YOUR INCOME / PART 2
How To Draw A Line In The Sand
For Pricing At Online Casting Sites
April 13, 2015
By J. Michael Collins
Voice Actor & Coach
See Part 1: Why Online Casting Sites Are The Future Of Voice Over, But Low Rates Don't Have To Be
How do we achieve a voice over online casting world of fair pricing and motivated talent?
First and foremost, we draw a line in the sand on pricing. We collectively and publicly agree to never charge a per-project price below a certain level.
I have my number in mind, and we should begin a conversation on a figure that represents the minimum value of our talent and skill.
I believe that only through collective refusal to work for less will we be able to effectively establish a permanent fair pricing model. If clients have no choice, they will pay.
Let there be no doubt that any business with the budget to secure airtime or produce an internet video or casual app game is fully capable of compensating the talent who will add final value to the product in a manner that reflects the profit they will derive.
Companies pleading poverty are pleading falsely.
ASSERT PRICING POWER
Whatever has happened in the past, let us declare a new day in our industry, and refuse to work for anything less than a minimum number that reflects our training, our investment, and the quality of our work.
I believe we can achieve a consensus on a figure, and I will be the first to publicly pledge to abide by it. I encourage and challenge my fellow talent to do the same.
In addition to the professional minimum, we should work together with organizations like World-Voices to develop standard non-union minimums for different types of work, and we should educate our peers when they are not adhered to.
The message of talent pricing power should be shouted from every rooftop.
We should also utilize the online casting sites thoughtfully, and be aware that there are ways to maximize our profitability through them, and protect the value of our work.
DEBUNK THE MYTHS
There are many myths being propagated about the terms and policies of the online sites. Allow me to address some of the more harmful ones.
There is a common belief that it is the policy of the major sites that every project must be surrendered in perpetuity in all media to the client. This is not necessarily true.
For instance, Voice123 states clearly that you are agreeing to a final price for the work based on the terms posted by the client. This means that if they list that the project is for national TV broadcast, you are surrendering lifetime rights in that medium.
However, the language is clear in that you are only surrendering the work for the indicated usage. If it were optioned for radio, internet, or other usage, you would be well within your rights to bill for additional compensation.
Obviously, it is up to you to monitor this, which is tricky, but the language is not as broad as people think.
YOU CAN ADD CLAUSES
Furthermore, you are perfectly able to add clauses in your proposal limiting rights, and can add language indicating that accepting your proposal binds the client to those terms.
This last point is even more relevant to Voices.com. The sixth point in their terms of service states that all projects are full buyout unless otherwise agreed in writing.
A student of mine recently encountered an issue with a client who used those terms to hold him to a very low fee for national broadcast rights. I contacted Voices.com about the matter, and they agreed that while the boilerplate TOS language is the default rights agreement, we are welcome to add language in our proposals that supersedes the standard terms.
Therefore, despite common belief, on both of the major sites we retain ultimate control of our product.
... AND DIRECTLY CONTACT CLIENTS
There also exists the often repeated canard that Voices.com does not allow you to contact the client directly, and that SurePay is an evil mechanism to keep you from ever getting at the golden goose of repeat direct business. This is wrong in two ways.
First, while Voices.com does not allow you to include your contact information in your proposal, based on talent feedback to that policy they explicitly agreed to allow us to post our contact information on our profile pages.
I have been hired directly from my page outside of the system hundreds of times, as have many of the other leading talent on the site.
Furthermore, once you book a job on Voices.com, you are given the client's contact information under the "Payments" tab, and they are given yours.
I have been personally told from people at the highest level of the company that their policy is strictly that any job posted to Voices.com should be completed through SurePay, but that we are more than welcome to contact the client directly after the job has been booked and work with them outside the site on other projects.
Contrast this with the policy of some of the secondary and freelance sites, and it looks downright benevolent. Heck, even agents don't let you take full fare from your client after giving them 10 percent of the first job.
So long as this policy doesn't change, Voices.com is showing a very balanced approach to preserving their financial interest - which is their job - and being reasonable with those who generate their profits.
Moreover, Voices.com has taken the lead in at least setting some sort of minimum, with no work running through the site for under $100 gross. While we need to move this number upwards for the sake of our collective prosperity, Voices should be credited for at least holding this line.
HAVE DEEPER POCKETS
Let me be clear: The online casting sites are not on your side. They are not against you either. They are not good or evil, wrong or right. They are simply marketplaces where we trade our wares, and like any vendor at any marketplace, we pay the rent so that we can make a profit.
In this industry, there will always be hands in our pockets. Our duty is to make sure our hands are deeper in theirs.
ABOUT J. MICHAEL
With almost 20 years as a professional voice over artist, J. Michael Collins has worked with many major world companies, brands, sports leagues, and organizations. In addition to his work in the classic, agency-based world of voice over, he has established himself as a leading P2P (pay-to-play, online casting) authority. He is a top-grossing talent in the online marketplace, and also a voice talent coach and demo producer
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