sign up for our
NEWSLETTER

Home Shop Subscribe Advertise Articles Directories Classifieds Calendar FAQs Contact Us Login
Pay: Voice Actor / Attorney Fumes At
Online Casting Company's Contract
 
By Rob Sciglimpaglia Jr.
Voice Actor & Attorney
May 3, 2010
 
You were just hired to be the voice for a 30-sec national TV commercial for a new soft drink.
 
This commercial will air all over the country, for YEARS! You are ecstatic!
 
You are contacted by the company producing this spot, and told you have two hours to turn the script around. You record the commercial and send in the file.
 
Then ...
  • The company calls to say you need to re-read it. You do that and send it back.
  • The company calls again and says the client is still not satisfied, so can you please read it once more? Now you are getting a bit frustrated, but you comply.
  • Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, you get yet a THIRD call for a THIRD revision. You do that, although it takes every muscle in your face to deliver the copy with a smile!
Whew, finally they are satisfied.
 
PAY DAY ...?
 
Now, here comes pay day on the first of the month, and what are you paid for that spot that is airing on TV at that very moment?
 
A whopping $55. That’s right, $55!
 
Oh, but WAIT A MINUTE, it’s not really $55, because you owe a 50% commission to the company that sent you the gig.
 
You read that right. I didn’t add an extra zero. I didn’t say five percent. I said FIFTY!
 
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO
 
The above scenario is NOT a nightmare! Not something of my imagination, nor one that I dreamed up.
 
This is a real life scenario from a new company - which I will not name publicly at this point - that is “producing” voice-overs.
 
The above scenario raises the immediate issue in my mind as to how a respectable voice talent could agree to work for such a low rate.
 
And it also makes me scratch my head as to why a talent would do so, and run the risk that they are conflicted from doing a voice-over for a competitor's product while the spot for which they were paid $27.50 is running.
 
Just think about getting called in for a career-breaking audition for a national SAG commercial opportunity from Coca-Cola that will pay thousands of dollars in residuals.
 
And when the auditioner asks, “Do you have any soft drink commercials running?” you answer that indeed you do - the one for which you were paid a measly $27.50.
 
STUDY THE CONTRACT
 
This nightmare gets worse. In fact, it puts the “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequel to shame!
 
I carefully reviewed the rates and contract that is posted on the web site for this company, and it is straight out of the dark ages concerning protection of the rights of the working voice-over artist.
 
I liken it to a SWEAT SHOP for voice talent.
 
Here are some of the highlights, or more aptly, lowlights.
 
THE RATES
 
First, the rates. Mind you, these rates are flat and do not take into account USAGE. So, the rates are the same if you record a commercial that will run in a two-person local market, or nationally.
 
The contract states: “Rates are based on a single purchase with 3 re-reads if necessary.”
Voice Over Rates
15 Seconds $45.00
30 Seconds $55.00
60 Seconds $99.00
90 Seconds $145.00
120 Seconds $195.00
 
Narration Rates 
3-5 Minutes $295.00
5-10 Minutes $500.00
TO BE ELIGIBLE ...
 
The prerequisites to applying to be in this company’s roster include ...
“... you must be able to work from your home or office studio, be able to turn around projects in as fast as 2 hours from the time ordered and be a professional. Compensation is at the sole discretion of the Company and may change upon reasonable notice to Voice Personality …”
So, they can pay you the above little fees IF they want to, less the 50% commission, of course.
 
CONTRACT CONTINUES
“The Voice Personality will provide such reasonable substantiation regarding time incurred in providing services as may be required by Company.”
So, obviously, delivering the file, with up to three re-reads, is not enough “reasonable substantiation” that you actually completed the work.
“Should a client of Company refuse to remit payment for services rendered by Voice Personality due to dissatisfaction with Voice Personality’s work product, the Company shall not be responsible to compensate Voice personality for said services and the Voice Personality expressly waives the right to compensation for said services which are rejected by a client of the Company.”
I am going to try this one next time I go to a restaurant and am “dissatisfied” with my meal.
 
I SUE MYSELF?
 
I personally LOVE this next provision:
“The Voice Personality agrees to indemnify the Company against all liability or loss, and against all claims or actions based on or arising out of damage or injury (including death) to persons or property caused by or sustained in connection with the performance of the Agreement or by conditions created thereby, or based on any violation of any statute, ordinance or regulation, and agrees to indemnify the Company against the cost of defending any such claims of (sic - should say "or") actions.”
So let me get this straight. On top of the company taking half of my $55 for my national voice-over job, I am also agreeing to pay for their attorneys to defend the company in court should something negative happen that causes the company to get sued!
 
Well, that seems fair to me!
 
The more likely scenario is that the company will ask me to do a “celebrity impersonation” or a “product endorsement” which will get ME sued, and then, OOOPS, I agreed to indemnify THEM, and not the OTHER WAY around, so guess I’m on my own for my $27.50 job.
 
NO CLIENT CONTACT
 
But wait, it gets way better:
“Voice Personality agrees that during the term of this Agreement and for a period of 12 months after the termination of the Agreement, he or she will not directly or indirectly solicit the clients, customers or prospective clients or customers of the Company …or in any way connected with any business in competition with the Company in the following locations: North America.”
So, even when I am done not being compensated properly by this company, I am still tied to them for 12 months because I can’t do any direct work for any of those clients who used me as “their voice.”
 
THIS IS PROFESSIONAL?
 
Do the clients hiring this company know that the voice they used to build their brand can be gone at the snap of a finger?
 
Is this really the “service” we wish to provide to our clients?
 
Better yet, is this the company’s definition of being “a professional"?
 
THERE'S MORE ...
 
But we’re just getting started here:
“Time is of the essence with respect to all dates and time periods set forth or referred to in this Agreement.”
So, if you miss the deadline of getting your file back, even if it is only by one second, you:
  • have no right to get paid under this contract,
  • can be terminated from their roster immediately for breach, and
  • any damage that results to them will land you in court (see below).
INTERPRETATION, PLEASE ...
 
Of course, there’s more:
“This Agreement shall be interpreted … in accordance with the laws of the State of New York. Additionally, all parties to this Agreement shall submit to the jurisdiction of the State of New York and agree that proper venue shall lie in Nassau County, New York.”
So, if you get stiffed by this company, even though you agree not to compete with them in the territory where they do business (the entire continent of North America), you will have to hop on a plane and get to Nassau County, NY to collect on your $27.50.
 
Or if you missed your deadline by a second, and that caused the company to be sued by the client for missing a deadline, guess who is going to be on the hook for that?
 
A hint: it is not the company!
 
WHAT A BREACH
 
It gets SOOO much better:
“The parties agree that the remedy at law for any breach or threatened breach by a party may, by its nature, be inadequate, and that the other parties will be entitled, in addition to damages, to a restraining order, temporary and permanent injunctive relief, specific performance, and other appropriate equitable relief, without showing or proving that any monetary damage has been sustained.”
Are you kidding me? So, not only can this company sue you in Nassau County, NY if they think you breached the contract, but they can also slap an INJUNCTION against you as well, requiring you to perform under the contract, or preventing you from competing against this company.
 
IT'S A WRAP ...
 
We’re getting to the finale here:
“Voice Personality agrees not to work for any other voice company using his/her … screen name, at lower rates than the Company currently charges.”
OK, so we not only will work for ridiculously low rates, we will violate the good ole capitalistic notion of competition and make sure that no other companies pop up and undercut these rates.
 
50% COMMISSION
 
And here is the punch line: Compensation.
"The Company will pay Voice Personality fifty percent (50%) in United Stated Dollars of the billed revenues generated by the Voice Personality within the calendar month for all services rendered on a per project basis. Payment to be made on or before the 1st of the following month. The Company reserves the right to adjust Voice Personality's compensation for the prior period billing corrections and bad debt. The Voice Personality will provide such reasonable substantiation regarding projects completed in providing services as may be required by the Company. Voice Personality will provide voice over and/or other production work for no compensation to advertise the Company as set for in exhibit A."
OK, so now, here we go. You will be paid only 50% of your work, and if the company gets stiffed by a client - i.e., bad debt - you won’t get paid either.
 
And you also agree to do free advertising voice-overs for this company, which is taking 50% of your pay!
 
How many voice talent would allow a 50% commission demanded by a talent agent?
 
24-HOUR TERMINATION
 
There is about only one good thing I found in this contract: it can be terminated by either party with 24 hours notice to the other party.
 
I would recommend the talent who are signed up with this place to exercise this option immediately.
 
And I must say I was quite surprised when I perused the roster for this company to see how many well known, “big name” talent who have agreed to all of those above terms.
 
They must not have actually read them. Or else how could they agree to these things?
 
PROTECTING TALENT
 
There is much debate about whether or not one should become a union talent, or whether unions are still necessary.
 
But one thing is for certain: unions exist to protect the talent from the abuses noted above.
 
Granted, unions may have swung the pendulum too much in favor of the Talent.
 
But a contract like the above illustrates why unions came to be in the first place. And it illustrates how the pendulum is starting to swing completely in the other direction.
 
IS THIS THE FUTURE?
 
We are at a critical time, in the very early development of our industry.
 
Let’s face it, the home studio has only been around for a few years, so this industry really is very young.
 
If we can’t police ourselves and figure out what is good for our own profession, and ultimately our own livelihoods, then I am afraid that Companies and Contracts like the above will become the norm in the non-union world, as we're flooded every day with “newbies” who will work for these rates - or even for FREE!
 
I ask you: is this the beginning - or the beginning of the end - of the voice-over profession?
 
 
ABOUT ROB ...
 
Rob Sciglimpaglia Jr. is an attorney with the firm of Kerin & Canty, Norwalk, CT. He is also a voice-over artist, on-camera actor, and owner of All in One Voice – a company specializing in voice-over instruction, demos and business services.
 
Internet Movie Database: http://imdb.com/name/nm2215197
 
 
 
Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success
 
 
Tell Us What YOU Think!
Please Note: Since we check for spam, there will be a slight delay in the actual posting of your comment.
Your Name:
Your Email Address (will not be published):
Your Comment:
Your Comment:
Security code:     
Comments (36)
Dutch Merrick
5/7/2010 at 2:53 PM
I am reminded of why we have Unions to protect our rights, assure reasonable pay and to gain us strength in negotiating contracts.

This contract reads like one from the 1920's, before Employees held the sinister Robber-Barons at bay with pitchforks and scatterguns.

Another byproduct of a dying economic model when the workforce is so desperate for survival that companies like the one in this article can extort labor for next to nothing and with no guarantees and zero worker protections.
Heather Anne Henderson
5/6/2010 at 5:52 PM
Thank you for going into detail about this, legally - even those of us who might have read the fine print carefully might not have understood the nuances and implications.

There was an interesting incident related to this company on one of my voiceover forums, where the company was being discussed in a thread, and twice there came posts that enthusiastically endorsed the company - each post from a user none of us recognized, who had only just that minute registered on that forum!
Moe V
5/5/2010 at 12:05 PM
Nice review and expose of VoiceJockeys.

Just wanted to point out that contracts at other pay-to-play sites and even some all-in-one studio production houses are surprisingly similar to that of VoiceJockeys.

Whether it's the incredibly insultingly low rates of Studio Center and Ear Works, to the lack of protection and talent rights at Voice123 and Voices.com, I wonder who bears responsibility in educating and informing voice talent about these less than ethical responses, so each can make an educated decision.

This post is a great start.
Thank you again.

I'd also encourage all voice talent to close out their accounts on the pay-to-play sites. There's always going to be someone willing to do a spot for $25. Let's just make sure it's not anyone with even a semblance of talent.
Joseph Andrade
5/5/2010 at 11:06 AM
Hi Rob,

Great job! Way to break it all down. I am sure many of the talent that signed with this company were not fully aware of all the fine print and its ramifications. As hard as it is to believe, there definitely is a market for this type of service, however I hope you are able to negotiate something that is fair both sides.

Joseph Andrade
Daniel Wachs
5/5/2010 at 10:01 AM
Great article! I would add that contracts are negotiable. If a company refuses to negotiate at all, I'd be even more wary of dealing with them. If they want you, they will negotiate terms.

I know so many actors that would agree to almost anything in order to get on camera. But this is a classic example of just too much. I always say, "Lincoln Freed the Slaves." I won't accept slave labor terms.
DW
Rob Sciglimpaglia
5/4/2010 at 5:14 PM
Hi Brent. You raise an excellent point. I believe, not only would the IRS have an issue with this contractual arrangement so that they may require the company to withhold taxes, but the Department of Labor may also require this company to pay unemployment contributions for the voice talent because in New York, I certainly believe that voice talent would be entitled to file an unemployment claim against this production company for times when they are not working.

These will be issues that will need to be tested over time, and I believe it will only take a few of these hits before companies with this business model realize they are not charging the proper rates to generate profits.
RS
Brent
5/4/2010 at 4:40 PM
Rob, does signing a contract like this nullify your status as a freelancer and thus make you a de facto employee of the company? This seems to defy the IRS's rules for freelance. If that's the case, the company owes taxes on your employment - yes? (Certain voice-over companies are currently getting away with Draconian contracts such as this.)
Philip Banks
5/4/2010 at 3:14 PM
Here is where most good VOs should be heading - Less for more.

Everyone believes that if they charge less they will get more. Short term this may happen, but in the long term, people need to realise that we are not in a volume business.

The degree of desparation in some people is such that they will do anything to get something, and at the low end of the market producers will merely try to establish how low some people will go.

Do Voiceoverists need saving from an agency such as the one mentioned above? Not really, most need saving from themselves.
Barry Trussell
5/4/2010 at 2:00 PM
Identifying an unscrupulous outfit is fine . . . but the real lesson here is learning to be a responsible voice actor business person and have a meeting of the minds in every single gig you will be considering, and developing the wits on which gigs to pass on and which ones to pursue.

Big thanks to John Florian, too, for this article. Perhaps this is the beginning of a grass roots movement towards higher ethics and/or standards.

Obviously a great topic was hit upon here, and needs further exploration within the community.
CS
5/4/2010 at 12:56 PM
"Our Agreement - We have taken the feedback of those who actually reached out to us directly (and not via a blog), and are taking the neccessary steps to change our agreement to proctect us as well as our talent pool. The new agreement will be rolled out before the end of the week...

"As for Rob's detailed analysis of our current agreement - we would like to thank him (actually, we can't believe he has so much free time)"

Hmm ... they almost managed to come off as reasonable, but even in public trying to ape thanks and contrition, they couldn't manage to avoid getting in some digs.

Given what seem to be ridiculously unreasonable terms of the contract, it was entirely reasonable for people to skip VJs altogether and blog about it rather than solicit VJs.com for changes to their contract.

When somebody starts from what appears to be a deliberately crafted position of unreason, then I'd say there is no reason to assume that company will change its ways in any material way. It will be interesting to see what the new contract will be. Ironically, the current contract is actually better than what seems to be the original version, posted here and dated 2009:

http://www.contactacontractor.com/VJ/JockeySignUp.htm (it was up yesterday when it showed up on Google, but is down as of today).

Among the required services were, er, anything they say:

REQUIRED SERVICES
....3. Any other services enumerated by the Company.

That has been eliminated from the current contract, the one that this blog entry reviewed. So, VJs is capable of removing at least some awful terms from their contract. So I look forward to checking back next week to see what, if any, material changes are made to the contract.

BTW, If VJs are so above board, as they claim, why don't they use their actual names rather than hiding behind the corporate veil? I mean, the mailing address for VJs.com, Inc. is an apartment in Long Beach, NY, so it isn't like this is some sort of corporate juggernaut. Put a face to those claims that they "are not crooks or a business platform of "evil-doers," then folks might be more inclined to believe them (er, or not).

--IMO.
Steven
5/4/2010 at 12:47 PM
You should all have Google alerts set up for yourselves because you work online.

It is a great way to find when someone has taken your web link and used it for another website or a ringtone for a cell phone.

As for this website ... telling someone online they 'have to do something' breeds instant rebellion, so this will be an after thought by the end of the summer.

Just remember working online, you do it yourself, so read everything and stay street smart!

Peace,
Steven

ps- The budgets...disgusting.
VoiceJockeys.com
5/4/2010 at 12:34 PM
Agian - we invite all the readers of this thread to collect their thoughts and share them with us at support@voicejockeys.com.

We are not crooks or a business platform of "evil-doers." In fact, we are quite the opposite. We are actually looking forward to working with ALL of you in reshaping our industry in alignment with the changing times. By coupling your feedback with our marketing ability, we can work together to create a mutually beneficial service for cleints.

We are happy to take your constructive comments and align the goals of our site with those goals of our users.

Thanks Again,
VoiceJockeys
Alix
5/4/2010 at 12:20 PM
Now I know why I hate reading the fine print! Scary. Great article.
BP Smyth, Narrator
5/4/2010 at 12:14 PM
Rob,

Thank you for your investigation and description of this outrageous company. Last week I received an email invitation to join them. I read a portion of the talent "agreement" and promptly deleted the invite.

I certainly pray this is not going to be a trend set in our profession. Times are tough for most voice talent in today's economy. And, with the popularity of home studios today it seems that every Tom, Dick, Harry and Sally have entered the V.O. profession, making competition even more fierce.

I am amazed at the increase in low quality commercial advertising on both radio and television these days. God help us.
VoiceJockeys.com
5/4/2010 at 11:50 AM
The community has spoken and we are glad to take your feedback, both negative and postive. We would like to address the issues one at a time and invite responses from all.

Our Pricing - Yes, the prices we charge consumers is low. So low, that it may not be worth it for some of you. We understand that, and can appreciate it. We hope to bridge that gap by providing our voice-over artists with an abundance of work throughout the month.

Our Agreement - We have taken the feedback of those who actually reached out to us directly (and not via a blog), and are taking the neccessary steps to change our agreement to proctect us as well as our talent pool. The new agreement will be rolled out before the end of the week.

As far as the inferrence of Jocks being listed without their permission - that is totally not true whatsoever. We maintain a database of IP addresses, Date Time stamps, tax forms, etc.

Again, we understand the concern from the voice-over community and we are looking forward to working together to make intelligent changes that the industry talent calls for from time to time.

Please understand that there IS a market out there of clients that can not afford the high rates charged by some voice-over talent, and for them is the reason that we exist.

No one is forced to join our site, and we would hope that voice artists would welcome the extra work in their downtime.

As for Rob's detailed analysis of our current agreement - we would like to thank him (actually, we can't believe he has so much free time). Rob has opened our eyes and opened up dialogue throughtout the industry that will allow us to work closer with all of you and create an environment where we can work together on improving niche products like those offered on our site.

Thank You,
VoiceJockeys.com
Jerry
5/4/2010 at 10:17 AM
You ought to bill this shameful outfit for services rendered for putting this article together - and split the proceeds 50% with your fellow VO talent. Thanks, Rob!
Bob Jordan
5/4/2010 at 9:32 AM
Hi Robert,

Your analysis of this company's contract is superb! Thank you for exposing the truth and sharing it with fellow voice actors. Your legal expertise is much appreciated!
jennifer dixon
5/4/2010 at 9:28 AM
Thanks Rob! What an eye opener. Is there any way of learning which company this is? It is a disgrace to our VO community and sad to know that well- known talent are considered part of it. Sheer greed !! UGH Thanks again for the heads up.
Karl von Loewe
5/4/2010 at 9:21 AM
Rob, that's pretty shocking stuff. I kept looking for an April 1 date or the name Loof Lirpa (April fool spelled backwards), but to no avail. What's the old saying? If you read the fine print in a contract it's an education, if you don't, it's an experience.

Thanks for exposing the b******s.
Karl
Marcus Weems
5/4/2010 at 9:15 AM
What can I say? It was late at night ... I was feeling the need to voice … Nothing else was clicking at the moment ...God forbid, I even went as far as putting a presence on the auction site.

But, now that you mention it, this does seem rather ludicrous and does sound a bit predatory and smacks of desperate people taking desperate measures. But on the other hand you don’t pay UNLESS YOU’RE PAID! Nothing is going out of pocket unless something’s going IN your pocket. No chunk ‘o change up front, no monthly drip to feed the need. Okay, so maybe I’m an addict.

At the time, I had just deleted HUNDREDS of previous auditions from the major PAY for PLAY sites’ archive files and was not relishing the fact that in 16 months, the only jobs I had gotten were obtained by the sweat of my brow and through my own emails, efforts, and gumption. Nothing - not one gig - after well over a year with the big three. FULL TIME.

Does this make me a BAD Voice Over artist? Incompetent? Dull-witted? Or have I just been going about it the wrong way?

Right now I have gone back to square one and I am taking the VO biz seminars from Harlan Hogan and Dan O’Day to discover where I may have misstepped and to discern what I may have missed along the way. I am also studying all about the Social Media and learning how to weave that magic web into a flying carpet that will take me to the stars (or at least to the Land of Paying Gigs.)

I can only assume that in my cleaning-disk funk that I may had grown a little bit weary, little bit put out, and, okay, a little desperate. Well, these odious options were additional alternatives and seemed plausible and like good ideas at the time.

FINE! So if I pick myself up, dust myself off, flee the paddock and get myself expunged from this race for the brass microphone and take myself off the auction block, can I redeem myself, and will I still have the ability to be perceived as a VO Professional? Will my impetuousness be forgiven if I Voice Forward and agree to sin no more?

If you’re interested, I’ll keep you posted on my new and improved hopey-changey thing. I’m on ALL the sites. www.MarcusWeemsVoiceOvers.Com
Keith Michaels
5/4/2010 at 8:52 AM
The company is voicejockeys.com There ... I said (wrote) it. I guess I'll wait for the C&D.

Justin Hibbard
5/4/2010 at 2:43 AM
Hello, Rob. Many thanks for bringing such obscene, insulting "companies" such as this one to light.

As I'm lifting my lower jaw from the floor in utter astonishment at this "contract," I'm left wondering how ANY SERIOUS, PROFESSIONAL voice artist with ANY self dignity could give this "contract" more than a cursory, 10 second read before hitting DELETE.

We as professional voice artists must STOP treating ourselves as commodities (i.e., just another tube of toothpaste) and START respecting and treating ourselves as the PROFESSIONALS that we are. We deserve better.

We must educate those who are entering this industry that undercutting is only undermining our craft - AND our livelihoods. We MUST STOP UNDERSELLING OURSELVES! This is a craft. And we are NOT COMMODITIES! Best of luck to all of you. Thanks again, Rob.

JUSTIN HIBBARD - JustTheVoice Imaging & Productions - Los Angeles
Trish
5/4/2010 at 1:35 AM
DC's right: a few of the bigger names that were listed did NOT sign up on the site, nor give consent to be listed, making the site creators LIARS, as well.

Rob, for that alone, there must be some some sort of action that can be taken for those talent, right?

I think this site was found out so quickly due to an email they sent out to recruit talent. I've received a few of these emails and several colleagues have, as well. But you're right - t's NOT the first of its kind. In fact, it's almost an exact replica of a site that has been around for a few years, it's just been under the radar so far and (only) takes a 35% commission but charges almost the exact rates this new site does so the talent gets paid a LITTLE more. Pfft.

There's also one company out there that is paying $10 per :30, and has been cranking out 200 spots a DAY with a roster of only 20 or so talent. Some of the talents on these sites are making THOUSANDS a month.

How do I know this? I was (briefly) one of them. Early in my career, that extra grand or so a month was keeping me alive. But I quickly understood the clientele for those sites: When they don't want to pay professional rates, they're not professionals themselves. Terrible copywriting, untimed copywriting - meant revisions revisions, revisions. Lesson learned.

"Talent" that don't have the drive to make themselves better stay in places like this and are happy for the volume. It's sad but it is out there. We really just have to ignore them. I really am not worried as long as the rates reflect the talent, which they apparently do here.

Albert said it: "I don't know anyone on the site" ... and we probably never will.

Barry Trussell
5/4/2010 at 1:23 AM
Rob, Thanks for the great information.

This is an excellent lesson in actually reading the contract. Know what you are getting into.

Voice Actors: like any other business person, if you're not into the details, then hire the professional who can advise you. And please, stay away from that place, I am. I Googled them, too, and it comes right up.
Daniel Wallace
5/4/2010 at 1:14 AM
Wow! Unbelievable. Thank you Rob, for keeping us informed.
Tom Dolan
5/4/2010 at 1:08 AM
Hey Rob,

Thank you for investing so much time, as you've done previously, for the good of the VO community. It seems that the agency in question is known to some of the readers. I'm not suggesting you endanger yourself, but there must be some way for the rest of us to identify this repulsive agency so we may, each in our own way, add to their negative publicity ... and screw them.
Albert Berkshire
5/3/2010 at 5:20 PM
I feel for those who not only need that $27.50, but those who need to go this route to gain exposure and experience. But as a writer-producer, I would never hire a talent via a company like this. Not because the talent doesn't deserve the work, but because the company doesn't deserve their share.

On the upside, any sensible talent who reads this will be out of their agreement within 24 hours.

At least one would hope.

I don't know anyone who is listed on the site, but I sent a link to this article to everyone I know in the business.
Dan Brantley
5/3/2010 at 5:11 PM
Thanks Rob,
I couldn't get past the 50% commission to even read the contract. And evidently, looking at the name of the site, voice artists are the horses and the site is the jockey, riding the talent into the ground.
DC Goode
5/3/2010 at 4:51 PM
BTW: Some of the "Big Names" on the site did NOT sign up. Their names, etc. were put on the site WITHOUT their permission.
DC Goode
5/3/2010 at 4:48 PM
Rob,
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! AND Thanks to VoiceOverXtra for publishing this.

We have been thrashing this site on the boards last week and addressing all the things you have brought to light ,but to have your expertise is MUCH appreciated!

We all know this site is not the only one of it's kind, but the more of them we can send packing, the better.
Regards, dc
Hélčne Janover
5/3/2010 at 3:30 PM
Thanks, Rob, for your analysis - and Dave for the method. I'm in shock and not in shock at the same time. These ridiculous business practices seem to be appearing daily. What's a poor VO girl to do?

That's a serious question. Does anyone think there a way that we as voice actors can create a kind of legitimacy gang to keep these kinds of things at bay?

I'm always happy to share info I find on any aspect of our work with my fellow voice actors, but is there a way we can get more pro-active? I know Mahmoud Taji has the list of scams going and I suggest everyone keep that in their view. Is this something SAVOA might be interested in championing? Or is this something that SAVOA does that I'm not even aware of? And that's the point. We need to educate ourselves, keep each other informed and do what we can to maintain some integrity in these new markets.

It's not just that everyone is losing money on the deal. It's bigger than that. There's a sense that our art and craft is just losing the prestige and respect it deserves. And that is heartbreaking and somewhat frightening. I think of the immeasurable talent out there and it just really makes me sick that the public perception is funneling into these kinds of models.
Amy Snively
5/3/2010 at 3:26 PM
Brilliant analysis, Rob! I am absolutely stunned that they've been able to get any actors on their roster with these rates and this oppressive contract. That aside, being seen on this sad, tacky roster knocks any talent's perceived value into a ditch.
CS
5/3/2010 at 2:38 PM
@David Menashe

I'm not sure why Rob doesn't wish to name the site. Legal reasons? Decorum? Either way, the site is easy to find, just Google a sentence of the contract in quotes and it will come right up.

And I just want to reiterate my amazement at the, IMO, unconscionable breadth of the no-compete clause. Not only can't you solicit any of "the Company's" clients or **potential** clients (anybody who buys or may buy voice-overs) for voice-over work, you can't solicit those companies for **any** reason, directly or indirectly. The clause is not limited to voice-over work!!!!!
Jack Dennis
5/3/2010 at 2:36 PM
I couldn't agree with you more, Rob. The P2P sites, like this one, are nothing more than vultures preying on the desperate. The good news is, once the suckers who sign up and get burned reach the point of frustration and quit, it forces buyers back to legitimate agents, talent and rates. I see this as an adjustment period. Then again, street whores and pimps have been doing business for a very long time. Don't get me wrong. I only work the high class joints.
jd
CS
5/3/2010 at 2:12 PM
Wow, this is one of the worst contracts I've seen in any field. Amazingly bad. This contract should be trumpeted on every VO, acting and IP website.

Though IANAL I think this contract is even worse than you noted. The 12-month no-compete clause doesn't just mean you can't contact clients whose accounts you worked on:

"The Voice Personality agrees that during the term of this Agreement and for a period of 12 months after the termination of the Agreement, he or she will not directly or indirectly solicit the clients, customers or ******prospective****** clients or customers of the Company in any form or
manner..."

It means you can't can't work for **anybody** doing voice-overs, since they are all possible "prospective" clients of "the Company."
David Menashe
5/3/2010 at 1:31 PM
Thanks for the enlightening article Rob. As you don't name the offending company, we are left to guess who it could be. Can anyone name and shame these wicked advantage-takers? Or are we likely to get sued for even naming these alleged crooks?
Back to Articles
With Sean Daeley and Paul Stefano - check it out!
Inspiring interviews help your VO career
Terry Daniel and gang - lotsa info and laughs!