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VoiceJockeys Will Change Contract;
VO/Attorney Offers Pro Bono Help ...
May 4, 2010
 
Note: On May 3, VoiceOverXtra published an article by voice actor / attorney Rob Sciglimpaglia Jr., which criticized the stiff contract terms and 50% commission cut of an unnamed online voice talent service. In subsequent comments to the article, many readers also condemned the contract terms. (For the original article and comments, click here: http://bit.ly/ToughContract)
 
Also in comments, VoiceJockeys.com identified itself as the online service, noting appreciation of the opinions - and stating that the contract would be changed.
 
But it doesn't end there. Rob Sciglimpaglia now offers to help negotiate that new contract, pro bono, on behalf of voice actors.
 
Sciglimpaglia's offer follows the VoiceJockeys comments, below ...
 
VoiceJockeys
Online Voice Talent Service
 
The community has spoken and we are glad to take your feedback, both negative and postive. We would like to address the issues one at a time and invite responses from all.

Our Pricing - Yes, the prices we charge consumers is low. So low, that it may not be worth it for some of you. We understand that, and can appreciate it. We hope to bridge that gap by providing our voice-over artists with an abundance of work throughout the month.

Our Agreement - We have taken the feedback of those who actually reached out to us directly (and not via a blog), and are taking the neccessary steps to change our agreement to proctect us as well as our talent pool.
 
The new agreement will be rolled out before the end of the week.
 
ALL JOCKS AGREED

As far as the inferrence of Jocks being listed without their permission - that is totally not true whatsoever. We maintain a database of IP addresses, Date Time stamps, tax forms, etc.

Again, we understand the concern from the voice-over community and we are looking forward to working together to make intelligent changes that the industry talent calls for from time to time.
 
WHY WE EXIST ...

Please understand that there IS a market out there of clients that can not afford the high rates charged by some voice-over talent, and for them is the reason that we exist.

No one is forced to join our site, and we would hope that voice artists would welcome the extra work in their downtime.

As for Rob's detailed analysis of our current agreement - we would like to thank him (actually, we can't believe he has so much free time).
 
Rob has opened our eyes and opened up dialogue throughtout the industry that will allow us to work closer with all of you and create an environment where we can work together on improving niche products like those offered on our site.
 
We invite all the readers of this thread to collect their thoughts and share them with us at support@voicejockeys.com.
 
NOT CROOKS OR EVIL

We are not crooks or a business platform of "evil-doers." In fact, we are quite the opposite. We are actually looking forward to working with ALL of you in reshaping our industry in alignment with the changing times. By coupling your feedback with our marketing ability, we can work together to create a mutually beneficial service for cleints.

We are happy to take your constructive comments and align the goals of our site with those goals of our users.
 
 
Rob Sciglimpaglia Jr.
Voice Actor & Attorney
Email: robscig@usa.net
Web: www.robertpaglia.com; www.allinonevoice.com
 
I am very pleased to see that VoiceJockeys.com has not only publicly admitted that this is their contract, but also that they seem to be willing to change their business model to fit in with current voice-over industry standards.
 
Anyone who knows me knows that TIME is one thing I am very short on!
 
As a board member of SaVoa and a very hard working voice-over artist and attorney, however, I could not watch an opportunity like this slip by to educate - not only voice talent, but also those who are hiring us.
 
So here is where the rubber meets the road.
 
LET'S DO IT ...
 
Let us see if VoiceJockeys really means what they say, or if this is just an attempt at good PR.
 
I am willing to collectively represent, pro bono, the entire voice-over community in negotiating a new contract with VoiceJockeys that will be FAIR for both sides, and in particular, for voice talent to work under.
 
NEED MAJOR CONCESSIONS
 
In order for that to happen, two major concessions need to be made by VoiceJockeys.
 
First, the 50% commission is absolutely ridiculous and needs to be reduced or eliminated altogether.
 
Second, the rates must be modified to reflect the value that the clients that are hiring the voice talent are receiving.
 
HOW CHEAP?
 
Of course there is a market for CHEAP VOICE-OVERS!
 
Who is going to complain about paying $55 for a national TV spot? Who complains about paying less money for anything?
 
VoiceJockeys - and, to be fair not just that company, but other companies like it - are enabling that and commoditizing our profession unfairly.
 
I'm ashamed to admit that some of my voice-over colleagues are also foolishly allowing this to happen.
 
WHO REALLY BENEFITS?
 
The only ones whose pockets are getting lined by the talents' labor are the clients.
 
How much income is a national spot going to generate? In fact, how much income is any spot going to generate?
 
It will cost tens of thousands of dollars for that client company - in just air time alone - to broadcast the spot.
 
AN EXAMPLE ...
 
For instance, one of my clients - a non-profit - is doing local advertising on cable TV. The air time for local cable alone costs them $18,000 per year. 
 
Obviously, if a company can afford to spend that kind of money for air time, they are expecting to make thousands and thousands of dollars in profit, so can certainly afford to pay a few hundred bucks to a voice-over talent for a quality spot.
 
To charge the client $55, and then pay the talent $27.50 for a 30-second spot is simply unfair to the talent whose voice is driving the customers and profits to the client!
 
TAKING ADVANTAGE
 
VoiceJockeys is also selling itself short by not understanding the value it is providing to clients for such an unreasonably cheap price.
 
It enables clients, really, to take advantage of both VoiceJockeys and voice actors by earning thousands of dollars in profits off of VoiceJockeys' labor and ours.
 
I liken this situation to one I see in the practice of law all the time. I will represent someone buying a million or two million dollar property, and then they haggle over my $1,000 attorney fee.
 
HOPING FOR CONCESSIONS
 
If these concessions, among others, are not made, then I stand by my recomendation to my colleagues to not work for VoiceJockeys.
 
And if colleagues know of other companies out there like this, I suggest they refuse to work for them, as well.
 
It is just not fair!
 
The bottom line is that if a voice-over client did not believe they were receiving value for their money, they would just record the voice-over themselves.
 
Please let me know if you take me up on the offer by emailing me at robscig@usa.net.
 
 
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Comments (29)
Bob H
9/28/2010 at 1:15 AM
Notwithstanding all the comments here, I have one simple point.

I would rather pay a portion of the work I actually get to www.voicejockeys.com than pay an annual fee and get no work, ala www.voices.com or www.voice123.com.

That is all. :D
Not My Real Name
8/11/2010 at 3:57 PM
While it would be nice for "the good ole days" to return, that's not going to happen. The genie is out of the bottle. If a client wants to pay $30 for a spot, they will find someone capable to take thier money. Everybody and his brother now has a mic and a recording program. Instead of 22 guys at an audition in NY or wherever, there are now 222 auditioning online.

I have gotten the same audition from as many as 5 talent agents. How many folks are throwing their hat into that ring? Lamenting The VoiceJockeys, SpeedySpeedy spots of the world is a waste of time. As big a waste of time as me typing my thoughts here.

You adapt. You work for whatever you're comfortable working for. You can have a kid mow your lawn for $30 bucks or can pay a landscape professional $300. That is capitalism, that is your choice. We have the right to complain and wring our hands, but really other than the satisfaction of venting, what have you or I accomplished?

Another thought: If your agent takes 15% commision on a $1000 job we are all smiles with the $850 right? Agents happy with thier piece. Now the VJ people made whatever, $27.50 on a $50 job that the talent agreed to do. No audition, took maybe 3 minutes. What would you have them make, $7.50? Just asking.

Thank you, but I will take the $850 when it comes along and the $27.50 too. The industry has changed, whether we like it or not.
Ellen
7/21/2010 at 2:30 PM
This well-written article does not merely refer to unbelievably poor financial compensation to the vo talent, but elaborates on what it could potentially cost an under-paid VO artist, in the event of a legal situation which he/she would have had no control over, or been responsible for. I appreciate the information, as we all should.
Anonymous For Now
5/29/2010 at 7:51 PM
A guy can make a lot of enemies commenting on this kind of stuff, so let me hide for moment.

First, I've done 25 years of voiceover work, mostly in advertising & educational narration, the "old-fashioned way" - i.e. big recording studio, tape machines, engineers, etc. Now, we have a whole new tech-age upon us and we can work from our bedrooms.

I'm about to "revive" my involvement in the industry because, as so many here have said, "It's easy money." No heavy lifting, work indoors, no dirty hands, etc. IF...IF, you know how to do it.

Let's try a different look at this situation: SpeedySpots is functioning as an "agent" getting work for "artists" (using the term loosely) and what they charge and/or make is really none of our damned business. It can be outrageous, greedy, whatever. Fact is, someone there was creative enough and brave enough to set up a business to perform a function for a certain business-niche. No one is holding a gun to your head; don't want to work cheap? Just say "no" and move on.

Yes, they are dragging down the remuneration base just as major celebrities push the base into the stratosphere that we're never going to see. If a major studio can be bullied into paying Charlie Sheen $2 million an episode, who complains? Is Sheen not guilty of bribery? Extortion? So, when we go to the other end of the spectrum, are they not filling a need?

It's us in the middle who get caught. We're never going to see $2-mil paydays, but a lot of lower-echelon VO people will get started in the biz and get paid what they deserve. Hey, it's a start!

In my view, Rob is almost like a union-organizer here; he's taken up the cudgel on behalf of all of us "middle-class VO workers" and trying to beat the SpeedySpot guys into submission with it. Is that not just a different version of what Sheen has done? Whether it's a VO artist or a clay-pot artist ... you can demand your price. But when you band together with other artists and DEMAND a common price for your work (regardless of quality) ... well, is that not a form of society that most Americans would recognize as a "repressive" one?

No Competition = Standard Life for all ... regardless of talent. I, for one, say that just ain't right! There's room for all and it's all voluntary ... don't like it? Don't go there.

I was once the president of a major professional writers club. I observed that most of the unsuccessful writers were the ones who showed up to meetings and whined about "big, bad editors" and how they couldn't get anything published! My capitalistic philosophy was not sympathetic with the member-minions ... just as I suspect it won't be popular here. But I see some serious similarities between the writer-artists and the vo-artists.

I suggest dropping the group-symbiocism and, if it's money you want, work WHERE you want, for WHAT you're willing to work for, and get on with your life. J.
Blaster
5/23/2010 at 5:43 AM
@Daryl Smith -- I gotta disagree a little. He left a private VM. He was not the main voice of GEICO. In fact, at the time he left the VM he hadn't worked for them in 2 years. They waited and only posted the VM after he announced on his fan page that he recorded a new campaign - a MONTH after the message was left.

Regardless, DC Douglas is getting major kudos left and right for his brave stand against their smear/fear machine. And his last video is going viral:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMUVFctJ2Xw

It's brilliant.
Colin
5/16/2010 at 3:06 PM
Edwin Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio who essentially had his invention stolen by RCA said of lawyers ... "lawyers replace facts with words, then argue about the words."

The idea that one might get a national soft-drink VO from one of these sites is a bit fantastic. Do you think Pepsi or Coke is going to hire VoiceJockeys? Of course not. These are largely small time local advertisers.

Is it feasable that VJ would eliminate commission? They would cease to exist. What would be their incentive?

These are Internet Marketers. They offer OPPORTUNITY. You don't have to partake in that opporunity, it's just an option.

Why not take on Voice123? They make you PAY to read. You can go months without any compensation or may not even recoup your memebership fee, and if you're not careful have your work stolen.

Let's "get real." Some of us would rather earn money than make no money at all. We can "stand proud" while our families starve or we can actully make an income. I choose the latter.

If one of you wants to pay me $300 for 30 seconds, let me know. Otherwise I'll continue to develop multiple streams of income, it''s my bread and butter.

Organized labor is fine except and untill it kills the employer, then there are no jobs to be had.

Let me have the "right to work.

www.ColinCampbellVoice.com


J. Christopher Dunn
5/6/2010 at 4:26 PM
Rob,
Outstanding! I appreciate the fact that you are watching out for voice actors of all skill levels. Golly, if it were possible, I'd sell my voice for the joy of doing it and to hear my clients smile when they graciously thank me for doing the work for free, or close to it. Joy and free will immediately make be feel good - but for the long term, I'm worth substantially more. Thanks for educating folks who need to know.
Catherine
5/6/2010 at 9:03 AM
Thank You , Rob, for taking the time from your schedule to educate and inform us in this matter, as well as to offer your services at no charge to give VoiceJockeys the opportunity to redeem themselves.

As a new VO artist this is the very scenario that I would be at risk of falling victim to, and I feel more confident now of my ability to recognize a scam when I see one.
Mike Coon
5/6/2010 at 8:25 AM
Dear All:
At the risk of appearing to be a "salmon swimming against the stream" of negative sentiment, I feel it only fair to post my experience thus far with VoiceJockeys ...

My story, so far: I have been producing VO for the past seven years for radio commercials, audiobooks, telephony and training programs. Some of the gigs paid very well, and some were more, well, let's just say closser to 'bargain basement!"

Heck, when I first started out, I did "freebies" for local resturants and charities in which I believed just to gain experience and a reputation of providing a good product. I have a stream of steady, repeat clients in a few areas, and am always on the lookout for new ways to gain clients.

I see VoiceJockeys as another avenue to pursue. It costs less than the P2Ps to which I have subscribed, and there is no "audition" aspect to wade through, largely with no projects "landed." (I don't mean to completely disparage the P2Ps as useless either, because I DID land some clients through them, and I am still with those clients today!)

With regard to the VoiceJockeys issue, I am grateful for Mr. Sciglimpaglias's willingness to meet with the owners and represent all VO's interests in negotiating a new contract. How that interaction pans out remains to be seen.

In the meantime, I did my first spot with "VJ" yesterday, and could not have been more pleased with Scott's responsiveness, professionalism and overall treatment of me as a voice talent. I felt respected more than some of the funny (but "oh so true") situations that Jeffrey Kafer has so wonderfully displayed in his comic "Voice-Overload." If you have not yet checked out that comic strip, you should ....like a "Dilbert" for VO! I digress...

"VJ" did not ask me to post this. I thought I should at least share my experience.

Can each of you point to the exact connection you made, or activity you carried out that got you to the "tipping point" of your successful voice career? I can't yet, and am committed to keep going where I see opportunities.
Mike Schwab
5/5/2010 at 8:00 PM
Rob, well, this kind of operation is certainly nothing new. As a fulltime VO for 25 years I've seen plenty of similar operations.

With the 'shift' of VO from a locally-based industry (the good ole days of in-person studio sessions where you actually SEE and WORK with directors - iImiss those days, actually) to the age of Internet-based "clearinghouse" talent services of every variety and integrity level, such a business model isn't particulary shocking or surprising anymore.

One such long-established 'purveyor' of VO services enjoys a rather remarkable client base. By its own account, it trumpets having produced hundreds of thousands of spots to-date.

The company is called "SpeedySpots" - based somewhere in Michigan with web site/operations online at SpeedySpots.com. The impact they have had on rate structure for talent in many markets is ... well, to be polite - "signficant."

This operation employs a roster of talent who agree to be available from home studios to supply, on demand, edited voice tracks to Speedy clients at a compensation rate of $10 to $15 a read.

"SpeedySpots" in turn, bills clients at a rate of $45 per :30. I believe the talent's "cut" applies to anything "up-to" :30.

Mind you, to my knowledge this applies for usage in any size market - and virtually any application.

A talent on the limited roster of male/female talent theoretically could sit and crank out a dozen or two reads a day, and accumulate, say $250 ... even $300 for this piece work. And, ok, it's their choice as to how they care to dedicate their time.

My chief issue with this is that such operations have effectively lowered the bar and severely compromised reasonable rate structure for voice-over work in medium and major markets.

Yes, they seem to cater to in-house production departments for cable systems and stations where oft-times, the production might otherwise simply be voiced by a salesperson or retainer-production voice in better situations.

Nonetheless, it cheapens the perceived value of voice work in a given market when affiliates in DMAs such as Detroit, Indianapolis and countless cable operations whose coverage encompasses scores of major markets - are actively utilizing such a service as their primary voice talent source.

As such, major TV outlets- and agencies - are being conditioned to the notion that a :30 VO for $45 in a Top-15 Market is readily available and acceptable.

Furthermore, in this instance, there is nothing I'm aware of that restricts a client from using said VO anywhere, in perpetuity.

Perhaps this isn't as extreme as the VoiceJockeys example, where virtually any talent is 'eligible' and easily included on the roster to work for a ridiculous rate on work that has no particular usage limitation.

However, at a whopping $10 to $15 rate to Talent - I'm calculating the "SpeedySpots" commission to be even greater than that of VoiceJockeys.

The bottom line for me is that while such outlets obviously have the right to exist, they ultimately erode the real and perceived value of our work.

The resulting disparity of rates for talent in a Top 15 market such as Detroit - where at least one major network affiliate has embraced an organization like "SpeedySpots" as their 'turnkey' VO source - is remarkable.

I'm not looking to be a torch-bearer on this issue at the moment. It simply is something that resonated with me afer receiving Marc Cashman's email about your thread here. After 30 or so years in this game, seeing anyone justify $25 to $50 for even a small-market VO is just - well, disturbing.

Mike (Shepherd)

Michael O
5/5/2010 at 4:48 PM
As with everyone else here - all I can say is thank you, Rob.

I remember when I was doing stand-up in the '80s and I did a private gig for $300 for a company that gave me a lot of club work. Normally, private gigs pay a lot more, but I was told that this was all the company could afford. I didn't want to say no and jeopardize the club work this booker gave, so I did the job. It went great, and the owner of the company was really pleased, but told me that he wouldn't be able to hire me again, because I cost too much.

What? I'm only getting $300! The owner was stunned. He told me he was paying $3,000 for the gig - so the booker was taking $2700 - something I was not supposed to find out, obviously. The owner was a straight-up guy, and a good businessman - so he called the booker - told him that he found out about the split in payment, and told the booker he was going to get a check for three hundred dollars, and that I was going to get the $2700.

I was so angry by now that I didn't care about the regular club work. I took the $2,700 (and performed for that company for the next five years at their annual retreat for my regular fee of $1,500).

What really surprised me was that this same booker called me a few weeks later when he was in a bind and needed a comic last minute. For the first time in my life, I said no to work. I had always been too afraid in the past to upset anyone. I thought the money incident and saying no would put an end to my working for this booker, but I was wrong. Saying no made me interesting. How could I afford to do that? Not only did he continue to give me work, but my rate went up.

Sometimes saying no is the best thing you can do for your career. DON'T BE DESPERATE - which is what Voice Jockeys is counting on, desperate people.

You are worth what you feel you are worth. Undercut yourself at not only your own loss - but at the loss of everyone else out there trying to work as a VO talent.

I'd rather take a day job shoveling excrement than do a national commercial for $27.50, even for that matter for $500 if the client is paying $1,000. Such low fees and such outrageous commission is just plain wrong.

Whew - I've said too much.
Doug Stone
5/5/2010 at 3:59 PM
I'm tempted to say that any VO performer who would accept $27.50 for their services is probably only worth that much. Unfortunately, their low opinion of their own talent and worth takes a toll on all of us in the industry.

It is not only VoiceJockeys who should hang their heads in shame. So should every performer who would work under such a demeaning contract. To enable a company like this to exist by offering your talents to them is also self-defeating in the long run. As market prices are lowered due to the ability of VoiceJockeys to procure talent for next to nothing, the word will get out to clients everywhere that they can pay a penny for a dollar's worth of talent.

Cudos to you Rob, for helping bring this to light and for offering your services to VO performers. Best wishes for your success.
Douglas K
5/5/2010 at 1:47 PM
Perhaps we would all be best served here by writing up an ideal or recommended boilerplate (standardized) contract.

Then when we discuss contracts such as the Voice Jockeys contract, we can indicate where they deviate, and what that means.
Adam Behr
5/5/2010 at 11:55 AM
I'll just add my comment to something a few people have remarked upon, first to say that when one does a lot of business online, the character and emotional intellect of the person one is talking to comes through in their writing ( very quickly) as many of us know.

The following gives a concise picture of the kind of material we are dealing with here:

"As for Rob's detailed analysis of our current agreement - we would like to thank him (actually, we can't believe he has so much free time)."


DC Goode
5/5/2010 at 11:54 AM
Any of you that remain with the Jockeys or sign up, should send Rob a "fee" for his efforts on your behalf.
I'm just sayin.

Thanks Rob. You are a credit to your professions.
jennifer dixon
5/5/2010 at 11:17 AM
Good job, Rob. Nice to see at least that VJ responded, whether or not they are on the up and up remains to be seen. I will, however, avoid them like the plague for the time being. Thanks for your hard work.
Daryl Smith
5/5/2010 at 11:02 AM
I couldn't agree with Rob more. One of the things that attracts people into the voice-over field is that it pays wel l... generally speaking.

That's why I find it odd when somebody makes a stupid career move like the one recently made by a fellow named D.C. Douglas, the voice-over guy behind the Geico Insurance spots. Word has it that this guy was pulling down six figures from that one client alone, but was terminated by Geico when his political beliefs caused him to leave an ill conceived voicemail message for an activist organization whose philosophy was not in line with his own.

Most of us would kill for a gig like that. If advertizers can't afford to pay qualified talent, then they should either choose a less expensive form of advertising, or do the voice-over themselves.

I liken this to some of my own previous experience. I spent about 27 years in the sign business, starting out by hand painting everything. When the business turned computerized, I had to jump on board to keep up with the times, however, this brought on new challenges, as well.

For example, prior to computers, folks just said "you're the sign man, I'll trust you to design something for me." I was the professional, and their knowledge on the subject of signs was minimal at best. Then when the sign business went computerized, most customers had computers at home or work as well. Suddenly, everyone was a design expert, and would show up on my doorstep with design in hand saying, "This is how I want my sign to look."

More often then not, their design was terrible, and I had to find a gentile way of convincing them to let me tweak it a bit. What I really felt like saying (but I couldn't of course) was, "Well, if you know so much about this, why don't you just make the sign yourself?"

My point is this: I am willing to pay someone who is an expert in their field to do something for me which I can't do myself, or don't want to do. As voice-over artists, we have paid our dues, sometimes literally as well as figuratively, and therefore we are entitled to be compensated accordingly. The last thing we need is some middle-man scabbing the trade on our behalf. If this is the way this site operates, I suggest we all stay clear. Anyone who doesn't is simply enabling them to continue what they are doing, and we all lose.

If you sell yourself too cheap, more of the same type of work is likely to follow. Like someone once said to me during my former career, "Which would you rather do, two fifty dollar jobs or five twenty dollar jobs?" The choice is up to you.
J.B.
5/5/2010 at 10:45 AM
Rob,
How selflessly cool of you to take on the task of cleaning up a train wreck!

I think we all know that VoiceJockeys isn't merely "Bridging the gap" as they say they just got busted. 50% commissions? $27.50 for a spot? No, they're not "crooks" or "evil" ... they're just GREEDY! You watch, if they drop their take to below 20%, I'll be surprised.

I can not help but notice how they also managed to slight you too, by saying "We can't believe he has so much FREE TIME." What a bunch of jerks.

These "Jockeys" are saddling-up to trot right off a cliff ... and I can hardly wait.
Thanks, J. B.
Ron Allan
5/5/2010 at 10:39 AM
I could not agree more with Mr. Sciglimpaglia's comments and reasoning. It's past time we ALL stood together for the value and experience we bring to the world. Thank you Rob for being our voice of reason.
Ron Allan - BIG VOICE Productions
Patty Mattson
5/5/2010 at 10:30 AM
(Note: The following is addressed to VoiceJockeys.com)

Robert taking the time to address you folks is amazing. Sadly what you don't realize is you are not only hurting the industry, but yourselves as a whole.

Also, you should be aware that your defensive posture and backhanded insult about Robert's time says nothing about him but everything about you!

Our behavior defines only who WE are. It just adds to the negative reflection on you and your company.

I think it is admirable that you are stating you will adjust your contracts, however when you start on a platform that is THAT MUCH of a gross ripoff to talent, not to mention a hand-over to the clients, it is close to impossible to recover as you lose trust on a base level.

If the corrections are made swiftly, publicized as such, and you show unswerving correction in your operations as a result, perhaps down the road things will clear.

Best of luck
John Tambascio
5/5/2010 at 10:17 AM
Kudos to everyone for exposing this. At the end of the day, some of the responsibility sadly lies with the talent who settled for the bargain basement fees. Work cheap and hurt everyone. Including yourself.
Moneen Daley Harte
5/5/2010 at 10:02 AM
Thank you for all your efforts and good actions, Rob! Ours is a unique business because much of what we offer is intangible - so it's even more important to maintain standards for quality work and compensation. I didn't know this extreme low balling was going on - thank you for the education!
Gabrielle Nistico
5/5/2010 at 9:59 AM
Way to go Rob! Balls of Steel!!!!!!!!!
I think these preactices hurt our entire industry and I'm so glad to know we have a freedom fighter on our side.
Linda Ristig
5/5/2010 at 9:57 AM
Thanks, Rob, for your dedication to the cause of fair pricing for VO talent, and offering to educate a company that hires them.

By exposing Voice Jockeys' business practices, John sharing the article via VoiceOverXtra, and most of all both of you caring enough to communicate with others involved, really spread the word quickly in the VO world.

I've also seen the same article reprinted on multiple sites, like Voice Acting Academy. Knowing John and you to be extremely busy people, I'm am deeply appreciative not just for myself, but for all the VO community, that you tackled this issue. (Special thanks to Marc Cashman who I just read this morning was the first to alert Rob to this issue.)

That you offered to help be part of the solution, instead of just pointing out the problems speaks highly of your integrity and character. Thank you!
Roxanne Hernandez
5/5/2010 at 9:31 AM
Way to go John and Rob for exposing this and helping to fix this. I don't subscribe to any of these types of sites, but I know many v.o. talents do. John, your newsletter is invaluable. The only way to remain connected in a virtual world. Thanks for what you do!
Adam Behr
5/5/2010 at 6:21 AM
Hi All, and thanks for your insights and professional views on this Rob.

Voice talents need to realise that they hold a very important card at all times, and that card is : The voice recording.

In belonging to some of the cheap sites, always remember that if you are asked to do a job for, say $27.50, you can just say NO. Really, just do it. Same with buyers who ask you to do things at a reduced fee or for free for "exposure."

Just for a quick aside on this, in my entire VO career - which is now fortunately very busy, it's very rare for someone to call you for a job because they "heard you on the radio or tv" and then tracked you down. And how often do we see buyers posting a link of what they want the VO sound like, but won't spend the money on the pro who did the recording in the first place. Don't do it!

If you look at the rates mentioned in Rob's post, you can also see that their minimum for a 5-10 minute narration is $500, so - for example again, you can just elect to do those, if you want and nothing else.

Or, if you're having a slow day, you can do a $50 job to kill time, but say "no" to it on another occasion.

There is a big correllation between quality, rate and availability when it comes to VO talent. If you want all three consistently you have to pay professional rates, and these cheap sites soon realise this, and work with it - which also means that if they want you for something and you aren't available, or have a better paying job in the same time slot, they can either pay more, or find someone else. Finding someone else means more time and effort for them , especially finding some kind of voice match on short notice, to replace you on a series of vo's that you are established in, for just $50, Good luck!

There is another company like this in the Southeastern US, I won't mention names, that many professional VO talents will not work for because of their low rates, very similar in range to those mentioned here, around $60-80 for a commercial. However, since they charge by "time" their 5-10 minute corporate reads pay $600-700.

So within a certain short space of time, I had done about 5 jobs for them, 1 x commercial (a 3 minute session, 2 reads by Source Connect, and 4 x corporates of 6 minutes each for about $675 each, a total of about 1.5 -2hrs of session time including editing etc. for about $2,800, which was about C$3,000 to me at the time.

Moral of the story, DON'T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO. Today's VO world also means that VO talents have a lot more opportunities to audition, from many more sources than there used to be. So cherry-pick the best ones, and that includes opportunities to help student projects and charities (who by the way, often pay more for a VO than large commercial companies).

Don't be afraid to ask WHY they cannot pay you professional rates, and also be sure to tell clients who cannot afford proper rates, that with low rates, there is also LOWER PRIORITY. So that means that if they are in an urgent rush, they simply have to either pay more, or wait 3 days for it, if you are busy - it's that simple.

To give you some idea, I ROUTINELY manage to get clients to pay 200-300% more for low-paying jobs advertised at $50-100. DON'T be afraid to ask.

As a last thought, bring charity into the mix. For example, I recently did a local radio commercial for a small regional zoo and the audio company said the client only had a small budget. I said the budget was COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE and turned down the job.

I said that if a penniless animation student can afford to pay me DOUBLE what they are offering (which I had accepted on the same day), there is no excuse for their low budget.

The producer said she understood and asked me to think about it, and reconsider. Being an animal lover and Greenpeace member, I immediately thought about where the "extra" funds would go instead of to my voiceover company (to more care or admnistrative support for the animals) - so I relented with the following condition:

That the zoo give me either 6 free passes, or a family pass, so I can send either a group of underpriviledged children to the zoo with an adult, or the family pass so I can send a low-income family of 4 to spend a day at the zoo including lunch!

All was agreed, and I now have the wonderful feeling of having enough cash from this job, to pay my monthly Greenpeace donations for almost the whole year, PLUS send a family in need to a nice day at the zoo!

Please everyone, don't be afraid to put what YOU WANT TO DO into the mix when doing the business end of VO. It can be both profitable and spiritually rewarding. Also, the "gift of giving" includes the buyer being involved in the process of either giving to charity, or correctly understanding and accepting on a deeper level, by way of your communication with them, WHY they have ended up paying you more than they initially posted.

Good luck everyone and have a great week.
Adam
CS
5/5/2010 at 4:30 AM
Wow, it would be terrific if Rob could re-work the VJs agreement to make if feasible for sustainable work, however I suspect that he's targeted the one area that VJs is least likely to budge on: their pricing scheme. That is the niche they have chosen, the 1 price fits all, royalty-free/residuals-free buyout VOs for cheap.

They've identified a market they think they can succeed in and targeted their product at it. And they are probably right, to at least some degree. And that is all they have to be, since with their mark-up and complete farm out of all work they can make a profit even if the venture is only moderately successful.

The only question is what quality of talent will sign up and the quality of buyers will be - though that assumes VJs actually fixes their contract to be less onerous, so that its terms, such as the no-compete clause and indemnification clause, don't stick to people like a cancer that will plague people for a minimum of 1 year, even if they sign up, never get a single job from VJs and quit the next day.

Without such a fix I think VJs may be likely to whither and fail, or at least they would if people actually read the contract and consider it before signing up.

I would think that the commission would be something they would likely negotiate on, and perhaps they could be talked into rates that vary with the application, but I imagine that even that will be tough sell.

If anything, it would be good to get all of those icky viral contractual bits out, the venue restrictions, the no-compete clause, the indemnity clause, all that stuff, so that if somebody does work for VJs, all they will be out is their time--and possibly some conflicts - rather than be stuck with some sort of cancer-like contract terms hanging over them even when they quit the company.

Oh, and VJs should offer to release all current contractors from the original contract. Without that, their changes mean virtually nothing.

IMO, of course.
Dave Courvoisier
5/5/2010 at 2:37 AM
Perfect, Robert. I know you're busy, so for you to offer this is a major concession on your part to begin with! Let's hope this is the genesis of a wave that spread across the industry to raise awareness, educate clients, and elevate a basic standard level of compensation for voice actors everywhere.
Dave Courvoisier
rowell gormon
5/5/2010 at 1:26 AM
nice return, rob.

when i saw the headline and read the first few lines of response from the "defendant," i thought perhaps i ought to ammend or remove my own blog post from yesterday ... not that these folks feel threatened by something so trivial.

but as i continued to read through, i think i'll leave it just as it is, complete with graphic.

meanwhile, i again commend you for putting a hefty amount of thought and reason into your counter-move. it sure beats "oh yeah?"

a class act, sir. again, well done.
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