A Message from our CEO: Sunsetting Union Jobs and Talent Agency Accounts
It takes organizational maturity to realize when a door is closing in an area of your business. For us, that door is the posting of union jobs and, by extension, talent agency profiles and accounts.
In 2017 we acquired Voicebank, a company that connected advertising agencies with talent agencies to audition voice actors online. Part of the equation involved union voice actors, ranging from professional voice talent working from home studios to the who’s who of A-list celebrities in major centers like New York and Los Angeles.
Bringing Voices and Voicebank together was a natural fit, and our goal was simple: to simplify voice casting for our clients and, in doing so, unite the industry.
Producers were given an easier path to finding, auditioning, and hiring voice actors, including union voice actors, on one platform.
Though valiant efforts were put forth on many fronts, the results were not there. One way we tried to get more union jobs on the platform from existing Voicebank customers was to waive all fees for posting their jobs. Jobs had previously cost $199 each to post on Voicebank, and now they were free on Voices. Despite this value, the union voice over jobs just didn’t materialize.
That said, we did realize many of our dreams associated with bringing these two worlds together. Voices gained new clients and strengthened relationships with existing ones, advanced online casting dramatically, and opened doors for voice talent all around the world to audition for jobs they would not have had access to before the acquisition.
Another positive takeaway is that we’ve had more conversations with SAG-AFTRA than ever before. Bringing Voicebank into the fold opened doors to meetings with clients that we couldn’t get face time with previously, including Disney, Nickelodeon, and countless others.
Being innovative means taking risks. It’s an art and a science. Innovators try things, and not everything goes exactly to plan, regardless of how hard you work at it or how well you research in advance. Factors outside of our control played a role in where we are now, and I wanted to share why we came to the decision to sunset union jobs and talent agency accounts.
While union jobs have been declining for some time on the platform, COVID-19 has made those union job postings all but non-existent.
The pandemic is hitting parts of the industry hard. There have been layoffs at some talent agencies and closures of other talent agencies. Those that remain have been instructed to prune their rosters. No talent agency is immune according to Hollywood Reporter.
What’s behind all of this? Some may point to an antiquated business model that’s inherently analog and fails to embrace the digital world. Others would say everything was fine until March 2020 when COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
In a world sent into lockdown, clients with media buys committed needed to quickly re-write messaging and re-voice campaigns. Clients either discovered or re-discovered Voices as a place to find professional voice talent on-demand. We became a solution as frantic Google searches for online voice over landed on Voices, allowing us to respond and deliver broadcast-quality audio files in a matter of days.
The result? Five years of digital transformation in five months.
I personally wanted to uncover if this rapid adoption of Voices was temporary or permanent. After conducting over 100 video calls, I can affirm we’re experiencing a permanent behavior shift from traditional in-studio recording to remote recording facilitated by the Voices platform.
If you’re a talent agency, you may have noticed this month that your agency was not charged a fee for your membership on Voices. As of August 31st, 2020, our clients will no longer see agency talent in search results, nor will they be able to post union jobs separately from the regular job form or access talent agency profiles. Instead, we will be redirecting them to our talent agency directory page and link them to your respective sites to contact you directly.
From now until December 31, 2020, you will still be able to log in and access your Voices account and profile should you need to access any information. After that date, your account will be removed and will no longer be accessible.
- Voices acquired Voicebank.net in August of 2017. Voicebank.net was a leader in union casting and provided union-affiliated talent agencies with an online presence.
- The two brands were unified under one name, Voices and over 3,000 voice-buying clients, producers, and agencies migrated over to the new platform.
- While clients were always offered a choice, they discovered how fast and easy it is to hire equally professional non-union talent resulting in 99.4% of jobs becoming non-union on the Voices platform.
- COVID-19 has all but eliminated demand for in-studio recording sessions with the client, talent, producer, art director, and engineer all on-site, which is a common arrangement for union jobs.
- The ripple effects of COVID-19 have included less demand for union voice actors, resulting in layoffs at all major talent agencies and closures of some talent agencies.
- Throughout the pandemic, creative producers who no longer had the ability to work together physically have been forced to find online alternatives only to discover, or rediscover, Voices. This is a key driver in the company’s notable growth over the last six months.
If you are currently on an annual talent agency membership, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a refund for the remaining months of your talent agency membership.
As we move forward together, I’m optimistic about the changes we have in store and the future of our company.