“Broadcast” (Radio & TV) compensation rates seemed set in stone for years. That’s because for decades there was relative stasis in the industry. Broadcast was a cash cow that benefited most everyone involved…including freelance voice-actors.
Even though many voice actors back then (or now) were not union members, AFTRA expected it’s members to hold to the line on it’s published broadcast rates. It was a threshold of pay that still sets a standard today.
Those familiar with the broadcast status quo understand the formula that goes into calculating rates for Radio and TV. It includes length of play of the spot in the marketplace, size of the marketplace, type of spot, length of spot, and geographic distribution (those are the biggies…other criteria can come to bear). Again this is BROADCAST rates. Radio and TV.
ENTER THE INTERNET
But not just the internet. Mobile devices too. Tablets. Smartphones. Cultural changes in the expectation of instantaneous delivery. Big band-width. Innovation and optic fiber.
Even the most successful broadcast operations have known for years that a big change is in process. The term “broadcast” now assumes a different complex…a different character (think NetFlix, Amazon Prime, Roku). While Radio and TV will likely survive the digital revolution better than most print publications, there’s no doubt the delivery mechanism for broadcast will have a new meaning going forward. New masters will own the word, and they are NOT familiar with broadcast rates.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR VOICEOVER
Probably more opportunity. Probably declining rates…unless.
At WoVOCon, a prescient Matt Cowlrick called an impromptu session to consider the changing landscape of new jobs being offered and the associated compensation rates. Cowlrick saw evidence in the verbiage appearing in the fine print on contracts, and noticed a disturbing trend. His misgivings have now infected an entire tribe of WoVO members and that’s why I’m bringing word to you too.
Interestingly, within days of WoVOCon, attendee and pro member Johnny George posted the real-world evidence in an online FB group. Here’s what he said:
Thank goodness Matt did a Breakout Session on RATES this past weekend at WoVO Con II. The YouTube snake has raised it’s head. Please read what a client sent me. What would you do?
Attached is a script for a 90-second spot (not a hard 90), a 30-second spot (again, not a hard 30), and a 15-second spot (needs to be within 15-seconds). So there are three spots in total.
Please let me know what the price will be for the three different spots. The 90 will be featured on the client’s website, and the 30-second and 15-second will be used as digital ads on Facebook & YouTube.
So, I told him I would have to discuss this since the business model for YouTube has changed with these videos being pre-rolled on any video that could get 100 or 1,000,000+ impressions and thus, more costly for usage.
Just yesterday, another WoVO pro presented a conundrum over wording being offered in a contract that included the term “in perpetuity”. Because of Cowlrick’s session, he balked at signing the contract. He admitted it hurt, but also knew that we as freelance voice actors have to start bringing this to the attention of producers, agents, bookers, and other clients. The time is now to stand ground.
YouTube is one of the red flags in this new world. Certainly you’ve noticed the “pre-rolls” that are attached to popular YT videos? Those are ads. They are seen by thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions for a REALLY viral video. That’s broadcast. That deserves a pay scale commensurate with broadcast rates of old. We have to tell them!
- Be aware of distribution.
- Ask questions…especially metrics about reach, and viewership and exposure.
- Where will your voice be heard?
- Beware of open-ended wording that is murky about re-purposing your voice on one ad into another medium – beyond the original intent.
- Keep an eye out for words like “image cycles” and “impressions”.
- Promoted YT videos especially deserve scrutiny for possible (traditional) broadcast rates.
- Your invoice should include the phrase: “extra usage must be specified”.
- Social Media (New Media) is just that: MEDIA. Don’t be fooled by the nomenclature!
I asked Matt to comment on this topic for today’s blog. Here are his thoughts:
HAVE THE CONVERSATION
It’s not all bad. Many producers are onto this change. They can be fair-minded, but some are not thinking in the terms WE think. We have to open the dialog. Raise the question. Show the logic.
Matt also offered this addendum: