For us, the internet is disrupting most all the of the media channels that had been enjoying money-growing-on-trees status: TV, radio, music, publishing, photography, classified ads and more.
An equal or even greater number of digital enterprises are picking up the slack creating talent opportunities, but with a few exceptions, pay scales are not keeping pace.
Still, the ingenuity and innovation are impressive, and the sheer volume of growth in this realm may be the saving grace to offset falling compensation rates.
I was flattered to be contacted by Peter Stacho a couple of weeks ago. He’s a digital whiz-kid…a UX designer and architect. His LinkedIn page includes the fact that he designed mission-critical video production systems for the CNN television networks.
Peter found me because he noticed I was a writer AND a voice-actor, and he wanted my opinion on his new brain-child. SPEAKPAGE.
The elevator-speech on SpeakPage is:
“SpeakPage makes it easy for online content providers to create or request professional, navigable narrations that can be embedded onto any webpage with our customizable audio player & markers. Allowing readers to consume the entirety of your content, even if they’re busy multitasking with other apps, operating heavy machinery, or just checking up on all of those pressing status update. Use SpeakPage to monetize your existing traffic & content, increase engagement, and improve accessibility.”
Stacho and his partner (former Google web developer Quniton Pike) have done their homework. They’ve surveyed their potential marketplace, and done no small amount of research on feasibility, target clients, and return-on-investment. From our first conversations I was impressed with Stacho’s consideration of the voice-actor’s perspective on the issue of rates; a topic that is dear to us all, but especially in the cross-hairs of WoVO these days.
Stacho had done some due diligence on Pay-to-Plays, and took note of the stinging debate online regarding sinking compensation rates for voice actors. I was impressed to meet an outsider who understood our plight.
Still, my heart sunk when I visited their website, and saw in bold letters that one of their main selling points was that their narration pricing was 2 cents/word.
I know. Even beginner audiobook narrators can muster better rates than that. I tried to tell Stacho that I didn’t think I could endorse his efforts with SpeakPage, because it was more of the same undercutting of reasonable pay for professional voice work.
Still, Stacho’s even-tempered responses to me had many positive elements: In one of our email exchanges he wrote: “…We’re getting rid of the auditions & bidding all together, and bringing our voice talent on board for $100 per hour of finished audio. The articles are quick and easy to read, we’ve been able to cut the editing time in half, and the retainer guarantees there will be work coming week after week…”
Part of Stacho’s justification of the $100/hour rate being reasonable is that many voice actor spend multiple hours auditioning for NO pay. At least, he says, this is a guarantee of $100/hr in a no-bid repeating job. If nothing else, you would get paid for practicing on someone else’s copy.
I will say their coding work on SpeakPage is excellent. The site is clean and fast. You could compare Speakpage to a sort of SoundCloud for the spoken word. With their system, you can annotate your sound files with markers. The markers generate the playback icons for use on your website.
You may have noticed my blogs of last week, VOICEOVER RED STATES, BLUE STATES, and Pudding Proof FAILURE, as well as this blog today, include the SpeakPage embed-code of my recording of the articles. I used to use Audioboom or SoundCloud. SpeakPage is faster and easier.
I still believe the scale is low. But it may be just the ticket for someone starting out? WoVO is actively pursuing a program of educating its members to accept this sort of rate only with open eyes. Continued acceptance of lower and unrealistic rates will only lead to continued lower and unrealistic rates. Formal endorsement of a .02/wd rate would be against WoVO’s best practices.
And yet, my hat goes off to the savvy enterprising innovation Stacho and Pike have designed in to SpeakPage. It’s not just a shiny new digital toy, it’s a well-conceived fit into a digital space that clearly needed a solution. SpeakPage is definitely one to watch.
Here is the link for signing up as a new narrator: http://goo.gl/forms/84FqEhCa0H
If you’d like to reach the SpeakPage founders, scroll down all the way to the bottom of their home page, where you will see a link to email them, or to sign up for their beta program.