Commercial Voices — A Different Approach To Online Casting

commercial_voicesIt’s no secret that online casting has changed the way voiceover talent audition for jobs, are listened to by casting directors, and are selected for projects. You may only have heard about a couple of online casting services, but there are in fact dozens of them on the Internet, some of which work in very specific niche areas.

One of the earliest online casting companies, Commercial Voices (http://commercialvoices.com/ ) was established way back in 1999. Rick Gordon, who established the Ottawa-based company, and also is the co-creator of E-LearningVoices.com (http://e-learningvoices.com/ ) has always maintained a different approach to the online casting business.

“My reasoning in putting together CommercialVoices.com was to associate myself with some professional voiceover talent and as a group, get more visibility,” said Gordon, himself a voiceover talent. “I don’t base my income on how many members I have for either site. I don’t really care if the Commercial Voices site has 75 members or 175 members or even 250 members. The important factors are that they’re professionals, they know what they’re doing, and they have voiceover experience.”

Gordon maintains a wary eye and ear over the voice talents who want to join his Commercial Voices site. “Some of the other online casting sites, they’re looking for memberships to generate funds,” he said. “In the last couple of years, it seems like everyone with $300 and a RadioShack mic is a voice talent. That’s not my business model.”

On many occasions Gordon has turned away voice talent who want to join Commercial Voices, but who he feels aren’t quite ready. “Usually, people will send me their commercial demo or narration or telephony demo, so I can hear what they sound like,” said Gordon. “I try to discern from the demos that you are a professional and you know what you’re doing. And then you’re welcome to join our group. In some cases I’ll get in touch with a person and say, ‘Well, maybe you need a little bit more practice before you join our group. I’ll have another sale at the first of January…why don’t you brush up on your skills, and get back to me then and we’ll have another listen.’

“One good thing about this approach,” Gordon continues, “is that the people listed on Commercial Voices who go after a project know that they might be auditioning with 15 other professionals like themselves, and their auditions will probably get heard. Rather than after hearing the third or fourth “junior” who sounds like they just picked up a microphone for the first time last week, the client may just turn them all off, and say, ‘Well, I’m not dealing with this casting company…I really don’t know what I’m going to end up getting to.’”

Another marked difference between Gordon’s approach to linking voice talent and clients is that he encourages the clients to go and visit with the voice talent directly from his site. Assuming the voice talent has a separate web site, it is included in his or her Commercial Voices listing.

“Sometimes a client will come to me after listening to a number of demos, and they’ll say, ‘I like Bill and Sam and Julie and Bob, please get me auditions.’ And I tell them I’ll be glad to do that, but I’ll be charging them 15% over and above whatever the voice talent charges. And in virtually 100 percent of the cases, they say, ‘That’s fine, we don’t want the headaches.’ Then I get in touch with the voice talents, tell them that they’ve been selected to audition for a job, what the job is, who the client is, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, whatever.”

Gordon emphasizes that there are no secrets. “Over the years, this approach has really paid back, because the clients appreciate the honesty and the up-front information. Many of the other online casting services want a piece of the action from the talent. That’s a major difference with my sites. I always charge the client. In my 14 years, I have never charged the voice talent a fee or commission for getting a project.”

Twice each year, in the second two weeks of September and in the last two weeks of January, Gordon offers a special rate for joining Commercial Voices. (This is not the case for E-LearningVoices.com, which is capped at only 50 members, and has a waiting list.) Watch for the sale notification on VoiceOverInsider.com beginning September 15th, and consider a different approach to online casting for voiceovers.

Gary MacFaddden

About Gary MacFadden

Gary MacFadden is a voiceover professional specializing in audiobooks, eLearning, and narration. He became the editor of the print and online versions of the VoiceOver Insider in 2011, putting his journalism and business management experience to good use. For 25 years he was the spokesperson and Executive Director for the Adventure Cycling Association, America's largest recreational cycling organization with more than 40,000 members. When he's not in the vocal booth, Gary enjoys piloting his classic Cessna Skylark around the northwestern states.

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