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An Interview with Kevin West of VOPlanet – Part 1

When word hit the interwebs that was returning to the casting site world, the voice over community was buzzing. Everyone wanted to know what the story was. Some talent who had been around for a while recalled VOPlanet from a number of years ago. It was a major player for a season, but then slowly faded away to the background. That is, until Kevin West came in to revive it.

Does the world really need another casting site? After all, it seems like a new one is popping up and asking for our membership dollars just about every week. Well, that’s one of the questions I actually asked Kevin, who was more than willing to answer!

One thing remains prevalent in our industry. After the VCD fiasco, talent aren’t going to trust any site that doesn’t offer transparency and a reasonable level of accountability to the community at large. We also want to know we’re getting fair opportunities at fair rates.

Will VOPlanet deliver? Read on for yourself. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Kevin West of VOPlanet Answers Your Questions

Marc: When the community heard about launching (or re-launching) many said, “Oh great. Another pay-to-play.” SO what sets VOPlanet apart from all the other casting sites trying to collect membership dollars? How is it unique?

Kevin: What’s great about your question is it’s the same first question we asked ourselves! How to build a P2P in 2018 is very clear: treat people better. The market very clearly demanded an alternative to the big greedy corporate sites. So, we asked the voiceover community what they felt was wrong with P2P and using that guidance built a voiceover platform that avoids the mistakes the other sites have been making.

My partner Christine Bloxom and I created a professional, transparent, work-direct P2P that’s actively being shaped by the requests and needs of the members.

Marc: Recognizing it’s still early in the launch, approximately how many opportunities a week are being posted on the site. Can you give us an approximate breakdown of male/female, languages and genres of work? What is the goal you’re targeting for the number of postings weekly?

Kevin: We are only in our fourth week and we are seeing jobs posted daily. There are hundreds of voice actors in about six languages split evenly male and female and we are adding members every day. All genres of work have been posted.

Our goal is “everyone works.” We’re working hard to attract better paying clients and jobs. We will push until everyone is auditioning multiple times daily.

Marc: What is VOPlanet doing to protect industry standard rates? Are budgets set or is there bidding? Is there a minimum rate or suggested rate card for voice seekers?

Kevin: We are not only working to protect standard rates, we are working to raise them. Another VOPlanet difference! A BIG difference! VOP created a no underbidding policy. We do not allow bidding lower than the proposed budget, which means no undercutting other voice actors. Think about that. While the big corporate sites have all encouraged a race to the bottom with bidding on voiceover rates for the past 15 years, we said enough.

Times have changed. If you feel the budget for a gig is too low, we encourage you to bid HIGHER than the client’s proposed budget. And you can tell the client why! It’s all built in our auditioning dash. No low bids? Please bid higher? Those are VOPlanet exclusives and our way of protecting rates, making our industry stronger and treating our people better.

Marc: Does VOPlanet do anything to vet talent? Are there any requirements or expectations talent must meet? Or can anyone with a microphone sign up?

Kevin: We are a professionals-only voiceover community. You must be an experienced, working professional with a professional studio. We listen to every demo and look at every vo site of every talent that registers. Expect to be asked to leave if you are not a pro. We’ll point you in the right direction of voice coaches and demo producers if you do not meet the requirements.

Marc: Within the industry, it’s no secret that VDC has an ad budget most can’t compete with. What kind of strategies does VOPlanet have for finding work and bringing opportunity to the site (without giving away any secrets)?

Kevin: VDC also has a reputation that clearly works to VOP’s advantage. We do not require millions in ad money when we have some of the strongest word of mouth networking of any P2P site in history. This at the very same moment the voiceover world is being turned upside down by corruption. Voice buyers and voice actors are searching for an honest alternative and we believe is clearly the best choice.

Kevin West of #VOPlanet answers your questions about the new casting site. Read on! #vopreneur
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Part 2 of the Interview

Kevin wasn’t done answering your questions. To see the rest of the questions and his responses, please read Part 2 of the interview available by clicking here.

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Talking Voice Over Rates With The GVAA Part 2

Monday I released the first part of my two-part interview with the GVAA regarding their brilliant voice over rates guide. If you missed it, you can read it here – Talking Voice Over Rates With The GVAA Part 1.

Now, for the rest of it. Here’s part two.

Talking Voice Over Rates With The GVAA Part 2

Marc: Comparatively speaking, the GVAA rates are higher (and more fair) than most of those offered on casting site (which many talent use as a guide when quoting projects). Do you have any tips for talent negotiating fair rates and helping clients understand the value?

GVAA: Know your value and show the client that. What sets you apart from other talent? Do you offer editing and mastering for finished products? Offer quick turnaround on projects? Determine what will provide the most value to your clients and make them aware of it!

As voice talent, we are also problem solvers. Present your services as a fix to your clients problem. On most projects, the VO is just one small piece of the puzzle. Making that piece as easy as possible for the client will provide value and repeat business.

We also recommend showing clients our rate guide as an industry resource for fair rates. What clients feel is a “good rate” can be arbitrary especially when dealing with clients via P2P/online casting sites. Some clients lack the education and all they know are casting sites rate cards, which as you’ve mentioned are on the lower side which obviously helps those casting sites gain business and additional clients.

We’ve had feedback from talent that have shown clients the rate guide and helped educate the client as to what fair rates are within the industry and the client response was great. Sometimes we need to help our by educating them. This is a rapidly changing industry especially with the explosive growth of internet/streaming content and we can’t expect clients to keep VO talent fair rates at their forefront.

Marc: Will this guide be a “living, breathing” guide? If so, how often do you expect to refresh it?

GVAA: The rate guide is a living guide and is updated often. There is no schedule for updates as we update it once we receive new rate information. Of course, we verify the information given to make sure it’s proper.

We are always seeking new rate information and the rate guide will have gaps in it as we are continually seeking additional information. If anyone has rate information they’d like to contribute, we welcome it! Information can be sent to me –

Marc: Any other thoughts on the guide you’d like to share… feel free.

GVAA: I like to use an analogy when talking about rates: When you call an Electrician to get a quote, you don’t set the rate, the Electrician does. The Electrician has a specific skill set that you don’t have so why should you tell them what their services are worth? With the increase in the barter/gig economy, the purchasing power has been put in the hands of the consumer/client. This shouldn’t be the case for professional services.

VO talent have dedicated years to work on their craft, countless hours and money in education, learning, practice, studios, equipment, websites, etc. Professional VO talent didn’t just jump out of bed one day and start booking work. This expertise and experience comes at a cost and this is where the need fair rates come from.

If clients want a cheap vo, there’s places to find that. We encourage VO talent not to be one of them and to command fair professional rates. It only helps themselves and our industry as a whole and it’s the only way to raise the value of what we do.

Thanks To GVAA

I’d like to extend a special thank you to Cristina Miliza, David Toback and the rest of the GVAA team for taking the time to answer my questions, and more importantly, for putting together a comprehensive voice over rate guide that will be a go-to resource for us all!

Once again, if you’d like to check out the guide for yourself visit

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Talking Voice Over Rates With The GVAA Part 1

No topic is more heavily discussed and debated in the voice over business than rates. Trying to settle on an “industry standard” seems to be almost impossible. There are plenty of rate guides out there, but most of them don’t jive with each other. Some of them are low. Some seem reasonable. Many are incomplete, in that they offer suggestions for staples such as commercials, but little else.

Enter the GVAA… Global Voice Acting Academy.

They recently released what I’d consider to be the most comprehensive rate guide our industry has ever seen. To find out a little bit more about it, I reached out to them directly for an interview. I’ll be sharing their responses over two blog posts. The first half of the interview is below. The second half will be posted Wednesday June 8, 2016.

Talking Voice Over Rates With The GVAA

Marc: For those unfamiliar with GVAA, give us the “elevator pitch” so to speak, on the organization, what you do and what you’re about it.

GVAA: The Global Voice Acting Academy is an online voiceover school providing career building, high quality education for professional and aspiring voice over talent, all within a caring, active, and creative community.

Central to our philosophy is a collaborative “team teaching” method that allows for the most expert, well-informed, learning environment possible. All of our coaches communicate regularly with one another, allowing us to both keep each other informed about a voice actor’s progress, and at the same time, work in partnership on demo production, home studio creation, and business strategies.

A talent can easily study different genres within the GVAA, work on a demo, create a branding and marketing plan, or optimize their home studio, all while experiencing the same personalized, community-based service.

We have a lively Facebook group, weekly workouts, and daily discussions – all via webcam, so that students and pros alike can come together and share their knowledge and experience with like-minded spirits.

Marc: The Rate Guide you’ve created is brilliant. Why did GVAA decide to take on such a monumental project?

GVAA: It started when I (David Toback) had trouble pricing a project I had secured via my own marketing. Almost everything I had auditioned for either through my agent or P2P I was “told” what the rate or rate range was. When it came time to price a project for myself I realized I didn’t have a “price list/rate card” to refer to in order to make sure I was quoting a fair rate for both myself and client.

At the time I was a GVAA student and I had struck up a relationship with Cristina (Milizia) and she became my mentor. I asked her for help regarding rates and ironically she had been looking into fair rates and developing standards. She sent me some information and I created a “rate sheet” for myself. I shared it with Cristina and she saw the opportunity to expand on it and create a rate guide that could be a resource for the industry.

From there it exploded with the help of many pro’s in the industry contributing rates and practices. We quickly realized that this was something that was needed in the industry and our goal was to help standardize rates and ensure all talent levels would know how to price projects in this ever changing industry.

Marc: How many people did you survey to come up with the rates in the guide? What level of experience did they have?

GVAA: We originally started with the Sean Caldwell survey, SAG-AFTRA scale, and a handful of established pro’s Cristina knew from the VO Collective including Jay Preston. From there, we solicited and received rate information from a host of working professionals from around the country through our networks and personal connections. We purposefully reached out to working professionals that specialize in certain genres that are well known in the industry with years of experience working with their own rates.

Marc: For some talent, particularly those starting out, they question if they’re worth the same rates as more experienced VO’s. What do you say to them? Does the number of years of experience matter? Or is the main factor whether or not they can deliver the goods?

GVAA: We say, if you are getting paid for your voice you are a professional and you should command professional rates. I think there’s an issue in our industry where new comers and beginning talent don’t think they’re good enough and should charge less. In fact, I was one of these people.

The fact is, professionals want to work with other professionals. By lacking the confidence in your talent and capabilities and thinking you’re not worth a good rate, it only does a disservice to yourself and can appear as you’re not viable professional.

However, we understand that there is a difference between a newer talent and someone who has been a full time working professional for years. This is why we’ve included a rate range – Low, Avg, High – with the intent that talent can use this range to charge what they feel is right to secure the work.

Talent have the knowledge of what a fair rate should be from the Low to High end and can decide what type of pricing model works best for them at the current stage of their careers. This can also be a factor when quoting for a large company who would have a larger budget as compared to a small company that has a tight budget.

If you are getting paid for your voice you are a professional and you should command professional rates. Tweet This

Part Two on Wednesday

The remainder of my interview with the GVAA will be posted on Wednesday June 8, 2016.

In the meantime, you can check out the GVAA Rate Guide by visiting

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Getting To Know World-Voices Part 2

This is the second and final part of an interview I conducted with Dave Courvoisier and Dustin Ebaugh about World-Voices. (Click here for Part 1)

Hopefully through the questions and their responses you’re able to have a greater understanding of the organization. Maybe you’re even considering becoming a member.

Getting To Know World-Voices Part 2

Marc: In a Pay 2 Play world where it seems like every organization is putting the needs / wants of clients ahead of talent, what is World Voices / doing different?

Dave: is member-owned, member-driven, member/talent-centric, and seeks to do better the things that the P2P’s constantly foul-up with their profit-driven motives. We want to help our members make their OWN money, not make WoVO (the organization) rich. We’d love to beat them at their own game, but it’s going to take time, some smart SEO, word-of-mouth, and some diligent marketing to get there.

Marc: Speaking of, tell us a little bit more about this site. How does it work?

Dave: Every WoVO member with professional status receives a code from the developers to begin setting up their profile, uploading their demos, etc. The site has a search function to seek certain talent, dialects, genres, etc. In listings, talent are constantly re-arranged in random order, so people at the bottom of the alphabet don’t end up with the short shrift all the time.

When the (ahem) hordes of voice-seekers find out about the high level of accomplishment of the people listed on the site, they will flock to, and keep coming back! 🙂 That is our hope.

The site is free to members. We don’t take payments, and don’t get in the way of the job transaction once the client has found the talent they want. There’s no algorithms, no formulas, no issuing of job notices… the client finds the talent, and contacts them privately. That’s it.

Marc: Arguably the most hotly debated topic in voice over is that of rates. Does World Voices have a position on this debate? Do they recommend or endorse a particular rate card or rate standard?

Dustin: WoVO does not set rates or advise our members on rates. However, we make rate cards from various markets, countries and sources available on our website, so that members may be informed of the rates others are charging. We do, however, agree that in the United States, SAG-AFTRA rates are a good guideline for minimum professional rates.

Dave: What Dustin said. I’ll only add that our Executive Board has burned up miles of email threads, and endless Skype bandwidth debating the wisdom of getting into the “rates” discussion. Merely by setting our “5-jobs” membership criteria, we’ve stumbled upon some thorny rates issues (does an ACX job that pays only Royalty Share qualify?….if you do a job on Fivrr for $25, does that qualify?)

Some big-name established voice-actors in Hollywood have invited us to be involved in the rates debate with SAG-AFTRA and others sitting at the table, so clearly we have a part to play in all this…we just don’t want to play a heavy hand in hard numbers… rather urging people to consider their own self-worth as a freelance professional…taking the high road on rates, regardless of how hard it may be.

Marc: I see you’ve got a conference scheduled for April. Who is that open to? Anyone or members only? Tell us a bit more about what’s going to take place and who will be leading the sessions.

Dustin: WoVOCon II is scheduled for April 17-19 at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, NV. Our conferences are open to members only. All three categories of members are welcome.

We will have a couple discussions on the organization. What members can do for WoVO and what WoVO can do for members. One of the things to come out of last year’s discussion was, so we’re pretty excited about that.

This year, we’ll have Industry Partners Joyce Castellanos and Pat Fraley teaching on Saturday. We’ll also have peer-to-peer groups, where members can share their expertise in various fields with other members. We have some software specific sessions scheduled already with experts in ProTools, Adobe Audition and Twisted Wave.

Members can register here:

Marc: If someone is interested in becoming a member, how does it work? How much does it cost? Where do they go to sign up?

Dustin: New members can apply here: There’s a $25 application fee and membership is $49 per year. So, for the first year it’s $74 and $49 annually thereafter.

Marc: Is there anything else you’d like to add or discuss that VO’s need to know?

Dave: I constantly find myself saying I’m not worthy to be a WoVO officer. The work we’re doing, the ethical judgments we weigh, the volunteer efforts being made, the constant consideration of our membership’s needs, and what they expect of us. It all just BLOWS. ME. AWAY.

For that reason, some of the minor stumbles we’ve made in our formative months have been frustrating to all of us on the executive board. Some lingering technical issues with our two websites drive us batty. But the more support we get, the more we can move into solutions that help us seek professional 3rd-party help for those problems, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Our members have been patient with those wrinkles, because, I think they believe – as the board does – in the mandate of WoVO, and the promise it holds for our profession.

More About World-Voices

Thanks, again, to Dave and Dustin for their time. I appreciate the thought and detail they put into their answers, and I’m hoping I asked the right questions to enlighten those of you that are curious to know more.

In the interest of disclosure, I am a member of World-Voices. I signed up a couple weeks ago. I believe in what the organization is trying to do, and I’m all about supporting any effort to improve the voice over industry.

Want to apply for membership? Visit

For those of you on Twitter, please consider joining the #WoVOChat that will take place January 28, 2015 at 12pm PST / 3pm EST.


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Getting To Know World-Voices Part 1

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, and more.

Want to apply for membership? Visit