Are you familiar with World-Voices? I really wasn’t, although I’d been hearing more and more about them. After participating in a couple Twitter chats hosted by the organization, I had learned enough to know I wanted to become a member.
Last week, I did just that.
Many people still haven’t heard of World-Voices. Or, if they have, don’t really know much about them. With that in mind, I sent a number of questions to two of the World-Voices board members, Dave Courvoisier and Dustin Ebaugh.
What follows is part one in a two part series.
Getting To Know World-Voices Part 1
Marc: A couple years ago there was a push for a voice over organization (not World-Voices). I was turned off because the impression I was given was you needed to be a member to validate yourself as a voice talent. It seemed like a club reserved only for the elite. What would you say to VO’s who might carry those feelings over to World-Voices?
Dustin: Our organization is based on inclusion, rather than exclusivity. Any voice actor is welcome to join. It’s not about validation. World-Voices Organization is the only industry association for voice actors.
There’s power in numbers. So far, we’re growing the organization at about 100 members per year. Our three-year anniversary is coming up on April 19, 2015. We’re on course to have 300 members by that time.
There are three types of membership: Professional, Associate and Industry Partner. The pros are just that, professional voice actors. Associates are those that are interested in VO or perhaps have not completed enough (5) professional rate jobs to become a professional member. Industry Associates are highly vetted (by the Board) providers of services or products to the industry.
Every member must agree and adhere to the relevant “Best Practices” listed on our website. We can affect positive change in our industry by banding and working together. That’s what we’re doing.
Dave: Well, if it was a club reserved for the elite… it didn’t work. The big names in our business rejected it because it was seen as a bunch of wannabe’s exerting some random set of certifying criteria on pros who already KNEW they were making the grade. THAT didn’t work. And (without getting much deeper into the past), that system led to abuses and cronyism.
Out of the ashes, though, the four founders from THAT board knew what had to be done, and we did it when we built WoVO: transparency, good record-keeping, putting the members in control, and in all things, ethics.
What would I say to someone who is carrying those feelings? Ask around, kick the tires, and challenge us on our policies. You’ll find a refreshing openness, and if we can’t solve it, we’ll ask you to come onboard and HELP us solve it! 🙂
Marc: Who is World-Voices? How is the organization structured? Is it Internet only? Will there be or are there local / regional chapters?
Dustin: World Voices is our members. We are of, by and for our membership. There’s an elected Executive Board to oversee and direct the organization, then various committees with responsibilities in specific areas such as PR, Newsletters, International Chapters, Outreach and Education, etc.
We already have an associate organization in Israel and are working on the same in South America, Australia and in Europe.
We are organized online, but once-a-year, we have a “shareholders” meeting in Las Vegas: WoVOCon, where our membership comes together to learn, share and contribute to the organization. We also have associated Meetup groups in Dallas, Buffalo and Michigan. Plus, a number of virtual Meetup groups are meeting.
Local, regional and international chapters are in the development process now. We’ve just made our first draft of the guidelines for those.
Dave: To add to what Dustin said: “We”…WoVO….the members…. have a uniquely uniform understanding of the value of community and the need for a coordinating agency that can organize the core values of mentoring, education, advocacy, and promotion of our business.
Marc: What are the main objectives for World-Voices? What do you plan / hope to accomplish through this organization?
Dave: Well, without intending to go all “institutional–speak” on ya, I really need to take you back to the verbiage of our mission statement on our website, ‘cause we worked long and hard to hash it out: “WoVO works to inform and educate about best practices, standards for ethical conduct and professional expertise. We communicate voice acting’s importance to the public and business leaders and affirm the power of professional quality voicing and recording, and inspire through articles, portfolios, recognition of achievement and excellence. We represent and advocate for the profession and stimulate discussion within the industry through events, social media and websites.”
YUP…we believe in all that…that’s what we hope to accomplish.
Marc: Who is World-Voices open to? Can anybody with a microphone and computer join? Is there a screening process? Are accepted talent required to meet a certain criteria (e.g. union, ISDN, agent representation, certain income level)?
Dustin: Anyone who’s a voice actor or interested in becoming one can apply to join WoVO. We have a membership process in which each applicant is vetted for experience and to verify they are who they say they are.
We are union neutral. We have both non-members and SAG-AFTRA members on the Board and in our membership base. Representation is not required to be a professional member, but professional experience is. To us, that means a pro has completed at least five jobs for someone unrelated to them and been paid a professional rate. We do not consider spec or royalty-share work to be at the professional rate level. We generally use union or prevailing rates in the country of residence to determine that rate.
Dave: Dustin’s answer is spot-on…what I’ll add is that we are offering a technical certification endorsement for anyone who is a professional member. This is purely ELECTIVE. There is a small fee. NOT having this in no way diminishes the “professional” listing. You wouldn’t believe how long and hard we debated this… we didn’t want to go back to the mistakes made in the FAE (former accrediting agency)… but the answer was twofold: (1) a significant number of our members requested it (especially those outside the US). (2) we have the chance to mentor those who don’t pass muster…which fulfills our mandate, and gives a leg-up to our members.
More About World-Voices
I’d like to thank Dave and Dustin for their time, and for shedding a little more light on World-Voices. If you’d still like to know more, come back Friday. I’ll post part two of my interview with them including answers to questions about rates, VoiceOver.biz and more.
Want to apply for membership? Visit www.worldvo.org/register/