I started my burgeoning voiceover career last year, and earlier in 2016 signed up to be a “Bunny Pro”, via the VoiceBunny website. Today I’ve withdrawn my funds from the site and am now leaving the service. Here’s why.
I don’t get to work with clients
VoiceBunny handles all the transactions between me and the client. That’s fine for the most part, but it can be nice to strike up a relationship with the people for whom you’re working, and I haven’t found a way to do that through VoiceBunny, and I’ve certainly never been directly contacted by a client.
On the projects I’d completed prior to VoiceBunny, I’d got to liaise either with the actual client, or speak to a publisher. On all of those occasions I dealt with issues and the clients went away happy. I don’t need a middle-manager.
The auditioning process is inconsistent
When you audition through VoiceBunny you get paid as long as your audition is accepted. It’s pennies really but it’s a cute little idea. The problem however is that your auditions may not pass if your work doesn’t meet their high standards. It’s great that they have high standards of course, but when you’re auditioning a voice, you’re checking that they can read the copy well and convey your message to its audience. You’re not concerned if there’s a ticking clock in the room, or the whir of a laptop fan. If the voice is clear, and the reading good, you give them the work and say “I assume you’ll be going somewhere quiet to record this?”
If you have a completely clean audition, you end up with finished work that the client can use without paying, but more problematically, you make it harder for people to audition. VoiceBunny knows – or should know – that people are going to be recording from home studios, so it’s not always practical to ensure everything is shut down and all noise is dealt with, in order to record a 30 second piece of audio.
But that still isn’t the whole issue. A major problem is that, every audition gets reviewed by a member of staff at Bunny Inc, and it’s unlikely you’ll get the same reviewer twice, so there’s not a great deal of consistency between one audition and another, in terms of what will pass. The things that trigger some reviewers – like being too close to the mic or having a touch of cotton-mouth – don’t seem to bother others.
I’m not getting real work
Most of the jobs that come through are “backup” jobs. It’s some fallout from their weird algorithm, and it’s basically a way of saying “Audition, by all means, and we’ll pay you $7 for it, but you won’t get the work because the main project has already gone out to the people we think are better suited”. So you play that algorithm, and accept all the jobs you can. Then you get punished because a job has come in at 7 in the morning which you’ve had to accept – because you only get such a short window to decide, and I’ve been pipped to the post a number of times, even in the time between opening the page and clicking “Accept” – but which you don’t want to record straight away because your neighbours are nice people, and because you have to submit your audition within 25 minutes, that deadline whizzes past and you slide down their list of preferred “pros”. Bullshit.
So, what’s the alternative?
I’m in a good position right now. I’ve got work coming in – I started my third audiobook this week and begin number four in August – and I’ve got other work to keep me busy. So I don’t really need the hassle of having to do shit work to rise up the algorithmic ladder and get jobs for which the client is paying considerably more than what I charge (that’s not me complaining that I’m not getting enough – I set my rates after all – but that the client will be paying way over the odds). So what’s the plan?
Well, figure it out for myself, I guess. Put some ads out, let people know I’m available. Ideally I want to do some more product videos, maybe some Kickstarter voice work, and use my tech background to make complex terminology approachable. That’s the kind of stuff I like to do, so I’m off to try and find it by myself.
Wish me luck!
And of course, if you do want someone with a nice friendly, approachable voice, check my voice profile or play the above voicereel and pop your email address in the box below to say hi, and we can work together, not through a middle-manager.
PS: I bear VoiceBunny no ill will. I think the platform is flawed if you’re outside the US. I think they probably grew too quickly and tried to expand into territories they can’t operate in, because they haven’t found a sensible way of dealing with timezones. I’m sure plenty of people have zero problem with it, so if you’ve used VoiceBunny before, continue using them. I just won’t be stopping by for the foreseeable future.