Over the past decade, I’ve watched the rates for voiceover, and frankly for all professional actors, take a massive dive well below anywhere they should be for this or any profession.
“The Great Repression” certainly had an
In the ‘80’s, when I was still in college (ugh, I said that out loud!), I voiced radio spots for two regular clients for the better part of four years to help pay my way through school. I was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, so a small market. And I didn’t have to record, edit, or God-forbid… write the spots I voiced, as
Fast forward to today, wouldn’t you think 30+ years later, projects like that would be worth more? If you said, “Yes” I happen to agree with you. You’re right. And the union (SAG-AFTRA), who has consistently established the standards that even nonunion work adheres to, does too. The job is worth more! Especially when you consider, the ‘usage’.
‘Usage’ is an industry term
My point is if the average rate for
In this industry, you’re either a professional or you’re not. But don’t assume the shallow end of the pool is equivalent to a shot glass. No matter how you cut it, that’s just bad business to deep-six your rate like that. It undermines your experience, skill
Yet, scores of talent, who are often “just getting started”, lock themselves in the virtual basement when it comes to getting paid for their
- How to get a proper talent agent who would likely afford them 5 to 55 times more than the individual talent would ever get on their own.
- What the project is truly worth, thinking they can “raise their rates at a later date”. To which I have to say, “Good luck with that!” Clients come to rely on the rate you initially gave them, which makes raising your rate incredibly difficult after the fact, especially if you unwittingly low-balled yourself often to the point of losing money.
- They are sometimes unwittingly agreeing to include various production options(such as recording, mixing and editing) all for a flat, sub-standard voiceover rate, typically out of fear of “losing the gig”. (Word to the wise: Clients rarely choose the cheapest rate on anything. That’s Business 101.)
- There’s likely to be more projects to voice in the future (often unbeknownst to the client when they first hire you). The client would have paid a proper rate
had they been prepared for it in advance. tobegin with
Your mission is to have a long and storied career. A career you can support yourself in, provided you don’t frustrate yourself into oblivion.
Bottom line: if you want your voiceover pay to improve I challenge you then, the next time you get a nonunion audition for a national brand, do yourself and every other voice talent a massive favor—Drop an anonymous dime on that job to SAG-AFTRA at (877) 280.6705. When national brands cast nonunion talent it’s very likely they are breaking legal agreements they have made with advertising agencies, the union, production and broadcasters, not to mention commitments to quality work standards that protect all talent and the opportunity to achieve a living wage for their work.
This is more than a challenge. This should be
If you intend to do valuable
Want to know more? Check out www.sagaftra.org/AdsGoUnion #AdsGoUnion
Copyright © 2018 by Kate McClanaghan. All rights reserved.