Are You Recording Voice-Overs Pro Bono
Like A Business - Or Working For Free?
April 11, 2018
By Tom Dheere
Voice Actor and Coach
A few weeks ago I got an email from an aspiring voice talent who accepted an unpaid gig to build her resume.
She said she was given little information about the project beforehand so could do not any research.
When she arrived at the recording session, she was told the project would be packaged and sold to libraries. She did the gig anyway and later asked me if she was taken advantage of.
This is what I told her:
You didn't ask about usage upfront. If you didn't like the terms they laid out when you got to the studio you should have talked to them about it right then and there. If they couldn't satisfy you, then you walk. If you want, you could reach out to them and try to negotiate a usage fee after the fact, but it may be too late. They didn't take advantage of you. You hosed yourself because you approached the project like an artist and not like a business. This is exactly why so many people try to get into voice-overs, acting, modeling, etc. and fail.I know that was tough love, but man, stuff like that just ticks me off at both the voice talent and the client.
Was the client twirling their mustache at the talent? Maybe, maybe not, but voice talents should know better.
WHAT'S PRO BONO?
There is nothing wrong with doing pro bono work. Actually, I encourage it! I and many of my fellow veteran voice talents do it from time to time.
However, if you are going to do pro bono work, you need to approach it like a business.
Understand the difference between:
How do I apply that?
I only do pro bono work for:
Working for free is doing a voice-over for a FOR-PROFIT company or venture that should pay you, but doesn't.
Even then, find out how and where your voice-over will be used.
Whether it's pro bono work or you choose to work for free, send the client a zeroed-out invoice so they understand the value of the service you provided.
Do your homework, ask good questions, and don't get taken advantage of!
Over two decades, Tom Dheere has narrated thousands of projects for clients in over a dozen countries and voiced more than 40 audiobooks. He is also a voice over business consultant, coach at Edge Studio, was the marketing consultant for the Voice Over Virtual online conference, and is also writer/producer of the sci-fi action comic book Agent 1.22.
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