…and that’s really the issue.
We’re a universe of individual freelance voice actors who have no cohesion, no unity. We don’t speak with one voice regarding the issue of rates.
WHERE’S SAG-AFTRA WHEN YOU NEED THEM?
Ideally, the union would do/does that for us. But two things mar that vision:
- SAG-AFTRA has never placed a high priority on the concerns of voice-actors
- A good many VO’s want nothing to do with the institutional politics of the union (we’re a bunch of self-supporting, insular entrepreneurs… right?)
The only positive thing the union offers at this point is a rate-sheet. And if ALL voice actors (union and non-union) stuck to those rate thresholds, things would be peachy.
But as is so often stated: “…there will always be someone willing to underbid…”
Luckily, there are also plenty of producers/clients/buyers who WILL pay decent money for good talent.
MUDDLE IN THE MIDDLE
It’s the other 80% — the jumble in the middle — that’s creating the crescendo of current ratings turmoil…and I see it more and more everyday online and at places where voice-actors congregate.
If you get a chance, read this FaceBook thread initiated yesterday by Atlanta-based talent agent Jeffrey Umberger to see where sentiments lie: https://goo.gl/G2Zftk.
Threads like this on social media pop up with infuriating regularity…are vehemently debated…and then nothing really comes of it.
Contributing to the mish-mash:
- a changing media scene unaccustomed to legacy pay scales
- a glut of eager newbies willing to accept “beginner’s pay”
- ever-greedier and manipulative Pay-to-Plays
- the emergence of voice-actors as a commodity
- bidding wars, cattle-calls, Fiverr-type sites
- a lack of a cohesive front on rates in the marketplace
- the disruptive (and democratic) nature of the internet
There’s more of course. I’m oversimplifying. The growing convergence of global bazaar of products and services brings down previously-high pay scales in the USA. You see it in every profession, especially where freelancers are involved.
Here’s an excerpt of an email offer I got yesterday. Maybe some of you got it too.
“Most of the work we do right now airs regionally and is automotive-focused. Our rates are the following (with expected 24-hour turnaround):
- $45 for :15 Pre-roll video
- $80 for :30 TV/Radio
- $150 for :60 radio.”
It’s nice to be wanted. They told me they found me on the internet, and liked my work. They said they thought I’d be a good match for the work they do. That’s flattering.
My response was: “…Thanks for approaching me with this opportunity. Unfortunately, I must decline for now, as the rate you have offered is substantially lower than standard industry rates. As a member of World-Voices Organization, I would be happy to discuss with you what is considered a more acceptable rate for the assignments you quoted…”
WHY WE FOUNDED WoVO
BTW, World-Voices Organization has an entire letter offering a greater argument as to why these rates are insufficient, and why WoVO members are worth more. The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Voice Talent.
In the absence of a greater solution (and admitting that I’m somewhat biased), I believe World-Voices offers the best hope for coalescing around this cause, and getting some results in the long run. We’re gaining members, momentum, and clout. Without breaking confidences, all I can say is that we’re simultaneously working in several crucial areas to talk to the principals who help contribute and control this marketplace. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I think there’s a chance.
However, nothing will work as long as there remains a dedicated population of desperate, low-balling, and un-self-respecting talent undercutting the marketplace.
Make the tough decision.
Saying “NO” is powerful. Having a backbone is essential. Taking the high road really works!
Have a great Father’s Day weekend. It’ll be over 110°F here in ‘Vegas.