The Voice Over International Creative Experience – The official Voice 2007 Review.

The first (and worst) “voice over” conference put together following the advent of membership-based (P2P) voice talent websites back in 2003. Being the first conference, I thought I would write the first ever VOICE 2007 review.

Then……let’s just say I felt the subject was too important and I wrote a review every year thereafter – or whenever they took another kick at the can. I hope you enjoy this VOICE 2007 Review

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VOICE 2007 Review – Introduction

Here`s what went down. Voice123 teamed up with James R. Alburger & Penny Abshire of VoiceActing.com and Frank Frederick of Legend Corporation, to offer up VOICE 2007.

I decided to look into it more closely after viewing the website and subsequent flurry of red flags flapping all over the place. I called a client in Vegas about the hotel (always ask a local). He said:

“It’s not quite a dump, but is one of the older hotels and considered more of a local joint. On a four star scale it would get a 2 1/2 from me….”

So, it’s safe to say that the hotel was one of the cheaper spots in town….(rooms from $39.99) and totally off-strip, so attendees could expect a fair amount of cab fares or renting a car if they wanted to have a nice dinner out and see some stuff.

Then, I called the hotel and confirmed that the cost for a room to accomodate 200 people, basic amenities (mic and podium) is $350.00 – $500.00 per day, depending on theatre-style or classroom style. From what I can tell, this is all that the organizers spent on the conference along with the Guest Speakers (fees unknown).

Attendees paid for thier room, food, transportation and other expenses….not even a snack was supplied. It’s easy to figure out that the organizers only needed about 3-4 people to attend to break even on the room.

VOICE 2007 Review – Crunching the numbers

So, let’s sharpen our pencils and do the math: We know now that 200 people attended last years conference @ $500.00 per person = $100,000.

Minus 1 meeting room for 3 days (I’ll go on the high-side to be fair and say $500.00 per day) = $2500.00. Let’s see…..that leaves $98,500 left for the Guest speakers.
Wow. Don Lafontaine must have been pretty expensive.

OK….we’ve crunched the numbers.

Now, let’s look at last year’s “Premiere Corporate Sponsors.”

VOICE 2007 Review – Sponsors

AFTRA (makes money off voice talent industry; nothing to learn here if you’re non-union or Canadian).

Voice123 (makes money off voice talent industry).

iSpeek Software put together by Frank Fredricks, the organizer of the conference, makes money from voice talent industry. Note: the software STILL hasn’t been released. Tell me, please…someone…how can you sponsor a conference with software that has never been released? Can someone answer this question for me?

Penny Abshire (makes money off voice talent industry).

Voiceacting.com (makes money off voice talent industry).

WBC Design (makes money off voice talent industry designing VO-specific sites and provide web-hosting).

Frank Frederick the organizer (his second sponshorship). I can’t say that he makes money off the voice talent industry, because…..well….he hasn’t released his software.

Voices.com (makes money off voice talent industry).

CommercialVoices.com (makes money off voice talent industry).

(Note: Every single Premiere and Major sponsor from the VOICE2007 conference generates revenue directly from you, the “newbie” Voice Talent).

VOICE 2007 Review – Guest Speakers

Penny Abshire

Makes money off voice talent industry – Coach. Content on her website on the subject she is speaking on.

James Alburger

Makes money off voice talent industry – Coach. Content on his website on the subject he is speaking on.

Bob Bergen

Makes money off voice talent industry – Coach. Content on his website on the subject he is speaking on.

Gregory Best

I don’t know anything about this guy. Can’t find anything on Google. I do know that on his website, there is nothing posted on the subject he is speaking on, in fact, the site has no content at all. Not sure what makes him qualified to be a “teacher and instructor of negotiating techniques.”

DB Cooper

Makes money off voice talent industry – Coach. Nothing on her website on the subject she is speaking on.

Dave Courvoisiere (MC).

Pat Fraley

Makes money off voice talent industry – Coach. Note: his website was designed by DB Cooper.

Frank Frederick

The organizer of the conference appears for a 3rd time. Makes money off voice talent industry likely via (perhaps this conference and…) software iSpeek. Only content on his website is selling his voice services and software.

MJ Lallo

Makes money off voice talent industry. Only content on her website is for the purpose of selling her many products and services.

Rodney Saulsberry

Makes money off the voice talent industry. His website has content on selling his services.

Connie Terwilliger

Only one so far that has “free” content on her site about VO. Thank you, Connie….that was refreshing…..(I’m researching these in order).

Chris Wagner

I ran some basic searches on Google (voice talent, voice overs…etc) and couldn’t find this guy. Found Connie on page 1, though. He’s speaking on Voiceacting and the WWWeb. His website, is designed by WBC Designs, a sponsor.

Bettye Zoller

Makes money off the voice talent industry – workshops. Her website has a some basic free info on VO, but appears skewed to sell her product. Big supporter of Voice123.

VOICE 2007 Review – Conclusion

OK. If you’ve come this far, I’m guessing you’re waiting for the big finale.

First of all, I don’t want you to get the impression here that I’m trying to undermine the conference in any way….I’m not. I’m sure there is a great deal to learn there, especially if you’re a newcomer to the industry.

Some of these people most certainly have a lot to offer….but again, that’s how they make their living – don’t lose sight of that fact.

Is it worth $500.00 (covers attendance and nothing else)? You decide. When I buy a car, I take it for a drive. So, let’s take this conference around the block and kick the tires.

This much we do know. Of the 21 sponsors/people listed here, a full 18 of them directly generate revenues from the Voice Talent industry. The remaining 3 that don’t….. I couldn’t find any evidence of their qualifications outside the voices-international.com website.

What should that tell you?

Well, first of all, just about every single person speaking there has a vested interest in you attending and subsequently, selling their products and services to you. The fact that almost no-one in the group (with the exception of Connie) offers up any relevant, genuine “free” information on the industry speaks for itself.

The hotel is average at best, the room being used for the conference inexpensive. You read the aforementioned numbers.

For the Pro, it’s safe to say that there’s almost nothing here to be learned, because a pro will go look at the roster of folks speaking and quickly conclude that it’s almost all coaches, basically selling their services to newbies. If a pro wants to improve, a pro spends the $500 on a coach directly or takes an acting class. For technology, the Pro looks to Google. Lot’s of tech stuff to be found on the web.

The one guy that’s speaking on anything technical related to the Internet, can’t be found on Google and his website designed by a conference sponsor.

Frank Fredericks, the organizer, is speaking on marketing. His correspondence with me in the past was truthfully, borderline offensive. He’s going to instruct you on how to market yourself.

I digress.

So, why was this the “first conference of it’s kind” and not the “10th Annual…” ? I’ll tell you why. They’re wasn’t this many people trying to do VO 10 years ago! In 5 short years, Voice123 (and Voices.com) has grown from 50 members to probably over 5000 (combined).

If I were a coach selling VO services, I’d be licking my chops looking at the size of that roster. That’s a lot of newcomers in a very short period of time….wouldn’t you say?

Which begs the question: Why weren’t pro VO talent like myself who’s been at it for 10 years, one of the very first out there (and many other people with the same qualifications) not get invited to VOICE2007 as a contributer?

Because we don’t actively “sell” a service related to the VO industry, thats why.

Also, I’ll tell you the real scoop on Voice123 and Voices.com and what they’re doing to our industry. They’ve systematically eroded it.

I’ll tell you that Voice123 is trying to dictate to the industry what to charge for VO services and in doing so, is undermining the entire industry on the whole. Indeed, they’ve already laid waste to it, much like Wal-Mart has laid waste to local retailers and local grocery chains.

Above all, I’ll tell people that all the coaching in the world can’t “fix” the fact that they don’t have the talent in the first place. If you don’t have the talent, you can’t do the work (one of the tips I smuggled out of Hollywood).

Ever watch American Idol? Do you think some (any) of those hacks can be “coached” into getting talent? Perhaps….but at what cost and for how long?

Long enough to keep coaches in business, I’ll tell you that.

You need talent to make it in this industry. If you don’t have even a little of it, there’s a thousand people out there who do and they’ll get the job long before you can muster up 3 takes on an audition. I’m sorry if that truth hurts, but I’d be lying to you otherwise.

Let me qualify that. In the 6 years I’ve been doing critiques, I have had the pleasure of appraising about 200 voices. Of those 200, about 10 of them had any real talent at doing the work and I suggested to them that they pursue the course of getting a demo produced. Those that did, are actively making money at the craft….because they had the talent in the first place.

10 out of 200.

So if you don’t have talent, what will these people at this conference say to you? They will tell you that you need to practice…..and get some coaching.

“Here’s my card…”

Do you think they’ll tell you to go and find something else to pursue? NO! That would be in direct contradiction to how they make their living, which is sell a course or service.

Here’s an example of Voice123 doing this very thing (Hint:listen to the demo). I can’t believe they took this person’s money.

Even Alex Torrenegra (Leader, Co-founder Voice123) told me personally in e-mail correspondence that “we have to look into this problem.”

The link is still active. You can’t do much once you’ve taken someone’s money, can you?

Want info on the VO industry? Drop me a line. I’ll do my best to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.

I hope one day, if I can find the time, I’ll organize a conference where the speakers won’t be those that sell a service to the VO industry, but rather those who interests are purely on sharing and not profiting.

Thanks for reading this…and I hope you don’t think I’m being callous in any way….indeed, I’ve pained over this to make it as factual as I can in an effort to make sure that those who are considering attending VOICE2008 are informed and as such, have their eyes wide open……before they open their wallet.

And so concludes the official Voice 2007 Review. I welcome your thoughts.

VOICE 2007 review Las Vegas sign

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