Several years ago, after finishing a year-long Premium subscription to Voice123, I wrote a blog post discussing my experience, a review expressing what I personally liked and disliked about the site, why I knew pretty early on that it wasn't for me and why I would not be renewing my subscription. I acknowledged however that one day, I may be in a situation where I may need to try it out again. The blog post became incredibly popular and drives a lot of traffic to my site - if you are interested in reading it, you can do so by clicking here: my original Voice123 blog post.
Last year I relocated from a small town in England to Los Angeles to further my voiceover career and to make my voice acting dreams come true. I already had laid a lot of groundwork in the USA from trips there, had befriended many voice actors and so on, but I knew that whilst I was building things up here more in America, I wanted to use a pay-to-play website to help keep me busy. After looking into numerous options, I very reluctantly decided to give Voice123 another go… that “one day” had finally come.
I won't outline all the things I didn't like about Voice123 again - you can read my aforementioned old blog post above - but my problem with the site wasn't that I didn't know how to “win” (I had made much more than my subscription money back) but that I felt playing the game was made to be very frustrating due largely to their terrible rating system and weird quota approach.
This time however, I decided to not let it bother me. I was just gonna do my best without stressing about it and see what happens… though when I tried to sign up to Premium membership again, the payment didn't work and I had to contact their help department and wait a day or so until I could actually sign up properly. That *was* stressful and thinking, “oh my gosh, they can't even take my money from me properly” wasn't a good, initial impression to have for my Round 2 with Voice123.
However, despite that, I started receiving some cool auditions with nice pay offered and within a few weeks I booked a job that paid back my subscription fees… the next day I got a gig from a previous Voice123 client (from when I was a free Standard member)... and the day after that I had booked another job from V123. Over the next few weeks I did additional work for those clients, I was getting a nice stream of auditions and booked several more jobs with more new clients.
Was the site perfect? No, it was still incredibly far from that. It still looked and worked in pretty much the same way as before but I was happy. Yes, the site was flawed but it was achieving what both I and it set out to do. It was like living in a house with peeling paint - it's not ideal but you can still live in it, right? I was enjoying Voice123. I actually would have recommended it to people - with a few bits of advice and some heads up about using it, of course. That's right, the guy who's old Voice123 blog post when searching “reasons not to join Voice123” shows up near the top of Google's search results was actually liking Voice123 and would have told others it may be worth taking a chance on.
That is where I wish the story ended. I so desperately would love for this to be the part where I write “… and they lived happily ever after” and to end the blog post here… but sadly it isn't.
This is a tale of two halves and it is now we enter the second half.
A few months ago, for reasons that seemingly only a few people understand, Voice123 completely overhauled their platform. They only needed to modify a few things but they changed almost everything. It looked and worked in a completely new way.
In theory, the changes actually sounded quite nice, as the ratings system was removed entirely and there was seemingly a new approach to filling an audition's quota based off of a date/time deadline rather than by a number of auditions. But it didn't take long for the problems to begin to reveal themselves…
Right away the matches were poorer, the auditions being sent to me were irrelevant. Some jobs were getting posted multiple times and I was getting invited to join them multiple times.
The budgets now seem to be very low now. Initially this was due to a minimum fee I had set being reset during the changeover, which is certainly fair enough when you're changing the entire system, but a few weeks after I changed it back so that I had a minimum again, they reset it again.
The length of the recording is now incredibly frequently listed as “To be defined” with the nature of the project and the usage being rarely stated. People are being asked to work on a project for a fee without knowing how long it will take and what it is for. Can you imagine offering a plumber an amount you will pay him but without telling him what he's got to fix and not showing him what the plumbing system is like? I feel like this is a recipe for a voice actor being taken advantage of. Plus, if a client doesn't even know what their job is, should they really be posting it?
What about the audition quota? Before the overhaul, a client would list a number of auditions they wanted and when that quota was filled, audition submissions were cut off. Unfortunately many clients would put (I suspect at times somewhat naively) a low number such as 10 or 25 and so they often would fill up and thus be cut off quickly. But now the idea is that there's a date/time deadline and if you “accept the invitation” you can submit anytime before the deadline. However, this isn't strictly true. There is still a sort of “suggested” audition quota of sorts and the client can cut off submissions at any point before the deadline, which I have seen happen incredibly often. Before the change if you saw an audition with 24/25 submissions you knew it would close soon (or that you had to hurry up) but if it had 24/50 you knew you had time and that you would safely be able to submit. With this new system it is frustrating because, yes, it will definitely cut off at a particular date/time but it could also be cut off earlier with no definitive way of you being able to pre-empt that. It's so annoying to be told you have 3 days to audition for something and then, unannounced, a few hours later it's no longer there. I got incredibly stressed out when it happened three times in less than two days. Not everyone can audition the exact second they initially hear about the audition every single time.
I also feel the estimated quotas are lower than the previous actual quotas and that they fill up faster too. A lot of the deadlines aren't very long with job submissions only being accepted for a few hours, despite nothing in the actual job posting giving any kind of indication of urgency or a need to find someone fast. I actually got an email for one audition saying that I had 0 hours and 0 minutes to submit *on the notification email*.
What this all means is that I have not been doing as many auditions through Voice123. Looking at the figures, the number of auditions I am doing now is roughly less than a third of what I was doing before. It could be argued that now my auditions are worth three times as much, yet it really doesn't feel like three times as much in terms of their value - a number of auditions I have done are simply because they were there, not because they were an especially good fit but more out of a frustration of not getting good audition invitations and feeling the need to “do something”. Before I auditioned because I liked the sound of the job and felt I was a good match but after the change I would largely audition for things “because they were there”.
Further to this, I looked over how many of my auditions had been listened to since Thanos snapped his fingers-- I mean, since Voice123’s overhaul. Before the change I had fewer than 1 in every 6 auditions not being listened to. That's not great but it's certainly not horrific… however since the overhaul more than 2 in every 6 of my auditions are not being listened to. I find this shocking. The overhaul has more than doubled the “ignore rate” and over a third of my auditions are now being unheard.
Why pay for auditions that are poor matches, with low budgets, which keep the usage secret with submissions that could very easily get cut off early in an unexpected way and then when you do find something that is finally okay and you manage to audition for it… to have it not be heard?
Before, I didn't mind playing a frustrating game if it was a game I still felt I could win. But this change feels like they have taken away my ability to win and that is incredibly frustrating and a waste of money. Voice123 looked at peeling paint on the wall and their solution was to put a wrecking ball through it.
As such, I have recently cancelled my Premium subscription and gotten a partial refund. I don't have the time to wait around for them to get their stuff together. I need something that I can rely on and Voice123 has proven unequivocally in these past few months that it's not them. I have more faith in myself and all the amazing people I have met in my adventures here in LA, some of whom only very recently, than in Voice123. I think it's time to take a chance on myself, to believe in myself and the wonderful people I love instead.
I have many friends who are also incredibly disappointed in the website now and in a group of around 20 people, several had let their subscriptions expire without renewing, while the rest said that they wouldn't renew. Not a single one. For my friends who still have active subscriptions, I really hope for their sake that Voice123 makes improvements soon.
I find it so sad that just as Voice123 had managed to win me over and brought back my faith in them… that they then made me lose my faith in them AGAIN.