V321.RU – The Story
Disclaimer: The following is a compilation of my historical recollections and opinions on two voice over Pay-to-Play sites. In addition, I give my view of likely outcomes based on current trends. All comments and opinions from readers are welcome below. In the end, it is up to the individual readers to come to their own conclusions of the value of these pay-to-play sites. Every business model has benefits and detriments. Your mileage may vary.
— *** The Fake Story ***
From July 19th, 2007 to March 12th, 2008, a little known Pay-To-Play Voice Casting site dominated the internet. Based in the Soviet Union, “V321.RU” was an instant sensation.
They were ready to take your rubles and give you much frustration in return.
True innovators who created famous features such as “SmartCossack”, “SpecialKeywords4U” and the “RatingsSystems” programs that guaranteed bad results, this company was destined to disrupt the industry like TNT in an outhouse!
Now, for the first time, hear the actual recordings from the actual savvy company whose owner was a legend in his own mind.
Hear Petr’, Anastasia, Igor, Olga and the rest – Scroll down for an audio journey you’ll never forget – guaranteed!
— *** The Real Story ***
(names have been changed to protect the innocent)
In 2007, an internet leads service Voice123.com introduced new features such as “SmartCast” and the “Rating System” designed to limit the auditions sent to their paying clients (the voice talent)
In a survey, over 86% of subscribers did not want SmartCast, or the accompanying $100 rate hike. In spite of this, the proprietors of Voice123.com continued with their plans. To counter all of the negative feedback on their VoiceOverSavvy forum, they systematically deleted posts, voted on user polls, kicked off users, and ultimately shut down the entire forum. It was replaced with a more tightly-controlled forum where posts are routinely edited and removed.
During all of this turmoil, voice actors were doing what they do best: being creative! An imaginary communist regime site for VO named V321.RU was thought up, and the recordings from it are posted below. They were pulled from archives of the original VoiceOverSavvy forum. Please scroll down to listen.
— *** The Current State of Pay-To-Play ***
What used to be a good potential source of work in the VO industry has degraded significantly. The current business model relies on enticing those interested in voice over to part with hundreds of dollars in the often futile hopes of establishing their careers. Like a pack of junkyard dogs fighting over a rotten shoe, subscribers to the services compete over meager scraps of jobs doled out to them as if they were a filet mignon. This mentality, where the talent are not vetted but simply allowed to join if they have the cash, waters down the sites and, ultimately, cheapens the entire industry. The companies involved rely not on the quality of their talent, but on the quantity of starry-eyed users they can get to buy into their way of thinking.
Voice123.com continues to “innovate” by creating Voice Bunny, a veritable “dollar-a-holler” site with job rates far below any industry standard. The focus seems designed for quick turnaround, forcing talent to obsessively watch the site in case a job offer is posted. Reviews of this site have been posted by many other VO people, and I encourage you to search for them yourself.
The other major Pay-to-Play company, Voices.com, has not been idle either. With the recent changes to their system including “VoiceMatch” and “VoiceMatch Invitations”, they have effectively cloned Voice123’s business model of the rating system and Smartcast.
My view of the future: with a larger number of inexperienced users utilizing these two Pay-To-Play sites, and more seasoned professionals leaving the sites behind, the overall talent level continues to drop. With the drop in talent level, fair paying gigs by reputable companies are also declining. Who wants to sift through all the garbage in hope of finding one diamond in the rough? The heart of the issue lies in the business model that relies on finding more hopeful talent to pay for the service without regard for talent level or quality.
They say you can’t have a dealer without addicts. It’s ultimately our responsibility to ensure we aren’t investing our time or money foolishly. In my opinion, the best thing we can do as voice actors is to vote with our wallets. Instead of thinking we are forced to play their game, just stop playing. Our time can be better spent elsewhere. The less scrupulous Pay-To-Play services will continue to decline in quality, and either go out of business, or find a niche in the “cheap jobs for desperate amateurs” market.
— *** The Audio ***
Natalya customer testimonial
V321 testimonial promo
V321 testimonial pay
V321 customer service
Russian Pro DJ Ad
V321 customer service details
Everybody 5 stars ratings
V321 SmartCossack explained
Rakati lead distribution KeyWords4U
Anastasia tech support
Petr and Anastasia
No thanks yous, serving
Souvenir from Hamburg
Souvenir from Hamburg part 2
Anastasia pre Hamburg
Anastasia back from Hamburg
Natasha gives orders
Petr after Hamburg
Anastasia and Natasha
Natasha and Anastasia
Bick Trouble Shutdown
Krakov Tractors ad
Petr and Sparky
Petr and Anastasia mountain vacation
Petr late night movie
Petr and Anastasia at the castle
V321 Petr STATS!
Natasha gives more orders
Anastasia big numbers
Petr and Natasha Halloween
Igor V321 tech department
V321 Rating System with Natasha
Nikola need to know
Petr Low Value Leads
Petr Russian Men’s Site
Anastasia Russian Men’s Site
Yorgey Gorky RussianMen4U Site
Holy SMOKES! I forgot all about this! Ha ha ha!! Great trip down memory lane! Lots of laughs there.
I know at the time, a lot of folks flocked to “the other guys”. I myself, didn’t mind voice seekers limiting auditions in because whether we want to believe it or not, auditions HEARD are limited. No voice seeker is going to listen through 200 auditions. So who wants to do an audition that won’t get heard? What’s the point?
Also, a lot of what we complained about with “V321.ru” were eventually implemented by “the other guys” along with others that were even worse such as holding our $$ in escrow and then charging us an extra 10% for that “service” and not allowing us to talk directly with our clients. That just got too fishy for my tastes
You know Joe, I have no idea what the future holds for VO. I talk quite often with another talent and a recurring topic of conversation is the state of the VO industry- with it’s many segments & off-shoots. We’ve got ad agencies crowd sourcing jobs on VoiceBank. I mean, how many times have you received an audition from your one of your agents and then 10 minutes later received that same audition from another agent? Also, a lot of folks (seekers) who used to book through agents are now using the P2P sites to book talent. I’m starting to see some agencies merging with others or closing their doors.
What does this mean for all of us? It’s getting harder & harder to get heard and rates are dropping faster than a lead balloon. Many of us are reinventing ourselves, looking for non-traditional ways to make connections and build relationships. Many are becoming desperate.
What does the future hold? I haven’t a clue. If I did I’d be riding that wave to fame & fortune ha ha!
In any event, I wish everyone all the luck in the world navigating this new terrain.
Glad you enjoyed it, Dina!
… and spot on with the comments. Nobody knows what the future holds. But we do have more power over it than we realize, IMHO.
Save a butler job for me when you’re rich and famous 😉
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Soviet Union? Although with Putin it is still as authoritarian as it was during infamous USSR era, but It’s called Russian Federation now. Time to refresh your history and geography knowledge guys 😉
… sometimes, humor doesn’t translate well…
“Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”
— E. B. White
“In America, there’s plenty of light beer and you always find a party. In Russia, Party will always find you.”
— Yakov Smirnoff
Funny stuff, Joe. As someone who constantly gets e-mails from Voice123 and Bodalgo telling me that I match up with whatever client but telling me I can’t audition because I don’t have a Premium membership, it’s frustrating. Ain’t nothin’ like a well crafted sales gimmick, though.
So, hokay comrade Joe… see you in the Siberian funny papers!!
I agree with it all – with one caveat: Bodalgo is probably the best of the bunch. When I was subscribed (2 and a half years), I had many contacts who are now regular clients. (I did a “Premium” year, each, with the 2 “biggies” and only paid for my subscription with each independently).
But, even with no more than a basic (unpaid) subscription to Bodalgo or even the 2 big American sites plus the Australian (I think) branch of Voice123, Voice Bunny, I get cold-called (well, cold emailed) to audition for work. **Which means voice seekers look at profiles.** Sometimes it works. In short, as a marketing tool, I’d say keep a basic and unpaid membership active and up to date on all the P2P’s that let you have a free basic membership profile and think of it as just another part of your professional VO web marketing “footprint”. It can’t hurt and your name shows up in searches even more often… but don’t forget to update them. Negociate the rates after, but your name and your demos are out there. Just my 2 cents.
Thanks for your comments, Corson.
I agree about Bodalgo. I was with them for a short while and was impressed that they screen the talent before allowing you to join. The clients there also seem to be of higher caliber, though not as plentiful.
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