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Voices.com AI Harvesting

 
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toddschick



Joined: 03 Aug 2009
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 5:57 pm    Post subject: Voices.com AI Harvesting Reply with quote

Hi all....

I haven't posted on vo-bb (or any VO forum) for a very long time, but felt the need to post here and hope it gets out there....

Recently, I was talking to a couple of VO talent who had questions about some leads being posted on voices.com that seemed very weird.

They were saying the same script was showing up in different (generic) client posts. So, some talent get the lead titled "Business Report" and other talent get "Two Videos" - but the script is identical.

They are always in the $1500-$1750 variety, obviously to encourage more responses. The content usually makes no sense with respect to the price point.

Many talent have said they've flagged these posts as spam because they are so out of the norm, but the posts persist regardless.....and now have become "Featured" posts.

I looked at the leads my self and I gotta say, I think I discovered what is probably the darkest, most evil s*** I've ever seen come from voices.com.

I think they are harvesting voices for AI. Getting people to read (audition) the first couple of sentences of the script......

How do the scripts start.....?

"Hello...", "Let's talk...", "Hi there...."

I'm thinking they are bordering on 1,000 responses....but who knows?

I don't want to be alarmist or otherwise stir up any crap here....but if you see leads like this on voices.com....look at them very, very carefully and my advice is to not respond.

Indeed, I think everyone should call them on it......what's the point of "Report Abuse" if voices.com is doing the abusing?

If it smells like Ciccarelli, it's probably......well...you know :-|

TS
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Bish
3.5 kHz


Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Posts: 3541
Location: Lost in the cultural wasteland of Long Island

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Todd... I think you're pretty much preaching to the choir with this crowd. It's always good to keep an eye out for this stuff... everyone is distracted by the multiple iterations for the same TTS project that's coming at them from all sides (at audiobook rates!). Are Voices doing something nefarious... something about bears and woods comes to mind. I stopped splashing in their pond years ago because they were evil incarnate. I'd actually be interested in knowing how they're doing with respect to the millions Morgan Stanley floated them... it's got to be getting closer to checking the underpants time for the Ciccarellis.
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Bish a.k.a. Bish
Smoke me a kipper... I'll be back for breakfast.
I will not feed the trolls... I will not feed the trolls... I will not feed the trolls... I will not feed the trolls.
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Lee Gordon
A Zillion


Joined: 25 Jul 2008
Posts: 6532
Location: West Hartford, CT

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2020 12:42 am    Post subject: Re: Voices.com AI Harvesting Reply with quote

toddschick wrote:
if you see leads like this on voices.com....look at them very, very carefully and my advice is to not respond.


Despite their claim of a million members, I would be surprised if a significant number of participants in this forum still do business with v-dot-c.
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Voice President of the United States
www.leegordonproductions.com
Twitter: @LeeGordonVoice
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10368

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2020 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few weeks ago someone ran a competition to promote their VO Coaching/Podcast business. Regularly I was subjected to the "Woot Awesome" Tweets. The people involved clearly enjoyed themselves.

"Submit your audition for this job!" Clearly it wasn't a real audition for a real job but the auditions flooded in. People made comments about each audition and it was a fun affair.

I listened to the finalists and concluded, No! The reads at best were close to she'll/he'll do at a push. Recording and studio quality? At best, not great. The winner? Congratulations to him and he may well make a few dollars out there in the real world of overs we call voice. Sadly, like the majority it will only be a few dollars and not a living. For the record I would be delighted to be proved wrong and say to the person concerned "Well done! You really DID win!"

For all the fist shaking and disapproval of VDC, when we all had the opportunity to unite and really do something, we didn't. VO Organisations, communities, unions shouted at each other, their in house legal counsel/teams remained silent and were there a fighting fund I believe the organiser was able, after two years, to buy a KitKat.

I live in an alternate universe so I appreciate it when Todd and other people tap me on the shoulder and tell me something I don't know. Usually I come to the conclusion that the consequences for me and for mankind =


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melissa eX
MMD


Joined: 20 Oct 2007
Posts: 2608
Location: Lower Manhattan, New Amsterdam, the original NYC

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A year or two ago they posted an A.I. job for about 5K- all media in perpetuity. Along with the post they asked that if anyone turned it down because of the rate, what would it take to accept the job? Looks like they were trying to see what people's "price" is. Notwithstanding, their terms - the last I saw - claimed ownership of everything anyway.

On another note Todd. I heard you the other day on a Love Nature doc I was watching. Part of the Animal Senses series. Nice!
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Patricia Shanks
Contributor III


Joined: 27 Mar 2006
Posts: 92
Location: Mission Viejo, CA

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting to read this now. I hadn't been on voices-dot-com for a couple of years. I looked at the auditions I had posted. And several of them still say something about them not being resolved yet. I don't know v's operations and methods. But, it seems to me, if a job is cancelled - which maybe it should be after 2+ years of not being completed (?) - that it should/would be removed. ??
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Bruce
Boardmeister


Joined: 06 Jun 2005
Posts: 7099
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's see if I can put this kindly... voices-dot-com might be described as an "open marketplace" where buyers dangle their offerings in front of an eager crowd and get dozens to hundreds of responses in just the first hour of the proffer. Once the buyer has made their selection, often in just the first few minutes of their posting, they're done and they disappear. Sloppy management of the site just leaves all the hopeful voice talent waiting and wondering if "today's the day I'm selected", a dream that keeps VDC in business and thousands of bank accounts tapped. Most buyers never listen to all or even a majority of the submissions.

And don't even get us started on the fact that some voice talent pay more than ten times the usual annual fee in order to get first crack at auditions several minutes or more ahead of everyone else. Genius, huh?


B
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I'm not a Zoo, but over the years I've played one on radio/TV. .
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George
Contributor II


Joined: 09 Dec 2019
Posts: 56
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm willing to totally throw myself under the bus on this one for the sake of some fun study in how to NOT do things.

When I decided to jump back in with both feet a year ago, I took some bad advice and signed up for a year subscription to v d c. If I knew then what I know now, right? Fast forward to right now, my year is about to expire and I have absolutely no intention of renewing that subscription. Here's a numerical representation of part of why:

Number of auditions submitted: 2,300
Number of auditions still in the "deciding" state: 700
Number of jobs actually booked: 17

Those jobs in the "deciding" status for all these months, some close to a year, are never going to complete. I suspect the people putting them out there got the free samples they needed to book something else/better somewhere else. Or who knows what caused that job to never finish.

I'm in the present position of needing to do any and all auditions during the evenings after normal daytime hours. On the west coast on top of that. The odds of being selected from that platform are low. Obviously not impossible but statistically low (see numbers above). What I've learned from my time since coming to this fantastic forum is that there are way, way, way better uses of the time I spent auditioning for all of those jobs, many of which were extremely low paying.

Am I grateful for the ones I got? Yes. Did I learn a tremendous amount in that year? Absolutely. Was the experience worthwhile? In terms of getting daily practice, yes.

Am I better off with traditional marketing? Probably!

Knowing that not renewing that subscription means that the pittance I was receiving before will obviously reduce to a flat nothing is a cold reality. Even after a very lovely chat with Philip Banks I still have a high degree of nerves about self-marketing. Would anyone be better off spending their time, effort, and money on something that isn't v d c?

After a year there, I can emphatically give a resounding nod of affirmation.

I'm not entirely sure I know precisely where to proceed going forward, but not being at v d c is a fantastic first step to whatever that future ends up being.

one more point of interest: v d c no longer has a tier where you can get jobs earlier than everyone else. their higher tier includes a variety of other things but early access is not one of them. at least not according to their website. one two three, on the other hand and as an example, very much does have a more expensive first access tier.

-= george =-
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10368

PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We need to work in reverse and we need to ask potentially uncomfortable questions of ourselves.

In order to fly we must start where Orville and Wilbur started, with a bike and an idea.

Their first powered flight = 120ft
Wingspan of an A380 Airbus = 262ft

The latter has a Maximum take off weight of 500 tons and can get me from London to LA in around 13 hours.

Both have one thing in common, the designers knew their desired outcome.

My desired outcome? Generate $6,800 per month in fee income from voice over work. That number can become anything other than a number to you if you attach an emotion to it e.g vulgar, arrogant, pitiful. It is simply a number, meaningless to everyone in real terms, except me. You need to know, not guess or desire or dream, know your number. When you have it the first thing that happens is that it stops you being distracted by VDC and the many other people and organisations who have their outcomes in mind.

Seminars pay you nothing.
Coaches pay you nothing.
Motivational quotes pay you nothing.
Training pays you nothing.
Pay to play sites pay YOU nothing.
Agents pay you nothing
Managers pay you nothing.

You pay all of the above and I'm guessing not one of them has asked your desired outcome and come up with a way of how they can help you get to it.
A few years ago I had a conversation with Marc Guss from ACM Talent and it was very pleasant. He explained to me in three different ways how much I was expected to pay them for their management services. Every time he told I simply replied that it was fine, no problem. Hoorah!

Stage 2 in the negotiations was to establish what exactly I would get from ACM in return for 10% of all of my income from the day of signing. Like Marc and in fairness to his company I needed him to explain to me the value he brought to my business, I asked him 3 times. First he said "opportunities". I looked at my outcome and that wasn't a part of it. Second he said to a colleague "Where's that audition? Send it to Philip now!" It wasn't an audition for me and there was no fee mentioned. Third time I asked he suggested that I should talk to his business partner because he saw a great future. That was not and answer. What could the company do for my business? The answer from the man I expected to do it was clearly, nothing but we will take 10%.

Outcome. No emotion. Just numbers

VDC

I am on the site. I need $6,800 per month.

17 jobs in one year paying $4,800 per job will do the trick. What are the odds? Look at it the other way. What was the average fee? How many at that average would you need? To get there how many auditions?

With few exceptions auditions pay you nothing.

"But it's our job to auditions!" No it isn't! It is not our job to work free of charge for someone who is unable to simply pick a voice for $200.

Producers and Casting Directors with the help of Agents and Managers narrow the field and then we audition.

My business question when I'm asked
"Philip, will you do this?"
How WILL this lead to my outcome? The answer has saved me a fortune in both time and money.
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melissa eX
MMD


Joined: 20 Oct 2007
Posts: 2608
Location: Lower Manhattan, New Amsterdam, the original NYC

PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"But it's our job to auditions!" No it isn't! It is not our job to work free of charge for someone who is unable to simply pick a voice for $200.


Auditions used to be for entire TV series or feature films under union contracts with residuals. THIS is what auditions are for. Not, as Philip points out, for every $200 job.
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