I recently had the opportunity to try out a fairly new service called Voicezam, and wanted to share my experiences with it.
Voicezam was created by former agency producer Bob Merkel after he kept getting frustrated having to listen all the way through talent’s demos to maybe hear the one demo spot he was looking for. It’s a well known fact that casting directors rarely listen to an entire demo, usually only making it through the first 20 seconds before they’ve made a yes or no decision. This can be a bad thing if your demo features lots of different sounds, or if the sound they’re looking for happens to be towards the end. VoiceZam combats that by giving voice talent the ability to split their demo into separate tracks, and provides a customizable demo player that can be embedded in any website or sent as a link through email. You can see mine in action on the right hand sidebar on my website!
What’s great about the player and sets it apart from other audio players is that it works seamlessly on both regular and mobile (switches between HTML5 and Flash) sites, it includes all your contact info & agency representation links, and shows a Facebook like button and social media links. You can easily add and edit tracks, giving them custom names that describes them. For example, if a client is considering me for a kid project, rather than having to listen to my whole demo to wait for the kid voice track, a client can quickly see that I have a “child voice” track and click directly on that. They can also see right away what other sounds I have by looking at the titles. I can see how that will come in handy, because there have been times a client has asked me “can you match the sound you did at 1:40 in your demo?” And then I have to go back and listen to it so I know what they’re referring to. It’d be much easier if they can just name the track! The tracks are played at 192kbps (CD quality), and there’s the ability for clients to download tracks if they wish. I also love that it gives you customizable colors, so you can make it match your site design, and it gives you a personizable link with your name, like LaciMorgan.voicezam.com that you can share. In my opinion, this is MUCH more professional to send to a client than just a generic website link, or (worse) sending them to your voices.com profile, where they might be able to go seek other talent.
So how easy is it to use? Well, when you log in to VoiceZam, it takes you to a page where you can access tutorials on how to use the system. It was fairly easy to customize my player and add reads. For me, the hardest part was figuring out how to embed the player in my website. There’s a tutorial on how to add the code to your website, but the problem is that there are LOTS of different types of websites. Mine is a WordPress template that I’ve customized, and I’m still learning how to manipulate code to make it do what I want it to. The instructions say to add a line of code to the <head> section of each page, but I had no idea where to find that in WordPress. It took a lot of trial and error adding it to various places until I finally saw the player appear. (The technique that finally worked was using a plugin called “Add to Head” that gave me the ability to edit the <head> on each page). Luckily, Bob tells me that they have a dedicated WordPress plugin on the horizon that will make this very simple, so this probably won’t be an issue for much longer. Yay! If you are familiar with editing code or have a friend who can navigate your website well, they may be able to set it up for you quickly.
The other issue I ran into was uploading a second demo. When you first sign up, you send VoiceZam one demo file, and they separate the tracks for you and create your player. The site advertises that you can also upload more demos (like if you want both a “Commercial Demo” and “Character Demo” for example) for free, but I did not see a “Create a New Demo” link anywhere. There is a “Add a New Read to a Demo” link on the main page, but that makes me think it’s just adding a track to an existing demo. When I asked Bob Merkel about this, he told me that the “Add a New Read to a Demo” page is the correct place. You simply select a different demo type (like “Character” instead of “Commercial”), upload a track, and it will create a new demo. I expressed to him that this was quite confusing, and he said that they would work on thinking of a better way to word it so that it’s clearer. I’d also suggest that they take out the line about “This page is ONLY used for uploading individual reads…” because that’s what confused me the most. Perhaps they can change that wording to “If you would like our engineers to process a demo for you instead, use the Submit Demo link.” Once you are familiar with the uploading process, though, it’s pretty easy to get all your demos up.
I do have to say that I was very impressed with VoiceZam’s customer service. Bob really seems to enjoy what he does, and wants to make VoiceZam the go-to standard way to present voiceover demos. He really takes concerns and suggestions to heart, and tries to incorporate them. Plus, he seems like a genuinely nice guy, which I always like to support!
VoiceZam gives you a free 15 day trial, and includes all the bells and whistles, like the customizable demo player with the ability to upload as many demos as you wish. After your free trial ends, you can keep using VoiceZam for $8.95 a month. This includes all the features of the player and demo system, but if you want to take advantage of extra features like Zamtistics (marketing data that tells you how often each of your tracks are played, which can be helpful in evaluating your most successful demo order), Straight Shot (targeted email marketing), ZamFusion (a targeted player that you can send), or demo uploading services, those are an additional fee. See VoiceZam’s site for more info.
Overall, it seems like a great service, and I think it will help me with my marketing. I like knowing that the demos I send out to clients look and sound professional, and I think that the embedded, matching player on my site adds another level of professionalism that clients will appreciate.
However, for my fellow voice talents who might be interested in trying VoiceZam, I’ve managed to arrange a special deal for you! When you sign up, use promo code “LUV2VO” and you’ll receive a $5 credit after your first payment. Enjoy! Hope it brings you lots of job opportunities!