I had the pleasure of meeting bodalgo.com creator Armin Hierstetter at VO Atlanta this past spring. Known as a VO “rock star”, Armin merits the name due to his take no prisoners approach to the pay-to-play VO game. With his usual refreshing candor, he shares his inspiration for creating bodalgo, the new feature he’s excited about and how he got his nickname. Many thanks, Armin!
How did you first come up with the idea for bodalgo.com?
In 2004, I did my first job as a voice over talent by coincidence. I worked for a publishing company at that time and a colleague who was the publisher of FHM needed a voice for their new TV spot. I asked him: “You always compliment my voice. Why don’t we try me first? If it’s not working out, you can still use a pro.” So we went to the studio and the director said after a few takes: ‘I see that you are not a professional, but if you follow my direction, everything will be fine!”
So I did the job and thought: “Hey, I can do that stuff, too.” How naive. I sent the commercial to every agency in Germany. Not a single one bothered to reply. So I did more research and found online casting websites in English and thought: “There must be something like this in Germany”. There wasn’t.
It took another three years until I finally said: “Ok. There is still not a website like this in Germany. Seems nobody wants to do it. I better do it myself.” And that’s what I did.
Besides the fact that bodalgo is an international P2P site, what else distinguishes you from the other P2P sites in the market right now?
Actually, quite a few things. First is the pricing. If I am not wrong, bodalgo is by far the most attractive online casting website when it comes to membership fees. A yearly membership is 219,90 Euro which converts to around 245 USD.
Also, we do not accept jobs with budgets beyond market standards. The system semi-automatically prevents those jobs from being posted. Plus, every job posted gets approved manually. Of course, it is difficult to find the right balance that works for all markets, but I am sure that the average pay-per job is higher compared to competitors. This also means, though, that we reject jobs, which is a shame as bodalgo already offers fewer job opportunities than others. This is the field I am working on most.
Some P2P sites will allow you membership if you pay the premium fee. Does the same hold true for bodalgo? Or, is there another criterion?
Since the very first day, I personally check each and every new profile. If demos/profiles don’t support the impression of professional work, the profile gets deleted. This might sound harsh, but I do not have the time for endless discussions with amateurs that think that they are God’s gift to the voice over industry. This procedure is described in detail in our FAQs.
There may be some talents of whom you could question their level of professionalism. I have my reasons why these talents still made it on the roster (very unique voice, for example).
Being an international P2P site, are there countries where the demand for VO work is greater than others?
Being based in Germany, a lot of jobs come out of Germany, followed by other European countries. The US is a big market as well for bodalgo, but compared to others, we have not even scratched the surface yet. Still lots of work to do!
Does speaking more than one language increase your work opportunities on bodalgo?
Tricky one. bodalgo has a very strict policy when it comes to bilingual talents. You must not select a second mother tongue if you have not been *raised* bilingual. It is not good enough to simply speak a language very well. You must have been raised and educated in that language to qualify as native. This is the very definition of a native speaker and that’s the level of proficiency a client expects if they request a native talent.
If you are a true bilingual talent, then there are more potential job opportunities.
Tell us about bodalgoCall, the latest function you have introduced on your site.
bodalgoCall is something I am very proud of and exited about. It basically replaces the need for all ISDN solutions and replacements (i.e. ipDTL, SessionLink Pro and SourceConnect) because it is completely free. Why do I give it away for free? Because the financial footprint regarding the service running costs are super minimal and I want to attract industry professionals like audio producers, recording studios and casting directors.
With bodalgoCall you can connect to anybody in the world. This is ideal when clients want to direct the recording session, when radio stations want to do an interview with somebody abroad or you want to call somebody that does not use Skype. With up to 320 kbps bit rate, bodalgoCall makes super high quality audio sessions possible.
There will be lots of for-pay additions to the service in future (video, conferencing, remote recording, etc.) all attractively priced.
How do you see yourself and bodalgo as ministers of change and growth in the voice over community and business?
For bodalgo, a constant growth in job numbers is the primary goal, not marketing towards voice talents. In the long run, I would like to add more relevant services (like bodalgoCall) to bodalgo’s toolbox so that it becomes much more than a simple p2p website.
The changes in the industry over the last decade have shown an incredible shift. New technologies like webRTC (the backbone of services like bodalgoCall) will continue to shake up the market. I embrace those changes and want to help the voice over community in embracing them by making them enjoyable tools we all can benefit from.
Finally – you have deservedly earned the title of “Rock Star” as of late in the VO community. Would you mind telling us how that came about?
It started in March in the aftermath of VO Atlanta’s round table about online casting websites, hosted by J. Michael Collins. My comments, including dropping the f-bomb on fiverr.com, ignited a flood of posts and tweets. It was Marc Scott that tweeted “Watch out for ‘Armin is a rockstar’ t-shirts”. More tweets and Facebook posts followed with “#rockstar” and it quickly became a running gag. I was gobsmacked, flattered and thankful. The overall reactions from Atlanta, WoVoCon and MidWestCon have been one of the best experiences of my life – and I do not say this easily. They also give me inspiration and remind me why I do all of this at times when it’s not so easy.
Armin Hierstetter has been working as a voice over talent since 2004. He founded bodalgo in 2008 for the German market and went international shortly afterwards. To this day, bodalgo is the only platform in the voice over market that fully supports a multi language user interface featuring five languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian and German). Before launching bodalgo, Armin had been working in magazine publishing for two decades, ending his career as Publishing Director of internationally acclaimed men’s magazine FHM. Armin is married and lives with his wife an two daughters in Munich, Bavaria (Germany).