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An Interview with Kevin West of VOPlanet – Part 2

This is a continuation (and the conclusion) of my interview with Kevin West of the recently relaunched To read Part 1 please click here.

Marc: Will membership be capped? Or could we see another casting site boasting 200,000+ voice actors?

Kevin: We will never have 200,00 voice actors! If we do get 200,000 I am totally moving to Canada! Does VDC really have 200,000? The serious answer is the others do not have that many voiceover people. What they have are hundreds of thousands of untrained members. Anyone with a credit card can sign up on those sites and call themselves “pro vo talent.”

We’re not interested in profiting from the high turnover of people who think they might want to try being a voice actor. We want quality over quantity. We are happy to have enough pro voiceover actors in each category to give our voice buyers all the auditions they need to be thrilled with their job posts. We will certainly cap our membership when we get there.

Marc: What role does VOPlanet play in the casting process? Is it simply a matchmaker? Or can talent expect them to act as a middleman between them and the seeker?

Kevin: We are matchmakers. We do not pay talent or get mixed up in the money at all. No casting fees, no percentages, no altered budgets. We’re completely transparent. That is where the other guys went wrong. Buyers and voice actors work direct at VOP.

We designed the voice actor profiles to clearly highlight their direct contact information. Your personal website, your email address – all easy to find.

At V123 your website link is written in tiny little letters at the very bottom of the screen? Why? Why do they hide your direct contact info? Why do they make you pay FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS to see every job posted that fits you? Everyone sees every single job on VOP and that is included with our industry low annual membership fee of $199.

Marc: One of the problems many talent have with other casting sites is that within 15 minutes of a job posting going live, 200 people have already submitted. Is VOPlanet doing anything differently to control the audition process?

Kevin: I have cast more than ten thousand vo projects using every platform out there. You get 100 auditions. I can easily evaluate 100 auditions in a few minutes. I can tell within 3 seconds if a voice is a contender. Most auditions are not what the client is asking for, and I am happy to have more to choose from. Even the ones that come in late in the casting. This is an unnecessary fear among voice actors. I am telling you that from the casting side, two hundred auditions are not a problem. And yes, we do listen to all the auditions.

Marc: Casting sites are in a challenging position where they’re trying to keep both sides of the table happy, that being talent and seeker. What kind of commitment is VOPlanet making to ongoing dialogue with the voice over community and accepting viable / valuable suggestions that may be presented?

Kevin: By simply asking both sides what they need and finding common ground. Ask around. We have been in every vo group asking questions and the same with voice buyers. Voice actors want more jobs at better pay. Clients want better voices at a fair price. Both want transparency. And that is what you get at

Marc: People that have been around this industry for a while remember VOPlanet from days gone by, and many don’t have fond memories from the end. What are you doing to reset the stage, so to speak? What messages would you like talent to hear so they’ll considering giving the site a second chance?

Kevin: When we took over the previous owner had become a minister and the site was no longer her key focus. The site lost momentum. We bought out those folks, built a brand-new site and are on the streets busting it to get gigs for our members. To us it is a new voiceover platform with the unique advantage of a client list that goes back more than a decade. Christine and I have been casting vo through our audio production site since 2005. This is not our first voice-over venture. Come join us. We will take care of you.

Marc: Thanks again, Kevin, for your willingness to answer some questions. Is there’s anything else you want the community to hear?

Kevin: There is a better way to do voiceover. Corporate sites are lowering voiceover rates, taking more than their share of the budget and funneling jobs to select voice artists. It is time to change your voiceover site. And it is time for voice buyers to change their voiceover casting site. is here to help! Thanks for the chance to share our vision Marc!

Marc: Do you have plans to offer a monthly option for people who want to test the site first before putting $200 down?

Kevin: We understand folks want to kick the tires a bit and take VOP out for a spin. That’s one of the reasons we post peeks at our jobs board on our Facebook page @voplanetofficial. We know you are curious about the jobs. We’re seeing nice jobs with fair rates. We have turned down some low paying jobs. We are not offering monthly memberships at the moment. We appreciate you letting us know that’s being asked. Great ideas from the vo community are vital to VOPlanet in building our community and setting our path.

Want to know more about the new #VOPlanet casting site? Kevin West answers your questions.
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Ready to Join?

For those of you familiar with me and my coaching, you know that I teach direct marketing. I encourage talent to NOT rely on casting sites to build their client lists and grow their businesses. I also believe that many of the casting sites out there do not have the best interests of talent in mind. Those sites are only interested in building their bank accounts, not yours.

With that said, having heard what Kevin has to say, I feel good about spreading the word about VOPlanet. He knows what he’s doing. He cares about the VO community. He’s trying to create something different. This is a business model I can get behind.

Casting sites still should only be ONE tool in your voice over toolbox, don’t ever forget that. VOPlanet could certainly be one of those tools.

Interested in joining? Visit Membership is currently $199 USD / year.

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Why The Online Casting Conversation Needs To Continue

“Isn’t it time to move on?”

“How much more energy should we devote to this nonsense?”

“Wouldn’t we be better off letting it go and worrying about our own businesses?”

“Aren’t we really just beating a dead horse?”

These are some of the comments I’ve received and read regarding the ongoing discussions about online casting sites and their business practices. Some people are simply tired of hearing about it. I understand. Believe me, I understand. I was one of those people.

Be Part Of The Problem Or Part Of The Solution

My point all along has been, as a voice over community we can be part of the problem, or we can be part of the solution. We can climb on our soapboxes, bang our drums and send our wit, sarcasm, frustration, and outright rage into the universe via social media… or we can try and have a dialogue.

Personally, I’ve had enough of the complaining. My complaining gauge peaked and shattered a long, long time ago. Complaining, in my opinion, does nothing to solve the problem. Venting amongst ourselves in closed and private groups may offer a form of therapy, I won’t deny that, but it’s not going to affect change.

It’s time to affect change.

Affecting Change

That’s what happened this past weekend at VO Atlanta. One of the most productive dialogues regarding online casting sites since the “Interview Heard Around The World” hosted by Graeme Spicer, took place. Oh, and Graeme was still a part of that conversation, and still considered a hero amongst many,

J Michael Collins brilliantly moderated a panel discussion with leaders from Realtime Casting, bodalgo, Voice123 and Each of these representatives was given time on the stage to speak to the audience, answer questions and address issues.

Let’s just say, some did better than others. Yes, it’s true. Armin is a Rock Star.

For those questioning if it’s time to move on, allow me to offer you two really great examples of why it’s not.

Since that panel discussion took place on Friday March 4, 2016, two of the sites have actually made changes. Changes that are a direct result of concerns raised by talent.

The first change that occurred came from Armin Hierstetter, the one man show, CEO and Rock Star behind European casting site


A second change was announced today. This one, from Voice123 CEO Margarita Rueda. (It’s also worth noting, Margarita offered assurances to J Michael Collins during the panel, that his worst nightmare would not occur. He never has to worry about waking up one day and finding Voice123 has been taken over by a certain bunny!)


Change Can Happen!

These two changes, which may seem small to some, actually bear great significance. They offer evidence that when we, as a community and industry, collectively engage in productive conversation – as VO Atlanta Executive Producer Gerald Griffith put it, “more Oprah, less Springer” – change can happen.

Don’t, for a minute, ever fool yourself into believing these sites will give into all our demands. In fact, don’t even expect some of the sites to hear us out at all – as we’ve learned. We must never forget, these companies are still businesses and they’re still looking for ways to generate and maximize profits. It’s their right to do so, as it’s our right to do so in our own businesses.

However, if we continue to maintain an open dialogue, good things can, will and – as evidenced in the last two days – have come from it.

Online Casting isn’t going away. This we know. That leaves us, as talent, with a few options.

  • We can accept it for what it is.
  • We can loathe it for what it is.
  • We can work together with the owners to try and find balance for all parties.

The Dialogue Continues

change-ahead-signI’m thrilled to know that at least a couple of the sites are willing to hear us out. Quite frankly, it’s their prerogative to tell us to take a long walk off a short dock, if they so chose. They don’t have to listen to us make suggestions for how to run their business anymore than you or I need to listen to them make suggestions for how to run our businesses.

Let’s respect the opportunity, and find ways to respectfully make the most of it. For the good of talent, clients and casting sites.

Maybe, just maybe, as the dialogue continues, and sites like bodalgo and Voice123 show respect to talent by hearing and addressing our concerns, the other elephant in the room might decide to follow suit.

Or not.

It’s worth a shot!

The system isn’t perfect. Which is why you’ll still hear me preaching, “MARKETING, MARKETING, MARKETING,” from any platform I can get on and be heard.

Where Do We Go From Here?

That said, knowing what we know, that these sites are here to stay, it’s in our best interests to try and help shape them. If I may be so bold, I’d even suggest lending your support to the ones who are listening.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was so impressed with Armin at VO Atlanta, that I signed up for a 6 month subscription to bodalgo this week. His presentation earned my business! If I’m going to be on a site, it’s going to be one that respects the talent that make it work!

That’s just one more way we can have influence. By removing our support from sites who won’t engage with us, and giving it to sites who do. If enough people do it, who knows… maybe that will affect change too.

So… is it time to move on? That’s entirely up to you. For me, however, as long as productive dialogue is an option on the table, I’d like to be a part of it.

If you were unable to attend VO Atlanta and watch the casting site panel, it’s truly worth it if you’re using casting sites. Find out how you can watch the entire discussion at

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Transparency Now Becomes Transparency Never

Transparency Now. It’s a campaign that’s been ongoing for quite some time in the voice over industry, and it’s specifically targeted at one major casting site.

The basic premise of the campaign… voice actors want transparency on fees for Professional Services jobs. Voice actors want to understand why 40, 50 and sometimes 60% or more of budgets for projects seem to be disappearing. Where are those budgets going? Where are those dollars going? How is the commission and fee structure determined?

Talent want transparency.

Where Is The Budget Going?

icebergNobody is trying to deny a company from conducting business. Nobody is trying to deny a company from turning a profit. However, when the exact same project appears on one casting site for $1,500 and on for $750, talent want to know why.

What exactly is it that Professional Services does? Why are they seemingly eating up significant portions of the budget? Money that was intended by the client to go into the pocket of the talent.

There’s a lot going on we don’t get to see.

Transparency Now Becomes Transparency Never

During an absolutely fantastically moderated panel discussion at VO Atlanta featuring leaders from the main casting sites, J Michael Collins asked the question directly to Jennifer Smith of Voices. “Will there be transparency for the talent?”

The answer was simple and direct. “No.”

Is it the answer talent wanted to hear? Certainly not. However, at least now we finally have an answer. We know, as talent, exactly where we stand.

Prepare To Leave Money On The Table

If you choose to use to find work, and you choose to participate in projects managed by Professional Services, you simply need to be aware that 40, 50 or even 60% + of the projects originally intended budget is going straight into the pockets of

That’s in addition to your annual membership fee and your 10% Sure Pay escrow fee.

Talent, for now at least, will never know exactly how much Voices is withholding. We’ll never be offered an explanation or  breakdown. That’s all there is to it.

Will the conversations continue? Yes.

Will it change the outcome? Who knows.

For now, however, you need to be aware of what’s happening.

I’ve said all along I’ll never tell someone how to run their business. I’ve also said all along if you choose to use any casting site (or sites) as part of your business plan, make sure they were tools in your toolbox, just not the only tool.

Know What You’re Signing Up For

read-the-fine-printClients still need voice overs. Clients are being taken advantage of as much as talent are. Remember that. It’s not their fault. They don’t realize it’s happening either. Yet, anyway. Voices has said they will offer transparency to the client… however, only if they specifically ask.

My best advice, if you’re using for your business, just think twice about the Professional Services projects. If you’re on Voice123 as well, even better. Watch for dual postings. At least on 123, you know you’ll get the entire budget the client intended you to receive.

Also, make sure you take time to read and understand Voices Terms of Service. Educate yourself. Know what you’re signing up for, and what you’re signing away. On a Professional Services project, you’re basically giving away everything until the end of time, for use throughout the universe and beyond.

And the conversation, and debate, continues…

If you were unable to attend VO Atlanta and watch the casting site panel, it’s truly worth it if you’re using casting sites. Find out how you can watch the entire discussion at

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Two Sites, One Job And A Missing 85%

DISCLAIMER: Out of respect for the client involved in this situation, specific project details have been omitted at their request. If you are familiar with the job posting in question, please do not share specifics. Thank you.

Yesterday was an interesting day. It started out like most. A couple scripts to take care of in the morning. A couple hours of marketing scheduled for the afternoon. Routine. Uneventful. Just the way I like it.

Then I made the mistake of going on Facebook.

It Always Starts On Facebook!

In a private group exclusive to World-Voices members, a post was shared. In it, the details of a voice over job being offered on two casting sites. This, of course is nothing out of the ordinary. Clients seeking a professional voice over will often take advantage of different sites to gain the broadest collection of auditions.

Thing is, there was a slight budget discrepancy between the two casting sites. By slight, what I mean is, the budget listed on one site was roughly 85% less. To the tune of a few thousand dollars. Did I mention it was the same project on both sites?

By now we are all well familiar with the topic of Managed Projects on a casting site that shall remain nameless as they need no further SEO from me. We’ve heard the spin. By spin, I’m politely and delicately referring to, lies. Excuses, smoke, mirrors and a whole lot of “umm’s” and “aah’s” and “well, you see’s” were offered in the interview heard ‘round the world a few months back.

Nothing satisfactory was offered.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” Did anybody else think of that at the time? Or was it just me?

I have to tell you that when I saw the details of this particular project yesterday, it kind of lit me up a bit. After this company’s CEO was seated directly in the spotlight, put under the magnifying glass and his inept attempts at apology, logic and reason were through, the optimistic, albeit somewhat naive side of me, truly believed some form of change would be implemented.

When you’re caught with your pants down, one would assume you’d quit strolling around naked.

Well, you know what they say about assuming…

It’s Time For Results!

Something you need to know about me. I’m an action man. A results man. Venting my frustrations on social media, while perhaps considered action, seldom produces results. It was time for results, and I was determined to get some.

With a little bit of effort, I was able to determine the company responsible for the project in question. My gut told me they were unaware of the 85% budget discrepancy, but I needed to know for sure. At the risk of looking a fool, and facing the likely prospect of an awkward conversation, I decided to give this client a call and find out.

Can you guess what happened next?

Surprise, surprise… they were quite taken back by an 85% budget discrepancy on their Managed Project.

To back up my claim, I provided the client with PDF documents that showed the project listings on each of the two sites. This way, they could see exactly what the talent saw. Let’s just say they were unimpressed.

As I stated earlier, I will not go into the specifics of the project or the exact details of my conversation out of respect for this company who has done nothing wrong. I will simply say this… when they were presented with the evidence, they immediately made the decision to remove their job posting from the casting site with questionable ethics. Further to that decision, I suspect they will not be posting any projects on that site going forward.

For voice talent, it’s a small victory. We deserved it.

A Small Victory

As I explained to the client involved at the very beginning of our conversation, my motivation was simple. I suspected they were unaware of what was being done with their Managed Project, and I simply wanted to shed some light so they would have all the facts.

I’m not a crusader. I’m just a guy who believes in fair play and ethics and integrity in business.

In the midst of all this, there’s an important and valuable lesson for us as talent.

We are well aware of the practices of the casting site that shall remain nameless. We’ve thrown up our arms and aired our grievances all over the internet and social media. There was even a season of mass exodus from the site in protest. While that may feel good, and perhaps even be therapeutic, I’m not convinced it offers a viable solution to the problem which clearly still remains.

As long as clients are unaware of what’s happening (and they are clearly unaware), I don’t anticipate any lasting resolution.

What we may overlook in our frustration is the fact that clients are being taken advantage of as much as us. Perhaps even more so. Look at this one single project in question. We’re talking about thousands of dollars. How that’s not criminal is actually beyond my comprehension.

Where Do We Go From Here?

If any kind of satisfactory resolution is ever going to come to pass, it will take a significant campaign of education which reaches respectfully and professionally into the hands of the people trusting the site to hire talent for their projects. Those people, their opinions, I suspect, will carry much more weight than the collective voices of an angry talent pool.

My suggestion is simply this… when you see a dual posting such as the one today, rather than spread anger across social media and risk any kind of undue harm to the innocent reputation of the client involved, try and determine if there’s a way to reach out to them. Take screen shots of the postings on each site. Many web browsers will actually let you export web pages as PDF documents. That’s what I did today.

With the evidence in hand, send an email or make a phone call. Not to the casting site. We already know they don’t care. Take it directly to the company seeking a voice actor. Let them know what’s happening. Determine if they were aware of excessive commissions being taken out of the budget they earmarked for professional voice talent. Odds are, they have no idea this is happening. Story after story proves this so.

If you don’t want to make the phone call, send the information to me and I will!

Action produces results. Together we need to make a stand and take productive action to generate productive results. One client at a time may be a slow race, but with each new voice added to the fold it makes the cries louder.

Eventually, they’ll be impossible to ignore.

Want to be a part of the solution? Check out World-Voices at

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A Few Thoughts On Pay To Play Voice Over Sites

Love them. Hate them. Debate them. No matter where you stand on the subject of Pay To Play casting sites, the fact of the matter is, they aren’t likely going away any time soon.

Before you include them in your business plan, here’s a few thoughts to consider.

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