Remember Your First VO Job?

by | Aug 29, 2016 | Compensation, Rates Roundtable | 1 comment

first-dollar-frame-smNow…do you remember what you got paid for it?

I do:  $25…and I was on cloud nine!

Would l do that same job today for that rate? 

No way. 

Then would I have gotten the experience if I HADN’T TAKEN the $25?

Probably not.

This is ever the predicament of the creative freelancer (voice-actors photographers, writers, web authors, etc.). 

The quandary follows this logic:

  1. The newcomer cannot reasonably command the compensation rates of a seasoned pro, so accepts a lower rate to get experience
  2. In doing so, the newcomer establishes a scale that:
    a) becomes the standard for that client (hard to later move UP)
    b) tends to hurt expectations of pay for that type of work for other voice-actors (who may be more experienced)
  3. This creates a friction for those in Voice work between those just seeking work, vs. those who see VO as a career
  4. This confusion in the marketplace — coupled with an already unstable internet disruption — is a climate that clients can capitalize on to drive VO compensation down.

Complicating factors:

  • P2P’s, or Pay-to-Plays that force voice-actors into a commodity status, bidding against each other (always downward)
  • coaches who constantly woo more starry-eyed hopefuls into the business
  • unscrupulous promotional come-ons that would have you think voice-acting is quick, easy, and profitable
  • SAG-AFTRA union indifference to the voice-over landscape
  • unprepared newbies who jump into the fray without doing their homework
  • an East/West Coast ethic that is at odds with a “flyover state” mindset

Many professional VO’s believe the above is a lot of hand-wringing for nothing. 

“Find your own barometer”. 
“Decide your own individual value, and stick to it”. 
“Let the Free Market dictate”. 
“There will always be bottom feeders”. 
“There will always be responsible clients who pay good money for good talent”

If any part of this issue interests you, and you would enjoy following a discussion about it between newcomers and pros…then I invite you to visit here tomorrow to view an hour long WoVO-sponsored “Rates Roundtable” on just these topics.


Joe Murphy
Kyle Sauerhoefer
Paul Stefano
Marc Scott
Katherine Curriden
Marisha Tapera
co-hosts Dave Courvoisier & Anne Ganguzza

Names you don’t recognize?  Believe me, each panelist has impressed me with their understanding of these issues.  I believe it’s an hour that promises to bring knowledge-bearing dividends to us all.




CourVO Newsletter

1 Comment

  1. Howard Ellison

    Sure do remember the first, as with other life experiences. The gig arrived through a P2P but the pay was mid-range and I feel sure there was no top slicing: that hadn’t crept in.

    It was a read of Jack & The Beanstalk for a Microsoft promo. No script, so I raced off down the hill to the library. Had to rewrite, of course, to respect copyright. Didn’t occur to me to ask for additional creative fees! But, oh the buzz of getting that first gig – it’s so affirmative when someone actually wants to pay for what you do, and thanks you nicely for the result. After that you have to get hard headed and set a bottom line. Took me a while, I admit.

    Over here in a far rural corner of UK, not an agent or coach in sight, it’s not likely I would have survived without that first break, or indeed developed, without the pressure of competition and varied challenge. So I have a debt of gratitude to the ‘cattle market’ – in the same way as comedians get their stripes travelling the clubs. That said, I strongly appreciate the work of yourself and WoVO colleagues in establishing standards and in particular transparency both sides of the mic.


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