How Well Do You Negotiate Voice Over
Fees? 10 Rules To Get What You Deserve
October 9, 2013
By Roger King
Voice Over Talent Agent
I’m an agent, which means there is one consistent activity I do over and over, each and every work day. I know you’re thinking gin is somehow involved, but actually I’m referring to negotiating and making a deal.
I am fairly certain that if I Googled this topic, it would lead me to hundreds of different articles and blogs on "the art of the deal,” etc. And there are certain generic things to keep in mind that are applicable to deal making in most any industry.
But this is a voice over article, and I am a voice over agent, so my tips below are as specific as they can be for the voice over industry.
I’ve heard from many who are still uncomfortable with certain aspects of negotiating, and in some cases prefer someone else do it, or at the very least, feel like they’re still getting their feet wet in terms of developing a deal-making skill set.
So, I am here to help! Without further ado, I present:
10 Rules for Doing a Successful Voice Over Deal
1. Try to get the client to name a price first.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten more money than I thought for a job just by keeping my mouth shut for an extra 30 seconds.
I’m thinking of $1,000 for the rate for the TV spot, but I ask the client what he’s thinking first and he says, "The budget is only $1500.″ An extra $500 for exercising patience.
2. Be willing to say no, without hyperventilating.
You simply cannot rule out the possibility of turning down a job if you don’t like the terms. Once you can confidently tell yourself that you’re okay if you don’t get the job, you will be much stronger in negotiations.
3. Be clear and succinct about how you arrived at your price.
It’s tougher to defend if you’re just making up numbers out of thin air. It’s much easier to stick to your guns if you can articulate why your rate is what it is in the first place.
4. Assume the best of your negotiation partner until they give you legitimate reasons not to.
A good deal usually does benefit both parties; there is no reason to assume that someone doesn’t want to pay a fair price, or is out to cheat you.
5. Be flexible but know your limits.
Have a price range in mind and stick within your range. A client may ask you to accept a lower rate because the budget is legitimately low on this project or he is promising volume.
Some flexibility on price is needed in some cases.
6. Learn how to write.
Any deal, however small, is going to be done in writing. If you can’t be clear, concise and use proper punctuation, it might be tough going for you.
7. Take a breath and make sure you’ve covered everything before agreeing to a deal.
Have you addressed common issues related to voice sessions? Studio and editing charges? Cost for revisions?
What’s the scenario if it turns out to be more recorded audio than the client first envisioned?
8. Assess the character.
Some deals end up being "Get the main details down and cross the T’s and dot the I’s later.”
If you feel comfortable with the person, that’s usually a fine approach. If the client seems disorganized or writes in all capitals, you probably need to take charge early and get every last detail in writing before you record a word.
9. Call clients on their vagueness. Politely.
"Can you tell me what you mean by, ‘It’s just going to air in small markets’?” or "The script is almost the same in all of the variations. It’s just the first section that changes so it’s really only one spot.”
You cannot be afraid to demand full clarification.
10. Don’t accept bad behavior.
One of my agency mottos is: The client is not always right.
Along with being willing to say "no" because you don’t like the terms of the deal (#2), certainly be willing to say "no" or at least stand your ground on a price if the client is not approaching the negotiation like a decent human being.
One tip if the deal doesn’t work out: Always remember to italicize the phrase, "I’ll see you in court.” Much more effective.
Roger King is the president of Peformance Network (PN) Agency, which provides voice over talent to the radio, television, film, multi-media and animation industries. In 2004, he launched a sister agency, Ethnic Voice Talent (EVT), and now represents over 100 voice over talents and translators in more than 15 different languages. He also writes a lively and informative blog, Voice Over Canada.
PN Agency: www.pnagency.com
Ethnic Voice Talent: www.ethnicvoicetalent.com
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