New Media Red Flags: Voice Overs On
YouTube & Social Media Skirt 'Broadcast' Rates
May 8, 2015
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor
"Broadcast” (Radio & TV) compensation rates seemed set in stone for years. That’s because for decades there was relative stasis in the industry. Broadcast was a cash cow that benefited most everyone involved…including freelance voice actors.
Even though many voice actors back then (or now) were not union members, AFTRA expected its members to hold to the line on its published broadcast rates.
It was a threshold of pay that still sets a standard today. Those familiar with the broadcast status quo understand the formula that goes into calculating rates for Radio and TV. It includes length of play of the spot in the marketplace, size of the marketplace, type of spot, length of spot, and geographic distribution (those are the biggies…other criteria can come to bear).
Again, that refers to BROADCAST rates. Radio and TV.
NEW CATEGORIES EMERGE
But today there's more to consider. The Internet. Mobile devices. Tablets. Smartphones. Cultural changes in the expectation of instantaneous delivery. Big bandwidth. Innovation and optic fiber.
Even the most successful broadcast operations have known for years that a big change is in process. The term "broadcast” now assumes a different complex - a different character (think NetFlix, Amazon Prime, Roku).
While Radio and TV will likely survive the digital revolution better than most print publications, there’s no doubt the delivery mechanism for broadcast will have a new meaning going forward.
New masters will own the word, and they are NOT familiar with broadcast rates.
EFFECT ON VOICE OVERS
How does this impact voice overs? It probably means more opportunity. Yet also, probably declining rates …unless.
At WoVOCon - the recent convention of the World-Voices Organization - a prescient Matt Cowlrick called an impromptu session to consider the changing landscape of new jobs being offered and the associated compensation rates.
Cowlrick saw evidence in the verbiage appearing in the fine print on contracts, and noticed a disturbing trend. His misgivings have now infected an entire tribe of WoVO members and that’s why I’m bringing word to you too.
Interestingly, within days of WoVOCon, attendee and pro member Johnny George posted the real-world evidence in an online Facebook group. Here’s what he said:
Thank goodness Matt did a Breakout Session on RATES this past weekend at WoVOCon II. The YouTube snake has raised it’s head. Please read what a client sent me. What would you do?BALKS AT CONTRACT
Recently another WoVO pro presented a conundrum over wording being offered in a contract that included the term "in perpetuity.”
Because of Cowlrick’s session, he balked at signing the contract. He admitted it hurt, but also knew that we as freelance voice actors have to start bringing this to the attention of producers, agents, bookers and other clients.
The time is now to stand ground.
YOUTUBE IS RED FLAG
YouTube is one of the red flags in this new world.
Certainly you’ve noticed the "pre-rolls” that are attached to popular YT videos? Those are ads. They are seen by thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions for a REALLY viral video.
That’s broadcast. That deserves a pay scale commensurate with broadcast rates of old.
We have to tell them!
WHAT TO ASK CLIENT ...
Be aware of distribution.
"Any use of the term 'in perpetuity' should be thoroughly investigated, to find out exactly how the client is planning on using the recording. These days, talent should clarify the usage for any work performed for Internet. The client may assume the rate covers any and all usage online, with no exceptions. If there is no discussion and contract or agreement established regarding internet, the voice talent is setting themselves up for a potential issue.
"Yes, there will always be lower rates out there, but in the end we as business owners need to have an awareness of our worth. We should be educating ourselves on the current landscape of broadcast rates and juxtapose that against the way media is being used online.HAVE THE CONVERSATION
It’s not all bad. Many producers are onto this change. They can be fair-minded, but some are not thinking in the terms WE think.
We have to open the dialog. Raise the question. Show the logic.
Matt offers this addendum:
"The promising thing is that talent have already had discussions with producers/clients and the other side of the glass is receptive and appreciative of the conversation.Thank you, Matt, for raising the issue, for sharing your cautionary tale.
Thank you, Johnny, for explaining your predicament.
And thanks to anyone willing to stand ground, have a conversation, recognize their worth.
Now go broadcast your new-found wisdom to your VO peers!
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He also writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology, and is author and publisher of the book, More Than Just A Voice: The Real Secret To VoiceOver Success.
More Than Just A Voice: http://courvo.com/more-than-just-a-voice
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