Setting The Record Straight

May 31, 2009  |  Articles

Morning Folks,

I have to be honest… I’m a pretty aggressive guy. As a youngster I always had to exercise self control in situations that tried other people’s patience. I used to … and to some degree still have a very short fuse. But three things worked toward controlling my anger:

1. My father saying … think before you speak… words are far worse than any laceration.

2. The fact that in Kuwait where I grew up they had very little tolerance for vandals and impetuous teens… if you misbehave … they’ll shave all your hair off and possibly put you in jail for a night. Also possibly deport non Kuwaitis (like myself) and the rest of their families to their country of origin.

3. And although this should be the first and most important to me… it was the one I learned last… The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) saying ” Do not be angry” and in another Saying ” shaytan (satan) flows in your veins when you are angry” those two traditions (sayings) affected me the most when it came to anger management.

Age of Innocence

If you follow my blog you’ll know that a few days back I wrote an update about the Voice Over Casting Site Directory Project that I started in April of this year. I was happy that we had reached 136 listings and wanted to share all this info with the rest of the voice over community.

To further promote the Directory to the Voice Over Community I also went and emailed a simple PR email to a few of the more established blogs in the VO community… I won’t mention who but some did actually write a quick post about the directory and helped promote the directory to their readers.

Surprisingly though I received an email from one of the pillars of the VO community telling me that they will not be able to promote my directory because of MY site’s dubious origins… here is an excerpt from that email:

” My concern in reviewing this for my blog was your company’s (voice-casting.com) spamming of Voices.com members when your site started up. The unsolicited email message was to get them to sign up in your directory or as part of the service I believe. ” The veteran VO then asked me to clarify if this information was correct or not.
Wait… what?

ok… we covered this back in March (the 29th to be exact) in this article post:

http://voiceover-casting.com/emporium/blog/articles/turbulence/

Brian and Fernando wanted to promote their fledgling Voice Over Social Networking / Casting site … went to voices.com and sent emails to voice over artists. Is this spamming? Yes and No… yes it is unsolicited mail sent to a group of people who’s livelihood depends on emails from voices.com that alert them to Voice Over Jobs… And no its not spam because it isn’t mail sent out on a discovery channel shark lover’s forum informing them of a new voice over social networking site opening… Its actually targeting its exact audience and telling them of the existence of a website that will connect them to others in the Voice over business as well as producers and clients.

But lets better examine that paragraph… The VO veteren stated that it was My Company’s spamming… My company?

I don’t own any part of Voiceover-casting.com Nor do I work for them (I can do with the extra income but still… I am not on their payroll) I have never even done freelance VO work for Produlz.com (the company that runs and manages voiceover-casting.com). So why would that person think that it is my company?

The second part of that statement is also quite incorrect:

“The unsolicited email message was to get them to sign up in your directory or as part of the service I believe.”

Sign up in MY Directory? How is this possible? I mean MY Directory project was started by ME… not by Brian or Fernando… It was started in April not in Jan or Feb when Brian or Fernando sent that email… and It was MY idea … the Directory is even called Taji’s Voice Over Directory. Its part of MY blog.

Taji’s Voice Emproium… Belongs to Taji… What the Thukering Thukatash is going on!
Dawning Realization

And finally I understood. People thought that because Taji’s Voice Emporium was the first regularly updated blog on Voiceover-casting.com (now there are many… Paul Strikwerda’s and Julia Lumbardo’s blogs come to mind) People thought that I was the official mouthpiece of voiceover-casting.com and because of that they have ostracized me and my blog and avoided it. They didn’t care if what I said made sense or was in anyway beneficial to them… they just cared that the first part of my URL said voiceover-casting.com.
Putting On the War Paint

Can you guess my first reactions? Refer to the first part of this article to understand how I felt. Then go through the three steps that I wrote and discard the 2nd ( I am no longer a teenager nor do I reside in kuwait).

Think before you speak…Do not be angry.

So I sat… and thought… then wrote back

“Hello XXXXX,

Yes actually you pretty much have the whole story wrong.

I am an independent voice over talent that does not work … and never has worked or even, to date, freelanced with the Produlz.com which is the company that established voiceover-casting.com. I joined their site as a member just like the 500 other voice over talent and directors, producers and clients that joined their site for free.

My directory project was started on April 20th by myself as a means to help voice over talent with their search for voice over casting websites… I invested countless hours in it. The two people who run the site Brian Hudson and Fernando did not know about the project until I announced it on my blog. The fact that my blog attracts people to their site is a different matter. So your statement :

“The unsolicited email message was to get them to sign up in your directory or as part of the service I believe.” is very inaccurate. I don’t charge people anything to be part of MY directory. The directory is called.. Taji’s Voice Directory and it is part of Taji’s Voice Emporium and outside of the fact that it is hosted at voiceover-casting.com … has nothing to do with them. Plus their social networking service started in february not april.

Incidentally I even blogged about the spamming issue and it was Stephanie’s email (which I got because I am a registered and paying member of voices.com) which alerted me to the existence of this social networking site.

http://Voiceover-casting.com provides its members with 5 megabytes of blog space … which is how my blog got started… everything else is me… I don’t see how you can hold me, my blog or my directory accountable for what Brian or Fernando might have done.

Their marketing methods might have been dubious and I agree that there are much better ways to promote your site… but the fact is that the service they provide now for voice over talent and producers is exceptional. When they saw that I had a talent for blogging they were kind enough to give me more hosting space on their server and they even allowed me to register my own domain to point to my blog… which took their name out of the picture completely. They have been supportive and generous … and trust me haven’t charged for anything but the casting service (which is on the client side not the VO talent side)

To tell you the truth I am quite surprised at how inaccurate your background on me, my blog and my directory are… and would really like to know who or what gave you the impression that I worked for produlz? I have clashed with Stephanie C. from voices.com before … but mostly that was because of some of their policies at voices.com. As a Canadian I support their business but as a voice over talent I want their services to improve and to better cater to the voice talent instead of being so biased to the client side. You should also read my clashes with steven lowell from V123… those are far less polite.

Anyway… I hate spammers just like the next guy… I even have a comment spamming problem on my blog these days… but when I complained to Brian about it he set me up with a nice wordpress plugin that should take care of that. But I digress… so outside of that I decided to forgive them this transgression that marked their genesis… even good people make mistakes. And in my opinion it takes good people to forgive them.

So back to your email… yes there are 2 parts to each story… and I think its a shame that people will not even try to research and discover what voiceover-casting.com does… if you want their side of the story I can give you brian’s email… or his phone number… both are readily available.

If you do not wish for your blog or your casting site to be showcased in my Directory then please inform me and I will remove them. You do actually have a say in the matter.

Best Regards,
Mahmoud Taji
http://www.voiceemporium.com
http://www.mahmoudtaji.com
twitter: mahmoudtaji ”

Drawing The Battle Lines

The VO veteren thanked me for clarifying the matter to him. Yet did not tell me who had given him all that inaccurate information. He is one of the few people who are willing to take the time and cut straight to the matter… avoid the hearsay and ask the right questions… to the right person.

So what does this mean… It means that I have decided that I am part of Voiceover-casting.com and I am proud to be a member of VO casting.

That I appreciate what they have done for me as a voice artist and as a Blogger in the making.

That I don’t care what the rest of the community says about me… and if they don’t wish to visit the blog because of inaccurate information or because it is associate with voiceover-casting.com then that’s their problem.

That even though some people will stand in my way when all I want to do is help people in the voice over community get more jobs, be more informed and improve their equity then I will mow them down. I will not stop and I will not look back.

I come from a long line of warriors… I am an arab through and through and I can trace my lineage as far back as 14 centuries.

Taste the blade of my scimitar pen.

I am Taji… hear me blog

Don’t Be Angry… Think Before you Speak

Damnit … there I go again… remember when I said I have a short fuse… I went all warrior without thinking again. And AGAIN I forgot what my Prophet and my father told me… Don’t be angry… think before you speak.

So here is my proposition: If you don’t wish to be a part of our site … that’s ok… you are still part of our family… you are still welcome to join later… and you are still welcome to reap the fruits of this Directory. It was built for everyone whether they appreciate it or not. This is the house that Taji (and friends) built.

For those in my VO family that speak against me. Thanks for thinking of me 😉

I have great faith in the human spirit and I hope that you can set aside your biases. Fights and arguments happen in the closest of families… and I will not abandon you even if you have already abandoned me. Even warriors forgive.

Comments please.



4 Comments


  1. Warrior On, My Brother From Another Mother!!!!!

  2. Oh, get mad a little…especially at priggish behavior.

    Frankly, I’m rather amused by how the purveyors of Voiceover-casting.com went about their blitz. I kind of viewed it as a big fat gotcha!

    Both P2P sites cater far more to those who don’t pay than those who actually keep them in business. While the NY dolts constantly amaze me with their effete arrogance and Dumbcast algorithm, the “pretties” in Canada annoy me with their sugary PR overload. Whenever an issue regarding their service pops up on the radar (any of the VO boards and lists…which are becoming myriad), they’re right there assuring the plebs that they’re looking out for us. Huh, huh. And what I find even more amazing is how many of the aforementioned plebs suck up to them in response to their well articulated spin.

    But when you peel away the hyperbole, both sites provide the same thing: a continually growing attitude among voice seekers that our services are readily available to the lowest bidder and an overt leaning toward said seekers who don’t pay a bloody shilling for the service.

    So, why do we continue to play?

  3. I researched the major voiceover sites and thought long and hard before I became a paid subscriber to Voices.com I agree with you that they are far from perfect (from not providing universal script file formats; showing preferential treatment to certain members; to sending me auditions for African-American and male voices!) One thing I will say about Ciccarelli & Company is they are accessible to us, and do welcome suggestions/comments, etc. I feel that I have gotten exposure, and people are starting to notice me. Just this morning, I was excited that my demos were listened to 99 times. I was also excited last week when I discovered I was #1 for an audition! I am usually in the 50s or beyond.
    Now, VOCasting’s actions were not illegal, just sneaky. Ciccarelli is angry because she was showed up as having a low-security system by which members inboxes could be infiltrated. Busted!
    I had just joined Voices.com not a week before when that message appeared in my inbox. I never erased that e-mail, but somehow it mysteriously vanished out of my inbox, as if it and Fernando Pax were merely figments of my active imagination. Voices.com sent me absolutely NO correspondence regarding why I got that e-mail or who those people were. I only knew about Stephanie’s response to it when I read Taji’s blog.
    There is such a thing a righteous indignation, Taji. People who have no emotions, or are virtually indifferent to everyone, have no convictions and no passion. Nothing offends their sense of justice because they have no convictions. We have prisons filled with sociopaths who are indifferent to the suffering of others, and therefore feel nothing when they violate society.
    I do not know how many people on VOCasting.com are full-time voiceover artists, as opposed to those of us who work in other fields (that would be interesting to find out).
    I work in the fitness industry, so only a fraction of my day is actually spent in front of a computer. Even so, I check into VOCasting just about every day, respond to blogs, and I write blogs myself about every 2 weeks, sometimes more frequently.
    Interesting tidbit of information: I was trying to decide what to call my blog, and one day my manager at work commented, “You really go the extra mile for your clients.” THAT’S IT!
    Out of more than 500 registered members on VOCasting.com, there are only a few of us who are actually ACTIVE members.
    In reality, I almost DID NOT sign up with VOCasting because I am very cautious about having my name out there. Now that I have, I will say that I have gotten more out of this site than any other.
    I spoke with Fernanda Manza on the phone about 10 days ago, and she was extremely helpful with answers regarding my demos. It was great to hear the voice behind the profile! Brian has been invaluable to me, both for his encouragement and for his technical savvy.
    And now…the envelope please. The winner of the VO Casting 2009 Blogger of the Year Award Is….(DRUMROLL, PLEASE)…MAHMOUD TAJI!!!!!
    Taji has truly been a model for all of us. He has established himself as a true leader and pioneer on this site and we are indebted to him, not only for his creative insights into this fascinating industry, but for his countless hours of time and research in compiling OUTSTANDING information from which we all benefit. Then again, we always knew that cream rises to the top.

  4. Did she say cream?

    Stands… APPLAUDES…