auditions – commercial, video games, e-learning, industrials, website explainers, animation…there’s some of everything
  • Anyone can pay to play
  • I like their interface, and they’re continuing to improve it. I like that you can see if people have favorited you, and I’m hopeful they are still working on you being able to see which auditions people have liked.
  • There are lots of jobs that say “Looking for a rate” so you can list whatever you would charge for that particular job. (this is a pro AND con for me lol).

Cons of V123

  • Noticeably low rates for many projects (not all, but many)
  • I get many auditions from them at night (like 10 pm or later) and then they expire within 12-14 hours, so unless I record at weird times, I can miss out on a lot of good auditions.
  • The membership levels make me a little uncomfortable. If you want to pay over a thousand dollars, you can get auditions before anyone else! No thank you. Pick the level that works for you I guess.
  • I get quite a few auditions that I don’t fit the specs for. Pay attention to what the client is looking for so you don’t waste your time.
  • You have a sort of ranking that is based on how many clients like your auditions, which affects what invitation group you are in. Higher ranking means earlier invitations.

Bodalgo

Bodalgo is an interesting one. They’re based in Germany, so most of the jobs are European countries looking for native English speakers. It’s a lot of corporate/business videos, which are not usually looking for a bright, energetic, youthful voice, so it wasn’t great for me, but it might be perfect for you!

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Pros of Bodalgo

  • No commissions
  • One membership level. Everyone pays the same price to see the same auditions at the same time.
  • Everyone is vetted before they are listed as a member. Ideally this means the quality of voice actors on the site is higher than other sites.
  • They have a rate calculator that the clients have to use to list their rates, so the rates tend to be slightly better than V123 overall.
  • They have their own Source Connect alternative – Bodalgo Call. I’ve never used it, but if you don’t have Source Connect, it’s nice to have the option.

Cons of Bodalgo

  • As I said earlier, it’s mostly Corporate VO, so this was a con for me, because that’s not my wheelhouse. But that could definitely be a pro for you.
  • English is frequently the second language of the clients who are hiring, so sometimes this means audition notices are difficult to decipher and there can be many grammar mistakes/spelling issues in the actual copy, which then you have to try to correct as you audition. Although to be fair, this happens on the other sites occasionally as well.
  • You have to audition for these super quick. You can see how many people have auditioned so far, and it gets over 100 really fast.
  • Because many of the clients are in Europe, if they need a directed session, time zones can get complicated.

Voiceovers.com

I actually really like this one. They feel a bit more like an online agency. They’re not perfect, but they are doing some good things to help and protect the actors on their site.

Pros of Voiceovers.com

  • They invite a small number of voice actors to each audition. If you get an audition from them, you fit the specs, and there are maybe 50 other people that the audition was sent to, instead of hundreds.
  • They collect money from the client prior to you being awarded the job, so you are guaranteed to be paid. The client only gets the finished file once payment is guaranteed.
  • Their auditions are very easy to navigate, and their interface is straightforward but robust as far as job info goes.
  • Rates are a bit better here, although I’m starting to notice that some of them are low based on usage/location. They have a rate calculator that is required for clients to use as well, but sometimes the rates make no sense to me (they are minimum rates, so maybe they want voice actors to set a higher rate?). Fortunately, you can request your own specific rate on the audition as well.
  • You do everything through the site – audition, messaging the client, uploading the finished file. Most of the P2P sites, once you are chosen for the job, the actual job moves off-site with you emailing the client directly. It’s nice sometimes to be able to do everything through the site.
  • Their support team is very helpful. I’ve sent a few support emails, and they are quick to respond and work to make sure your issue is resolved.
  • They vet each member, so you have to have a professional demo.

Cons of Voiceovers.com

  • They take a 20% commission from all jobs. They sent an email a few months ago saying this was ending this past March, but based on a recent job I did, it has in fact, not.
  • The number of auditions is pretty low. I probably get a couple a month? Sometimes it’s higher than that, but that’s unusual. Now, they just got started like, a year and a half ago, so maybe they’re just building their client base.
  • They do have a “gold member” level, which I think pays more to get better auditions? Obviously I’m not a gold member so I don’t know exactly what that entails, but I know they get certain perks the regular members don’t get.

VO Planet

The last site I tried out was VO Planet. I’ve had the least success here, although I do like the site overall.

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Pros of VO Planet

  • They seem to have better rates overall. They appear to remove jobs that are listed below a certain rate.
  • They are all about making relationships off site. So once you audition for something, everything else is done off-site. They essentially just host auditions.
  • They don’t take commissions.
  • They vet their members (so you need a demo). There is only one membership level.
  • Wide range of auditions – commercials, website explainers, video game characters, audiobooks, etc.

Cons of VO Planet

  • Fewer auditions, but not terrible. I probably get a few a week from them.
  • To be honest, I like VO Planet, I just didn’t book much there, so not really any other cons.
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I know, sorry. I just have a lot to say.

Side Note: I’ve had people ask me about Voices.com. A quick google search will let you know that there’s a lot of controversy going on with them, so I stayed away. I wasn’t interested in that kind of experience. If you’ve had a great experience with them, let the people know in the comments!

I learned a lot over the past year, and as always, am happy to answer any questions you might have about my experience! Leave me a comment or send me a message through my contact page!

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