Low-Balling Liability?

by | Sep 17, 2012 | Compensation, Pricing | 4 comments

In this post, I will not name the whistle-blower to protect the innocent.  It is not me who found this site.  That person received the notice (read below) as an email, and asked my opinion.

Over the years, I’ve moved off-center in the debate about the capitalist laissez-faire system of letting the marketplace settle where it will on the subject of rates.  Of course, it will do that anyway, due to economic forces.  But that doesn’t stop me or you from resisting it, and striking back where and when we can for a more sane level of freelance compensation for all the investment we put into our individual businesses.

I’m not entirely of the opinion that the talent unions have the answer either, but at least they’re willing to draw a line in the sand, and sometimes I think that’s what we all have to be willing to do.

I don’t agree with the proposal below, but ultimately, I pass no judgements on the organization’s business plan, nor on those who wish to be a part.  I could be the one in the wrong. Maybe this is the future. But I know that had I been a recipient of this offer, I would’ve politely said, “no”.

Maybe some of you rec’d the same verbiage you see below.  How are you responding?  How WOULD you respond?



Moving along to the final phase of talent selection for ExpressVoices.com.

This is an exciting time and before you dive in, I need to be clear of what I need and expect from you.  Here goes:

All talents must be full time VO professionals who, except for relatively brief amounts of time, are in their home studio daily. We are not looking for air talent that will cut a spot when they get off their shift. This is for full time Voice Talents- Pros. There are going to be occasions that you will be out or on vacation. ExpressVoices must be made aware of these occasions before they occur as far in advance as possible.

Turn around: This is Eastern Time. If you receive work prior to noon, it must be returned prior to 4p. If you receive work between noon and 4p, it must be returned prior to noon the following day or on Monday if received on a Friday. This is a no exception policy. Only you can judge if you can make this work in your time zone, with your other responsibilities. You must not miss a deadline. Should that occur, you may be removed from the roster.

ExpressVoices.com will be built around the very best voices ( you!), and quick service at a low price point. There will be a substantial marketing effort and advertising budget to make the company a success and you hopefully a great deal of money. It is not out of the realm of possibility for you to make four figures a month. Not the first day, but I would expect we will be doing quite well within six months.

Over three hundred talents have expressed a desire to part of ExpressVoices.com. From that number, we are down to fifty or so. The final roster will be between 8-15 men and 8-15 women. These talents must be pros in every sense of the word.

We’re looking for a 60 day initial commitment  after which you give us a thirty day notice if you’d like to move on.

Pay structure:
$20 for a dry :30. One take minimum. Should you wish to supply additional takes that is up to you.

$30 for a dry :60. One take minimum. Should you wish to supply additional takes that is up to you.

$20 for a dry:15 Must give two takes. Should you wish to supply additional takes that is up to you.

$20 for two different dry :10’s One take each minimum. Should you wish to supply additional takes that is up to you. If there is only one :10 the you must supply 2 takes minimum. Should you wish to supply additional takes that is up to you.

$20 for up to 3 different dry :05 tags. One take minimum. Should you wish to supply additional takes that is up to you.

Long form pay will be in 100 word increments- $30 for the first 200, $20 for each 100 or portion thereafter.

What about revisions?  If a spot needs to be redone due to client error, they will be charged. If you make an error, you redo the spot free of charge. There are going to be occasions where you followed the client direction and they are not happy for some reason. You may be asked to redo once at the discretion of ExpressVoices.com for no charge. We’ll keep a look out for abusive clients to make sure this isn’t ongoing.  Hopefully these occasions will be few and far between.

Audio Delivery:
Clean stereo MP3’s
-224kbps @ sample rate of 44100.
-Remove pops, clicks, loud breaths etc.
-All takes on one MP3
-Levels should be no more than -3
-No audio compression, time compression, EQ etc.
-Any edits should be within natural voice cadence regardless of the speed you are speaking (normal pauses etc).  In other words, do not edit things together in an unnatural way.  We should assume clients have no editing ability and will air your audio as is.
-All spots must be recorded at a minimum of .25 under requested time, example; :29.75 for a :30

The quicker you turn your work around, the better job you do, the greater likelihood clients will return to you again and again, often for years and years.

As you are professionals, all of the above will not be difficult. The better your quality control, the more work you will get.

ExpressVoices.com will not choose talent for the client. So, your initial work will be strictly from your commercial demo. It should be around one minute in length and represent your range. It should not include characters or voice effects of any kind or wild production values, whiz bangs and the like. All of those things take away from what the client wants to hear which is your voice and what you can do with the copy. The first spot on your demo should represent what you do best. Your commercial demo should not include promos, narrations, etc.  Commercials only.  I know many of you know all this, please forgive the lesson.

You will be paid monthly.

Please find a piece of :30 copy attached.  Please voice it and return it to this address.

I look forward to hearing you and am excited with the opportunity to work with you!



CourVO Newsletter


  1. Charlotte Ann

    I always try to educate people when i get emails like this. I’ll reply with something like :

    Thank you for your interest in my voiceover services. Unfortunately, my rates do not currently align with yours. My rates are as follows…. As you can see from looking at the Union rates (link), I’m offering a competitive rate. My turnaround times are as follows….. although I always try to turn work around as quickly as possible

    Please remember that when you hire me, you’re not only paying for my voice but also the use of my studio, my editing skills, and my years of training.

    I hope we can work together,

    Of course, most of the time they say that they understand but don’t have the budget at this time….but hopefully when they realize that they need something more than what they’re getting for $20 they’ll call me 😉

    • CourVO

      Charlotte Ann,

      These are great thoughts, and very business-like and diplomatic way to handle a sticky situation.

      Thanks for contributing this!


      Dave Courvoisier

  2. John

    What is the minimum someone new to the field should accept?

  3. Terry

    Yikes, stripes! It would take a very long time to earn a mortgage or a kid’s tuition at $20/spot!


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