Hey! What’s The Big Idea?!

February 24, 2010  |  Articles

As a Creative Director for a Global advertising company (we went global last year) it is my job to think. People pay me money to sit on a desk and look at the ceiling while cogs and gears in my head whir, twirl and spin to the sound of mental dialogue.

Now for some reason I’m very good at looking at other people’s problems and coming up with solutions for them… but for myself it’s sometimes hard to take that essential step back and look at your own problem subjectively and without bias.

So dear Voice Over friends and colleagues I present to you my Big Idea. It isn’t as big as twitter else I would be looking for private investors and trying to get the wheel turning on it secretly until the project was ready. No my idea has potential and that is why I am showing it to you today.

The Basic Premise

So I figured the best way for me to find people interested in getting involved in this project is to put it out here on my blog and let the people interested in implementing the idea contact me directly.  We can work out the financial aspects later but here is the basic Premise for the project:

A Voice Over Bazaar or Pavilion that acts as a Farmer’s Market for the Voice Over Market.

What does that mean?

Well the truth is that right now many of the voice talent out there complain of lack of work. They spend part of their day marketing themselves online… but honestly there are a finite number of updates you can make to your website without getting obsessive.

You can promote yourself on Twitter but eventually people will get sick of you just posting all the fab jobs you are landing. The same with facebook, LinkedIn and the rest of your social media arsenal.

Your daily ritual of doing call backs and followups is great but eventually you’ll have contacted all the people that are possible to contact within your area and through the intertubes.

So What’s left?

Well, put simply…. Why don’t you invest your free time into creating your own projects?

My Own Projects? Are you MAD!

Well yes… as a hatter… but that’s not the issue. The issue here is that there is allot of downtime for some voice over actors that they could be using to perfect their trade and produce their own material to sell.

Right now we wait for people to post at the P2Ps (or VOMs) or contact you directly for voicing audiobooks.  You are paid your fee and if you are part of a union you might get some residuals. But what if instead you decide to cut out the middle man and find a book that is no longer under copyright and part of the public domain and voice it.

Do it on your own dime. Produce it on your down time (yes I know… a poet and he doesn’t know it). Then when you are happy with your project come to the Voice Over Pavilion … and display your goods!

For those who have written books about the voice over industry … great! you can try to sell that there… for those who want to get rid of their old (or new) gear … fine… go list your products there.

But the main consumer for this site will be the general public.

Skip Audible, Skip The Producer

Basically the idea here is that we skip the middleman and present our self produced wares to the public through a website that they can come and browse and pick and chose between one voice and another.

There are thousands of public domain books that you can chose and voice…. You can even write your own children’s stories and record them directly. You never know maybe things will work backwards for you and the audio book you produce will get you a book writing deal!

So How Would It Work?

Let us say we register the domain www.vopavilion.com then we start start creating virtual booths. Each booth is owned and operated by the voice over talent. The talent pays VOP (voice over pavilion) for a booth… this fee is an annual fee.

Within the booth the talent can display his or her goods. The goods can be any of the following:

  1. Self Produced Audiobooks
  2. Previously Produced Audiobooks (with an agreement from the production company)
  3. Books that the person has written (so link to amazon or direct downloads from VOP)
  4. Voice Over Instruction CDs / DVDs / Digital Video Instruction
  5. Your Services… so if someone likes your voice they can hire you directly to record their IVR or their project.

Drawing The Line

I know there is a big market for it… but for this project (Taji’s Big Idea) I will place a few restrictions. They aren’t detrimental to the over business plan but there always has to be limits:

1. Pornographic or adult genre material
I know it’s popular in some places but I neither care nor wish to have these products associated with my project.

2. Hate Propaganda
As a Muslim Arab who has had to suffer racial slurs and discrimination on several occasions I think its pretty safe
to say I wouldn’t allow crap like that to be associated with my project either.

3. Blasphemous Material
If it disrespects God… then I’m not interested in having it displayed.

Now some folk might think that having a booth means that they can do whatever they want to… And the truth is that it doesn’t. Since the site will be privately owned then the rules to follow will be dictated by the site operators.

Hidden Fees

Well obviously they aren’t really hidden if I’m telling you about them but the Voice Over Pavilion will charge 5% (or 10%) on each sold item as processing fees… If you don’t sell… we don’t get paid … and if everyone sells then we get 5% (or 10%) of everything. These fees go toward site promotion and maintenance.

Hey maybe I can  run this idea under the Dutch Co-op model that Paul Strikwerda promotes.

To Summarize

The Voice Over Pavilion is a website where voice over talent can subscribe and display their wares. These ware can be anything from self produced books and projects to their own voice over services. They pay to get a booth and the site gets a part 5 to 10 percent of the total sale of each item. This money goes toward promoting the site and its maintenance.

There will be advertising space in the site that the different site members can advertise their goods at.

What do you think?!

If you are interested in suggesting or being considered for :

1.  Being a Financier
2. Being involved in Management
3. Getting your own booth
4. Looking for public domain books to record
5. Suggesting a subscription price as well as a markup price
6. Adding your ideas to the mix.

Please either email me directly or leave a comment in the comments section.

I think its time we started getting a bigger share of the pie… why let the production houses get most of the money. Lets fill up some of that down time with work that will give you a higher earning potential as well as keep your voice in shape.

Everyone’s input is welcome!

Mahmoud Taji


18 Comments


  1. This is a great idea, Taji… and I see you’ve already got the domain, so it’s going to happen!

    Let’s create some opportunity. I’m on board 🙂

    • Let’s make it happen. I’m with Dave and Andy as well. May we be the pied Pipers

      • Hello Robert,

        Unfortunately that project has been put on the shelf until I have more money and more logistical know how with regards to running a purely online business. For now I am actually in the middle of setting up The Voiceover Professionals Directory (not it’s real name) which is nearly finished except for a few tweaks here and there.

        All the best,
        taji

  2. First an Emporium…now a Pavilion…You ARE a good thinker, Taj… This has promise, and has been carried our successfully by others in different niche markets. Etsy.com comes to mind.

    Have you seen Jeffrey Kafer’s entry into this market? http://springbrookaudio.com/

    Dave Courvoisier

  3. Hey Taji,

    last year I was approached by somebody that offered standard telephone messages and was searching for a few more talents. So he found bodalgo.

    And I thought to myself: Hmmm, what if bodalgo offered such things itself ie. get talents of bodalgo to record standard things like telephone messages and let them have it sold online through a shop (just like apple, bodalgo would take 30 per cent of the net price, the rest goes to the talent). Billing etc. would be handled by bodalgo, so the talent does not have to take about it except writing invoices to us from time to time … 😉

    As other things have been more important the last months I haven’t invested any more time/brain/money in the idea and I have not thought about bigger things like Audio Books (great idea, there are LOADS of good books where copyright has passed away long time ago).

    So, cut a long story short: If there is time for development, we might test a shop later this year if we feel that there are enough talents out there that bring content to the party.

    Cheers,

    Armin
    Team bodalgo.

  4. Hi Taji,

    err … Team bodalgo.

    But: Nothing is set in stone at this stage. A store can not be done overnight, the development will take some time and will only be startet if …

    … a bit of research shows that it makes sense (financially)
    … there is nothing more important to do

    Cheers,

    Armin
    Team bodalgo.

  5. Greetings, Taji! I have been a firm believer in producing my own work ever since Bob Fraser suggested it to me several years ago in a consultation. In her column “The Actor’s Voice”, Bonnie Gillespie always features a Self Produced Clip of the Week. I’ve made plans for my audiobook company Jewel Audiobooks but only have gotten as far as registering my domain names.

    In the meantime, I’ve become active on the site http://LibriVox.org, where volunteers record public domain poems, speeches, and books in a variety of languages. I do it in partly for the self-creation aspect, partly for practice, and partly as a service project.

    The site is extremely well-organized and highly active. Most of the volunteers are not professional voice talent, but they do have standards and work hard as a team to produce their recordings.

    I’m interested in having a booth at your pavilion, but I do see LibriVox as a competitor. After all, everything there is free. Many people would rather listen to a free book of lower quality than pay for a book of higher quality.

    Please keep me posted as you move forward!

    Cordially,
    Karen Commins
    http://www.KarenCommins.com

    • Nothing wrong with competition Karen, I could have kept this whole business proposal to myself and worked in the shadows until It was ready to reveal. But the truth is that the professional touch is the difference between a professional singer and an amateur … Between a street performer who is talented and one who has honed their talent. I can even see several people recording the same book.

      Maybe your performance of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn would be far more riveting than mine… and so more people would chose to listen to it.

      Again its like a band doing a cover song. In many cases I prefer the cover to the original.

      But That’s Just me.

      I’ll keep you informed (inshallah) God willing.

      Taji

  6. Begining with your premise, if a VO has trouble getting new business, my guess is that it has a lot to do with talent, marketing and business planning. A Pavilion could be one idea but it would be a really small cog in a marketing machine.

    My sense is that most VO’s not only don’t execute the basic blocking and tackling of marketing and business planning, they don’t even know where to start.

    No reflection on the idea, but the Pavilion really isn’t going to significantly help them. Most VO’s have much bigger hurdles to overcome.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  7. Hi Taj- I think this is a good idea. I have done work at Librivox.org and while there are many good audiobooks available, I imagine there are many other types of work this community could produce that one would never find at Librivox.

    I think the key to this is, as it is with individual talents, marketing the site. If anyone is going to benefit by putting their work on the Pavilion site, ready buyers will need to know about it. I don’t think Librivox does much marketing/advertising. We would need to.

    Curt

  8. Good idea Taji. For those VO Artists who are into marketing their own projects and products, such as audiobooks, such a site as you are creating could be a unique and beneficial venue. I would be interested in having a “booth”. So I will keep a watch for this.

    Best of luck with it.

    Don

  9. I like it.
    Although I agree with Peter that it will only be a small part of the whole, it can still be a part.
    Put me down for a booth.

  10. Hi Taji!

    Fantastic idea! I’m interested in managing your Spanish Division, and of course, having my own booth! Keep me posted!

    Wooo hoo!

    Yeni
    http://www.iSpanishVo.com

  11. Interesting idea, Mahmoud! Possibly interested in a booth, depending on price per year, how many mbs available, etc.

    Keep me posted!
    Thanks,
    Gary G
    G2Productions

    garygillett.com

  12. Hi Taji

    Definitely interested in a booth. Great idea.
    Opens up huge possibilities.
    Regards

    Dan

  13. Still waiting for info on booth price, etc. Otherwise, no news?

    Thanks!
    G2

    • Hello Gary,

      After studying the business and logistic side of the project for a couple of weeks I came to the conclusion that I did not have the financial ability to invest into this project. So I decided to explore other possibilities. It’s a nice idea and maybe something that can be implemented in the future. For now I decided to work on something that I have a little more experience in and that I can afford to put together. Which is the new Voiceover Professionals Directory. I’ve mentioned it in some of the newer posts and I’m making it pretty cheap to subscribe to. The idea is to create a comprehensive list of all the voiceover professionals globally. But only the ones who are serious about their profession.

      Still… thanks Gary for your interest and who knows… I might eventually have enough money and know-how to implement the booth project.
      taji

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