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Dance With Them That Brung Ya!
(Don't Sneak Around Who Hired You)

December 6, 2016

By Kenn Delbridge
Sound Designer, SPLiCE Studios

Human psychology is fascinating - watching how people react in a group where ranking is involved makes for great soap opera.

The scenario I’m most interested is who hires the voice talent and how that affects the session.

There are potentially four different entities that would be responsible for hiring a voice:
  • Client
  • Agency
  • Production Company
  • Studio (i.e. us!)
The overriding rule that you, the voice talent, have to remember is that "You dance with them that brung ya”- an old Texan saying about loyalty.


Remember who hired you. If you forget this rule, chances are you’ll lose future work.

If the client hired you, it means you’re untouchable in the session: the client loves you, and anyone who suggests otherwise is going bye-bye. When the customer wants your voice as brand ambassador, you’re always going to get the gig. Everyone else is supporting cast, and your check comes from the top dog.

If the agency hired you (with the client’s approval, of course!), then the production company and studio are hired hands. In any session where everyone is in the room, by all means, chat with everyone, but if you diss the agency in front of the client, once they’ve cut you a check, you’re dead to them.

If the production company hired you, then as the studio, we’re only there to record when you speak, and we give the final audio to the production company after the session. They’re the ones who’ll be taking care of your fee, too. Treat them the same way you would an agency that hired you. Speak no evil of them.

The last scenario is where we (studio) have been dealing with the production house/agency in shortlisting talent for selection, and once chosen, scheduled you in for the session. At the end of it all, we pay you. Again, feel free to chat with everyone and be friendly, but don’t overstep the boundary.


You can overstep the boundary in one of two ways:

1. "Here’s my name card, Mr. Client / Agency / Production House, you can call me direct for any future bookings.”

I don’t know how air-headed a voice must be to think this is OK, but I’ve seen it multiple times. I’ll have a word, so they know that we’ve worked hard to get them the gig. If they’re going to be so blatant trying to cut us out of the loop, we’re going cut them out of our loop. Permanently.

2. Go over us during a session. If there’s a discussion about scheduling, pricing, etc. – anything that your agent might handle for you - then let us speak on your behalf.

When we hire you, we are your temporary agent, and in the session where client, agency and production company are present, don’t suddenly become a free-agent. If you do, erase us from your saved Google Maps locations, cos you’re never coming back!
Kenn Delbridge, M.P.S.E., leads the team at SPLiCE Studios. An award-winning sound designer and mixer with over 25 years experience in the industry, his portfolio includes advertising, broadcast trailers, documentaries and motion pictures. Originally from Hong Kong, he has been based in Singapore since 1995. Kenn has worked with international broadcasters including MTV, BBC, Discovery, National Geographic, Bloomberg, NBC Universal and many others. His film credits include two motion pictures for legendary HK film director Ringo Lam, and he is currently working on an extensive collection of Asian ambience recordings.


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