VoiceBottom-Feeding

February 13, 2012

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If you read my post from yesterday, or are someone active in the voice over community, you’ve already heard of the site VoiceBunny. VoiceBunny comes from the mind of Alex Torrenegra, creator, co-founder, and CEO of Voice123, one of two leading pay-to-play voice over booking websites. VoiceBunny changes the model made standard by the likes of Voice123 and Voices.com, in which voice over actors pay a subscription fee for the opportunity to audition for projects posted on the site by clients looking to hire voice over. Instead, VoiceBunny charges no up-front money to the voice over actors, and they offer clients the chance to cast a project much more quickly and cheaply. Clients submit a project to VoiceBunny, either through a form or through its API that streamlines the process for frequent flyers, deposits the funds they’re paying for the job, and VoiceBunny immediately sends out a notice to all the registered VO’s whose profiles match the criteria. As soon as the first VO to get to it submits a take at the script, the project is closed to all other submissions. VoiceBunny staff reviews the recording, and as long as it passes their QA, they send the file on to the client and send the client’s money (minus 10% plus a service fee) to the voice over actor. No retakes, no client feedback on the casting process, and no dialog between client and VO. That’s it. Transaction over.

So, VoiceBunny does not cast projects through auditions. It casts them through a race. They have plans to implement additional options for the casting process, but for now, that’s all they’ve got. In the future, they’ll offer an option for clients to accept submissions from X number of VOs and pick their favorite to use and pay. So, that method is a race in which ten people finish, and then the client just picks which of the ten finishers is the winner. Again, not an audition process, because the submission you send in is the one they use. No re-takes, no dialog. You get paid as soon as they decide to use your submission, and your business relationship with that client begins and ends in all of about five minutes. Finally, they’ll eventually offer clients the chance to browse profiles of registered actors and pick one to hire, but that service is already available through Voices.com, Voice123, and ten or twenty less reputable websites, so there’s really no advantage to VoiceBunny there.

So, clearly, clients who use VoiceBunny are not going to be very picky. A client who isn’t very picky probably doesn’t have a lot of money budgeted for their voice over. By design, the site caters to clients looking to pay for less than what quality voice over is worth. Hopefully, if they’re not paying quality prices, they won’t get quality work, but that will be determined by the voice over actors who choose to use the system. Based on the research I’ve done, I don’t have a lot of hope.

I signed up for VoiceBunny after receiving an invitation to join the beta a few months ago. It’s free, so why not? Since that time, I’ve received all of two casting notices from them, both of which were well below my personal minimum. I assumed I wasn’t receiving anything because the site was still in beta and it didn’t have a whole lot of usage on the client side yet. But a few days ago, VoiceBunny made a public launch announcement. Wondering how they could’ve possibly gained any useful information from their beta test with so little usage, I tried an experiment.

Admittedly, the site is still in its “beta” phase, and it’s brand new in the eyes of clients and voice over actors alike, so there’s plenty of room for it to develop beyond my study’s results. But it’s now in public beta, meaning it’s available to anyone who chooses to use it on either the client or VO side of things. When a VO registers for VoiceBunny, they configure their profile with their gender and age range, as well as the amount of time it takes them to complete projects of varying lengths and the minimum amount of money they’re willing to do that work for. Since I received, essentially, no results from my profile during the private beta phase, I temporarily lowered my minimum rates to, basically, $1, and reviewed the section labeled “Previous projects that match your rates and profile.”

In the 35 days preceding my experiment, 77 projects were posted to the Bunny, ranging from 3 to 1689 words in length, and from $5 to a whopping $133. Of all 77 projects, 3 were willing to pay $100 or more. The average rate offered on all of these projects was $36.30. For those of you reading who are not professional voice over actors, I’ll spell that out for you in plain English: The rates currently offered on VoiceBunny are beyond insulting.

However, the truly disturbing discovery I made came later. I dug a little deeper and discovered a “suggested pricing estimator” for clients to determine how much to pay for the work. The client types in a script, and the system calculates the average rate offered by all currently registered VO’s for a project of that script’s length (word count). When I copied and pasted a script of 413 words from one of Voices.com’s job postings (a job offering a budget of $250-$500), the suggested price VoiceBunny’s estimator gave me was $116.83. When I deleted some of the script and put in a word count of 214, the price was $85.73. 108 words yielded $62.15. So, assuming that estimator really is calculating based on the average rates of the site’s registered VO’s, the clients aren’t necessarily bottom-feeding because they’re cheap. They could be bottom-feeding because the voices on the site are completely devaluing themselves and the entire industry by trying to undercut their competition.

It is possible, in theory, that quality voice over actors with integrity could register for the site and enter more realistic rates and hopefully bring about equilibrium on the VoiceBunny market. But based on the discussions going on all over the web within the voice over community, none of the reputable VO’s have any interest in using VoiceBunny at all. Not only are the rates currently offered there completely insulting, but the system completely eliminates all possibility of an ongoing business relationship. A huge part of being a successful work-from-home voice over actor, really being a successful practitioner of any business, is the ability to keep your customers coming back for more. VoiceBunny, by design, does not allow voice over actors to instill any of their clients with a sense of loyalty. VoiceBunny casts the client’s project for them by taking the first person to walk in the digital door, and the client can’t even write that person a thank-you note. There is no interaction between the actor and the client whatsoever.

That is where the VoiceBunny system inherently fails. Even if the rates were to change as its userbase grows, by prohibiting the potential for ongoing relationships, prohibiting even basic communication between voice and voice-ee, VoiceBunny is an insult to the voice over industry. I would like to completely erase my VoiceBunny account based on principle, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do that; once you’re registered, you can’t un-register. Instead, I will do my part to improve the site’s assessment of the value of voice over work by setting my profile’s rates accordingly. And I will never be auditioning for a VoiceBunny project as long as its business model remains the same. I suggest any self-respecting and/or industry respecting voice over actor who had the misfortune of registering for this site and happens to have stumbled upon this message do the same. Any of you who were holding off on registering until the verdict was in, I think you know what your answer is.

Say no to bunnies.

UPDATE: Due to the amount of traffic this blog post seems to be receiving, I’ve removed links to the VoiceBunny website. If they’re there, the Bunny’s search ranking is improved, and I don’t want to help him in any way. If you’re curious, you’ll have to find your way to the VoiceBunny website yourself (it’s not very hard if you know the name).

Filed under: Opinions,P2P Voice Over

32 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Jodi Krangle  |  February 14, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Great blog, Kyle. That has been my major problem with Voicebunny from the start – the lack of communication between voice seeker and voice provider. The pricing is definitely an insult – but that’s a discussion many of us have had before, and frequently. ;) This service takes that even one step further into ludicrousness. And while it might help out those whose business I likely wouldn’t be going after anyway (budgets lower than $100), I really can’t see it catching on with major players. At the very least, the agents who depend on their 10-20% commissions for the work voice actors do, will do their utmost to prevent that.

    What worries me though, is that as a non-union actor, is this the sort of thing that will force me to become union? I hope not. :-/

    Thanks so much for your detailed perspective! All the best, — Jodi

  • 2. Kyle McCarley  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Very legitimate concern, Jodi. But I have to agree: I don’t see VoiceBunny going anywhere with this kind of business model. There’s too little support from the VO community, so they’re not going to have much to offer their clients in terms of quality. Then again, clients with budgets that low probably aren’t that concerned with quality in the first place. Time will tell.

  • 3. Chuck Davis  |  February 15, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Hi Kyle,

    Good read! I registered as you did..anonymously…and set reasonable rates on my profile. All I saw was those two early postings. I’m guessing those were tests. I don’t expect I’ll see anything more with the rates you found being the norm.

    The more I hear the more obvious it becomes that Mr Bunny is pretty useless to working VO’s. Just another place for the bottom feeders from both side of the equation to play.

    Like we needed that……

    Enjoyed your perspective on the issue.

    Chuck D

  • 4. Eliot Coe  |  February 15, 2012 at 5:51 am

    I was almost ready to jump on the bunnies bandwagon but (thankfully) after your heads-up, will probably leave them to Duracell to get hopping…

  • 5. Paul Strikwerda  |  February 15, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Thanks for jumping down the rabbit hole for us, Kyle!

    First off, VoiceBunny is probably the worst business name I’ve come across in a long time. It’s infantile. How could anyone take it seriously?

    Secondly, Torrenegra and company are aiming to eat a piece of their own voice123 pie. That’s corporate cannibalism!

    Third, I always evaluate a site or service based on this question: “Whose primary interests does it serve?”

    The Bunny makes money for Mr. T and his voice-seeking clients, while voice talent is handed a hand-out.

    Yet, I bet you there are desperate souls hoping to break into the VO-business who jump for joy when they see that they can join the Bunny for free!

    Owen Young was right when he said:

    “It’s not the crook we fear in modern business; rather, it’s the honest guy who doesn’t know what he is doing.”

  • 6. nathan  |  February 15, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Wow now there’s an impersonal service, you should check out Piehole if you are looking for a good service

  • 7. Brian Talbot  |  February 15, 2012 at 6:32 am

    This isn’t even bottom feeding…it’s winning a contest by being the first caller! Thanks for letting us know about your experiment, Kyle. Pay to Play sites are always “iffy”, but the best ones do serve a purpose. This one seems to serve no valuable purpose to either voice actors or the people who pay for “professional” voices.

  • 8. Terry Daniel  |  February 15, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Great blog, Kyle! I wrote a blog about lowballing a a couple of months ago. The good news is that most clients get it! They know if they want to hire a good voice talent and they truly care about their project, they will have to pay the rate that we deserve. These kinds of services are nothing new and every industry deals with them.

    We all need to stand together and avoid these cheesy voiceover services! :-)

  • 9. Natalie Stanfield Thomas  |  February 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Thank you Kyle for demystifying the bunny. There is truth to the adage “You get what you pay for.”

    So, hypothetical question: Since the “Suggested Price Estimator” is able to work from a median range set by the voice talent registered, and the problem we seem to have as freelance voice actors is getting some people to understand what is considered a fair rate, would it be beneficial to encourage a larger number of professional freelance VOs to register on Voice Bunny (whether they intend to actually participate is up to their own conscience and Project Match I suppose) listing our best reasonable rates in order to set the mark that potential clients would be quoted at a more accurate picture? I mean median numbers are reliant on the data provided after all…

    Thanks so much for the time and effort you took in looking into this!
    All the best,
    Natalie

  • 10. Brian Johnson  |  February 15, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Great article! I’ve heard similar criticisms to design-type crowdsourcing sites, but honestly those are so much legitimate than what you are describing. At least on sites like 99designs, there is competition and the client picks from some designs that have been made.

    …Then again, that means that the vast majority of work is done for free, so who knows…

    Also a random suggestion, since you don’t want to help these sites, you should make the links to them nofollow or remove the links entirely, otherwise you are giving them some excellent SEO benefit!

  • 11. Linda Ristig  |  February 15, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Thanks, Kyle, for shedding some background light on the Voice Bunny model…

    When I received the email to join the beta test, I ignored it because it was an untested model. I had a sixth sense about it and decided to wait and see… I guess a part of me was skeptical about the price point of the potential jobs. After reading your perspective, I feel reassured that it was the right decision and am relieved I did not set up a profile.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

    Take care,
    Linda

  • 12. Dave Wallace  |  February 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kyle. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been explaining my problems with Voice Bunny repeatedly to a few people, but I think I’m just going to copy+paste the link to this blog entry to save myself some time. Like you, I don’t have one single nice thing to say about Voice Bunny.

  • 13. Celia  |  February 16, 2012 at 12:04 am

    I have read many, if not all, of the discussions about this (VB) site and have come away not much the wiser.
    Your article, Kyle, has addressed most of the concerns of the contributors, says everything I needed to know and I thank you wholeheartedly for it.

    I too was invited some weeks ago, duly filled out my prices etc. and have received no offers at all.
    Actually, due to some kind of technical glitch while registering, I can’t even log on to change anything. If I could, I’d now set my prices even higher to help raise the average.

    Yesterday I receive an apology from VB for any problems I and others might have encountered trying to use their site. Just contact them and they’d be happy to assist!
    That’s funny, I did just that when I couldn’t log on – never heard a word back.

  • 14. Helen Lloyd  |  February 16, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Thank you Kyle – sites such as Voice Bunny need exposing – and boycotting! Another site selling an unattainable dream and exploiting the unwary. Voices beware!

  • 15. Fred Filbrich  |  February 16, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Thanks Kyle for your research and your insights. I’m especially concerned about the seperation between talent and clients. Voice 123 has a system that allows voice seekers to communicate with prospective talents through the 123 site instead of by direct email. I can understand the client’s desire for privacy during the selection process. I’ve found though that when once I’ve been hired for a job, the client will opt out of the V123 messaging system and start communicating directly. Hopefully that communication will continue after the job is done. It sounds like that might never happen with the bunny; “voice seekers” will never become clients, and an important relationship will never develop.

  • 16. Mark  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I agree with Kyle. The VB is DOA.

  • 17. Perry  |  April 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Thanks Kyle. I did a test run as both a talent and a buyer, and the “suggested fee” for a 250 word script was around $45. I appreciate your blog and all comments already posted.

  • 18. Marc Scott  |  April 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I was tempted to join when I received an email invitation recently. After reading this I won’t even waste my time. Thanks for the great research and advice.

  • 19. Wendy Kay White  |  April 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I tried it, and from my experience, it offers no benefits for clients or talents. It’s voice-over whack-a-mole. Working talents shouldn’t waste their time trying to catch a two-bit gig there. It’s more like a computer game than a viable business model.

  • 20. Kyle McCarley  |  April 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    It’s the perfect place for amateurs who don’t actually want to learn anything about how to create and maintain a career in the industry, and for clients who don’t care about the quality of the voice over they’re underpaying to get. I think that about sums up its usefulness.

  • 21. Mukti Garceau  |  May 2, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Thank you Kyle for all the info on VoiceBunny. I have been a member of Voice123 for 6 years and just got my “invite” for VoiceBunny and told them how sad it is that they are dumbing down our work, talent, time, expertise, diligence and that I am considering not renewing my membership with Voice123 later this year. I am just not getting as much as I use to from them and well, they might just be hopping out of my re-subscription.
    Thanks again!

  • 22. Kyle McCarley  |  May 2, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I’m both a little glad and a little disturbed that this post continues to be of use to the community. Glad that people are still finding it, but disturbed that they still need to. I had hoped the Bunny would’ve died out quickly, but it seems he’s still hopping. I may or may not be renewing my membership with 123, either, Mukti. The way that SmartCast works continues to bother me, and it’s seeming like it may be feasible to get enough work without them. It’s also interesting to me that they’re cross-promoting the Bunny, but they prohibit all discussion of their sister-site on their forums. I’ve noticed they like to try and shove anything that could possibly be construed as negative or even constructive criticism under the rug over there. Still, I do book work from them, so it may be a necessary evil for another year. We’ll see.

  • 23. Kyle McCarley » Voi&hellip  |  August 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    [...] bottom of the article, but if you’re feeling like you need it now, you can remind yourself of my arguments against VoiceBunny and come back to finish this read a little later. For those who don’t know, Voices.com offers [...]

  • 24. Jonathan Hanst  |  August 31, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I appreciate the Bunny insights. Yes, I’ve been tempted to join, but have always decided against due to the crappy rates. I’m with both Voices and V123 and recently, Voices is winning hands down. V123 isn’t doing much to improve its product. I feel much better taken care of by Voices.

  • 25. Alex D  |  February 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    I am done with pay-to-play. I will sooner quit the industry than fight for scraps while d-bags like Torrenegra get rich off of our hard work and talent.

    If you’re good, and you have customers, and they bring you repeat business then there’s every chance you can make a living in VOs. Put your energy into maintaining those relationships, building word of mouth and getting better at what you do and the jobs will come.

  • 26. Steve Krumlauf  |  February 21, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Kyle!

    Boy, I wish I had stumbled on your blog months ago! Like many, I was taken in by the free service and being able to create my own profile with sound samples.

    However, not only is the rate card insulting to most of us in the VO community, but, Voice Bunny expects you to hang out at your computer 24/7 until the bell rings and is the first one in with the demo that wins.

    I also thought it was a bit odd that Voice Bunny, the other day, asked that all voice work be submitted in WAV format rather than MP3. (What’s THAT all about?)

    It’s “bunny” mate on the Pay-to-Play side has also become very annoying by constantly bombarding me, V123, on an almost hourly basis with endless lists of some very lucrative projects that I missed because I cannot afford right now to pay the annual $300 subscription fee. (I hate to admit it, but, I have demo pages on both Voice Bunny and Voice123.)

    I still think, for me at least, the best way to develop a VO business is one client-at-a-time, word-of-mouth, personal networking. Repeat customers are always the way to go.

    Thanks again, Kyle, for going to bat for the troops!

  • 27. Todd Schick  |  February 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Hey Kyle,

    Great article, Well researched. I’m working on my own article (review) on the site and I dare say – you’re being a lot nicer here than I’m going to be.

    While I haven’t read a lot of the posts here, I see words like “insult” , “ludicrous”, “d-bags like Torrenegra” , “bottom feeders” and the like, which pretty much sums up the feeling both I and the other professionals in the industry have about VB.

    With your permission, may I post a link to the article here when I’m finished?

    Thanks again for your thoughts….well done.

    Kind regards,

    Todd Schick

  • 28. Kyle McCarley  |  February 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Feel free, Todd. This article was an EARLY analysis of the rabbit. Were I to write it again today, I doubt I’d be anywhere near as nice about completely denying any possible value it holds.

  • 29. Julian Martinez  |  January 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Entiendo a todos los profesionales de la locucion que escribieron aca, pero habemos personas que necesitamos grabaciones no profesionales, en varios idiomas a precios mas economicos que VoiceBunny. Donde puedo encontrar un sitio como VoiceBunny, pero que tenga tarifas más economicas? y en varios idiomas?

  • 30. Kyle  |  January 13, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Rough translation of Julian’s message: “I understand all the voice over professionals who wrote here, but people need professional voice over recordings in several languages ​​and VoiceBunny has the most economical prices. Where I can find a place like VoiceBunny, but that has more economic rates? and in several languages​​?”

    I’m assuming you’re asking for a place that pays better rates than VoiceBunny, not something cheaper than them, because quite honestly, I pray the latter doesn’t exist. One suggestion for better rates would be Voices.com, although their rates can also get pretty low at times. I’d suggest searching the Internet for “localization services,” and I’d include the language you’re looking for as well.

    And here’s Google Translate’s attempt to give you what I just said in Spanish: Estoy asumiendo que usted está pidiendo un lugar que paga mejores tasas que VoiceBunny, no algo más barato que ellos, ya que, sinceramente, te ruego que esta última no existe. Una sugerencia para mejores tasas sería Voices.com, aunque sus tasas también puede ser bastante bajo, a veces. Te sugiero que la búsqueda en Internet de “servicios de localización,” y me incluyo en el idioma que está buscando también.

  • 31. Crystal Place  |  February 7, 2014 at 4:29 am

    Hear hear Kyle. I second each and every point you’ve made (and made well). Thank you for doing your part. We’re all in this together. Keep on it.

    Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous year for us all.

    With gratitude,
    Crystal

  • 32. Antonio Clifton  |  March 4, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Greed overtakes Torrenegra and his ilk, instead of serving and helping those that have made him rich, he continues to help himself at the talent’s expense, that’s being thrown the scraps, let’s hope for better and more ethical sites that would rise up, so we can leave VOICE123 to it’s own devises to sink under the weight of its avarice.

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About Me

Hi! I'm Kyle McCarley: a voice over actor living in Los Angeles. I'm a graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Theatre, and I've been behind the microphone for podcasts, radio plays, video games, audiobooks, and more since 2005.

My most notable professional voice-over works have included the audiobook for Bunmi Laditan's hilariously funny "parenting" book, The Honest Toddler, with Tantor Audio, numerous major roles in video games such as UnEpic, Dragon Nest, Vindictus, and MapleStory, the voice of the main hero in the web cartoon Space Heroes Universe, and several commercial spots on the online radio network, Pandora, including a national campaign for Kroger. For more information on my previous work, check out my resume.

I started my adventures in voice-over as part of an internet radio station known as WoW Radio, a fansite for World of Warcraft, where I co-created a radio play series called The Chalice of Silvermoon. I wrote, directed, and contributed several voices to the series, which concluded after three seasons; a total of 51 episodes that averaged at 15 minutes in length each.

Past Blog Posts