At least a couple times a week I receive emails from hopeful voice actors looking for a little guidance on how to navigate the sometimes complex waterways of our industry. When you’re starting out, it’s overwhelming. This, I completely understand. Been there. Experienced it. Still trying to figure out how to get through it all!
For many of these talent who reach out, they thought they were doing things the correct way by finding a company who offered coaching and would produce them a demo. Now, armed with the shiny new demo, they’re sent out into the vast expanse of the voice over universe ready to conquer all.
There’s only one small problem.
They never should’ve paid someone money to make them a voice over demo.
They weren’t ready.
Predatory Demo Producers and Coaches are a fact of our industry. There will always be people standing on the sidelines fully prepared to sell you a line about riches, fame and glory because, “you’ve got a great voice.” All it’ll cost you to get started is “$$$$” and once I’m through with you, you’ll be well on your way.
Can I be completely frank with you?
It pisses me off! A lot!
There are very few things in this world that I can say genuinely make me upset. Talent being taken advantage of by these bottom feeders is one of them. Even in this moment, as I type these words, my body is getting tense just thinking about it.
You can mess around with a lot of things, but I take deep offense to someone messing with another’s dream.
In these instances, where a talent has come to me for a little wisdom and guidance, I’m often left with the disheartening task of explaining to them the demo they’ve produced isn’t marketable. That if they want to have a hope of finding success in this industry, they’re going to have to start over.
Talent are gutted.
Most people don’t have thousands of dollars to reinvest in new coaching and new demos.
Each time I do this, I step away from the conversation feeling ill. Another dream delayed, or perhaps crushed.
The First Draft Solution
When I set out to make a list of demo producers and offer it as a reference, my intentions were simply this… I wanted people to have a place they could turn to find names of producers who wouldn’t take advantage of them and their hopes for success in voice over.
A list of people who could be trusted to provide honest and sincere guidance. Guidance that may result in a demo. Guidance that many not result in a demo.
I wanted a list of coaches who wouldn’t be afraid to say no if the situation called for it.
The question becomes, how does one go about creating such a list?
Naturally, I started with what I had. Personal relationships.
Accusations have been tossed that I put together a list of my friends.
Technically, I suppose they’re not wrong.
A number of the people on the list are individuals I do consider friends. That’s precisely why they made the list. Being friends, I can and will personally vouch for each one of them. For their production skill. For their work ethic. For their coaching ability. For their finished product. For their integrity.
So fine, I’ll accept that accusation. Only, however, if you’ll accept my reasoning behind it.
Then come accusations of exclusion.
I’d be willing to bet money those crying exclusion didn’t actually read the complete post. My guess is they read the list, didn’t find their names on it, and instantly allowed their bruised egos to take over for all logic and reasoning.
That’s when they started calling me out.
With respect, please let me direct you to the text that was shared at the bottom of the blog post. The text you likely missed;
* To be added to this list, please email me directly (email@example.com) and include at least five professional references for demos produced. *
DISCLAIMER: The names included on this list are producers I can personally vouch for either through direct knowledge or the word and reference of trusted advisors. It is not intended to exclude any particular producer or company.
Hopefully this clears up any fears of exclusion.
Of all the producers who were deeply offended by my post, allow me to point out that exactly ONE producer did reach out to me directly. That individual was immediately added to the list because they unquestionably deserved to be there.
A Living Breathing Document
It’s a living, breathing document.
Forgive me. I’m not perfect. I wanted to make a list that was as fair as possible, while staying true to my original intent… me being able to personally vouch for each name on it. Inevitably, I’d miss someone with no ill intent.
As to those who have called my integrity and ethics into question… well, that one hurt the most.
An organization that I have respected and championed since it’s inception left me feeling last night as though my ethics and integrity were being called into question by some. That one left me pondering if I wanted to even continue being involved with the organization anymore.
I’m still mulling that one over.
My integrity is the most important thing to me. Beyond any other aspect of this industry or of my voice over business, I will NEVER make a decision or do anything that I believe will negatively impact my integrity.
It’s the one thing I have that I’ll guard more fiercely than anything else.
A Question of Integrity
To those who questioned it, I’m humbly ask… what is a greater display of integrity? To silently standby behind the curtain watching people continue to be taken advantage of by predators, and doing so because you cannot risk having your name associated with a person or resource who attempts to create even the slightest resolution?
Or, is integrity displayed by someone who sticks his neck out, knowing full-well some feathers will be ruffled, but ultimately it’s worth the risk to see to it that maybe next time, someone won’t have their money taken and the hopes crushed by a predator, because now they had a resource that helped them know where to turn?
The Cost of Being the Good Guy
What is the cost of being the good guy?
Being willing to be made the bad buy!
In the past 24 hours I’ve been called out by many. Individuals and organizations. Privately. Publicly. Some who know me well. Some who don’t know me at all.
I’ve had rational conversations with people who wanted to understand. I’ve had irrational conversations with people who couldn’t care less about my position or perspective.
I’ve been hurt deeply by people I respect, trust and admire.
Would I do it all over again?
You’re damn right I would!
Someone has to take a stand and be willing to speak out on behalf of those getting screwed.
Someone has to try and offer a solution, no matter how complicated doing so might be – and trust me, this one is flipping complicated!
Someone has to risk pissing people off (and apologize to each one along the way) in order to make resources that help the community as a whole!
As an industry, we can’t just ignore the issue. Nor can we just stand on soapboxes and decry it.
We have to offer a solution. Any solution.
Is my list the best list on the internet? Heck no!
Is it a place to start? Yes.
Were you one of the offended parties? Would you like to continue the conversation further? Here’s my email – firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m the bad guy, for the moment. I’m willing to accept it if it keeps even one new talent from taken advantage of.