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Let's talk about rates. More specifically the 'race to the bottom.'

This is something that I'm seeing in the P2P sites. Your voices.com, voice123, etc. Most of the 'pay to play sites.'

In the world of voiceover there's Union and Non-Union voice work. For this posting I'm only going to be talking about non-union as those posting UNION jobs pretty much adhere to the rates dictated by SAG-AFTRA.

Clients seem to be looking more and more to hire voice talent at rates that are WAY below industry standards (again, non-union). The blame can easily placed on the clients but the blame NEEDS to go to the sites themselves and another group which I'll get to in a little bit.

They (the sites) are the ones providing the rates to clients. And if I had to guess, I'd say 50% of these clients don't necessarily know what rate to charge. So what do they do? They default to what companies like voices.com tell them. I can't tell you how many plumbing companies, small financial companies or mom-and-pop manufacturers post a job that needs voice over only to be looking to pay a FRACTION of what it actually SHOULD be. And, yeah, they could do their homework but the nature of their operations makes hiring a VO talent one of the last tasks they think of in the marketing process of their company or project so they rely on the site that's the 'expert' to tell them (roundabout) what they should be paying someone to provide voice for their video or commercial.

And this is where the P2P sites are failing. For instance, here's the rate voices.com has for a worldwide commercial. Assuming this is for Over The Top digital streaming, this is WAY too low for this type of usage.

The minimum for this type of usage, per the GVAA non-union suggestions (the standard for non-union rates typically), is $2700. Just a WEE bit off there, right?

And it makes sense. If you're streaming a commercial to a worldwide audience you're theoretically reaching 3 billion pairs of eyeballs. Even conservatively, that reach is in the hundreds of millions. Is it fair to only be paid $400 for that? Would an actor in a live-action commercial be okay with that? The answer, my friend is 'no,' 'nyet, 'negatory,' again, 'NOOOO!'

To be clear, voices.com isn't the only site to get this wrong but they are the biggest and therefore the most front and center.

So, are they to blame?

Yes, but.... So are the voice actors! More specifically, the new voice actors.

I know this because I was in that category at one point. When you're new to the game and you see a job posted for a 30 second TV commercial, 15 second radio commercial, 2 minute explainer, whatever and the pay for the job is $400-$700, that looks like a lot of money for not a lot of work. And it KIND of is, but it doesn't factor in the VALUE of the service, the usage of the project, the time it takes to record and the skills used to excecute the performance.

The old saying 'A rising tide lifts all boats' applies here. If every voice actor, new or veteran, only accepted at or above standard industry rates, we will all win. If more actors did what I do with an audition and charged what the industry rate is, we'd ALL be seeing more jobs posted for more money.

And, look, I get it. Not every client has the budget to hire someone at the standard rate. But what will ultimately happen is they'll end up hiring someone who's not very good, at a low rate, and after a while they'll begin to realize that if they want a quality voice for their project, they'll have to pay a fair rate to do so.

But if things keep going the way they are on P2P sites, there will be no reasonable and fair pay for projects. We'll all be auditioning for a worldwide spot for a major brand and accepting $200 for a 10 year buyout.

But what do we do about it?

Easy.

When quoting a rate on the project, defer to the GVAA rate guide for non-union voice over.

For instance, if a job posted on voices.com says 'ad, online, worldwide, 1 year' and they're budget is $700, you quote for $8100. THAT'S the bottom number from GVAA and THAT'S the going rate. If they can't afford that, then they can move on and hire someone who IS willing to do it for $700. Obviously, there's wiggle room there too. If the potential client is looking to do long term work with you, then maybe you can do a lower number for them. It's malleable as long as it's at least in the ballpark.

Yeah, you probably won't book as many of these jobs but what you don't make right now will ulttimately benefit you (AND US!) in the long run.

And if you're saying 'but P2P is my main source of VO revenue,' then you need to diversify your voiceover plan because doing JUST P2P is not the answer. SOME people do make a ton of money on them but most of us need everything from P2P to our agents to cold calling/email marketing.

I know I sound a little ranty here but I'm honestly fed up with seeing jobs that should be paying a lot more being posted for a sliver of what they should actually be.

Again, charge what the job is worth and not what what your eyes think is a lot. Yes, $200 for a 5 minute non-broadcast narration seems like easy money, but you're making it hard on the guy who charges the correct rate of $450.

Look, this business is competitive enough. We don't need to be competing with deflated rates as well.

Get that bid higher (or at least to a fair rate) and we'll all be racing to the top.

Friday May 24th, 2024
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