It’s becoming a common refrain in all sorts of creative endeavors: some established, experienced talent are complaining about the vast numbers of newcomers to their field. I’ve heard it from web designers, graphic designers, copy writers, and yes, voiceover talent.
In a blog post titled True Professionals Don’t Fear Amateurs, entrepreneur, marketer and author Seth Godin wrote something that resonates deeply within the world of professional voiceover talent:
Gifted college professors don’t fear online courses. Talented web designers don’t fear cloud services. Bring them on! When you need something worth paying for, they say, we’ll be here. And what we’ll sell you will be worth more than we charge you. – Seth Godin
He didn’t specifically mention voiceover talent in the post, but he might as well have. In recent years, I’ve heard scores of fellow talent complain about the influx of so-called wannabes. They’ll bitterly say, “These days, anyone with a laptop and a USB microphone thinks they can call themselves professional talent.” (The technical barriers to building your own studio and recording broadcast quality sound have been lowered significantly in recent years.)
The professionals, though, those with real talent, used the technological shift to move up the food chain. It was easy to encourage amateurs to go ahead and explore and experiment… professionals bring more than just good tools to their work as professionals. – Seth Godin
Or they’ll whine, “All they have to do is pay a few hundred dollars to join one of the online voice-casting sites, and they can compete for jobs that I used to book.” (There are now a few sites boasting thousands of paying members who essentially bid for the job of voicing your next project.)
While many of these statements seem reasonable, correlation does not equal causation.
Just because someone builds a home recording studio, it doesn’t mean that they’re instantly qualified to voice national commercials or network television promos. Heck, I could fill my garage with some of the best woodworking tools available, and I’d still never be able to properly build even the most basic bookcase.
And just because someone ponies up the cash to join one of the online voice-casting sites – often called “Pay-to-Play” sites or P2Ps – they don’t magically become your competition. Auditioning for gigs and being good enough to actually book those gigs are two very different things. (Oh, and if the jobs that you used to book are now being posted on the P2P sites, congratulations! It’s time to start ramping up your own marketing and providing your services to clients who want to hire “you,” and not the ones who want to hire “someone with a voice.” There’s a huge difference.)
And if you need any motivation to up your game, consider how Seth ended his post:
If you’re upset that the hoi polloi are busy doing what you used to do, get better instead of getting angry. – Seth Godin