Did Voices.com Just Take a 92.5% Commission?

Did Voices.com Just Take a 92.5% Commission?

The posting first appeared in a Facebook Group. Then I received it from a couple different people via email.

Voices.com Job ID 200180
Category: Television
Market: National
Budget: $300

Here’s where it gets interesting…

Same Job – Two Budgets (Deja-vu All Over Again)

The same job was sent out to a number of talent via various agencies. Exact same specs. Exact same audition script. Only, the budget was a bit different. It was $4,000 USD.

Could it be that Voices.com was genuinely taking $3,700 of the budget (money straight out of the pocket of the chosen talent) and keeping what equates to a 92.5% commission?

As I’ve always attempted to do in these situations, I gave Voices.com the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to explain themselves before I wrote this blog. I reached out to them via email. To be honest, I didn’t expect a response. The last time I called them out for a huge budget discrepancy (Two Sites, One Job and a Missing 85%) they responded by deleting my profile without explanation.

All along, all we as talent have asked for is transparency. If you’re going to charge excessive commissions (40 – 60% is not uncommon), just tell us straight up so we can make an educated decision as to whether or not we want to audition. Oh, and also maybe mention it to the client as well. My investigations have proven more than once that clients using Managed Projects have no idea Voices.com is taking those kind of commissions out of the budget given for talent. (Transparency Now Becomes Transparency Never) Voices.com has also publicly stated they do not reveal this little fact to their clients unless they’re directly and specifically asked.

Here’s the response I received from Voices.com regarding Job ID 200180

Voices.com Shares Their Version

Thanks for the heads up. We looked into it, and it’s for a PSA, which, according to the rate sheet, is $300. The job in question is only one of several voice-overs required, which range across several accents for male and female talent. This may be why talent can only see one posting.

We had another talent notify us of a $3,500 budget for the same project somewhere else, so, while we don’t know for sure, there’s a chance that there are agencies working on behalf of the client posting different budgets as they shop around. While we can’t comment on what’s been posted elsewhere, because we simply don’t know those situations, we are working within the scope that was given directly to us by the client and adhering to the industry rate sheet. 

I hope that this helps to clear it up. 

About half an hour later I received a follow up…

We looked into it even more, and were able to see the agent’s posting. The difference between that one and ours is that for the same PSA, the agent is asking for one talent for the entire project – $4000 for two scripts, with the one talent reading each script twice, in two different ways. However, the client asked us to cast for 5 different actors for the same spot, but split up into 5 scripts. As well, we weren’t given the same budget, and, like I mentioned before, our quote was based on our rate sheet, multiplied by 5 PSAs. 

So, as you can see, it’s the same project, but cast in completely different ways. It’s interesting to see how a client shops, and I hope that this revelation helps you and the talent community to understand what happened here.

Something Doesn’t Add Up

First off… Voices.com made it clear in their response that regardless of the budget the client may offer to the site for the project, Voices works off their own rate sheet. (“…we are working within the scope that was given directly to us by the client and adhering to the industry rate sheet.”) 

So let’s talk about that Industry Rate Sheet… $300 for a National TV Spot? For those unaware, rest assured, $300 for a National TV Spot is not a fair industry rate. Not even close.

Secondly, having spoke with several different talent who received this casting, it would seem that the general consensus was the client was not offering $4,000 for the entire project, but rather $4,000 for each role. As I mentioned in the beginning, agency specs matched up exactly with Voices.com specs. So while the agency may have been willing to pay $4,000 USD per role, Voices.com was only offering $300 USD per role.

Now, for arguments sake, let’s say the total project budget was $4,000 USD and Voices.com was casting for five different roles. If my math is correct, 5 x 300 = $1,500. Not $4,000.

In their response Voices.com suggested that perhaps the agents were pushing a different budget. I suppose that’s possible… but a $3,700 different budget? Does that seem extreme to anyone else? Oh, and though I’m not an expert on agents, I don’t think any of them offer thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to push budgets higher for their clients. But that’s just me.

You Be The Judge

The fact of the matter is, it’s impossible for us to have all the facts. Voices.com is certainly never going to reveal the specific budget details they received from the client. On top of that, without speaking the client directly, it’s impossible to know exactly what their intentions were. That said, I have it on good authority that agents have been made aware of this job posting and they may or may not be taking the information directly back to the original client.

It’s also worth noting that immediately after I emailed Voices.com for comment, the job posting was no longer available online. This was pointed out to me by several talent who are members on the site.

As I’ve said all along, the key to using a casting site like Voices.com is knowing up front what you’re signing up for. Especially when it comes to Managed Projects – where countless examples of commissions from 40 – 80%  are revealed on a fairly consistent basis.

Know What You’re Signing Up For

Voices.com is a private company, and it’s their prerogative to run it how they see fit. They’ve made it clear to all talent in various public forums that’s exactly what they’ll continue to do.

As talent, all we can do is continually educate ourselves and shed light when necessary. Venting about these jobs in private Facebook groups won’t solve the problem. Reporting them to agents and getting the information back to the end clients, however, might have an impact.

Just as Voices has the right to conduct their business as they see fit, we as talent have the same right to work for fair rates.

Voices.com says they were given a different budget from the agencies. That may be true. That said, Voices also based their “quote” on their “Industry Rate Sheet” which we already determined is $300 for a National but no disclosure of how much of a commission they built in for themselves.

It’s interesting to see how a client shops, and I hope that this revelation helps you and the talent community to understand what happened here.”

I don’t know about you, but I still don’t know exactly what happened here. The numbers still don’t seem to add up.

In the meantime, keep auditioning via your agent. At least with them you know exactly what you’re getting.

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About Marc Scott

I've been doing voice work since 1995. When I'm not recording jobs, sending auditions, working on demos or writing new posts, you might find me on a fire truck. I'm proud to serve my community as a Volunteer Firefighter.